The deep involvement of AI (artificial intelligence) in literary writing has always touched the sensitive nerves of human beings.

At the beginning of 2024, at the 170th Japan Akutagawa Prize Award Ceremony, 33-year-old writer Kudan Rie publicly revealed that his award-winning work "Tokyo Compassion Tower" was written using an AI generator to assist it.

  In fact, this is not the first time that a novel in which artificial intelligence is deeply involved has won a literary award.

In October 2023, the fifth Jiangsu Youth Popular Science Science Fiction Works Competition, sponsored by the Jiangsu Science Writers Association and the Jiangsu Science Communication Center, announced the winners.

Among them, the work "The Place of Machine Memories" that won the second prize was generated by Professor Shen Yang of the School of Journalism of Tsinghua University through dialogue prompts "@ Silicon Zen" (AI). After a total of about 66 dialogues, it mainly went through 5 non-consecutive dialogues. The creation took about 3 hours in total, and about 43,061 characters were formed, from which 5,915 characters were copied, and finally completed.

  A novel written by AI won a literary award. What does it mean?

Is AI's literary writing an assistant or a threat to human authors?

Will AI writing replace professional writers on a large scale in the future?

Will works co-created by humans and machines encounter copyright ownership issues in the future?

With many questions, West China Metropolis Daily and cover news reporters interviewed many young writers who are actively thinking, writing, and acting in their respective fields.

The goal of human-machine co-creation

It’s about breaking down boundaries and starting a dialogue.

  Chen Qiufan, a science fiction writer born in the 1980s, has been deeply involved in the practice of AI "co-creation writing" for many years before the ChatGPT era, and has a unique cutting-edge perspective and profound insight into generative artificial intelligence.

He graduated from the Chinese Department of Peking University and won the "Galaxy Award", China's highest science fiction award. He is known as "China's William Gibson" in the science fiction circle. He is currently the deputy director of the Science Fiction Literature Committee of the Chinese Writers Association.

  In October 2020, Chen Qiufan launched a human-computer co-creation writing experimental project called "Symbiosis Era".

The project brought together 11 emerging domestic writers, including him, to collaborate with AI to create a number of science fiction stories around themes such as environmental protection, human-machine relations, gender, and cultural diversity.

Chen Qiufan has used artificial intelligence as an aid to create science fiction works including "Algorithm of Life", "Fear Machine", "Trance", "Mars Odyssey" and other science fiction works. "I will mark which part was created by humans and which part was created by machines, and finally give It has a signature that says which model it was created by, which team is behind the model, and it also retains respect for the intellectual property behind it," he said.

Starting in 2022, Chen Qiufan began to use AI tools such as Midjourney (AI painting tool), Sudowrite (AI writing tool), and GPT as assistance for his writing.

His experience is that "AI technology is advancing very rapidly. It may be equivalent to the writing level of middle and high school students in primary schools, and it has reached a basically smooth and fluent level. Of course, it may still be lacking in some details, and there may still be errors in aspects such as person and pronoun." , but sometimes there will be amazing sentences." He mentioned that in the process of co-creation with machines, he can break the inertia of his previous writing, "Human-machine co-creation experiments use more data and are more intelligent. algorithm, but the goal is not to write better works, but to break boundaries, start a dialogue, and realize the collision and flow of human and machine ideas. Generally speaking, I think that AI as a creative tool should be the general trend. .The problem now is to guide young people to face this matter with a positive attitude and approach."

  Now, Chen Qiufan feels that he has entered a new stage.

“We can no longer use AI as before because it will involve many issues, one is legal, and on the other hand it forces us to think about how to improve the creativity of human-machine collaboration. When it becomes a tool, Maybe slowly the word software, Microsoft computer systems and keyboards we use every day will no longer be an existence that needs special emphasis."

  Jiao Dian, a poet and novelist born in 1996, is a young writer with great potential.

In May 2021, Jiao Dian received the "College Poet of the Year Award" from the "2020 China Stars Annual Poetry Award" in Chengdu.

Now she is studying for a PhD in literary creation at Beijing Normal University, and her supervisor is Mo Yan.

In the reading program "I Study on an Island 2", Jiao Dian once had a wonderful conversation with his teacher Mo Yan about writing.

  Will young writers like Jiao Dian consider using AI as an assistant for their writing in the future?

"If it can help write better novels, why not? Human authors can save time with the help of machines in some places, so they can focus more on the essential parts that require breakthrough originality." Jiao Dian said this in an exchange with reporters.

Create the right AI writing partner

is an important consideration for human creators

  The Akutagawa Prize-winning novel "Tokyo Sympathy Tower" was written by a human author and AI, which made Xu Zechen, deputy editor-in-chief of "People's Literature" and winner of the prize novelist, feel extraordinary, "This time it was written jointly by human and AI. I also won a very important literary award. Many people may be confused: Who does this award belong to, and can this work and this award demonstrate people's creativity?"

