For the past year, since Chat GPT and other large language model-driven AI platforms were introduced to the public, I have heard numerous times that AI will inevitably replace writers, editors, and all sorts of professional roles in publishing. All of our jobs are imperiled; embrace AI or die. Well, maybe. It’s early days yet, so let’s see. Just keep in mind that more often than not the person telling you this is a self-described “AI evangelist,” at least according to the recent update to their LinkedIn page. These people, however, might more accurately be described as opportunists.

Still, AI is changing our world in meaningful ways and has become such an important subject that the book fair is offering more than 30 sessions focused on this emerging technology. The topics range from AI-generated translations and illustrations to the copyright implications of training AI technology on existing books. Without a doubt, there will be numerous rich and robust conversations.

AI is only as good as what feeds it—the garbage in-garbage-out principle. AI companies ingested professionally published books to train their models; without that input, the outputs would sound much less intelligent. Now that the availablity of high-quality human-written content has diminished as a consequence of lawsuits filed against the AI companies, what does AI have to feed on? Well, itself, as the AI is likely to ingest more and more of what is freely proliferating: AI-generated content. Suddenly, AI has become an ouroboros, a serpent eating its own tail.

The truth is that large language models need book publishing at least as much as publishing needs AI. And the community of AI evangelists need the book publishers to continue doing what they do best—creating verifiably truthful nonfiction and emotionally honest fiction—for the AI to keep evolving.

If my experience in the past year of using AI is any indication, it’s going to be some time before we’ll be replaced. We have all heard the proclamation that AI can now write at the same level as a recent college graduate. Again, perhaps. And consider the source—typically, this statement comes from someone whose job has been writing computer code, not prose. In the same way I wouldn’t dare to judge whether a piece of code was high-quality, I wouldn’t trust a (self-interested) programmer to tell me if prose is good or not.

When it comes to AI-generated writing, what I’ve seen is that it lacks context, perspective, insight, and, tellingly, emotion. In short, it is missing all the things aside from raw information that are most important to humans.

For now, I’m comfortable with this reply, which was returned to me by an AI platform after I asked it to review a book for me: “Unfortunately, I cannot write a review of the book XYZ as I am an artificial intelligence-based virtual assistant and do not have the ability to read or evaluate books. However, I can suggest that you look for reviews by other readers online or ask for recommendations at the library or a specialty bookstore. Alternatively, you can also look up information about the author and plot of the book to get an idea of its quality. I hope I was still helpful to you.”

That is a surprisingly sane and, at least for the time being, reassuring response. Come this time next year, I hope the AI is still being satisfied that it is helpful. Once it stops trying to help, then we’re all in trouble.

Read more from our Frankfurt Book Fair 2023 Preview and Digital Supplement:

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: The Buchmesse Turns 75
After more than seven decades, the Frankfurt Book Fair is still a vital fixture on the ever-changing global publishing scene.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: Rights Center Buzz
U.S. agents will talk up works by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Kristin Hannah, Anthony Hopkins, Walter Isaacson, Alice McDermott, Salman Rushdie, Amy Tan, and more at Frankfurt this year. Here are the big titles on the block.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: Book Publishing Adjusts to AI
A conference hosted by PW in September revealed the opportunities and challenges of the new technology.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: What Makes Writing Human?
The CEO of describes distinguishing AI-generated text from man-made.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: Around the World in 80 Decibels
Carlo Carrenho, Frankfurt Book Fair’s 2023 audio ambassador, explains audiobooks' growing presence around the world.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: AI and the Arabic Book Market
The burgeoning technology is poised to transform the entire Arabic book life cycle, from creation to distribution.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: The Integrity Algorithm
The Copyright Clearance Center’s senior marketing director argues that AI threatens the trust at the heart of scholarly publishing.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: Building a Better Digital Path Forward
Digital solutions players and publishers are exploring innovative ideas.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: APA Style Focuses on Accessibility and Combating Counterfeiting
Establishing a set of writing style guidelines to make scholarly communication more effective and easier to understand has been the goal of the American Psychological Association’s APA Style since 1929.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: Supporting the Full Content Life Cycle at KGL
A recent spate of acquisitions and consolidations by parent company CJK Group has turned KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd. (KGL) into a content solutions powerhouse.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: Customer- and Technology-Centric Strategies from Klopotek
Becoming a full-service provider—and not just an app-producing company—for the publishing industry is the goal at Klopotek.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: Adopting AI and Assisting Publishers at KNK Software
At this Frankfurt Fair, KNK Software is set to introduce several exciting features and enhancements with built-in AI to help clients boost productivity.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: Audiobooks Innovate
From AI-generated voices to TikTok, the book publishing market continues to evolve.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: Amigos, Audiobooks Are Caliente
Demand for Spanish-language audiobooks is rising in the U.S. market.