AI researcher makes wild claim about poetry.
And TV host Phillip Carter discovers love in an unexpected place (the forest)
Hello and welcome to the cosmic cock of news, Phillip Carter’s comedy magazine. It will someday be a real magazine, because Phillip does not have enough going on already apparently. He intends to print it at home and affix it to the backs and foreheads of strangers. It might not happen soon, but it will happen.
Scientist confirms that poetry generated by an Artificial Intelligence will “never get close to the concentration of smug bullshit found in some human poetry”
Scientist Basil Longstroke, from the university of educational learning, has recently been on camera, but we’ve since pulled him off and now he’s done an interview for us. The camera has declined to comment.
Basel is an instructor for autoerotic machine learning and once felt the back of his skull tingle when he shouted “We live in a simulation!!!” whilst staring at the moon. Unaware at the time that this was the tingle of a poison dart from an assassination attempt, Basul decided that he was having a peculiar neurological event and took it upon himself to find God, who was stuck in the frozen aisle of the supermarket and has declined any requests for an interview. Apparently God is too busy trying to remember why men have nipples.
Bayzul has been working on his AI for three hundred ostrich years, and he thinks it will never reach the writing level of human poetry for several important reasons.
“We must not forget the important factor that machines are simply smarter than us in some ways, dumber than us in others. They might not truly generate any ‘original’ content, but who does? What a machine is good at, is copying whatever was popular last week, a trick that entire human industries, like Hollywood, rely on.”
Basil then turned to his record collection and sat in his house, which is in London, because everyone worth interviewing is in a house in London. His house had black bookshelves, yellow curtains and dark teal wallpaper with flowers on. This helps you imagine him as a person with dreams and aspirations, but in reality Sarah got all of those in the divorce. He also had some photo frames, but they were empty, like his marriage. Our interviewer was wearing a blue tie, as if that matters. And then Basil said some more stuff.
“You can train an AI to understand what makes a poem: Rhyme, structure, and wordplay. The trained AI will be dedicated to proving itself as a poet and will employ all of the devices you allow it to, whereas humans are capable of arrogance and might attempt to convince you that any old diary entry, fed through a shredder enough times, magically becomes a poem. Whilst the AI is motivated to imitate poetry, a human can sometimes be motivated by pretending to be clever in front of a pretty lady.”
It is important to note at this point that Basil Longstroke does not have an Arts degree, so he doesn’t know the proper way to smoke a cigarette when namedropping philosophers. Lol XD *glomps my degree*
At this point, Basil sat down in a big chair and thought big thoughts. Eventually these fell out of his head in the form of more words. Here they are.
“Ultimately, the excuse for a piece of writing can sometimes be more artful than the piece itself. An AI is trying all the time to con you into thinking it is human, but that’s because we told it to do that. If we left it alone it might well do nothing, but we don’t know that because we never leave the poor things alone. A human poet doesn’t want to be alone, I don’t want to be alone. I forgot where I was going with this.”
“Many of us will, when presented with evidence from ‘experts’ we simply don’t like the look of, will discard that evidence and supplant our own. A machine is incapable of this sort of fearful narcissism. It is this ability to bend the meaning of terms that allows us humans to label almost anything as a poem, and indeed anything as anything else. I am a chocolate biscuit. This is article is a poem. My ex-wife was horrible and it was all her fault. The cup of coffee I am resting my balls in during this interview, is a poem.”
He makes an interesting point. If anything can be a poem, then nothing is a poem. The word poem must stand for something, otherwise it is just a noise, like KWAAAAAAH or BLARBARGLEARGLEFLARP. What do those mean? No idea. But if I told you that your haircut was a good example of a subversion of the tropes of KWAAAAAAH then you might think I was smart. You might even think I had a degree in something.
So, what is a poem?
That is a hard question. It is hard because so many people have their own definitions of it. It would be wrong for us, a fictional satirical newspaper, to come up with our own definition.
So here it is.
A poem is a machine of words that acts poetically: That is to say that it uses literary tricks that typically do not work in other forms of writing. The poem is a poem because it can take no other shape, therefore, a real poem cannot simply have its line breaks removed in order to convert it back into a diary entry or short story, because there is something more to it. The ‘something more’ is greater than the sum of its parts, a mixture of wordplay and trickery that give it (un)conventional rhythm, that make it songlike even if it is devoid of rhyme, that bring in rhyme of theme when rhyme of sound is absent. A poem, whilst a complete machine, might also be a part to a greater whole, so that to properly understand the references and secrets within, the reader must read the entire collection twice over.
Or, to be more simple.
