In the summer of 2021, a publishing company, Parambook, unveiled a full-length novel written by artificial intelligence (AI) author Birampoong: “The World from Now On.” This marked the world’s first full-length AI-written novel, considering that previous attempts at AI-based novels were either overly short or lacked natural flow.
Along with the subtle shock of an AI author, audiences were introduced to a new job as well, that of “story director.” Novelist Kim Tae-yeon took the part of directing the novel “The World from Now On.”
Kim coined the term “story director” after realizing the work he has been doing with AI could be likened to that of a movie director.
“It is just like how movie directors provide a storyboard and roles for the actors and staff and complete multiple takes until a perfect one is shot,” Kim explained. “I give the AI a basic background to work with, give orders, check the results, and if I am not fond of it, I adjust some parts and run it again.”
The project started off from an urge to rid himself of repetitive, monotonous work. Kim had written several novels before and felt the need to leave all the simple work of writing to AI and for him to focus solely on creative story ideas.
However, ironically, since this was a new area in AI technology, it was an extra bumpy road for Kim.
“It was such a challenging job, both physically and financially,” Kim emphasized. “I would never dare to do it again.”
The most challenging part he said was planning the frame for the AI to work on. Since it was the AI doing the writing, once he provided the theme, characters, ideas, and background information, it was beyond his expectation what story it would lead to. Without a doubt, a well-planned-out frame meant a satisfactory outcome, so coming up with the optimal input was an arduous task and required seemingly endless reruns.
It took Kim seven years to complete the novel, and during that long, stressful endeavor, his main driving force was his ambition to pave a new road. Kim wanted his work to serve as a steppingstone for his successors in the field.
It might come as a surprise to see a novelist so well-versed in AI technology. However, interestingly enough, Kim has been obsessed with both areas, STEM and humanities, all his life. Kim graduated Yonsei University with a major in materials science and engineering and a minor in Korean language and literature and won a literary contest in his senior year. He cultivated sufficient professional knowledge in diverse areas including engineering, physics, and psychiatry, enough to give lectures at renowned schools such as KAIST. He has also previously worked for the Korea Development Institute (KDI) and the International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME).
It might even seem impossible for a single individual to have made such substantial achievements in so many different fields. However, his success and versatility were not an outcome of dumb luck, but rather persistent and low-key hard work.
Kim offered a few pieces of advice that he picked up along the way, in hopes that it would help students currently giving their best to achieve their own goals and dreams.
“The key is to steer the time you spend on other seemingly unproductive activities to activities that actually help achieve your goal,” Kim stressed. “I believe everyone is given the same amount of time and similar capacities. It is not that some people are especially more talented, they just put in more time and effort.”
“Also, always keep in mind the phrase ‘You will never reach the top without going mad,’ which means in order for you to succeed, you must become completely immersed in your work, to the point where you might even seem insane,” he added.