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PN Review 276
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This report is taken from PN Review 276, Volume 50 Number 4, March - April 2024.

AI and Poetry Robert Griffiths
Unlike the opaquely named ChatGPT (what does that do then?), Google’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot, Bard, hints at the jobs and the people it might replace: writing jobs, and poets, for example.

Jonathan Swift knew this was coming three hundred years ago. He imagined, in Gulliver’s Travels, a wooden word-permutator, ‘the engine’, and how it would take over writing: ‘Every one knew how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and sciences; whereas, by his contrivance, the most ignorant person, at a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, might write books in philosophy, poetry, politics, laws, mathematics, and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study.’

And it has started, with A-level students already ditching expensive Pearson study guides for AI generated revision notes, knocking £1bn off the publisher’s share price. The rats are leaving the rising ship with Geoffrey Hinton, one of Google’s AI moguls, resigning with an ominous graveside warning: ‘Right now, they’re not more intelligent than us, as far as I can tell. But I think they soon may be.’

In many ways they clearly are, and have been for a while. The recently crowned world chess champion, Ding Liren, has a rating of 2,789. The best chess computer, Stockfish, is 3,500. No contest. Pets are also in trouble, with Furby – ‘The more you play with me, the more I do’ – offering what no dog can offer.

So how do poets stand? It doesn’t look good. Asked to produce a love poem, Bard started off with:
I ...

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