Sci-fi magazines are getting inundated with AI fiction submissions

About a month ago, I wrote a piece about Infinite Odyssey, an AI-generated sci-fi magazine. Say what you will about AI-generated content in general (and I'll probably agree with you, though that's not that the point), but there was at least something interest in there about highlighting the act of algorithmic content creation, over the form or quality of the actual content.

Put another way, it's sort of the opposite of what's been happening over at Clarkesworld — an acclaimed sci-fi and fantasy magazine with years of awards and pedigree behind it. As editor Neil Clarke recently explained in a blog post (fittingly titled, "A Concerning Trend"):

Towards the end of 2022, there was another spike in plagiarism and then "AI" chatbots started gaining some attention, putting a new tool in their arsenal and encouraging more to give this "side hustle" a try. It quickly got out of hand […]

The number of spam submissions resulting in bans has hit 38% this month. While rejecting and banning these submissions has been simple, it's growing at a rate that will necessitate changes. To make matters worse, the technology is only going to get better, so detection will become more challenging. (I have no doubt that several rejected stories have already evaded detection or were cases where we simply erred on the side of caution.)

"Bans," Clarke explains, are typically due to plagiarism — and indeed, he received some submissions that were in fact already-published stories, with the syntax rewritten by AI. Things like:

Which is derived from this 1956 story by Raymond F. Jones.

This is, unfortunately, a very real example of AI-generated content causing very real problems for the flesh-and-blood humans who are trying to make art and/or get it out there into the world. Of the roughly 1000 stories that Clarke considers for publication each month, roughly 350 of those were written by AI in the first half of February alone — and that's more than twice as many as were submitted in January, in half the time. That takes away from the time he could be spending reading other stories written by actual hoomans — which in turn makes it harder to get your work published in an acclaimed magazine like Clarkesworld.

A Concerning Trend [Neil Clarke / Clarkesworld]