Children’s book created with AI sparks controversy and accusations of plagiarism

(Image credit: Ammaar Reshi)

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.

The tool ChatGPT is a hot button topic these days. The tool, which uses artificial intelligence to respond to prompts, can be used to create code, respond to questions, or create blocks of text. It’s one of many AI tools that’s taking headlines by storm, due in part to controversy surrounding what people can do with those tools.

Within one week of ChatGPT launching in preview, it was clear that the tool could be used for a range of projects that are generally considered positive, such as debugging code. It was also demonstrated that the tool could create malware or be used in other malicious ways. Now, ChatGPT and other AI resources have drawn criticism for being used to create “original” work.

Ammaar Reshi, a design manager at Brex, created a children’s book using ChatGPT, MidJourney, and other AI tools. Some have credited the book for its unique origin while others have accused Reshi of plagiarism.

I spent the weekend playing with ChatGPT, MidJourney, and other AI tools… and by combining all of them, published a children’s book co-written and illustrated by AI!Here’s how! 🧵 9, 2022

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One of the strengths of ChatGPT is that it’s conversational. Reshi used this fact to refine his story. He then put his ideas through MidJourney, an AI tool for generating art. After several hours of work, Reshi took the AI-generated text and artwork to create a children’s book titled “Alice and Sparkle,” which is available through Amazon.

Reshi’s book caused controversy on Twitter. Children’s Author Kayla Ancrum questioned Reshi’s expertise.

So. From a children’s author to another children’s “author”: what do you know about early childhood development, vocabulary requirements & designing work to bolster psychosocial development?Or did you just think writing for children was about simplistic writing and imagination.December 12, 2022

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Others claimed that Reshi didn’t create anything since AI generated the actual text and images used in the book.

Sorry I’m maybe missing something here but why is this an achievement? Much less one that should be celebrated. You didn’t write anything. You didn’t draw anything. You sat in front of a computer and asked it to do it for you. That’s not achieving anything.December 10, 2022

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Some people pointed out the poor quality of images in the book, including one photo where a finger appears to have been created incorrectly.

This isn’t the first time that AI-generated work has caused controversy. An AI image won a contest earlier this year, much to the ire of some artists (via CNN). Criticism usually centers around two arguments: that the creator did not create anything themselves since the AI did the work, and that AI art is a form of theft because it is trained on the original artwork of other creators.

Reshi is aware of the controversy that his book caused and discussed the risks of AI-generated content:

“There are serious, incredibly valid concerns from artists and writers about all this technology. Their emotional responses are fair, we should listen and instead should ask: To the creators of these tools at OpenAI & MidJourney: how do we ensure protections for artists / train models on consent? Their talent, skill, hard work to get there needs to be respected.”

ChatGPT is powered by GPT-3.5 models that were trained using Microsoft’s Azure AI supercomputing infrastructure. Microsoft also announced a partnership with OpenAI, which makes ChatGPT, back in 2019.

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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at (opens in new tab).

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