Can AI: Write a book? đź“š

May 7 / Eloise Watts
AI is becoming increasingly more intelligent, and its limits are being furthered and furthered. So we wanted to put it to the test. AI, what can you really do?

Welcome to Can AI. Where we challenge AI to do all sorts of tasks that we humans do. To kick off, can AI write a book?
A screenshot of the prompt given to ChatGPT

The Prompt

Ok, so I couldn’t exactly ask it to write a novel. I want to fit it all in this blog post!! So instead, I’ve opted for challenging it to write a children’s book. And, to give it a Command Shift flare, the story features a kid spy who codes. (Maybe far-fetched, but hey, run with it).

So the screenshot above is what I put into ChatGPT.

Maybe basic, maybe it could be better. But I wanted to see what it would come up with. And it didn’t really disappoint…

The Story

After a few minutes of thinking, here’s what ChatGPT created. Sit back, relax, and here is “Code Detective Lily: The Case of the Missing Artefacts”...

“Once upon a time in the bustling town of Sparkleville, there lived a young girl named Lily. Lily was not your ordinary kid—she had a secret talent for solving mysteries using her coding skills.

By day, Lily was a friendly, curious eight-year-old who loved playing in the park and helping her mom bake cookies. But by night, she transformed into a stealthy kid spy, equipped with her trusty laptop and a determination to crack any case that came her way.

One sunny afternoon, Lily was enjoying a game of hide-and-seek with her friends when she overheard a peculiar conversation between two grown-ups at the park bench. They were speaking in hushed tones about missing items from the local museum. Lily’s ears perked up. Missing items? That sounded like a job for a spy!

That night, Lily donned her detective hat (literally, it was a sparkly detective hat her grandma had gifted her) and set up her coding station in her bedroom. She began by searching the town’s history online and quickly discovered that the missing artefacts were ancient jewels with mysterious powers.

Lily decided to start her investigation by creating a coding program that tracked any unusual activity reported in the town. She wrote algorithms to sift through data from social media and local news sites, searching for clues about the missing artefacts.

Days turned into nights as Lily worked tirelessly on her laptop, piecing together information and decoding messages. Her friends wondered where she disappeared to after school, but Lily was on a mission.

Finally, after weeks of investigation, Lily’s coding program alerted her to a pattern of suspicious behaviour near the museum. Armed with her findings, Lily snuck out one moonlit night and tiptoed her way to the museum.

Using her coding skills, Lily hacked into the museum’s security system to access the surveillance footage. She watched as a shadowy figure crept through the halls, sneaking the artefacts into a hidden compartment.

Lily knew she had to act fast. She discreetly called the local police and shared her findings. Within minutes, sirens blared through the night as officers surrounded the museum.

The mysterious thief was caught red-handed, thanks to Lily’s brilliant detective work. The artefacts were recovered and returned safely to the museum, much to the delight of the townspeople.

Lily’s secret was out, but far from being scolded, she was celebrated as Sparkleville’s youngest hero. From then on, Lily continued her double life—part-time student, part-time coding spy—always ready to use her skills for good and keep her town safe from mischief.

And so, Lily’s adventures in coding and crime-solving continued, proving that sometimes, the smallest detectives can crack the biggest cases—all with a little curiosity and a lot of clever coding.”

My Opinion

Right. For mine and ChatGPT’s first attempt, I don’t think it’s THAT bad. Granted, it’s not exactly what I had in mind (I was expecting more picture-book level simplicity), but that blame is on me and my prompt. I wasn’t specific enough.

My next thought: I think the idea and execution don’t fully match. I think the premise of the story is great. But considering the main character, Lily, is supposed to be 8 years old, I’m not convinced an actual 8 year old would understand all the words in this story. Again, perhaps if the prompt was a bit more specific about the target ages, and reading level, then maybe it would be different. But at present, I’m not convinced this could be published and sold to young kids.

Also, maybe the story’s a bit long. But again, if you wanted a shorter story, I should’ve given a word-count. So that’s on me.

So what have I learnt about ChatGPT and asking AI questions? Be. More. Specific. You think you’re being too specific? You’re not. Niche down further. You think you’ve provided too many details? You haven’t. Keep adding them in. If you have a clear idea of what you want, you need to be specific. ChatGPT and AI are great, but they aren’t mind readers. In fact, they aren’t even human. They can’t read through the lines, or make assumptions about what you mean. If you know what you want, say it. Or expect something completely different.

Ok, overall, do I think ChatGPT will be the next Julia Donaldson? Absolutely not. It still isn’t creative enough, or understands humans enough. But if your child has put you on the spot for a bedtime story, I think ChatGPT might be your new best friend.

What do you think?

Well, I really enjoyed this experiment. And you can try it yourself at home! Either try another children’s book like this, or go bold and ask it to write a novella. Now that would be fascinating.

I used ChatGPT for this, but don’t forget there are other amazing AI programmes that could be just as good, or even better. For example, maybe try copy.ai. That’s an AI bot specifically for writing!

Take it a step further and ask a different programme to draw illustrations for your story! Go crazy!

I’d love to know what you think of this story, and AI’s story-writing abilities. Share your thoughts on social media and tag us so we can see what you think!

So what next?

Ok, I’m not going to lie, that was so much fun. Check out what we challenge AI to do next by following us on social media where we’ll announce the next results in due course…

And on a totally unrelated note… let us know what you want us to challenge AI to! Maybe we’ll feature it in this series!!

As always, don’t forget to say hi over on socials, and please let me know what you think! Or share your own stories!

See you in a bit!

Interested in working with AI?

Why don't you check out our Web Development Mastery course? Go from complete beginner to industry-ready Junior Developer in as little as 28 weeks. 

Study around your life with our self-led course, and cancel at any time. Why don't you have a go? Enjoy a whole month on us...

Start your free trial today! Check it out here.