Novel written by AI passes first round in literary competition

robot-writing_1024It may be time to add ‘novelist’ to the list of professions under threat from super-smart computer software, because a short story authored by artificial intelligence has made it through to the latter stages of a literary competition in Japan.

The AI software isn’t self-aware enough to think up and submit its own work though (not yet, anyway) – the short-form novel was written with the help of a team of researchers from the Future University Hakodate in Japan. Human beings selected certain words and phrases to be used, and set up an overall framework for the story, before letting the software come up with the text itself.

One of two submissions from the university made it through the first round of the Nikkei Shinichi Hoshi Literary Award ceremony, but the competition is unique in that it openly accepts entries from non-human writers (Shinichi Hoshi himself was a science-fiction author). Of 1,450 or so novels accepted this year, 11 were written with the involvement of AI programs. The four-stage screening process is kept secret but judges aren’t told in advance which submissions are written by actual people and which have robot authors behind them.