Artificial Intelligence Writes Novel, Nearly Wins Japan's Unique Literary Prize

Ny MaGee

A novel written by artificial intelligence was a finalist in Japan's Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award. The award is named after Hoshi Shinichi, a Japanese science fiction author whose books include The Whimsical Robot and Greetings from Outer Space. The unique contest accepts submissions from humans and machines, and judges for the prize, now in its third year, weren't told which novels were written by humans and which were penned by human-AI teams. This year was the first time the committee received submissions written by AI programs.

The AI's novel is called The Day A Computer Writes A Novel, or Konpyuta ga shosetsu wo kaku hi in Japanese. It was co-written by Hishoshi Matsubara, a professor of computer science, along with his team at Future University Hakodate in Japan. According to the L.A. Times, their AI wrote four books, of which one made it past the first round of the prize. It was one of 1,450 submissions, 11 of which were written with the help of AI programs.

According to reports, 80 percent of the novel had human involvement, as Matsubara and his team did the research for the novel, decided on the plot and developed the characters. The novel's text was written entirely by the AI. The Professor's team entered words and phrases from a sample novel into a computer in order for the AI to construct a new novel similar to it, Slate reports.

It's an unprecedented feat, most especially when you compare it to Microsoft's latest AI, which was created to learn from and engage with Twitter users. Instead, the bot's Twitter account was shut down within 24 hours because all it absorbed and regurgitated was racist rhetoric. Read more about it via the Twitter embed below.

— emily m (@maitlis) March 26, 2016

"I was surprised at the work because it was a well structured novel. But there are still some problems [to overcome] to win the prize, such as character descriptions," stated Satoshi Hase, a Japanese science fiction novelist who spoke during the press conference surrounding the award.

AI researchers are noting how "creativity, which is an element inherent to all literary work, is pretty hard to quantify, which makes this AI's achievement particularly impressive," per Futurism. Digital Trends is also worried that "no occupation is safe" if an algorithm could compete in such a contest.

This theory has some of the most intelligent minds in the country taking a closer look at artificial intelligence. Check out the Huff Post Live clip below on "How Artificial Intelligence Is Getting More Human."

Thanks to a $28 million grant, Harvard is delving deeper into researching artificial intelligence. The goal of this research is to "better understand the human brain so that machines may better emulate our biological capabilities."

"This is a moonshot challenge, akin to the Human Genome Project in scope," said project leader David Cox, assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology and computer science. "The scientific value of recording the activity of so many neurons and mapping their connections alone is enormous, but that is only the first half of the project," Cox continued. "As we figure out the fundamental principles governing how the brain learns, it's not hard to imagine that we'll eventually be able to design computer systems that can match, or even outperform, humans."

The year 2015 was a landmark year in AI development, with developers noting how computers are smarter and learning faster than ever, and how one day, humans will collaborate with cognitive AI technologies.

Check out the short clip below about how artificial intelligence relates to faith, and consciousness.

Meanwhile, there's also a $5 million prize for anyone that can show AIs can be a friend, not foe. Peter Diamandis, founder of the latest X Prize, along with IBM veteran David Kenny, challenged software savants to demonstrate "how humans can collaborate with powerful cognitive and AI technologies capable of solving some of the world's grand challenges."

Diamandis and Kenny announced the $5 million X Prize at the annual TED Conference earlier this year, telling the audience that the ultimate winner would be picked by the audience in the year 2020, Daily Mail reports.

Artificial Intelligence continues to be a hot topic in technology, with companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple working to build "smarter" services and products -- and some companies (such as Carl's Jr.) are even preparing for the day when AI's can completely replace humans on the workforce.

[Image courtesy ShutterStock]