  Xu Zechen added that his focus is not on the ownership of the prize, but on a series of potentially controversial situations that this "hybrid doubles" of humans and machines will bring about. "In fact, this should be within our expectations." Just like when the calculator came out, people no longer used the abacus. As soon as the search engine came out, many people no longer went to the library to look up information. After AI comes out, people can do a lot of things with it, so why not let it participate in part of writing? What? This is not a problem. The key issue is where the database for AI writing comes from, and whether all basic data are legal, compliant, and ethical. This may also be a problem that we must solve while developing AI. As long as these problems are solved , I do not exclude cooperation with AI. I also believe that the ability to choose or create a suitable AI writing partner is also an important consideration for human creators."

  AI-generated literary works will also lead to the issue of clear copyright ownership.

For example, what will happen if AI demands its own copyright in the future?

Sanfeng, a visiting scholar at the Center for Science and Human Imagination of Southern University of Science and Technology and a senior science fiction researcher, mentioned his views in an interview with reporters, “I think the first step is to clearly mark the information when publishing or submitting articles or participating in awards. At the time, please indicate the participation of AI and the degree of participation. I personally feel that at this stage, if the work is completed by the author with AI assistance and is clearly marked, the copyright should still belong entirely to the human writer for the time being."

  Bo Hongqiao, a powerful young poet born in 1997, is a doctoral candidate in the Chinese Department of Tsinghua University.

In his view, the impact of artificial intelligence on the humanities, especially literature, “is not so much a sudden head-on collision as a long and ubiquitous difficult process, a slow transformation.” Therefore, he He believes that the relationship between human writers and artificial intelligence is not a question of who replaces whom, but a symbiotic state, "probably feeding each other, inspiring each other, and training each other."

  Bo Hongqiao also thought about a core question: In the era of artificial intelligence, who is the subject, AI or humans?

"My subjective feeling is that the human subject is constantly being smashed. However, only those things that slowly return to themselves after being constantly smashed can constitute the real subject of the writer." Regarding the subject of

"subjectivity", Chen Qiufan also mentioned, "As AI becomes more powerful, it will have a certain degree of subjectivity. I think this point is also worthy of discussion. This may need to be continued later. This will become an issue that needs to be discussed repeatedly for a long time. .”

The essential difference between humans and machines

It also depends on whether there is "life"

  Chen Qiufan, who has done a lot of work in the field of human-machine co-creation, also mentioned that text understanding is not an easily transferable skill.

"In other words, regarding the question of how to understand a poem, it is difficult for us to teach others to appreciate poetry like myself. This is actually a unique human ability, which can be seen from the example of why Microsoft Xiaobing writes poetry . But the poems written by Xiaobing often have a popular and easy-to-understand style, similar to the style of best-selling poets who were once popular. This is not a style generally recognized by the contemporary poetry community."

  What is the current level of novels written by AI?

You can feel it through the text fragments of the science fiction novel "Memory Land": "Li Xiao walked slowly towards Memoria. She saw liquid flowing out of its 'eyes', which were its 'tears'. Memoria's voice was deep And sadness: 'Why have I become so lonely? Data and memory can no longer bring me satisfaction. I have lost myself...' When Li Xiao was thinking about the mystery of the 'emotional gene underlying code', her spiritual experience There was a silent storm, as if it had touched some unknown taboo. Memoria felt this tremor, and suddenly, a cold light shot out from its depths, rushing straight towards Li Xiao."

  The writing of genre literature, especially the writing of science fiction novels, pays more attention to the whimsy of the storyline, and is often not meticulous in the language and artistic style.

According to this standard, this kind of science fiction passage is valid and can be regarded as a qualified science fiction novel.

But I have to say that the tone of such a paragraph is rather stiff and has a "plastic feel".

  A senior literary editor once mentioned that he was worried about the damage to language caused by AI writing.

"Language sense" may become a rare thing in the future.

  Many people have mentioned that the real leap forward in AI's literary creation is that based on massive reading, AI has a life consciousness that is no less than that of any adult. It really regards itself as a life, unique and full, and thus Writing a great masterpiece is a real qualitative leap.

  However, at this stage, people have created "people" with their own hands, and people and the world itself need to be redefined.

It’s hard to say whether such a “Tower of Babel” is a blessing or a curse to the earth.

  Before this extreme situation occurs, human authors still don’t need to worry too much.

Because human life experience is still a priceless treasure.

Bo Hongqiao believes that “when AI’s learning speed is much higher than the knowledge system update promoted by humans through generational changes, only true life experience will be the only line that distinguishes human art and AI products.”

  West China Metropolis Daily - Cover News Reporter Zhang Jie Picture provided by Chen Qiufan