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AI is Recruiting Writers to Kill Their Careers


Image of a man wearing goggles holding a sign that says Fraud
AI Steals Author's Words. Those Words Are Used by "Authors" to Sell Books and Other Written Works.

I recently received an email from an AI company called Outlier. Here’s the message in full:


Hi Cully,


Outlier is working on a number of exciting projects to teach AI systems how to write. Your profile stood out and we are inviting you to apply.


As a member of our project team, you’ll have the chance to:

  • Work from anywhere

  • Put in between 0 and 40 hours per week according to your schedule

  • Earn $40 per hour (up to $1600 per week) while teaching AI models how to write

  • Over 50% of advanced english writers with your profile start consulting within 7 days!

  • We look forward to hearing from You!


Personally, I think AI is recruiting writers to kill their careers in various ways. Besides there being no “About” page on their site, and the obvious errors in the above offer, the low pay, and the obvious fact that you’d be self-sabotaging as well as killing the career opportunities of other writers who make their living as copywriters, technical writers, bloggers, article writers, journalists, screenwriters, ghostwriters, columnists, songwriters, poets, nonfiction writers, academic writers, etcetera etcetera, sounds like the offer is, as Al Pacino says in the Godfather, “an offer I can’t refuse.”


Of course, I refused. I refused because why would I want to teach an AI company (my assumption is that they’re a 3rd party service provider to other companies) how to continue stealing the work of other writers? I get that that’s not what they’re saying in the offer, but as we all know, AI has taken the works of writers from everywhere and used their works to, as the offer states, teach “AI models “how to write.” As a writer, why would I want to do that? Why would I throw my fellow writers under the bus? A writer who has put in the work of writing?


The argument is that it’s because it’s inevitable. AI will be part of our future. It will replace many of the writers I mentioned above. Is that just part of the advancement of technology? Sure. I don’t disagree. It is. But, and this is just me, I’m not helping that along. I won’t be a scab. I’m a fiction writer. I write short stories and novels. I also blog. I’ve written some nonfiction. It’s not in my best interest to help a company make money off of taking what I put hard work into and making it a commodity. Making it something that some AI company employee can generate in minutes to make their owners money. I create art; I don’t help others create computer-generated Frankenstein word monsters.


Image of a head with bubbles in it the letters AI at the top
AI is Undoubtedly the Future for a Great Many Industries. But it Comes at a Cost. To Many.

My view on AI is that it can be a great tool. In medical advancements. In technological advancements that help scientists come to conclusions faster and perhaps more accurately. In space exploration and other things that may be too difficult for humans to do in a timely fashion. I know there are critics and skeptics of the arguments I’m making here, and that’s fine. You have your opinions, and I have mine. Mine include not stealing others’ works. And while perhaps Outlier isn’t saying that’s what they’re hiring for, the cat’s out of the bag. I have many friends and acquaintances whose books have already been uploaded into databases so that AI companies can use the words within to “write” what they want and in the style of the authors whose words they’ve stolen. It’s not okay. It will never be okay.


Maybe I exaggerate in the title of this post. Maybe writers teaching AI how to write isn’t career suicide; I’ll concede it may be hyperbole. I don’t think so, but I’m open to the possibility that some learned AI person can show me the light. Maybe after working in the tech industry for 15 years and then finally figuring out it wasn’t for me has turned me into a luddite. If it has, I wear the badge proudly. I don’t want to have my work taken over by artificial intelligence. I don’t want people reading books that were written on the stolen words of authors who have devoted their lives to the written word. To sharing experiences. To making sense of the world through literature. To healing themselves by understanding, through words, why they are who they are. To positing questions to readers via a format that readers enjoy and find entertaining. I find it a degradation of a beautiful art form that has lasted for centuries and hopefully lasts for as long as we’re around on this planet striving to make it better. Maybe that’s just me.


 If you work for an AI company as a writer, more power to you. That’s your decision to make, and I won’t criticize you for it. It’s not my place. I only know that I’m going to be critical of the theft of authors’ works. I’m going to hope with all my heart that these AI companies pay millions of dollars to the authors they’ve stolen from. And I’m going to hope that when other writers receive communications like the one I received where I’m offered $40 bucks an hour to be a shill for an industry looking to pollute the things I love, they’ll do the same thing I did: delete said communication and move on. Forever.


Cully Perlman is a substantive editor, novelist, and short story writer. He’s available to edit your novel or long work of fiction. He can be contacted at Cully@novelmasterclass.com


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Feb 26
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

AI should be illegal when it comes to writing.

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