Ai-Da recites her morbid poem in the style of Dante’s Divine Comedy on a video. (Source: The Guardian)

Dante’s Inferno Used as Fodder for Ai-Da’s Foray into Poetry Composition

Programmed to imitate the poet Dante on the 700th anniversary of his death, Ai-Da, known as an artistic robot that paints, composed a poem and will read it this Friday at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum.

Aidan Meller, the programmer who named Ai-Da after computing pioneer Ada Lovelace, fed the AI-driven robot Dante’s epic three-part narrative poem, the Divine Comedy, as “inspiration” for composing her own poetry in reaction to it. For the first time, an AI robot has not only written poetry but will recite it like a human poet.

Here’s a taste of the weird and somewhat creepy poetry Ai-Da will recite:

“We looked up from our verses like blindfolded captives, / Sent out to seek the light; but it never came,” runs one of her poems. “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.”

Meller said “restricted editing” was used to create the poetry.

“People are very suspicious that the robots aren’t doing much, but the reality is language models are very advanced, and in 95% of cases of editing, it’s just that she’s done too much,” he said. “She can give us 20,000 words in 10 seconds, and 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.”

A human poet, Carol Rumens, responded to the poem saying some of the imagery was “odd,” but interesting.

“The image of the hawk tamed by having its eyes sewn up is close to the original and still powerful … It has kept the best bit of the passage, despite the muddle of registers and strange orientation. The rhythm of the lines seems to flow quite well,” added Rumens. “I think there’s hope for the robot-poet.”