Opinion: ‘Alice and Sparkle’ not a true work of writing or art

Mack Gowan, Staff Writer

Ammaar Reshi claims that he created a 26-page children’s book, titled “Alice and Sparkle,” in just one weekend. While normally, this would be impressive work, Reshi co-wrote and illustrated the story using AI tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney to generate the text and images. Though he claimed to do so to create a story for his friends and their kids, he listed it on Amazon and sold over 800 copies.

This one short story created in 72 hours raises a lot of questions about the ethics of using AI, especially for commercial purposes, as well as potential issues with copyright.

While Reshi claimed to co-write and illustrate the story, it seems like he’s giving himself far too much credit. In an online article, Penguin Books, a publishing company, said that it can take anywhere between 18 and 24 months to write, illustrate and publish a children’s picture book. This amount of time and energy in no way compares to the simple prompts like “Describe Alice” and “Describe a scene with Alice and Sparkle” that Reshi shared with ChatGPT, according to a video he shared on his Twitter and the “few hours” he spent to generate the pictures.

The other major issue with selling something like this is copyright. While it currently seems like someone wouldn’t be able to gain copyright for work generated by AI, the bigger problem is the potential copyright infringement of using programs like Midjourney. 

In an interview with Forbes, Midjourney founder David Holz said the company did not seek consent to use images (images that may potentially be copyrighted). 

“There isn’t really a way to get a hundred million images and know where they’re coming from,” Holz said.

While using AI to create stuff for fun isn’t really a problem, profiting from a work created from an AI using essentially stolen art doesn’t sit right.

However, AI is far from taking over the book industry if some Amazon reviews for “Alice and Sparkle” have anything to say about it. 

“It’s barely a book considering there isn’t a story, message or themes. The art is also very creepy,” Amazon user Beansbo wrote.

“The pictures aren’t good. The style is inconsistent and badly done. So is the writing,” Zem, another Amazon user, writes.

Though Reshi claimed that the story “isn’t about the money for me,” it’s still listed on Amazon as of Jan. 19 for about $9. It just seems wrong in about every way to be profiting off of something like this or even trying to call yourself the co-author or illustrator for feeding AI prompts for a few hours. 

Even in 72 hours he probably could have written a better story for the book by himself than the AI would’ve been able to. Putting in the time and effort to try to learn art seems like it would be much more fulfilling than using AI and taking art mashed together from millions of stolen images.