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Amazon Announces New AI-Powered “Sensitivity Setting” for Kindle: Making Reading a Safe and Comfortable Experience for All

April 1, 2023

Amazon Announces New AI-Powered “Sensitivity Setting” for Kindle: Making Reading a Safe and Comfortable Experience for All

April 1st, 2023 (AFD News)

Amazon has unveiled its latest Kindle innovation, set to launch in the coming months: an AI-powered “Sensitivity Setting” designed to offer readers a more personalized and comfortable experience. This groundbreaking feature allows users to select from a list of sensitive topics, such as sexist language, violence, or even arachnophobia, and the Kindle will automatically adjust the text of a book to remove these elements, replacing them with inoffensive language.

The Sensitivity Setting uses advanced algorithms developed by Amazon’s research team, which have been fed thousands of hours of data in order to detect and replace potentially triggering content. The company claims that the software is so sophisticated that it can even identify subtle nuances in language that may be problematic.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said, “We believe that everyone should be able to enjoy reading, no matter their personal sensitivities or preferences. The Sensitivity Setting is our way of making sure that the reading experience is as inclusive and accessible as possible.”

The technology has already been tested on a variety of classic and contemporary novels with impressive results. For example, readers who are afraid of spiders can now experience “Charlotte’s Web” without fear, as the AI has been programmed to replace any mention of spiders with the less intimidating term “Charlottey Bugs.”

Similarly, those who prefer a more pacifist approach to reading can opt to have all scenes of violence in books such as “Game of Thrones” replaced with peaceful alternatives. The AI will rewrite these scenes to feature characters engaged in non-violent activities, such as gardening or knitting, instead of bloodshed and battle. This way, readers can still enjoy their favorite books without the fear of encountering distressing content.

Amazon has also involved specially selected Beta readers in the development process, allowing them to request increasingly specific customizations. In response, Amazon has added a “Custom Sensitivity” option that lets readers create their own list of words or phrases they’d like to avoid. This feature has led to some truly unique reading experiences, such as a version of “Moby-Dick” where all references to the whale are replaced with “Fluffy Unicorn,” making for a more lighthearted maritime adventure.

The company has introduced a “Reality Adjustment” feature as well, which allows users to alter historical events within non-fiction books to better align with their personal beliefs. For example, a reader who subscribes to the Flat Earth theory can now enjoy geography books that adhere to their worldview.

However, critics have raised concerns that the Sensitivity Setting might be taken to absurd extremes. One anonymous source shared an example of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” in which all romantic interactions were replaced with competitive games of tic-tac-toe. Amazon responded to these concerns by emphasizing that the feature is entirely optional and customizable, allowing users to decide how much they want their reading experience to be altered.

Amazon’s new Sensitivity Setting is set to become available in the coming months. So whether you prefer your literature with a side of spider-free whimsy, or you’ve always wished for a less intense version of “War and Peace,” the Kindle’s upcoming update promises a reading experience tailored just for you.

APRIL FOOL! This article was a joke.

I’ve been doing a lot with text-generating artificial intelligence in one of my other blogs, The Measured Circle:

It’s appropriate to address here too, of course. I’ve said that the introduction of ChatGPT is like the introduction of the Model T by Ford: cars had existed before that, but it democratized them and led to cities being built around their use. ChatGPT does a similar thing.

I do think society will change. One area where there is the most passionate discussion, though, is in publishing.

Text-generating AI will compete with human authors, and already is doing so. There are books you can buy at Amazon now written by AI.

Of course, that does predate ChatGPT, as I mentioned with cars and the Model T. I loved

The Policeman’s Beard Is Half-Constructed

a book “written by” a computer in 1984. The absurdity of what it wrote was part of the fun.

Are you going to be reading things written by AI? Yes, it’s very likely you already have. I mentioned books, but it’s also used for articles and even basic correspondence.

Oh, and if you’ve read this post this far, you did. That April Fools’ piece above?

Written by ChatGPT-4.

I basically served the role of an editor at a humor magazine talking to a house writer. I gave it assignment. It gave a draft (in seconds, by the way). I then gave it some notes. It revised based on my notes.

