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Professor wins national writing competition with new novel – but AI wrote it

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A professor at at Beijing’s Tsinghua University won a national writing competition with a sci-fi novel, using the power of AI.

Chinese Journalism professor Shen Yang weaved together his story of the futuristic realms of the metaverse and humanoid robots to great acclaim and he has pledged to outline how others can emulate him, as reported by the South China Morning Post.

With artificial intelligence well and truly upon us, it is a reminder of the tremendous accessible opportunities and a stark reminder of the threat posed by rapid technological advances.

Shen is said to have initially turned to AI for assistance with his writing. Still, the outcome was a full text generated online, which was so impressive – and challenging to detect – that it won a vote from three of six judges on the contest panel hosted by the Jiangsu Science Writers Association.

One judge was said to have been informed that AI had been deployed in the novel Land of Memories, while another believed that it had been used and did not select the book as the content “lacked emotion.”

The main protagonist in Land of Memories is Li Xiao, a metaverse explorer who was formerly a neural engineer in the real world.

The full text, almost 6000 words long, is a Chinese-language sci-fi narrative constructed using a draft of 43,000 characters using just 66 prompts in three hours. The full three-line intro was created in full by AI:

“In the metaverse’s edge lies the ‘Land of Memories’, a forbidden realm where humans are barred. Solid illusions crafted by amnesiac humanoid robots and AI that had lost memories populate its domain.”

“Any intruder, be it human or artificial, will have their memories drained away, forever trapped within its forbidden embrace.”

Irreversible damage

Shen stated, “This is the first time AI writing has won a literary award in the history of literature and of AI,” further commenting that the creation of the novel would be made public “for anyone who would like to learn how to create good fiction with AI.”

In response, sending out a warning, Fu Ruchu of the People’s Literature Publishing House intimated AI will pose a danger to sci-fi writers with a further note of caution on the potential of irreversible damage to literary language by the tone and prose of AI writing.


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