Probable AI-generated crock pot cookbooks flood Amazon with recipes we’re afraid to try from Mashable


Add crock pot cookbooks to the simmering stew of AI-generated garbage being sold on Amazon.

On Monday, investigative journalist Matthew Kupfer posted on X that he and his wife had received a cookbook for crock pot recipes as an anniversary gift from his parents. But the cookbook, The Complete Crock Pot Cookbook for Beginners by Luisa Florence, showed telltale signs of being AI-generated, including bot-sounding copy and a seemingly AI-generated image of the author.

A quick search for the book on Amazon showed there are so, so many more just like this one.

Kupfer’s discovery is one of many instances of low-quality apparently AI-generated books and content filling up Amazon — and the broader internet for that matter. Upon the publication of veteran journalist Kara Swisher’s memoir, several knockoff Kara Swisher biographies flooded the retail giant. Swisher had the influence to demand their removal, but others aren’t so fortunate. Authors have discovered what looks like AI-generated books written using their name or plagiarizing a title. And these are just the ones that have been flagged by authors and Amazon users. As of 2021, Amazon reportedly had over 48 million books for sale, and that was before generative AI was widely available, so it’s easy to imagine the scale of the problem and the impact it could have on both authors and consumers.

As Kupfer explained in the thread, there were a few different things that tipped him off. The most obvious one is that it definitely didn’t sound like it was written by a human. “What is Crock pot?” the AI author mused. In a brief history of the crock pot, the cookbook said, “In the 1940s, when women were required to work in locations that were further away from their homes, it was the first time it was used in the United States…” As Kupfer pointed out, this was a “very euphemistic” way to describe World War II without actually mentioning the war, which seems like a no-brainer for a human writer.

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In other examples, the signs of generative AI are so egregious, you don’t even have to open the book. Justin J. Robson, who supposedly wrote the pithily-titled The Super Easy Crock Pot Cookbook for Beginners: 2000+ Days of Simple, Time-Saving, and Tasty Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy Individuals and Families on the Go. Incl. Desserts, Snacks, and Appetizers didn’t even bother to double-check the product description copy. It says, “Indulge in simplicity with a collection of over [insert number] recipes that redefine easy cooking.”

Justin J. Robson forgot to fill in how many recipes he devised.
Credit: Amazon

Another crock pot cookbook, The Complete Crock Pot Cookbook for Beginners: 1800+ Days of Slow Cooked Recipes for Effortless and Flavorful Meals. With Time-Saving Tips and Tricks for Perfect Results, also neglected to fill in the number of recipes in the brackets thoughtfully left by what one assumes was a bot. The product description says, “Say goodbye to kitchen stress! With over [insert number] recipes designed with simplicity in mind, this cookbook ensures that every dish is a breeze to prepare.”

So did Kirk Bishop.
Credit: Amazon

All of the books Mashable found have product descriptions that follow the same format of used-car-salesman-y promotional copy in bulleted sections punctuated by ample use of emojis. It’s hard to prove that this is generative AI, but if you ask ChatGPT or other chatbots to write text promoting something, it looks a lot like that.

Are these authors all following the same promo copy playbook or is it all generated by AI models trained on the same corpus of internet data? Probably the latter, since the authors don’t seem real either. Kupfer looked into Florence’s bio page and she looks like a nice lady who would write a crock pot cookbook, except she most likely isn’t real. “Looks like an AI-generated GAN image to me — note the divergent earrings, weird background, & missing left shoulder,” said Kupfer of the headshot.

Kathleen J. Taylor, probably isn’t a real person who wrote the The Complete Crock Pot Cookbook for Beginners: 1900 Delicious & Sanity-Saving Recipes that All Ages Love to Eat, Easy Slow Cooker Cookbook from Breakfast to Desserts, Snacks, Lunch and Dinner (again, these titles really pack a punch). In Taylor’s profile picture, the back of her hair and neck are blurred, which is typically a sign that some kind of image generator is responsible.

Even Taylor’s author bio is the kind of verbose, generic copy that sounds like generative AI.
Credit: Amazon

Other authors of crock pot cookbooks don’t have profile pictures, but they do sound super fake. Apologies to any real people out there named “Milton E. Armstrong” and “Kirk Bishop,” but they sound like they were picked out of a hat. Same goes for “Tharne Dllsworth,” that’s “Dllsworth” not “Dillsworth” or “Ellsworth.” Apologies if you are real, but given you’re AI-generated helmet of hair in your profile picture, I suspect not.

Is it ‘Tharne Dllsworth’ or ‘Ellsworth?’ Either way this is probably not a real person.
Credit: Amazon

Plus, if you google the authors, there’s zero digital presence apart from the book listing on Amazon (and Goodreads for some). By comparison, if you google the real author of a real crock pot cookbook, like The Easy 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Cookbook: 100 Delicious No-Fuss Meals for Busy People by Karen Bellessa Petersen, there’s plenty of evidence to support the fact that she is a food blogger who has a mouth and hands, and knows what food tastes like.

It’s easy to laugh at AI-generated content gone wrong. The gibberish text, absurd imitations of humans, and warped renderings of images can be comical reminders of how far generative AI has to go — if you know what to look for, and that’s where it stops being funny.

Generative AI is new to many of us, and most consumers aren’t looking for signs of AI while casually browsing for cookbooks on Amazon. People are unknowingly spending money on cookbooks created by entities that have never tasted food, let alone learned what goes into developing a recipe. And that is no laughing matter. Mashable has reached out to Amazon for comment, and will update this story if we receive a response.

We will also add a note if any of these probable AI “authors” turn out to be actual humans and demand a correction, but we’re betting that’s not going to happen.

The post Probable AI-generated crock pot cookbooks flood Amazon with recipes we’re afraid to try from Mashable appeared first on Tom Bettenhausen’s.

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