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Buddy Cianci meets artificial intelligence

the cover of "The Prince of Providence," by Mike Stanton. Stanton discovered companies like Meta and Bloomberg are using his work to train generative-AI systems.Book jacket

Buddy Cianci might have been the captain of a pirate ship when he was mayor of Providence, but now the author of his biography has become the victim of a different brand of pirates.

Author, professor, and legendary investigative reporter Mike Stanton learned this week that his book on Cianci, “The Prince of Providence,” is among the 191,000 books that companies like Meta and Bloomberg are using without permission to train generative-AI systems.

The Atlantic published a searchable database this week of authors whose books are being used as training text, and both of Stanton’s books are on the list. His other book is a biography of boxer Rocky Marciano, called “Unbeaten.”


”If the subjects of my two books were alive, Buddy Cianci would probably find a way to pull their permits and Rocky Marciano would knock them out of the ring with his deadly overhand right they called the Suzie Q,” Stanton joked this week.

A group of authors is already suing Meta and OpenAI over the use of pirated material, but Stanton said he didn’t realize his books had been used. To be clear, he said, “Mark Zuckerberg never asked me for permission.”

”Meta and other AI companies are threatening to turn the Internet into a lawless ocean where authors’ work is pirated,” said Stanton, who teaches journalism at the University of Connecticut. “It also raises questions of transparency and accountability, so often missing with these giant Internet companies that control our lives. We don’t fully know what AI companies are doing or the end result.”

This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, links to interesting stories, and more. If you’d like to receive it via email Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.


Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.