Cooperative creation with Generative AI

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A couple of weeks ago, John Hansen tried "an experiment to see if I could successfully combine random and seemingly unconnected topics into one poem", and reported the results on Medium. This experiment was quickly reproduced by Adrian CDTPPW, Block Wife, and Robert G. Longpré.

The structure was

  • Choose three random words
    (No AI involved — just old-fashioned chance, whether human or programmed)
  • Write a poem about those words — a human author, again no AI
  • Have generative AI (gencraft or bing) create an illustration

That might be a good assignment in a poetry workshop — though maybe some participants would ask a LLM to write the poem for them?

Of course, this was not the first experiment in aleatory poetry — there's a great survey in Al Filreis's ModPo course, about which the Philadelphia Inquirer recently wrote an article headlined "Why Are 30,000 People Studying Poetry Online With This Guy?" (6/14/2023).

On a related topic, I noted back in 2019 that

Some time ago, I wrote a little script to select three random words from a list (I use SUBTLEX or SCOWL or CELEX), precisely for creating passwords. A few random examples:


This should be adequately secure, since e.g. CELEX has 160595 wordforms, and 160595^3 = 4.141866e+15

I didn't mention then — though I commented in email to some friends — that the random choices often seemed poetically provocative. So this morning I asked Bard

Please write a short poem combining ideas evoked by the three words "unmoored" "programmatic" "sequins"

…and Bard responded:

Unmoored and programmatic,
Sequins float in the night,
A constellation of light
That shines without respite.

They move in patterns precise,
Their movements never random,
But guided by some unseen force
That knows their every motion.

They dance across the sky,
A kaleidoscope of color,
A testament to the beauty
Of the universe unfurled.

Not as good as the prompt, in my opinion, but still…

Here's Gencraft's illustration (given the same three-word prompt):

1 Comment

  1. Robbie said,

    June 29, 2023 @ 3:19 pm

    It just occurred to me, for anyone wanting to do this, a good source for finding three random words is to pick a random point on Earth and use its What3Words address.

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