Japanese author Rie Kudan confirms ChatGPT usage in her book after winning prestigious literary award

Author Rie Kudan of Japan, who recently won the Akutagawa Prize for her work in ‘Tokyo-to Dojo-to’ (The Tokyo Tower of Sympathy), has confirmed the use of AI bot ChatGPT to complete a portion of her work.

Author Rie Kudan. Photo credit: Rie Kudan/Instagram
Japanese author Rie Kudan. Photo credit: Rie Kudan/Instagram

The Akutagawa Prize is one of Japan’s most prestigious literary awards, which is presented biannually. The revelation by the 33-year-old author was made at a press conference on January 17.

“I plan to continue to profit from the use of AI in the writing of my novels, while letting my creativity express itself to the fullest,” Rie Kudan was quoted as saying by CNN.

Set in the future, the book is about an architect who is tasked to build a comfortable, high-rise prison facility in Tokyo. It explores the dilemma the protagonist goes through, and also features artificial intelligence as one of its themes.

As per the author, 5% of the work in the book is generated by ChatGPT. Rie Kudan also stated that she’s a frequent ChatGPT user and often consults the AI bot to find solutions to her problems.

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

Opinions divided

Meanwhile, the admission wasn’t bereft of criticisms. “On social media, opinions were divided on Kudan’s unorthodox approach to writing, with skeptics calling it morally questionable and potentially undeserving of the prize,” a report from Taipei Times read.

However, Rie Kudan has also received support from some quarters. Coming to her aid, novelist and prize committee member Keiichiro Hirano tweeted, “It seems that the story that Rie Kudan’s award-winning work was written using generative AI (“about 5% of the text is original”) has been misunderstood and has taken on a life of its own.”

“…but as you’ll understand if you read it, It’s about the appearance of AI, and it’s not like it’s mixed up in a way that you can’t tell where it was used in the original text,” his tweet in Japanese said.

Though the writer stated that such use of AI will be problematic in the future, it wasn’t an issue with the 33-year-old’s work.

Renowned authors unimpressed with ChatGPT and other AI generative tools

Using ChatGPT as a co-author isn’t new. It has been tried in the past as well, with underwhelming approval.

Renowned author Salman Rushdie, who attended the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, shared his views on the subject at a press conference at the event.

Representational image of Open AI. Photo credit: Unsplash
Open AI logo. Photo credit: Unsplash

The Indian-born British novelist said that “pure garbage” was produced when someone asked an AI generative tool to mimic his work.

In 2023, George R. R. Martin, Jodi Picoult, John Grisham, and over a dozen other prominent authors joined a class action lawsuit against ChatGPT’s parent company OpenAI. The complaint stated that ChatGPT was fed their works to enable it to come up with more human-like responses.

This alleged practice was also termed as ‘flagrant and harmful’ copyright infringement.

Over 10,000 have also signed an open letter, where they have asked the AI industry to obtain permission and fairly compensate authors for using their work.