AI-generated literature a growing challenge to human-created works
Published: Feb 29, 2024 09:31 PM
AI Photo: VCG

AI Photo: VCG

Japanese author Rie Kudan recently raised the eyebrows of the public as she openly admitted that a portion of her award-winning book was written by AI after she was awarded the country's top literary prize for her sci-fi novel Tokyo-to Dojo-to, or Tokyo Sympathy Tower.

"This is a novel written by making full use of a generative AI like ChatGPT, and probably about 5 percent of the whole text was written directly by generative AI," the 33-year-old author told the Japan Times after winning the prestigious Akutagawa Prize.

The revelation sparked both admiration and controversy as some people welcome AI as a new writing tool, while others are skeptical, fearing it may affect authors' creativity.

With the increasing use of AI in the creation of text, pictures, and videos, AI has become a formidable tool for assisting humans in certain aspects of the writing process, such as generating ideas or providing suggestions. However, it is currently impossible to replicate, or even come close to matching the depth, originality, and emotional resonance of human-created literary works.

Kudan is not the first author to arouse controversy by using AI. In October 2023, Shen Yang, a professor at China's Tsinghua University, won second prize in the youth popular science and science fiction competition held in East China's Jiangsu Province with the sci-fi short story The Land of Machine Memories. 

The entire contents of this story, including the pen name, title, text, and even illustrations, were all created by AI. Shen engaged in 66 rounds of dialogue with AI over a span of three hours, generating approximately 43,061 characters, from which 5,915 characters were selected for the story.

Xiao Xinghan, a science fiction writer and one of the competition judges who voted against The Land of Machine Memories, told the Wuhan Evening News that he recognized the text was AI-generated.

He turned it down because it lacked emotion and he didn't think it was good enough, according to the report.

Examining a paragraph from the sci-fi story disclosed by the media, it's obvious that the story emphasizes an imaginative storyline, yet it lacks intricacy in its language and artistic style. 

The story can be considered on par with standard science fiction literature. However, it must be acknowledged that some passages feel somewhat rigid, carrying a sense of artificiality. 

A seasoned literary editor once expressed concern about the potential damage AI writing might inflict on language. In the future, having a genuine "sense of language" could become a luxury, said the editor. 

From the perspective of classical literary values, the extensive involvement of AI in current online literary creation has to some extent harmed the refinement and stylization of literature itself. 

The issue of stylistic language in AI-generated works remains largely unsolved. However, the vitality of literature lies in its style, and AI has not yet been able to fully simulate or create styles with genuine literary value.

As AI becomes a common tool for creation, it may gradually integrate into our routines much like word processing software and computer systems. Human authors, with the assistance of machines, can save time in certain aspects of creation and concentrate more on the essence of their work that requires originality and innovation.

AI lacks the emotional intelligence and life experiences that humans possess, which are crucial for creating depth and authenticity in literary works.

Instead of being based on a contextual understanding of human culture, history, society, and other domains, AI-generated text is based on big data models, making it difficult to produce original ideas that reflect human perspectives and evoke emotional resonance. 

Literary works often require the interpretation of subtle nuances, metaphorical language, and complex themes, which AI may not fully grasp or appreciate in the same way as humans.

Human life experiences remain invaluable treasures in the creation of literature and that represent a height that AI currently cannot mount.

For AI to achieve a true qualitative leap, it would need to possess a life consciousness not inferior to that of any adult, cultivated through extensive reading. Only when AI truly perceives itself as a sentient being, with its own distinctiveness and depth, can it produce monumental masterpieces.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.