The fear of robots taking over human jobs seems to fester exclusively in simple, repetitive jobs, but now those in creative sectors might have something to worry about. A team of researchers from Japan's Future University Hakodate has developed an artificial intelligence program that wrote a short novel, which was recently named a finalist in a major literary competition for the Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award.
Although humans had a significant amount of input for the novel - creating and writing the sentences and characters that eventually made up the book - the AI program took these building blocks and put them together into the final form that was submitted to the competition.
"I was surprised at the work because it was a well-structured novel," said Satoshi Hase, a Japanese science fiction novelist. "But there are still some problems [to overcome] to win the prize, such as character descriptions."
The literary competition included more than 1,400 participants, with 11 that were the result of computer intelligence. The Future University AI didn't end up nabbing the top prize, but the fact that it made it so far is alone enough to suggest that it could achieve more with future improvements.
"So far, AI programs have often been used to solve problems that have answers, such as Go and shogi," said Hitoshi Matsubara, who led the team of researchers. "In the future, I'd like to expand AI's potential (so it resembles) human creativity."
The Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award has been encouraging submissions from non-human applicants in the recent years. However, this year was the first that the award committee actually reviewed submissions from AI programs that they deemed of high enough quality to be considered.
The Future University team made two submissions in total, and both made it past the first round of screening, which involved blind readings to determine if the AI had a part in creating the story.
The team's book is called "The Day a Computer Writes a Novel" (Konpyuta ga shosetsu wo kaku hi) and focuses on an AI that starts to become self-aware of its writing abilities and rebel against its designed purpose of serving humanity.