Sorry poets: Google Poemportraits shows no one’s job is safe from AI

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The usefulness and capability of machine learning and artificial intelligence when it comes to technological advancement is already clear to many of us, but what about when it comes to creating art? That’s one question Google is setting out to answer with Poemportraits, which is creating one big collective poem through a collaboration between humans and AI.

Poemportraits is the result of a team up between between artist and designer Es Devlin and Ross Goodwin from the Google Arts & Culture Lab. Goodwin trained the algorithm at the center of Poemportraits by having it read more than 25 million words from 19th century poems.

This is where we human end-users come in. By heading over to the Poemportraits site, you can “donate” a word to the project and have it form the core of an AI-generated poem in that 19th century style the AI was trained on. If you want, you can even snap a selfie and have your new poem laid over the image, which is where the project’s name stems from.

Obviously, since we’re talking about poetry written by an algorithm, the results are going to be hit or miss. For instance, when I submitted the word “summer,” the verse that was generated reads, “Our summer sky, heaven on the mountain side, This twilight is not more than any other existence.” I’m not much of a poet myself so that’s probably better than anything I could come up with, but whether or not that excerpt is actually poignant or simply nonsensical is something the poetry lovers of the world will have to determine for themselves.

Still, it’s a neat concept, and you can even see some of the verses other users have generated when you visit the Poemportraits site. If you do, head down to the comments section and share some of the poetry it generated for you – perhaps we’ll be able to uncover some moving truths with the help of Google’s AI.

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