Xiaoice AI Now A Poet

Chinese poets (and critics) are not so sure about poetry written by famous AI Xiaoice.

The rain is blowing through the sea/ A bird in the sky/ A night of light and calm/ Sunlight/ Now in the sky/ Cool heart/ The savage north wind/ When I found a new world.

That’s the English translation of one of the 139 poems penned by Xiaoice in its book, The Sunlight That Lost The Glass Window. The book, published on May 19 by Beijing-based Cheers Publishing, is said to be the first-ever poetry collection written by AI.

In critiquing Xiaoice’s poem above, literature professor Zhang Zonggang said the machine’s work had indeed created a “new world” that could evoke feelings in human readers that are different from those aroused by reading a normal piece of poetry.

The poem was vivid in describing scenes – some out of the ordinary – such as the sudden appearance of sunlight in the calm night sky, said Zhang, director of the Nanjing University of Science and Technology’s Poetry Research Centre in Jiangsu province.

“This is what we call a poetic jump. This is what turns a few lines of words into a poem,” he said. “The work carries a strange taste. The more you chew on it, the more interesting it becomes.”

Fans of science fiction have encountered this idea before. In Studio 5, The Stars, a 1971 story by JG Ballard, a verse transcriber is used to write poetry on demand:

"Do you mean she wrote these herself?" I nodded. "It has been done that way. In fact the method enjoyed quite a vogue for twenty or thirty centuries. Shakespeare tried it, Milton, Keats and Shelley - it worked reasonably well for them."

"But not now," Tony said. "Not since the VT set. How can you compete with an IBM heavy-duty logomatic analogue?"

"...Hold on," I told him. I was pasting down one of Xero's satirical pastiches of Rubert Brooke and was six lines short. I handed Tony the master tape and he played it into the IBM, set the meter, rhyme scheme, verbal pairs, and then switched on, waited for the tape to chunter out of the delivery head, tore off six lines and passed them back to me. I didn't even need to read them.

For the next two hours we worked hard, at dusk had completed over 1,000 lines and broke off for a well-earned drink.

Be sure to check out the electronic bard from The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age by Stanislaw Lem.

Via South China Morning Post.

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