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Sci-fi author 'writes' 97 AI-generated tales in nine months

Plus: Official ChatGPT iPhone app debuts; Debt collectors using chatbots to chase debtors

In brief Sci-fi author Tim Boucher has produced more than 90 stories in nine months, using ChatGPT and the Claude AI assistant.

Boucher, an ML-using artist and writer, claims to have made nearly $2,000 selling 574 copies of the 97 works.

Each book in his "AI Lore" series is between 2,000 to 5,000 words long - closer to an essay than a novel. They are interspersed with around 40 to 140 pictures, and take roughly six to eight hours to complete, he told Newsweek

Boucher's superhuman output is down to the use of AI software. He uses Midjourney to create the images, and OpenAI's ChatGPT and Anthropic's Claude to generate text to brainstorm ideas and write stories. 

"To those critics who think a 2,000- to 5,000-word written work is 'just' a short story and not a real book, I'd say that these 'not real books' have shown impressive returns for a small, extremely niche indie publisher with very little promotion and basically no overhead," he argued.

Boucher said the technology's current limitations make it more difficult to produce longer passages of text that follow a coherent storyline. Despite these challenges, he said AI has positively impacted his creativity.

AI has divided the sci-fi community. Editors of the Clarkesworld Magazine, for example, consider short stories written by machines to be spam

Selling an average of six copies per book to make a couple of hundred bucks a month may not be the money fountain authors were hoping AI could provide.

Startups spinning up chatbots to collect debt

Custom AI chatbots have been pressed into service as debt collectors.

Businesses like, Latitude, and TrueAccord are offering services to help lenders chase money from borrowers, Vice reported. Instead of hiring people to make calls, they employ language models to interact with people – a text-to-speech system allows them to "speak" to customers. 

Bots can repeatedly reach out to recalcitrant borrowers without getting fed up or burnt out by abuse.

They're also cheaper to run than humans.

Clever prompting can nudge chatbots into adopting different styles of communication – some might be more empathetic, whilst others might be more aggressive or strict. 

Interactions with software like ChatGPT or Bing have already shown that humans can be manipulated and swayed by AI. Experts warned that such debt collection chatbots could negatively impact the most vulnerable people in society. 

Timnit Gebru, founder of the Distributed AI Research Institute and an former head of Google's AI ethics unit, said: "In a time when income inequality is off the charts, when we should be reducing things like student debt, are we really trying to build tools to put even more pressures on those who are struggling? This would be true even if the software was working as intended." 

OpenAI launches ChatGPT iOS app

iPhone users can now download OpenAI's official ChatGPT app, which also runs its speech recognition model Whisper to convert speech to text in audio queries.

Like the web version, the iOS app is free for anyone to use. Those who want to tap into GPT-4, however, need to have subscribed to ChatGPT Plus.

OpenAI announced the app on its blog this week. "We're starting our rollout in the US and will expand to additional countries in the coming weeks. We're eager to see how you use the app. As we gather user feedback, we're committed to continuous feature and safety improvements for ChatGPT … P.S. Android users, you're next! ChatGPT will be coming to your devices soon."

Expanding large language models to run on mobile devices will mean they're more easily used for tasks like write text messages or emails, and provides more ways to interact with the chatbot so users can search for information. Just make sure to double check results for accuracy. 

SAP and Microsoft collaborate on generative AI

German software conglomerate SAP is working with Microsoft to deploy its generative AI tools on its Azure OpenAI Service API to help businesses recruit and train employees.

Companies will soon be able to generate drafts of job descriptions using Microsoft 365 Copilot's AI text-generation capabilities in Microsoft Word before running them through SAP's SuccessFactors Recruiting software. Meanwhile, workers can turn to language models in Microsoft's Viva Learning platform to create personalized tutorial plans from SAP's courses. 

"We have an incredible opportunity to deliver next-generation AI that will unlock productivity growth for every individual, organization and industry, including the human resources function," Microsoft's chairman and CEO Satya Nadella explained in a statement. 

"We're building on our long-standing cloud partnership with SAP and bringing together the power of Microsoft 365 Copilot with SAP SuccessFactors solutions to transform how organizations attract and develop their most important resource – their people." ®

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