Major sci-fi magazine flooded with AI plagiarism, stops submissions
The topic of artificial intelligence is currently more relevant than ever. While some rave about the exciting possibilities, people in creative professions fear for their jobs. Clarkesworld, a staple magazine for many authors, is now taking action on a flood of story submissions written with the help of AI.
Note: The cover image is a symbolic image.
What is this magazine? Clarkesworld is a science fiction and fantasy short story and novella magazine published monthly since October 2006. Both the magazine itself and individual authors who have been published in it have already been nominated for numerous awards.
The editor-in-chief, Neil Clarke, received the prestigious Hugo Award for best editor in 2022.
Hopeful authors can submit their work to Clarkesworld. The lucky ones whose stories get published get paid the equivalent of 11p per word, which is a pretty good rate in the range.
However, the magazine has now imposed a freeze on submissions due to submissions written using artificial intelligence.
However, when used correctly, artificial intelligence also offers numerous exciting possibilities. In this way, it could help immerse us more deeply in games than ever before.
The magazine sees surge in spam submissions
What are the submissions? Back on February 15th, Neil Clarke published a post about a disturbing trend he had noticed. The problem will not just go away, he wrote.
Clarke has noticed an increase in spam submissions to Clarkesworld since the beginning of the pandemic. Until recently, it was mainly plagiarism, in which the author’s name was replaced by his own and the text was finally modified with the help of a program.
However, these cases were quite easy to recognize and occurred so irregularly that they were more of a minor annoyance, according to the editor.
Sometimes the number of plagiarisms increased for a month or two, but overall the growth was very slow and the number of cases remained small. Anyone caught plagiarizing has been banned from future posts. Some even had the gall to complain: “But I really need the money.”
Neil Clarke via neil-clarke.com
What has changed? Towards the end of 2022 there was a further increase in plagiarism, shortly afterwards public interest in chatbots driven by artificial intelligence arose. This suddenly gave many people the opportunity to start an attempt as a supposed author.
The situation quickly got out of control: by February 15, he had blocked more than twice as many senders as in January. The rate for submissions resulting in a ban at this point was already 38% for the month-to-date.
In addition, Clarke shared graphics on Twitter that illustrate the drastic increase in dishonest submissions. The editor did not want to reveal exactly how he recognized these submissions, so as not to contribute to the improvement of the programs. But there are “obvious patterns” (via neil-clarke.com).
Updated version of the graph. pic.twitter.com/dDeWDhHZiM
— clarkesworld (@clarkesworld) February 21, 2023
Supposed financial experts promise easy money
Where is the sudden increase coming from? As Clarke explained in a later post, the AI submissions weren’t coming from humans in the SFF community. Instead, they are driven by supposed financial gurus who advertise AI texts as a way to make money quickly and easily.
Those people deserve the criticism directed at developers of AI software, the editor-in-chief said (via Twitter).
No more “business as usual”.
What is the current development? On February 20th, the editors finally drew the necessary conclusions from the flood of spam. It was announced via Twitter that the submissions were closed at the moment, the reason is probably not difficult to guess.
Clarke elaborates on the problem in a thread: Although there are some ideas for minimizing the problem, there is still no solution. Programs to recognize AI texts are too unreliable, those to confirm identities too expensive.
Clarkesworld doesn’t want to go down the route of charging for submitting stories: that would be sacrificing too many sincere authors. Likewise, one does not want to limit oneself to authors who have already been published in the magazine, which would correspond to a ban on all new authors (via Twitter).
This corresponds to the development that Clarke had already foreseen in his February 15 post. There he wrote that he feared the problem would lead to additional barriers for new and international authors.
However, it is clear that “business as usual” can no longer exist, it is simply no longer tenable.
not closing forever
What’s next? On Twitter, some authors are dismayed by the news. Clarkesworld would respond to submissions the fastest and most efficiently, is also the best paying publication – the current situation is a crisis (via Twitter).
Aspiring authors who had hoped for publication in the magazine are also disappointed. However, Clarke assures that the magazine will not be discontinued and that submissions will be made possible again. However, they do not want to commit to a specific date (via Twitter).
The situation around Clarkesworld shows how sustainably artificial intelligence has already changed work in creative areas. In addition to text, impressive images can also be created with the right tools:
Oops, Destiny 2 awards best fan art – but it’s not by a fan, it’s by the AI.