Hello everyone! The submissions have all been read, and it’s time to announce the winners of the recent AI Fables Writing Contest!
Depending on how you count things, we had between 33-40 submissions over the course of about two months, which was a happy surprise. More than just the count, we also got submissions from a range of authors, from people new to writing fiction to those who do so regularly, new to writing about AI or very familiar with it, and every mix of both.
The writing retreat in September was also quite productive, with about 21 more short stories and scripts written by the participants, many of which will hopefully be publicly available at some point. We plan to work on creating an anthology of some selected stories from it, and with permission, others we’ve been impressed by.
With all that said, onto the contest winners!
$1,500 First Place: The King and the Golem by Richard Ngo
This story explores the notion of “trust,” whether in people, tools, or beliefs, and how fundamentally difficult it is to make “trustworthiness” something we can feel justified about or verify. It also subtly highlights the way in which, at the end of the day, there are also consequences to not trusting anything at all.
$1,000 Second Place: The Oracle and the Agent by Alexander Wales
We really appreciated how this story showed the way better-than-human decision making can be so easy to defer to, and how despite those decisions individually still being reasonable and net-positive, small mistakes and inconsistencies in policy can lead to calamitous ends.
(This story is not yet publicly available, but it will be linked to if it becomes so)
These two roughly tied for third place, which made it convenient that they were written by the same person! The first is an eloquent analogy for the gap between intelligence capabilities and illusion of transparency by reexamining traditional human-raised-by-animals tales. The second was a fun twist on a classic via exploration of interpretability errors. As a bonus, we particularly enjoyed the way both were new takes on old and identifiable fables.
There were a lot more stories that I’d like to mention here for being either close to a winner, or just presenting things in an interesting way. I’ve decided to pick just three of them:
- The Lion, The Dove, The Monkey, and the Bees by Jérémy Andréoletti
A fun poem about the way various strategies can scale in exponentially different ways despite ineffectual first appearances.
- A Tale of the Four Ns (Neural Networks, Nature, and Nurture) by Anoushka Sharp
An illustrated, rhyming fable about Artificial Intelligence that demonstrates a number of the fundamental parts of AI, as well as the difficulties inherent to interpretability.
- This is What Kills Us by Jamie Wahls and Arthur Frost
A series of short, witty scripts about a number of ways AI in the near future might go from charming and useful tools to accidentally ending the world. Not publicly available yet, though they have since reached out to Rational Animations to turn them into videos!
There are many more stories we enjoyed, from the amusing The Curious Incident Aboard the Calibrius by Ron Fein, to the creepy Lir by Arjun Singh, and we'd like to thank everyone who participated. We hope everyone continues to write and engage with complex, meaningful ideas in their fiction.
To everyone else, we hope you enjoyed reading, and would love to hear about any new stories you might write that fits these themes.