According to the Global Times newspaper, Mo Yan, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2012, admitted to having resorted to the popular artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot ChatGPT to write a speech. The Chinese writer was selected to write a few words in honor of Yu Hua, another famous novelist and compatriot of his, who received a major award during an event in Shanghai.
During the ceremony, in his role as host and in charge of presenting the award, Mo Yan not only spoke about his close friendship with his colleague, praising his work, but also revealed the difficulties he faced in trying to draft a compelling speech for the occasion. “I spent several days trying to write one but failed, so I asked a PhD student to use ChatGPT to write it for me,” the author of ‘Red Sorghum’ told the audience. Mo explained that by using keywords such as “live,” “Wen Cheng” and “pull a tooth,” the generative AI immediately created a text of over 1,000 words in a Shakespeare-like style.
These three words directly reference Yu Hua and represent significant aspects of his life and work. “Living” is one of his most prominent and well-known novels, while “Wen Cheng” (‘The Lost City’) is his most recent publication (2021), for which he received the tribute that week. As for “pulling out a tooth,” it alludes to Yu’s profession as a dentist before he became a writer.
Mo Yan clarified that he has written all his novels himself and said he will continue to do so because he enjoys it. However, his confession sparked debate on social media. Many praised the 68-year-old acclaimed writer’s willingness to use new technologies and expressed optimism about the potential of AI to help writers generate ideas and polish their work. However, others cautioned about the legal implications and advised Mo to consult a lawyer before using ChatGPT again, according to the South China Morning Post newspaper.