AI-written novel passes literary prize screening

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - A short-form novel “coauthored” by humans and an artificial intelligence programme passed the first screening process for a Japan literary prize though it did not win the final prize.

A short-form novel “coauthored” by humans and an artificial intelligence (AI) programme passed the first screening process for a domestic literary prize, it was announced on Monday. However, the book did not win the final prize.

Two teams submitted novels that were produced using AI. They held a press conference in Tokyo and made the announcement, which follows the recent victory of an AI programme over a top Go player from South Korea. These achievements strongly suggest a dramatic improvement in AI capabilities.

The following sentences come from the end of one of the the novels, “Konpyuta ga shosetsu wo kaku hi” (The day a computer writes a novel):

“I writhed with joy, which I experienced for the first time, and kept writing with excitement.

“The day a computer wrote a novel. The computer, placing priority on the pursuit of its own joy, stopped working for humans.”

That novel was submitted for the third Nikkei Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award by a team headed by Hitoshi Matsubara, a professor at Future University Hakodate. Humans decided the parameters for the novel, such as the plot and gender of characters. The AI programme then “wrote” the novel by selecting words or sentences prepared by humans and in accordance with the parameters, according to the team.

At the press conference, science fiction novelist Satoshi Hase said: “I was surprised at the work because it was a well-structured novel. But there are still some problems [to overcome] to win the prize, such as character descriptions.”

The Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award is known for accepting “applicants who are not human beings (AI programmes and others).” However, according to the secretariat of the award, this year was the first time it received submissions involving AI programmes.

Out of about 1,450 novels received in the award’s general section, 11 involved AI programmes. The final screening process has already finished and the prizewinners were awarded on March 12.

The award has a four-stage screening process, and the details are not made public. The two teams submitted four novels, and at least one of them reportedly passed the first screening process. The fact that the novels had been written using AI programmes was not known to the judges.

“So far, AI programmes have often been used to solve problems that have answers, such as Go and shogi,” Matsubara said. “In the future, I’d like to expand AI’s potential [so it resembles] human creativity.”


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