Zia Hassan

Poems By Robots

There’s a site called BotPoet, which displays a poem that is either written by a human or a robot. You, as the spectator, get to vote on whether you think the poem is human-written or bot-written. After you vote, you get the true answer, along with a breakdown of what others on the site thought.

I tried this out myself. Turns out I can’t tell the difference very easily between bot-written poems and human-written poems. It’s almost like a Turing test. What does it mean that I, a lover of poetry, can’t tell the difference between an algorithm writing and a human mind?

I suppose it comes down to this: we make meaning from whatever we’re given, even if it’s random. This is a theme I explored the show I wrote and performed last summer (The Very Fabric of Reality). The idea of having a lucky number and seeing it in places, and assigning meaning to it, even though it’s likely that the number is just more apparent because of the importance placed on it.

It’s a form of modular tenderness. Actually, it’s probably not – that’s a phrase that the internet randomly generated for me. But I bet when you read it, you connected it to the rest of the ideas in this post.

And that’s the magic and mystery of the human brain. It’s likely we do this all day long, in a variety of situations. We’re not quite robots, and robots are not quite human, but there’s an overlap in the randomness of the way we connect ideas.