Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

AI is a poet, and knows it

April 26, 2018

We’ve written about how AI is going to put radiologists and lawyers out of work, but now it’s coming for poets.

Background: Deep learning has gotten pretty good at generating text descriptions for images. So good, in fact, that researchers decided to take it a step further with a neural network that can create free verse using an image as the source of inspiration.

How it works: To learn how to use an image as its muse, an algorithm was trained on thousands of image/poem pairs. That algorithm was then teamed up with a generative adversarial network (GAN) to look at images and produce poems from scratch.

Results: In a kind of poetry Turing test with over 500 human judges (including 30 English majors who were considered “experts”), AI-created verse was evaluated against poems written by people. Let’s be honest here: the AI “poetry”(see above) reads like something by a particularly angsty teenager. But the English majors were only able to spot the automated poem about 60 percent of the time. The rest of the evaluators weren’t any better than chance at picking out the AI.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

Sam Altman says helpful agents are poised to become AI’s killer function

Open AI’s CEO says we won’t need new hardware or lots more training data to get there.

Is robotics about to have its own ChatGPT moment?

Researchers are using generative AI and other techniques to teach robots new skills—including tasks they could perform in homes.

What’s next for generative video

OpenAI's Sora has raised the bar for AI moviemaking. Here are four things to bear in mind as we wrap our heads around what's coming.

An AI startup made a hyperrealistic deepfake of me that’s so good it’s scary

Synthesia's new technology is impressive but raises big questions about a world where we increasingly can’t tell what’s real.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.