Collaborating With AI (Iteration One – Writing A Music Poem)

Ghost in the Machine
Ghost in the Machine flickr photo by Simon_68025 shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Terry Elliott was exploring the Perplexity AI platform as a “writing partner” for poetry and it responded to a question of his about its own limitations in a way that caught my attention.

“Poetry is a deeply human art form that conveys emotions, experiences, and perspectives in ways that are often tied to the poet’s personal history and emotional landscape. AI, by its nature, cannot replicate these aspects of human experience, which limits its ability to create poetry that resonates on a human level.”

I then went into Perplexity myself, and asked it look at the quote it gave Terry and give me a response. Interestingly, it seemed to take a different view.

While it’s true that AI, by its current nature, lacks personal emotions and experiences, it is capable of creating poetry that resonates on a human level. AI can analyze vast amounts of existing poetry to understand patterns, styles, and emotional content, allowing it to generate new poems that capture the essence of human emotion and experience. Additionally, AI can be used as a tool to inspire and assist human poets in their creative process, leading to collaborative and emotionally resonant works. The intersection of AI and poetry presents an opportunity for unique and thought-provoking artistic expression.

I asked Perplexity to give me examples of where humans and AI worked as collaborators on poetry projects, but the links it shared — while interesting — were mostly research papers about the possibilities. The one link that was quite interesting was a project at the MIT Lab museum in Boston, where they set up a live demonstration of visitors writing poems with a version of ChatGPT. (Note to self: next time I am in Boston …)

I have long been exploring the role of Generative AI as writer, and Terry’s recent explorations presented yet another reason to try collaboration. So I went into Google’s Gemini (the old Bard, now upgraded).

Gemini was very enthusiastic about my suggestion for working on a poem together!

That sounds wonderful! I’d love to collaborate with you on a poem about music.

I gave it some instructions, and told it I wanted to collaborate on a poem about music, by riffing off single lines of a poem (like jazz musicians, I told it). It responded:

Sounds like a stimulating jam session! Let’s riff on this melody of words. Here’s the first line:

A whisper stirs on strings, a lonely cry,

Your turn to take the lead and see where this melody carries us. Remember, feel free to break the rules, improvise, and surprise me with your creative flow!

And so it began, the back and forth  …

Playing A Poem (a collaboration with AI)

(Gemini) A whisper stirs on strings,
a lonely cry,
(me) resin on the bow,
she closes her eyes to sing

(Gemini) A melody unfurls,
a tapestry of sound,
(me) Knitted and knotted,
each note, unbound

(Gemini) Whispers crescendo,
a storm in a teacup’s heart,
(me) The listener settles in, closes eyes,
finds the center of the sound

(Gemini) Harmony drapes them,
a cloak of calm
(me) On the horizon, a trombone
plays soft and low

(Gemini) A distant call,
a yearning melody’s glow
(me) And beneath our feet,
a rhythmic beat, sticks on stone

(Gemini) Mirroring the rhythm,
finding their own space,
(me) In grace, the music
makes light

See entire thread of the conversations we had and some revision conversations.

I still don’t know what to make of it all, but I did find the experiment interesting.

Peace (in the machine),
Kevin

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