Scottish authors have lent their support to a global outcry over the unauthorised use of their work to train artificial intelligence systems.

Some of the world's largest technology companies have been found to be using copyrighted literature to build lucrative generative AI technologies without the permission of writers.

The situation has caused fury in the arts sector where lower paid writers are now aware their work is being mined - for no payment - by some of the most lucrative tech corporations.

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An online database released this week allows writers to search to see if they are affected - and a slew of Scots authors have found their names listed.

They include Christopher Brookmyre, Damian Barr, Kerry Hudson and Val McDermid.

Author and broadcaster Damian Barr was one of a number of authors who learned of a search function published by the American magazine The Atlantic that gives a comprehensive catalogue of writers whose work has been used.

He has since signed an open letter from the Authors Guild in the United States to the CEOs of OpenAI, Alphabet, Meta, Stability AI, IBM, and Microsoft calling on them to obtain consent, credit, and fairly compensate writers for the use of copyrighted materials in training AI.

Signatories on the 10,000-strong list so far also include Dan Brown, James Patterson, Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Franzen, Roxane Gay, Celeste Ng, Viet Thanh Nguyen and Tobias Wolff.

Mr Barr, whose work You Will Be Safe Here has been used, said: "Every writer I know has read the piece and is on the database.

"I thought to myself, 'There's no way that this can be right'. This is such an outrageous thing to happen that I couldn't believe it was happening even as it was.

"I was furious about it and still am.

"It's outrageous on so many levels and it can't be allowed to stand, not just for writers but also for readers and viewers."

Mr Barr said the past few years, in the context of the pandemic, have been particularly difficult for those in the arts and so this situation had come as "a real kick in the teeth".

He believes the book industry must fight back against AI, as the music industry has done, but there must also be support from readers and consumers.

The writer added: "There's a sort of weird techno-fatalism that happens. Stephen King was talking about this the other week and he believes it's too late to lock the stable, the horse has already bolted.

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"But that's not true and we've seen that in the music industry and the creative industry where creatives fight back and if people value books, if they value writers, if they value films, if they value plays then they have to get behind writers and publishers and support us.

"We all lose out. Our culture will lose out."

Author and Herald columnist Kerry Hudson also found her name included on the list, causing her particular distress due to the extremely personal nature of her autobiography Lowborn.

She said: "If it had been any other of my books it might not have been such a shock but Lowborn is a book about my own life, traumatic events and my childhood on the margins.

"It's not only a deeply personal book but, by it's nature, deeply human.

"For a book about inequality and poverty to be literally stolen by some of the richest corporations in the world to develop their AI is ironic, but honestly not surprising to me.

"That's what the book is all about."

On X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr Brookmyre wrote: "Twelve f*cking books. I gave permission for precisely zero to be used to train AI."

He told The Herald: "I am offended at the arrogance of someone treating decades' worth of work and experience like bricks they can lob into the maw of their furnace without permission or redress."

The writer was joined in posting on social media by Val McDermid, who called for fellow authors to use the search function and find out if their work had been used.

Caroline Eden, an Edinburgh-based journalist and author, added: "Authors are all saying to one another, 'check to see if you're on the list' but then when you do, and your heart sinks because your hard work is indeed there, a lonely feeling swells inside you as you wonder: 'What now? Who'll stick up for me?'"

Mr Barr said the technology goes against the fundamental philosophical tenets of art.

He added: "AI can produce things that are passable at this point but not delightful or inspiring. It goes to this philosophical question of what do we want art to do.

"It's not just to reflect something back to ourselves, it's to change us in some way or challenge us and that's about new ways of asking a question and this doesn't do that, it is a dead resource.

"It isn't capable of feeling or that kind of change or of reflecting our own changing feelings so in that sense it's almost sterile but that doesn't mean it's not incredibly damaging for writers and readers.

"AI offers a profound economic and moral challenge."

Millions of books, poetry, essays and articles have been used to build AI systems but writers are not being compensated for these unauthorised contributions.

Some of the better known AI systems - such as ChatGPT and Bard - are using the unpaid labour of writers.

In the US the Authors Guild has launched a campaign against the situation, saying there is a potential for AI written content to pose a significant threat to the writing profession.

The Authors Guild open letter appeals to the leaders of the AI industry to address these concerns and calls for tech companies to obtain permission before using work as well as compensate writers.