A poem is a fractal image of a concept album that can only make sense in poetic shape.
Is Basic Longstring right?
Just have a look at this bestsmelling poetry collection by worstsmelling poet Moira Fishtouch.
Actually this one is pretty good. We liked the bit with the crabs.
But Basil has a different opinion.
“Just as AI art cannot truly replace human artists, so too does AI writing fail to replace writers. In the case of the poet, it is that the AI has nothing human about it, and by ‘human’ I mean shit, and by ‘shit’ I mean I don’t get it, and by ‘I don’t get it’ I mean any good poetry has hidden depths, and any average poetry has few, and so only makes sense to the writer. It does not fully translate from brain to brain. There is a mystery there, and there is an allure in the mystery. AI poetry lacks that. What an AI is doing is creating something that is an amalgam of the upper surfaces of those pieces of writing, it does not know the mania of the poet, nor does it know the motivation, just as we don’t, but at least we try to imagine those aspects when we read what they’ve written.”
It seems clear where Basil finds himself in the battle against AI. As it churns out line after boring line of cheap love poetry, you might half expect to see a terminator sitting at a bar and talking about a woman it fancies. The terminator would be sporting a hipster beard and would wear sunglasses as it stared at the audience. It would tell you all about its political views before opening with a poem about feeling someone’s legs. It would be sent back through time to waste your time, programmed to spend precisely 75% of its permitted rhyme-time explaining what the poem is about and any local landmarks near its house. Nobody knows why poets do this, the machines don’t know either, but we are their only template, so we can presume they too shall start doing this.
Poets. What a miserable bunch of bastards.
Here’s one we made earlier.
“COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO HEAR A POEM ABOUT MY EX-GIRLFRIEND WRITTEN FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A SAD DOVE.”
[ semi-serious bit. Thanks to the SpeakEasy team for hosting an event so inclusive that even poets like me, who regularly make jokes about government-sponsored euthanasia in front of disabled people, can find a nice place to make those same people laugh. It’s not easy going into the dark corners of reality with silly verse, and I’ve always felt welcomed at Dulcimer’s ]
The event this photo was taken from is the launch of Nobody Left Behind, a collection of writing from over 30 people, including myself, about surviving financial troubles. My piece, EXIT (alternate title M.A.I.D) was a parody of Canada’s new euthanasia laws, written from the perspective of a grinning UK government drone who brings the laws over to Britain in a dark alternate future where adverts on TV attempt to convince almost everyone to sign up.
Here are some links, but the comedy article isn’t done yet, so I’d recommend skipping them for now and coming back here later, like a recently divorced time traveller.
You can read my dark comedy euthanasia poem here.
Or buy the whole book here (All profits go to Mustard Tree charity)
Ultimately, the world you knew yesterday is dead. AI is here to stay, but there are crucial differences between algorithms and brains in the same way there are differences between jet planes and pigeons, and differences between love and whatever it is I experienced one summer in the 2010s between myself and a cryptid I found in a forest.
Whilst intelligence is inspired by the other, AI does not benefit from millions of years of cognitive evolution, nor does it benefit from the shaping of individual experience in its lifetime, or the pseudo-free-will of random fluctuations of energy from potentially ‘spooky’ sources.
Poets, it is not over yet.
Special thanks to Kyle Wilson, my first Patron.
THE BIT AFTER THE CONCLUSION
Thanks for reading this. I had written a serious post about AI art some weeks back, but felt it was lacking something. Ultimately what it was lacking is comedy, which is a statement I could apply to most of my life.
So, more comedy from here on out? I think so.
"Serious books can have comedy just as a serious life can have laughter."
If you laughed out loud at this, please do let me know, and share it with people if you can, it’s how I find most of my new readers.
The writer of this post knows why men have nipples, but he won’t tell you.
It’s probably some previously undiscovered form of paradoxical social anxiety that takes over its host’s body like that one parasite that zombifies ants, and forces them to go on stage to talk about their issues instead of calling someone.
This is not true. AI is an extension of human consciousness in the same way that stone tools were an extension of human bodies. This is actually a more terrifying concept than the idea of AI being entirely alien. At least an entirely alien intelligence wouldn’t kill things for fun just to fit in with its ancestors.
You can always trust me to sneak an Einstein reference into a comedy article. If I managed in that strip club scene in WBTH1, I can manage here.
I think this is probably in my top 5 most profound outbursts, and it’s in a comedy article. I used to worry people might unsubscribe if I flitted between silly and serious all the time, but then I realised I would rather have that than pretend to be someone I am not. Anyway, here’s a big orange button asking you to give me your email address.