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The night all the Vikings are black

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The night all the Vikings are black

Did King Charles III indulge in scenes of despair when he was diagnosed with cancer? Perhaps, or at least that’s what some self-published books say following the announcement of the sovereign’s illness on 5 February by the British Royal House.

However, Amazon had to quickly remove them from Kindle Direct Publishing, despite the captivating titles and, perhaps, the first sales. A flurry of texts that appeared as if by magic on KDP promised accurate analyses, gossip, testimonies, “true stories” with naturally sensational titles, from King Charles III & his fears, to Behind Palace Walls : The Untold Secrets And Truths Of The Cancer Diagnoses Of Kings Charles & George and so on; revealing for example that the poor sovereign would have fallen prey to fear, anger, desperation, and that the cancer affected the prostate, an exquisitely “technical” aspect denied by Buckingham Palace, even though it was mentioned in many newspapers.

They were books created, obviously, with artificial intelligence; and we say “were” because, after the official protests of the Court, they were cancelled. It’s the first time this has happened, and it must be said that Amazon should have expected it somewhat, given the success of the new wave of books created automatically and in a very short time: the rules on self-publishing had already been changed last September.

Since then, those who upload their text should inform the site of the possible presence of content generated by artificial intelligence, which in itself would seem to be a pious purpose. Nor does a subsequent rule that limits the number of books proposed by the same author (or presumed such) appear much more effective: no more than three per day.

It would seem like a joke; and in bad taste. And he’s not the only one either, in a few days. Because while the echo of real fake news had not yet died down, it was up to Google to take action, on a significant anthropological issue regarding, among other things, Vikings: which according to the images created with artificial intelligence on Gemini (the Google bot dedicated to it, not available in Europe) appear to have been bearded and horned (as regards helmets, of course), but above all… black. So George Washington and in general the founding fathers of the United States of America, not to mention the Nazis.

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Gemini proved to be a little too “inclusive” (even if on the contrary he declared that he was not able to produce an adequate image for historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar and Galileo): so in recent days, after a wave of protests, the Seattle giant decided to pause it, waiting to resolve the problem. The news is bouncing around in the media, especially on specialized sites, and in itself it would seem like a banal curiosity, a funny hiccup in the triumphal – and for many worrying – march of AI both for the creation of content and for corporate strategies.

But if “funny” incidents like this happen to web giants, who don’t seem to have (or want) effective strategies to counter them, there’s really nothing to laugh about. Comes knows how to disturb and adapt the old Hegel to the times: has the night already irremediably fallen where all the Vikings are black?

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