Ai-Da, the humanoid AI artist who made history as the first robot to draw without human input in 2019, is now an AI poet. What was her very first performance? In response to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, a recital was given at the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford.
Ai-Da’s original poetry, written to commemorate the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, is based on the epic poem, which she was given to read in an English version. She then wrote her own piece in response to Dante’s, using her own algorithms and a data bank of words and voice pattern analysis.
But get this: Ai-Da isn’t the first AI humanoid robot to write poetry. Back in 2018, a deep learning AI bot from IBM Research Australia produced work based on Shakespearean sonnets. However, Ai-Da—devised in Oxford by Aidan Meller, and named after Ada Lovelace—is the first to write and perform poetry as a human would do it.
One of the poems that she performed on November 26, 2021 began with: “There are some things, that are so difficult–so incalculable, the words are not intelligible to the human ear; / She can only speculate what they mean.”
Another poem reads: “We looked up from our verses like blindfolded captives, / Sent out to seek the light; but it never came, / A needle and thread would be necessary / For the completion of the picture. / To view the poor creatures, who were in misery, / That of a hawk, eyes sewn shut.”
Meller, the creator of Ai-Da, talked to the The Guardian ahead of the performance, sharing: “People are very suspicious that the robots aren’t doing much, but the reality is language models are very advanced.” He further added: “She can give us 20,000 words in 10 seconds, and if we need to get her to say something short and snappy, we would pick it out from what she’s done. But it is not us writing.”
He goes on to suggest that “all of us should be concerned about widespread usage of AI language models on the internet, and how it will effect language, and crucially, meaning making, in the future,” reflecting on AI’s developing ability to copy human writing.
Ai-Da has created visual artworks for the Ashmolean Museum’s exhibition in addition to contributing poetry.
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