‘Nonfiction’ Book About Maui Wildfire ‘Smells of AI,’ Gets Pulled From Amazon

‘Nonfiction’ Book About Maui Wildfire ‘Smells of AI,’ Gets Pulled From Amazon

Wildfires in Maui have devastated the communities in Hawaii over the last week, but a new book listed on Amazon about the natural disaster has raised eyebrows from reviewers.

The book, titled Fire and Fury: The Story of the 2023 Maui and its Implications for Climate Change, is an 86-page narrative of the recent wildfires in Hawaii that has a tinge of generative AI. The book has since been removed from the Amazon store, but an archived version of the listing shows 22 reviews, all of which are one star. Some reviewers believe that the book was written with generative AI like ChatGPT, with one such review claiming that the book “smells of AI.”

Amazon did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment on the book being removed.

That very well may be the case, since, as The Register notes, there are some bizarre circumstances surrounding the publication. The book’s description on its Amazon page uses the phrase “the book” to begin five of its seven sentences. The description also mentions that the book covers the timeframe of August 8th to 11th, despite the book itself being listed on Amazon on August 10th.

Some reviewers smelled a conspiracy rather than an AI-generated cash grab, taking the book’s rush to print as evidence of some sort of pre-planned disaster to further a liberal agenda. “This is absolute garbage, blaming it on ‘climate change,” one reviewer wrote. “Trees weren’t burned, like a normal fire – same as Paradise fires in California.”

“One has to ask one’s self, how does a book like this emerge so quickly,” another reviewer asked. “How does it make the claim that the fire engulfed the entire island when, conventionally, the ‘high-rent’ district of the Uber-wealthy went unscathed?”

But the evidence that the book was simply churned out by a machine is overwhelming. Fire and Fury is credited to Dr. Miles Stones, whose Amazon bio reads “I’d rather not say.” Stones also has a profile on GoodReads, with all of their books having been published in or after June 2023. A majority of these books are nonfiction and feature clearly AI-generated art as well as overwhelmingly negative reviews.

Amazon just recently clamped down on its AI-generated book policy after an author was impersonated. Veteran author Jane Friedman discovered half a dozen unauthorized books written under her name that were listed for sale on Amazon. Friedman filed an infringement report to Amazon but received an automated response. After reaching Amazon more directly, Friedman was told that since she did not hold the copyright to the books, nothing could be done. Eventually, Amazon reversed its decision and pulled the books from its store.

The Hawaiian island of Maui has been facing devastating wildfires for the past several days. Those wildfires picked up in intensity after winds from Hurricane Dora fanned the flames, severing power and 911 service in parts of the island as the disaster raged on. Residents of the island have been forced to evacuate, with some even jumping into the ocean to avoid the oppressive flames. After over a week of facing the fire, the death toll in Maui has risen to 106 people.

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