Confucius Academy Spring Debate 2019

The debate topic of Confucius Academy Spring Debate 2019 held on April 13, 2019 was “Li Bai is Very Angry: Can AI Write Poetry?” triggering the sensitive nerve related to the future of mankind once again. At the debate, Professor Yan Shoucheng of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Professor Chen Yuehong of Southern University of Science and Technology of China, Professor Wang Zhaopeng of South-Central University For Nationalities and Professor and Distinguished Researcher Cheng Yuhei of Sun Yat-sen University launched a heated debate on whether AI can affect literary creation. Hu Xiaoming, Professor of Department of Chinese Language and Literature of East China Normal University, acted as the academic host.

Is AI a blessing or a curse to the future of mankind? After analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of AI, the four professors reached some consensuses: First, AI will definitely bring about major changes in literary ecology and even cultural ecology. Not only natural science but also the humanities shall be studied in time for countermeasures. Second, AI literature also has two sides, which must be controlled and prevented. Professor Chen Yuehong believes that AI may lead to the expansion of format writing, producing a large number of programmed and digitized works for mass consumption, while critical, innovative and inherited works may be weakened. Professor Yan Shoucheng holds that if human beings do not control technology, ethical problems will arise in the future. In addition, the control of technology by a few people will aggravate the inequality of human wealth and power. Third, AI does not mean the relationship between wolves and human beings, but the dialectical relationship between the physical properties of human beings and the human nature of things. We cannot treat AI in a black-and-white dichotomy. In the future world, a big problem may be how machines get along with and interact with human beings. In a world of mutual benefit between human beings and machines, both can help each other in emotion, creation and ideology.

In the short 2-hour debate, it is impossible to reach a clear answer actually. Perhaps it will also be an inexhaustible topic in the future human development. Professor Hu Xiaoming believes that “but the very important purpose of the debate is not to give the on-site conclusions to the participants. That is what the churches do. Instead, the aim is to fully expand the significance, thoughts, concepts and knowledge of all aspects of a problem, so that everyone can get a comprehensive expression of thoughts and enjoy an analysis at the place.”