A Celebrity Dies, and New Biographies Pop Up Overnight. The Author? A.I.

After Joseph Lelyveld, a former executive editor of The New York Times, died last month, his brother Michael Lelyveld went online to see how he was being remembered. He found obituaries in major news outlets, as expected. But he also found other, unexpected portraits of his brother.

At least half a dozen biographies were published on Amazon in the days immediately following Lelyveld’s death. Several of them were available for purchase on the very day he died. The books, he said, described his brother as a chain smoker, someone who honed his skills in Cairo and reported from Vietnam — none of which is true.

“They want to make a buck on your grief,” said Michael Lelyveld.

Books like this are part of a macabre new publishing subgenre: hasty, shoddy, A.I.-generated biographies of people who have just died.

Among the biographies that appeared soon after Lelyveld’s death was “Beyond the Byline: Unraveling the Heart of Joseph Lelyveld: The Man Who Smoked His Way Through History.” According to GPTZero, a program that detects A.I.-generated text, there is a 97 percent chance that the book is created by A.I.

Tom Smothers, of the 1960s “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” television show, was another recent subject. Smothers died on Dec. 26, and that same day, a new book with a clunky and ungrammatical title became available on Amazon: “Tom Smothers: Revealing 4 Untold Truth About Half of Smothers Brother.”

Toby Keith, the country music star, also had biographies show up after his death this month. One came with an unusual disclaimer: “The author and publisher make no warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the content,” it said. “Resemblance to real persons is coincidental.”

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