Thursday, November 19, 2020

Apparent SEO hacking has popularized a suspicious Barack Obama "biography" at Amazon

Slate looks at "Barack Obama Book: The Biography of Barack Obama"

Thanks to sponsored listings and canny search-engine optimization, the book appears above Barack Obama’s actual memoir if you search Amazon for—you guessed it—“barack obama book.”


Is Barack Obama Book written by an AI, or just by an awkward, occasionally confused human? I’m no expert. But the Giant Langage Model Test Room is an expert. GLTR, a tool developed by Harvard’s natural language learning project and the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, helps to identify AI-written copy by comparing every word in a text to the words that common machine-learning algorithms would commonly predict would appear in that position. The more uncommon or unlikely the words in a text are, the more likely they were written by a human, not by a machine.

I fed a paragraph from Barack Obama Book into GLTR. It’s about Obama’s 2011 decision to launch a raid on the compound where intelligence suggested Osama bin Laden might be hiding. In this GLTR result, words highlighted in green and yellow are very common machine-language choices, while words highlighted in red and purple are uncommon.