That’s a good way to use it right now. A collaboration can work well. A human writing entirely alone is great and may be likely to still produce the best result. However, it’s much faster (which isn’t the only goal of writing!) if the AI writes it and the human makes it better. I’ve suggested that as a moneymaking opportunity for writers: “AI Polisher”. They’d improve the writing of an AI, both by, well, polishing the lines and by fact-checking.

Let me show you what happened in this case. First, here’s my prompt:

Hi! Please write an April Fool’s Day article for me, maybe 500 words. The premise is that Amazon is working on a Kindle with an AI-powered “Sensitivity Setting”. It lets customers choose certain sensitive topics, such as sexist language, or violence, and it will automatically change the text of a book to remove those elements, replacing it with inoffensive language.

Start out with it seeming real, and then get increasingly silly. Use goofy examples like, “For people who are afraid of spiders, it will change the word to ‘Charlottey Bugs'” (I’m referencing Charlotte’s Web). By the end of it, it should be obvious to almost everyone that the article is a joke.

Any questions?

Its first draft started like this:

“Amazon has unveiled its latest Kindle innovation, just in time for April Fool’s Day…”

Well, that’s going to get people thinking about April Fool’s Day right away! So, these were my notes:

Impressive! There were some really good things in there…love the Pride and Prejudice piece and “fluffy unicorn”!

The only thing is that you don’t want to mention April Fool’s Day in the beginning, because that will make people realize the article is probably a joke. Let’s change that to “in the coming months”…that’s also more typical Amazon speak.

Also, since this is supposedly the first announcement, let’s not use “gained more attention”. Adjust that to be specially selected Beta readers.

Please don’t change anything else…I liked it a lot! Please generate a new one with these changes. Thanks!

You may notice that I talk to it like I would do a human. I find that works best: I recommend that people be polite. Sure, I’ve heard about AIs saying rude things, but from what I’ve seen, that’s after the human really tried hard to provoke it, generally. It senses your mood and mirrors it…similar to what non-sociopathic humans tend to do. 😉

There are certainly also a lot of concerns about AI. One thing that interests me is people essentially accusing it of “stealing” humans’ writing. It doesn’t copy and paste: it’s read a lot of stuff and then it writes something new.

That’s not wholly different from what human writers often do. Lots of fantasy fiction is clearly influenced by The Lord of the Rings, even using “orcs”. There was a ton of vampire fiction after the success of Interview with the Vampire and later, Twilight. We don’t ask humans to write something that is completely original and uninfluenced every time. That’s basically what ChatGPT is doing.

When it’s used what seems like distinctively unique language, I have tried searching for the phrase…without success.

At this point, it’s looking like AI is not getting copyrights, at least in the USA. The Copyright Office wants to limit copyrights to humans. That changes the competitive field.

If you’re a writer, is your livelihood threatened by AI? I’d say yes, in some types of writing. For example, technical writing: I had someone give me a description of their car. I’m not a big car person, so I asked ChatGPT to rewrite it in “plain English”. It did a great job! It didn’t just tell me what the words meant, it gave me how that would affect the car. Here’s an except:

  1. “4.4 L 32v DOHC” – This describes the engine. It’s a 4.4-liter engine with 32 valves and a Double Overhead Camshaft (DOHC) design. This is a powerful engine that typically provides a high level of performance.
  2. “454 hp” – This is the car’s horsepower, which measures the engine’s power output. With 454 horsepower, this car is quite powerful and can accelerate quickly.

It gets what would likely matter to me.

We’ve had quite a few “what if” discussions, including what would have happened if Dorothy’s house had fallen on Glinda instead of the Wicked Witch. That’s useful and fun!

Now, I need to be clear: it’s imperfect. It’s good for research for writers, but it gets things wrong sometimes. You need to double-check, but it can get you looking in the right places. I should mention that I made the somewhat difficult decision to pay $20 a month for the latest version. It does seem more reliable, but it’s still not always right.

I’m sure some of you have passionate opinions about this…some negative, some positive. Feel free to share them with me and my readers! You can do that by commenting on this post, or, and this is probably better, reach out to me on Twitter:

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Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get.  Shop ’til you help!  

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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