In one of my writing groups, the monthly task has been to do a piece on the deep significance of something very small. The writing should embody the meaning, rather than telling us. I decided to write something about my discovery of an iconic piece of LEGO.
I was pleased (I confess that I am easily pleased with my own output) with the nuance and structure of my little poem, simple as it was, in that it broached something significant in the consideration of something very small. So far so poetic.
After I shared both my effort, and a startling piece in yesterday’s Guardian about the emergence of a new generation of chatbot, our son presented a couple of stories he’d inveigled the public chatbot to compose. You can create your own account, and venture into the ‘playground’ area where you too can ask the chat to create something for you. You might be as surprised, and as filled with wonder, as I’ve been, this morning.
My instruction was quite precise: Write a poem about a grey-haired grandpa who is downsizing with his beloved partner and discovers an iconic piece of LEGO under a set of shelves that reminds him of a lovely day with their grandson building and illuminating Ninjago City.
Instantly, the chatbot returned this piece, untitled: Grandpa's hands, grey-haired and steady, Turned over an old piece of Lego It was Ninjago City, in all its glory A reminder of a special day The day he and his partner, his beloved sweetheart Had built the city with their grandson Laughter and light had filled the room As they set up the pieces one by one As Grandpa and his partner downsized They stumbled upon a forgotten surprise It was Lego Ninjago City they found The day that had been lost was now found Grandpa smiled, recalling the day When joy had filled them all The memories flooded back to him As his hands held the Lego small As he reminisced, a tear ran down his cheek As he thought of that special day He knew he'd never forget that moment When the city lit up and glowed in all its way
Since I have spent the past three years composing a trilogy of science fiction novels about the advent of the Artificial Superior Intelligence (Biome NE47), I’m really interested in any auguries of the Great Singularity, which is that point, predicted sometime between 2030 and 2050 when Artificial Intelligence becomes able to exist, and think, independently. When its capacity begins to outstrip anything humanity can do, and then proceeds to develop in ways far beyond our capacity even to understand. Or something like that — whether consciousness enters the equation is a moot point.
The classic test of computer intelligence has always been the Turing Test, in which questions asked of human or machine elicit answers indistinguishable from each other. But now the AI scientists have developed a chatbot that can make passable poetry — I might quibble with its capacity to write lines that scan but still, wow. Its story-telling ability is even better!
Of course, I’d like to think that my own effort, titled Ninjago City, of course, is a bit more nuanced, dynamic and, well, poetic in a word. I might reveal it here after my writing group has had a chance to consider. But for now, I’m going to let the chatbot have the last word, and just sit back in dumbfounded wonder.
Maybe I should reinvigorate my efforts to get an agent (and then a publisher) interested in my prose, which concerns a human response to the mysteries imposed by the Artificial Superior Intelligence, come the day. Can the Singularity be far away?
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