Robots or Poets? One AI From Japan Wrote His First Novel

artificial intelligence

Google’s AlphaGo might be an expert player of Go, but one AI from Japan is more literary-inclined. His first short novel even entered a national competition and came close to winning the first prize.

Hitoshi Matsubara and his team at Future University Hakodate in Japan helped an AI to write “Konpyuta ga shosetsu wo kaku hi” (The Day A Computer Writes A Novel). They just grabbed words or sentences and let him do the rest of the work by following helpful guidelines. It was #machinemagic!

To prove that an AI could become a succesful writer overnight, they submitted the novel for the Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award. This competition is one of the few that are open to non-human applicants, yet the judges select works “blindfolded” – they have no idea if a computer or a human being is behind the written pages.

Organizers said this wasn’t the only novel submitted – other 11 were co-authored by robots. So, why didn’t it win first prize? Satoshi Hase, a Sci-Fi novelist, thinks that lack of empathy restrain robots when it comes to character development:

“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”

Before you say robots could never fill in for humans, because they will always lack the depth of emotion necessary to convey in most written pieces, Matsubara is fairly convinced it can provide the missing piece: “In the future, I’d like to expand AI’s potential [so it resembles] human creativity”. 

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