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Image credit: Es Devlin

Google's poetry algorithm automates teen angst

Give it a word and it'll give you a masterpiece (of sorts).
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Es Devlin

Roses are red, violets are blue, poetry is hard, but now a machine will do it for you. From today, you can use Google's AI to create a unique "poem portrait," an ethereal image of your self-portrait overlaid with an exclusive poem generated from a word of your choice (so basically a recreation of every image ever from DeviantArt circa 2002).

The AI asks you to "donate" a word and take a selfie. Your word will then be expanded into original lines of poetry by an algorithm that's been trained on millions of words of nineteenth century literature. Your visage will then be illuminated by these original lines of poetry, which are also constantly being combined to form an ever-evolving collective poem.

According to designer Es Devlin, it works a bit like predictive text. It doesn't copy or rework existing phrases, but uses its training material from more than 25 million words used by nineteenth century poets to build a "complex statistical model."

Like a lot of AI-driven phrase generators, the results can be a bit nonsensical, but sometimes they're surprisingly profound. I offered up the word "technology" for example (on brand), and was given: "The technology of those who have drawn our lives, was the first moon upon the waves," which if you're into poetry is pretty meaningful, and if you're not, still sounds nice. Check it out here.

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