South Africa: Will Artificial Intelligence Herald Publishing's Winter of Our Discount Tent?


What is the future of the publishing industry as we race towards a time when artificial intelligence starts replacing many of the current human functions? And what does this mean for social investment, particularly in literacy?

"We are standing on the beach, watching a fast-approaching tsunami, and all that we have around us are a few pieces of driftwood. We can continue trying to build a shelter from the driftwood in the few seconds that we have remaining, or we can figure out how we are going to use the driftwood to ride the ineluctable wave."

I thought of this analogy when I was at a recent meeting held between some of the key players in the book production industry in South Africa. I heard many complaints of how "various philanthropists are bypassing the official library chain in South Africa by establishing libraries", "the number of books that were being registered on an official registry are lower than previous years" and so on.

In many ways, I could picture myself sitting in a meeting with key players in the music industry about 12 years ago, around the same time that the likes of Spotify were gaining traction, and they would...

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