BAFFLING! With ChatGPT threat looming, Sci-Fi magazine FORCED to take strong action

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As the world moves towards AI-integration in digital space with the advent of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft Bing’s chatbot and Google’s Bard, the movement is causing major headaches for publishers. For a long time, the impact of such content-generating AI bots have been debated in academic and publishing circles and now, it turns out the fears are becoming a reality. A popular science fiction magazine, Clarkesworld, in a drastic step, had to close submissions for authors after it failed to differentiate between original work and those generated with the help of AI tools such as ChatGPT.

The official Twitter handle of Clarkesworld, a Hugo award winning magazine, made the announcement regarding this on February 20. Neil Clarke, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the publication said, “Submissions are currently closed. It shouldn’t be hard to guess why”.

The magazine had to ban authors in the past, but that was mostly due to plagiarism issues. However, it revealed in a blog post that from late November (the time ChatGPT was launched for the general public), the reason for ban has largely remained AI-generated or AI-assisted content submission. The number of banned authors also rose from 50 in October 2022 to more than 500 in February, 2023.

ChatGPT causes magazine to shut submissions

In a Twitter thread, the magazine detailed out the situation. It explained that while no new submissions were being accepted at present, the magazine itself was not closing. It also reassured that the submissions will again reopen in the future, but the date for reopening was not final.

“We don’t have a solution for the problem. We have some ideas for minimizing it, but the problem isn’t going away. Detectors are unreliable. Pay-to-submit sacrifices too many legit authors. Print submissions are not viable for us,” Clarkesworld tweeted, explaining the extent of the issue.

Another tweet also highlighted how the magazine is helpless in identifying the offenders. “Various third-party tools for identity confirmation are more expensive than magazines can afford and tend to have regional holes. Adopting them would be the same as banning entire countries”.

Another tweet also highlighted that the problem was persisting despite having a strict guideline (that all submitting authors have to acknowledge) around AI-based work. Clarkesworld tweeted, “Our guidelines already state that we don’t want “AI” written or assisted works. They don’t care. A checkbox on a form won’t stop them. They just lie”.

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