Google’s top marketing chief has revealed her personal reasons for being fearful about the rise in artificial intelligence systems.

Speaking at Cliveden Literary Festival, Yonca Dervisoglu claimed the creative work of her boyfriend had been used by Meta to train generative AI systems without his permission.

It comes after The Atlantic reported how Facebook and Instagram’s parent company had used more than 191,000 books without permission. Meta lawyers claim no laws were broken.

Books play a key role in training AI systems but to date, have typically been used without permission, purchase or licensing which has led to a row over copyright infringement.

Appearing in Taplow, Bucks, at Cliveden House, Google’s  vice president for marketing in Europe, Middle East and Africa, said she was concerned about the practice after her partner's work was used. 

She told the audience: “My boyfriend is a non-fiction writer, he was one of the authors [named in Meta’s list of authors used to train their AI systems].

“He’s really angry about it.”

Reflecting on the role of Google, which also has been building new AI systems, she said: “What I can say about Google is that we really care about getting this right.”

She said she believed Google had been “a good partner” to media companies.

The wide-ranging discussion, held on the Saturday of the festival, saw speakers share their thoughts on AI and the future of creativity.

Author and former BBC arts editor Will Gompertz, who will take over as director of Sir John Soane’s Museum in January, said he felt “we are giving away our intellectual freedom to machines”.

He said: “I find that deeply worrying. We are fast asleep. I find it hugely offensive when I am having a conversation with a friend about jeans or white trainers for example and then suddenly an advert appears when I’m on my iPhone. It is a huge social threat; I think it’s shocking.”

The conversation at Cliveden comes just months after thousands of authors backed an open letter urging AI firms to gain permission before incorporating copyrighted work into their technologies.

The Handmaid’s Tale writer Margaret Atwood and other high-profile names from the literary world such as James Patterson and Suzanne Collins have endorsed the open letter from the Authors Guild.

“Millions of copyrighted books, articles, essays, and poetry provide the ‘food’ for AI systems, endless meals for which there has been no bill,” the letter reads in part.

“You’re spending billions of dollars to develop AI technology. It is only fair that you compensate us for using our writings, without which AI would be banal and extremely limited.”

The letter was addressed to OpenAI, Meta, Microsoft and other AI producers.

The guild announced that other signatories include the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists Jennifer Egan, Michael Chabon and Louise Erdrich, as well as authors Jonathan Franzen, Celeste Ng, Nora Roberts and Ron Chernow.

“If creators aren’t compensated fairly, they can’t afford to create,” Roberts said.

“If writers aren’t paid to write, they can’t afford to write. Human beings create and write stories human beings read.

“We’re not robots to be programmed, and AI can’t create human stories without taking from human stories already written.”

Cliveden Literary Festival takes place at Cliveden House Hotel in Taplow, Buckinghamshire and is in its sixth year.

The event sees hundreds of guests descend on the historical mansion, which has a rich political history, for a weekend of discussions around the arts, culture and current affairs.