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Can a computer write a poem? (2 Viewers)

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
A team of researchers from Microsoft and Kyoto University developed a poet AI good enough to fool online judges, according to a paper published Thursday on the preprint site arXiv. It’s the latest step towards artificial intelligence that can create believable, human-passing language, and, man, it seems like a big one.


In order to generate something as esoteric as a poem, the AI was fed thousands of images paired with human-written descriptions and poems. This taught the algorithm associations between images and text. It also learned the patterns of imagery, rhymes, and other language that might make up a believable poem, as well as how certain colors or images relate to emotions and metaphors.


Once the AI was trained, it was then given an image and tasked with writing a poem that was not only relevant to the picture but also, you know, read like a poem instead of algorithmic nonsense.


And to be fair, some of the results were pretty nonsensical, even beyond the sorts of nonsense you’d find in a college literary magazine.




this realm of rain

grey sky and cloud

it’s quite and peaceful

safe allowed






And, arguably, worse:






I am a coal-truck

by a broken heart

I have no sound

the sound of my heart

I am not






or maybe this one:






the sun is shining

the wind moves

naked trees

you dance

And one more.

and now I am tired of my own

let me be the freshening blue

haunted through the sky bare and cold water

warm blue air shimmering

brightly never arrives

it seems to say




https://futurism.com/artificial-intelligence-bad-poems






It does get a little better:




you


...are

.........inscribed
..............in the
...............lines on the
......ceiling

.......you

are

...inscribed in
..........the depths
..of
..........the
...storm




The idea is not new, but the technologies and mediums are. In 2010, Duke University undergrad Zackary Scholl modified a program that used a context-free grammar system to spit out full-length, auto-generated poems. He then submitted the output to online poetry websites, in order to gauge reader reaction (in his words, it was “overwhelmingly positive.”)


One of his poems was actually accepted by the Duke literary journal, The Archive. This is it:


A home transformed by the lightning
the balanced alcoves smother
this insatiable earth of a planet, Earth.
They attacked it with mechanical horns
because they love you, love, in fire and wind.
You say, what is the time waiting for in its spring?
I tell you it is waiting for your branch that flows,
because you are a sweet-smelling diamond architecture
that does not know why it grows.


https://medium.com/@Yisela/computer-generated-poetry-will-knock-your-socks-off-763c815a1b52


Clearly, a computer can write a poem that some editors, at least, cannot distinguish from human poems and are willing to publish. What does that say about the future of poetry and art in general? I think the more pertinent question might be: Regardless of perceived quality, is a poem written by a computer a real poem?
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
I think the answer may not lie in ability but in intent. Why would a computer write a poem? Could a computer even decide to write a poem without being commanded to so so?
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
It's an math equation though. They did one for art and didn't do a good job. Google is the company that did one. It created bizarre images of computer generated art. It didn't look human per say, but maybe they are waiting and are optimistic until it improves.
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
It's an math equation though. They did one for art and didn't do a good job. Google is the company that did one. It created bizarre images of computer generated art. It didn't look human per say, but maybe they are waiting and are optimistic until it improves.


So, it's math, not art? But what if a poetry magazine publishes it. Is it poetry then?

Is an algorithm math? Or is it just a set of directions, like a map?
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
It imitates people, doesn't mean it will display originality.AI can't understand English much less emotion. Those are my opinions on it. Though maybe it could teach kids something at school. It won't replace poets however.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Can it reinvent the wheel? Robots still haven't invented anything. It would make for an interesting fantasy story though.

It still hasn't won a poetry competition which would be publicity for them.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Sorry. I accidentally did a triple post without knowing. I think the value it could add is an educational tool for English class to help people become aware of educational values and make poems on any subject perhaps. I don't know what other uses it could have. Since I know there are values being taught in school, it's a decent way for people to have fun but doesn't take skill to do.
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Personally, I can’t see the point of robot poetry since computers don’t have feelings. A computer can fake a poem, i.e. list words that have syntax and approximately describe a recognizable image. I don’t call that a poem though, even if it fools an expert, because there is no poetic intent, no desire on the part of the computer to express emotion or to reveal beauty or to question. It’s purely mechanical. There is no real creativity. The creativity is in the algorithm but I don’t think that can be called art either since it is designed to mimic, not to create something that has inherent meaning.
 

midnightpoet

WF Veterans
I've heard scientists refer to the human body as a "wonderful machine." I've always disagreed with that, flesh and blood is no machine - and while we're not trying to debate A.I. or transhumanism or such here, I can't see any purpose in getting a machine to write poetry. So I agree with Murphy.
 

epimetheus

Friends of WF
I've heard scientists refer to the human body as a "wonderful machine."

It's generally meant to confer the idea that the biological molecules themselves aren't anything special i.e. there isn't some magic animating a human.

Humans have had a few hundred thousands of years to forge language into poetry. Computers have had decades and they're already fooling expert humans.


I can't see any purpose in getting a machine to write poetry.

Our world will become increasingly controlled by AI. It already makes decisions on loans and health insurance. I wouldn't be too surprised if some military hasn't already given it the decision to kill a target.

If we do not humanise our AI, then humans will have to become more mechanised.
 

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