Robot Authors Are Coming For Your Prizes, As Soon As They Learn To Write

Last week, the robots finally came for that which we humans hold most dear: Our ability to write the Great [insert country or region here] Novel.

The Japan News reported, and various American outlets picked up, the news that a short novel co-written by a computer program and homo sapiens had almost won a literary prize. The prize, the Nikkei Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award, accepts entries written by robots, though this was reportedly the first year that any such entries had been submitted. Of several submissions written with AI programs, one entry scored a remarkable victory: It made it through a single round of screening.

Out of four rounds.

Okay, so “nearly won,” as Bustle put it, might be a slight exaggeration of how well this artificial novelist performed. Maybe we should say “almost made it to the third round,” or “just barely didn’t come in last.” For a book crafted by the robotic intellect of a computer program, however, even such a small success shows a stunning facility with language and narrative.

Of course, there’s just one teeeeny weeny little other detail: The novel was, as mentioned above, “cowritten” by the AI program and a natural intelligence program: human brains. According to The Japan News:

Humans decided the parameters for the novel, such as the plot and gender of characters. The AI program then “wrote” the novel by selecting words or sentences prepared by humans and in accordance with the parameters, according to the team.

According to The Asahi Shimbun, the source material was actually a “sample” novel written by humans, broken down into parts for the program to repurpose into a similar work. Cool! So the robot novelist totally wrote the book, except for the plot, and the plot details, and the words, and the sentences —> Read More