Shakespeare wrote 153 sonnets during his lifetime. Now, thanks to a posthumous collaboration with a UK tech startup, a robot version of the Bard can continue the legacy — with a little help from MIT PhD student J. Nathan Matias. Robots can basically do everything now. Why not woo us with love poetry?
Matias realized the potential for machine-powered robot romance while working with SwiftKey, a company working on new keyboard software that predicts what words smartphone users are likely to text next. It’s intended to help “mobile users type faster by learning their slang, syntax and writing style,” explains TechCrunch, and then applying that learning to predict what you’ll want to say next. The better the software gets to know your style/predilection for emoticons, the better its algorithm gets. Or that’s the official purpose.
The unofficial purpose is to write hot, hot robot-human love poems. To make that happen, Matias trained the software on Shakespeare’s sonnets, teaching it the patterns and vocabulary of the Bard instead of the “Do we have milk?” of everyday life. Then, he built a “visual authoring interface” designed specifically for generating verse. “I needed to know more than what words might come next. I needed to anticipate future predictions — what predictions would be made later if I choose this word over that?” he says. In addition to raising all kinds of questions about authorship in the age of artificial intelligence, it’s a major step for human-robot romantic relations. Is it a step for poetry, though? Check out the full 14-line sample at TechCrunch and decide. (Spoiler: it’s real good.)