Google had a problem. Their AI engine spoke with grammatical precision and factual accuracy, but its diction remained terse and limp. They wanted it to be more conversational, so they made it read 2,865 romance novels. Now Google has a poet.
In an unpublished paper entitled “Generating Sentences from a Continuous Space,” researchers documented what the Google Brain Team’s pet AI had learned from its steamy binge-fest. The experimental parameters are simple and might actually make for a fun group writing game of some sort. The team gave the AI a starting sentence and an ending sentence. Then they asked artificial intelligence to bridge the two concepts using up to thirteen additional sentences. In a sense, they gave it a beginning and an end and asked it to tell a story. What came out was… a little strange. Take a look:
No. he said. “no,” he said. “no,” i said. “i know,” she said. “thank you,” she said. “come with me,” she said. “talk to me,” she said. “don’t worry about it,” she said.
it made me want to cry. no one had seen him since. it made me feel uneasy. no one had seen him. the thought made me smile. the pain was unbearable. the crowd was silent. the man called out. the old man said. the man asked.
he was silent for a long moment. he was silent for a moment. it was quiet for a moment. it was dark and cold. there was a pause. it was my turn.
there is no one else in the world. there is no one else in sight. they were the only ones who mattered. they were the only ones left. he had to be with me. she had to be with him. i had to do this. i wanted to kill him. i started to cry. i turned to him.
The team has stated that this is still early work in what will be a long and ongoing process to make their software able to interact with users in a way that embodies all the fluidity and complexity of natural speech. If romance novels turned an AI into a post-modern poet, we can’t wait to see what it starts doing once it gets its hands on some science fiction… or can we?
We think this is pretty fascinating stuff, but what’s your take on this virtual wordsmith? Do you think this is interesting progress, or should this AI maybe find a different career path because there just isn’t any money in poetry anymore? Let us know your opinion in the comments below!