Robot poet will perform an AI generated follow up to Dante's Divine Comedy

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There are few works more influential than Dante's Divine Comedy. The 700-year-old narrative poem is often cited as one of the greatest pieces of literature ever released. More, than just the iconic Dante's Inferno, Dante Aligheri's beloved trilogy is an all-time great. Now, a robot poet will create its follow up.

A robot poet is writing a sequel to Dante Aligheri's Divine Comedy

Created by Oxford's Aidan Meller, the realistic humanoid robot Ai-Da will soon reveal her sequel to Dante's Divine Comedy. Named after the first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace, Ai-Da aims to create human-like poetry through AI generation.

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Reported by The Guardian, the robot is set to reveal her poetry at an event commemorating the 700th anniversary of Dante Aligheri's death. The robot’s poetry will be performed for the first time at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum.

To create her follow up to the trilogy, Ai-Da was fed JG Nichols’ English translation. Then, using a private algorithm instead of OpenAI, the robot created a fourth poem in the style of Aligheri. While some of the poem has been released, Ai-Da will perform it for the first time at the event.

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AI language is becoming “deeply unsettling”

Ai-Da’s creator revealed that the final poem is all generated by the robot poet. However, there is a degree of human editing to trim the fat. As with most AI language generation, Ai-Da’s issue is that she over generates. Instead of delivering a concise poem, she creates more than what's needed — like a journalist filling up a word count.

“She can give us 20,000 words in 10 seconds,” Meller said. “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. In 95% of cases of editing, it’s just that she’s done too much.”

Meller also revealed that he finds the current state of AI generation “deeply unsettling”. He continued: “We are going very rapidly to the point where they will be completely indistinguishable from human text, and for all of us who write, this is deeply concerning.”

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A sample of poetry

The Guardian article incudes two samples of poetry from AI-Da. Both stanzas are from two different parts of the poem. However, we'll only be showing one here. The robot poet writes:

“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.”

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