A post from Ilona Andrews

Here you are. You’ve survived the exciting pressure cooker of the holidays and now it’s just business as usual. The next holiday, aside from religious observances, is probably Valentine’s Day, and it’s kind phony anyway. It is all a bit sad, isn’t it?

You know what would be nice? Hanging out with some old friends, the kind you don’t have to feed, or entertain, or put up for the night.

I bet you can see this coming:

Available January 17th

Looks like an epilogue in some ways: Kate and Curren have moved away from the Pack and everybody, off to a new town, where they plan to live peacefully and not get involved in weird events. It’s a longish novella — about half a novel, evidently. It does sound like fun, I must say! Ilona Andrews works well for me to break reading slumps.

Also interesting: They used an AI art generator to create a cover, which they’re not using:

We’ve been taking about AI art lately, and so Gordon and I commissioned a Midjourney image from an artist to illustrate Magic Tides to see what really can be done with the new AI technology. The image is absolutely stunning.

Unfortunately, we do not feel comfortable using the AI images commercially, because they are based on the work of other artists, and it’s not clear just how that process happens. The whole situation is a legal and ethical minefield, so this artwork will only appear on our site for your enjoyment. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, this image took a lot of layers and blending done by hand rather than computer. Midjourney didn’t just spit it out.

It’s a really nice cover. Click through and take a look.

This does hit a topic that I’ve been seeing here and there recently. I mean, here’s a post from the Passive Voice Blog: Children’s book created with AI sparks controversy and accusations of plagiarism

What you need to know

  • An artist created a children’s book using artificial intelligence tools.
  • The book has drawn criticism and the author has been accused of plagiarism, since AI created the content of the book.
  • AI tools have caused controversy in other sectors as well, including when a digital art piece that was created with AI won a competition.

This is also about Midjourney, as it happens. The children’s book — Alice and Sparkle — apparently has a lot of artwork that was apparently created this way. You can click through the link and use the “Look Inside” feature to see a couple pages of artwork. It’s pretty good, I guess?

The Passive Guy says:

PG will repeat what he has said previously – this sort of thing is going to happen over and over with the written word, just like it has with images.

He will also state that plagiarism, while not a nice thing to do, is not illegal. Copyright infringement is illegal and you can be sued for damages if you engage in the practice.

I’m actually used to thinking of plagiarism as illegal, since it’ll get your paper flunked or destroy your professional reputation. But I guess it’s not actually ILLEGAL. As such.

Regardless, I think Ilona Andrews were right to pull back from using AI-generated artwork just yet.

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5 thoughts on “A post from Ilona Andrews”

  1. While it’s not plagiarism per se, it’s clearly unethical to use training sets that aren’t properly licensed, with art that the artists weren’t compensated for. That’s not considered acceptable in any other area of ai – they’re only getting away with it here because the artists being exploited are vulnerable.

    And, the art in that kids’ book was sloppy – they didn’t clean up the bits the ai got wrong, like objects floating in midair or misshapen body parts. They figure kids won’t care, which makes me really question how much time they’ve spent with little kids.

  2. I appreciate their qualms about the AI cover. It does seem ethically compromised as Sarahz summarized. Couldn’t the companies behind it limit the training to old, out of copyright artists? I suspect they just didn’t think about it.

    The image itself is lovely and striking. However it also doesn’t signal ‘this book is urban fantasy’ while the one they went with does. It even looks like it’s part of a series. (I don’t read Andrews, but that’s how the image strikes me.) Marketing is important, too.

  3. Two posts by John Scalzi a few weeks ago (latest was https://whatever.scalzi.com/2022/12/10/an-update-on-my-thoughts-on-ai-generated-art/) made me realize that the AI generated art is trained on pictures by artists who do not get any compensation for the use their work is put to, and don’t get compensation for their art being sampled and re-used by the AI. That is a moral dilemma, if you know using it means artists are being undercut and losing income because of the unpaid use for which their work has been co-opted.

    And also, that a judge has decided that as things stand, AI generated art can not be copyrighted, which creates other problems, if you want to use it in something that you would want to have under copyright, like your book covers.
    Even if Ilona Andrews didn’t care about the artists’ incomes (which I don’t think, since they commissioned an artist to create, synthesize and retouch the AI image), the copyright uncertainty would be enough reason not to use it for now, though it is a very good image!

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