Winner of Japan's top literary prize used ChatGPT

Rie Kudan tasked internet bot to help write 5 per cent of novel

Rie Kudan's book Tokyo-to Dojo-to (Tokyo Sympathy Tower) won the Akutagawa Prize. Photo: The Yomiuri Shimbun
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A Japanese author won the country’s top literary prize – then admitted to using ChatGPT to write a portion of the book.

Rie Kudan, 33, was recently awarded the prestigious Akutagawa Prize for her sci-fi novel Tokyo-to Dojo-to (Tokyo Sympathy Tower), which focuses on a high-rise prison tower. The book includes themes about AI.

Judges reportedly called her novel “almost flawless.”

However, during her acceptance speech, Kudan revealed a portion of the book had been written by ChatGPT.

“This is a novel written by making full use of a generative AI like ChatGPT, and probably about 5 per cent of the whole text is written directly from the generative AI,” Kudan said, according to The Japan Times.

“I would like to work well with them to express my creativity.”

She said that in her personal life, she consults with ChatGPT about problems she feels she cannot discuss with others.

“When the AI did not say what I expected, I sometimes reflected my feelings in the lines of the main character," she said.

The Akutagawa Prize began in 1935 and is Japan’s top prize for literature. It is awarded semi-annually to emerging writers.

Writer and prize committee member Keiichiro Hirano took to X, formerly known as Twitter, and said the selection committee did not see Kudan’s use of AI as a problem.

“It seems that the story that Rie Kudan’s award-winning work was written using generative AI is misunderstood … If you read it, you will see that the generative AI was mentioned in the work,” he wrote. “There will be problems with that kind of usage in the future, but that is not the case with Tokyo Sympathy Tower.”

Kudan is not the first artist to generate controversy by using AI. Last year, Berlin photographer Boris Eldagsen withdrew from the Sony World Photography Awards after revealing his winning entry in the creative photo category was created using the technology.

Updated: January 20, 2024, 7:17 AM