Scammy AI-Generated Book Rewrites Are Flooding Amazon


When AI researcher Melanie Mitchell published Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans in 2019, she set out to clarify AI’s impact. A few years later, ChatGPT set off a new AI boom—with a side effect that caught her off guard. An AI-generated imitation of her book appeared on Amazon, in an apparent scheme to profit off her work. It looks like another example of the ecommerce giant’s ongoing problem with a glut of low-quality AI-generated ebooks.

Mitchell learned that searching Amazon for her book surfaced not only her own tome but also another ebook with the same title, published last September. It was only 45 pages long and it parroted Mitchell’s ideas in halting, awkward language. The listed author, “Shumaila Majid,” had no bio, headshot, or internet presence, but clicking on that name brought up dozens of similar books summarizing recently published titles.

Mitchell guessed the knock-off ebook was AI-generated, and her hunch appears to be correct. WIRED asked deepfake-detection startup Reality Defender to analyze the ersatz version of Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans, and its software declared the book 99 percent likely AI-generated. “It made me mad,” says Mitchell, a professor at the Santa Fe Institute. “It’s just horrifying how people are getting suckered into buying these books.”

Amazon took down the imitation of Mitchell’s book after WIRED contacted the company. “While we allow AI-generated content, we don’t allow AI-generated content that violates our Kindle Direct Publishing content guidelines, including content that creates a disappointing customer experience,” Amazon spokesperson Ashley Vanicek says.

But Mitchell is far from the only AI researcher apparently targeted using the same technology they work on. Pioneering computer scientist Fei-Fei Li’s new memoir The Worlds I See: Curiosity, Exploration, and Discovery in the Age of AI has over a dozen different summaries come up when you search for the book on Amazon.