The Robots Took Er Jerbs – In Poetry!

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Brian Merchant examines the rise of poetry-writing computer programs like @Pentametron, which collects iambic pentameter tweets:

It’s especially interesting since Pentametron is artificially creating compelling poetry from explicitly human-authored sentiments. Yet Twitter bots like this only mark the entry point into what we might as well call roboetry. More sophisticated software can be put in service of writing poetry, too; like SwiftKey, a machine learning algorithm that typically teaches Android to adapt to users’ behavior and helps correct their touchscreen text entries. MIT phD candidate J. Nathan Matias taught it Shakespeare instead. …

Other examples abound: A bot that mines New York Times articles for haikus. Designed by the Times resident software architect, it spins haikus like this from articles like “The Fear of Surrendering Again” …

He has a mind as

fascinating to me as

the city itself.

The point is getting clearer: These are pretty good poems. They’re surprising, moving, weird, even a little touching; It’s actually good poetry.

Earlier Dish on Pentametron here. Recent Dish on robots taking over jobs here and here.