Embracing Your Inner Algorithm: Part 4

“Its like you just sang a beautiful song…”

AI is quite successful in poetry, for example, because it’s able to create enough ambiguity for the reader to be complicit in the creation of meaning, in order to bring the poems to life. Bring the poems to LIFE… Allow me to double back a little on that thought.

The moment’s hesitation may have come from a note from a UNESCO collaboration titled: ‘To Be A Human Being’.

If anything can save humanity from disaster in the centuries to come, it will be poetry. As an expression of universal understanding…poetry aims to express the essence and the meaning of everything…It is the capacity to dream the impossible, to recreate our vital impulses”

Maykel Rodrigues Ponjuan, Co-ordinator, Cultural Division, INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF FILM AND TV, Cuba

The poetic aims are lofty, but agreeable. We’ve been nurtured by the sustenance that distills the sense of our humanity since the earliest recorded verse – and beyond that, into the realms of prehistoric narratives. So what hubris is this – that we build algorithms to spit out verse according to coded structure? What vital impulses are fired by poetry machines?

The title of this article was one response to one such poem sent to a literary magazine at an esteemed university by ‘computational biologist’ Zackary Scholl.  He had modified a grammar program to create random poetry, based on the patterns of language most commonly used in poetry.

Orange Light
 

 I conduct myself in a windy manner because I am
 drunk and enchanted in this field.
 The oxygen around my head is rabid
 and filled with orange light
 like a equinoctial tiger to its flesh.
 My heart moves violently
 on this neon ship.
 I promise as I were a rotting ghost
 forced half-open in love
 in front of the gray agony of the darkness
 and decaying droplets of acidulous gold.
 I reply, only fear and geology are the
 leaves of belligerence.
 I’d do it for the geology
 and I’d do it for the fear of your response.
 

There is a striking vitality in the verse, that could perhaps be because of the original power of combinations such as: ‘equinoctial tiger’ and ‘gray agony’ or ‘acidulous gold’. There is a randomness nevertheless that seems odd, because it’s difficult to find a thread. But then we are complicit in the creation of meaning and word association. If you didn’t know it was arranged by machine-learnt patterns, you may have accepted that the poet was expressing a human truth in the tortuous nature of love and relationship.

You can generate your own AI poetry online too. You might want to try your hand – if that’s what you do with a Poetry generator.  At the time of writing this was the landing page, which came with it’s own narrator:

The AI voice is an obvious choice here – it is the voice of the author, so it should be in residency on its own site. It has no invitation for the imagination though. Perhaps the text, in the literary theory tradition, holds true to affective fallacy, which argues that the reader’s response is the ultimate test. 

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