Popular blockchain influencer Siraj Raval has been caught plagiarizing the works of other researchers. The AI expert has apologized for this grave offense, claiming the literary theft was in a bid to meet a tight deadline.
It was a field day in the crypto space when news about Siraj Raval’s plagiarism began to circulate.
The tech enthusiast is famous in certain segments of the crypto space, with a massive 700,000 YouTube followers and 70,000 Twitter followers who religiously follow his teachings on the blockchain, artificial intelligence, and entrepreneurship.
Engineer uncovers Raval’s plagiarism
Raval recently published an academic paper titled “The Neural Qubit,” which focuses on quantum qubits.
However, upon reading it, a vTime machine-learning engineer named Andrew Webb suspected that something was off with Raval’s work and decided to dig deeper.
Webb uploaded “The Neural Qubit” to an online plagiarism checker which revealed that significant portions of the paper were copied word-for-word from the works of other scientists.
Specifically, the plagiarised works include those from researchers at MIT, a private research university, Texas A&M, a public research university, and Xanadu, a quantum computing firm.
Webb called out Raval on Twitter over his attempts to make the plagiarized paper his own by replacing original phrases like “quantum gate” and “complex Hilbert space” with spun phrases like “quantum door” and “complicated Hilbert space.”
Can you please explain how the technical terms “quantum gate” and “complex Hilbert space” became the nonsense phrases “quantum door” and “complicated Hilbert space” in your plagiarised version? Do you know what these terms mean?
— Andrew M. Webb (@AndrewM_Webb) October 13, 2019
Raval addresses plagiarism allegations
In the face of Webb’s allegations, Raval has admitted to “partly” plagiarising portions of “The Neural Qubit,” but attempted to excuse his actions by explaining that he only did it to keep to his busy “2 vids/week schedule.”
I’ve seen claims that my Neural Qubit paper was partly plagiarized. This is true & I apologize. I made the vid & paper in 1 week to align w/ my “2 vids/week” schedule. I hoped to inspire others to research. Moving forward, I’ll slow down & being more thoughtful about my output
— Siraj Raval (@sirajraval) October 13, 2019
Raval’s apology did not seem to mollify his followers on Twitter, many of whom commented on the disingenuousness of his actions.
Twitter user @s_lelli didn’t buy the apology, noting that “partly plagiarisng” was an understatement:
Too late, sorry. And it is not “partly” if you copy as images most of the formulae. You translated “quantum gates” to “doors”. This is simply so sad…
— S. Lelli (@s_lelli) October 13, 2019
Another follower, @alkalait, lambasted Raval over his actions, stating that he was “in no position to inspire anyone getting into research.”
You’re in no position to inspire anyone in getting into research
If anything, you are more likely to reinforce the myth of the prolific lone genius. Ironic how imposter syndrome plagues the least deserving
The mental gymnastics that you do – now that is a research question
— Freddie Kalaitzis (@alkalait) October 13, 2019
Others remarked that this is not the first time Raval has been involved in a plagiarism scandal.
For instance, the AI educator was accused in September of presenting plagiarized Github code to students during his 10-week machine learning course.
Raval’s book not faring any better
While Raval is getting raked over the coals for plagiarising his academic paper, his book, titled Decentralized Applications: Harnessing Bitcoin’s Blockchain Technology, is getting savaged for an entirely different reason.
Raval’s popularity is evident in the high interest in his works, which in the past, has not been quite impressive as well.
The book, published in 2016, promises to teach readers how to “take advantage of Bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain, to build massively scalable, decentralized applications known as dapps.”
Out of the book’s 17 total reviews, nearly half of them were one and two stars.
One reader, who’s review was short and to-the-point, said: “This is a terrible book. Very little on details and the code samples and repos don’t work. Waste of money.”
“For a book with under 100 pages, I’m not sure where the fluff ends and content starts,” said reviewer Evan Carroll.
“It’s horrible and filled with unexplained terminology, examples written in Go, lengthy documentation from the author’s own unmaintained library, bad links, and unrelated applications,” he added.
“At 103 pages, this booklet is the thinnest O’Reilly volume I have ever owned (by a factor of three). The author uses Word Salad liberally, throwing around terms and marketing boilerplate while defining very little,” said reviewer MPI.
“In short, this book was a waste of my $20, and a waste of my attention awaiting its arrival. (Its publication was delayed twice. It now appears that the author ran out of time and shipped the ill-composed draft, broken URLs and all.)”