1700319998 46th Montreal Book Fair What we want to know

ChatGPT, award-winning author? | –

In 2010, there was a small controversy surrounding Michel Houellebecq's novel The Map and the Territory, which had just won the Goncourt Prize. We discovered entire passages in this novel that were copied from the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Plagiarism? Literary collage? Intertextuality? Nevertheless, Houellebecq did not deny this and even thanked Wikipedia in the pocket edition of his book. In any case, he was far from the only writer to have used this collective encyclopedia to create a novel, so we could speak of “Wikipedia literature” for a moment.

Updated yesterday at 9:15 am.


Another time, another controversy. Having won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize, dubbed Japan's Goncourt, writer Rie Kudan caused a stir when she admitted to using ChatGPT to write about 5% of her novel, set in futuristic Tokyo. After a few outbursts and torn t-shirts on social networks, we finally understood that these excerpts are essentially contained in dialogues when a character communicates with artificial intelligence.

It's annoying, we haven't been able to read this book yet, which has not been translated into French, but we realize that the dialogues generated by the AI ​​are an integral part of the story, and… and why not? The novelist wants to continue this examination of AI in her work.

In the future, I plan to use text-generative AI. I would like to use it skillfully when writing novels and at the same time demonstrate my own creativity.

Rie Kudan

Does a writer deserve a literary award if 5% of his novel was written using artificial intelligence? I asked the question to the ChatGPT software, which replied: “The question is complex and open to interpretation.” It depends on various factors, such as the influence of artificial intelligence on the work, the role of the author in its creation and the Criteria of the respective literary prize. Given the current state of AI-assisted writing, it is generally accepted that artificial intelligence cannot be considered a writer in its own right. However, the use of AI can play a significant role in shaping the content of a novel. If the author only monitors or edits the results of the AI, this could be considered a collaboration between the author and the AI. In this case, it is legitimate to ask whether the author deserves an award for his work. However, if AI played a leading role in the novel's creation, it might be harder to argue that the author alone deserves the award. In this case, credit could be shared between the author and the AI, acknowledging the role of each in the creation of the work. »

I'll end the transcription here before I'm accused of writing more than 5% of this column using ChatGPT, which makes me seem like I'm preaching for his church (or a literary award). The problem is that if I hadn't specified that this reaction was coming from the AI, we would have seen nothing but fire (and slightly less humor than usual). In this sense, I think Rie Kudan explained his approach quite honestly.

The debate is elsewhere, more specifically about what AI feeds on. In a post on France Culture, the writer Bernard Werber recalled that a group of American authors, including John Grisham and Michael Connelly, had launched a class action lawsuit against the company Open AI, accusing it of using their works to create novels without their consent Of course, without getting a cent for it. More than 10,000 authors have signed the petition. He also tells us that Game of Thrones fans, tired of waiting for George RR Martin's next book, used ChatGPT to finish the series, which I find disturbing because what's the point if they're not from Author of the saga is coming? However, impatience and admiration have led us to what we call fan fiction, when aspiring authors take a universe they love and develop it further. Will AI destroy this field since it writes much faster than us?

Werber himself tested the application and asked him to create a text in the “Werber” style and, with amazing modesty, concluded that ChatGPT wrote better than him, because, in his opinion, the generated sentences were more complex and the vocabulary was richer!

“In fact, it made me understand my distinctiveness as a writer even better,” he said. I prefer complexity of story to complexity of form. What ChatGPT offered me is like a dish in gravy, where we replace the banality or boringness of the story with the thickness of the gravy. However, I do not believe that ChatGPT can invent an original complex plot, but can only copy those that already exist. And that's precisely why this phenomenon is interesting: it will force real writers to become even more creative, even more original, and probably take even more risks in order to leave the beaten path. »

Werber seems optimistic to me, but I'm not reassured (and neither are the screenwriters who went on strike in Hollywood). Will readership make the difference? I, who thought I was good at recognizing AI-generated images, failed miserably in a fascinating New York Times test that asked me to recognize real photos of human faces among those created by AI. Take the test and be confused. How then could I find excerpts from novels written by a robot?

O, ChatGPT, recite to me the first words of Dante's Divine Comedy! The answer: Of course. In the middle of our life's journey, I found myself in a dark forest because the right path was lost… I would have preferred the voice of Fayolle Jean Sr. rather than the robotic voice of the application, but I imagine that's what will come, with vocal hyperfaking.