Google has just revealed its latest AI-powered art project called “Poem Portrait.” As part of this new web-based app, users can add a word and a selfie in the app so that AI can create a poem and then put it on the portrait. To simplify, it almost seems like the app just creates a filter for the photo along with an AI-generated poem. Es Devlin, the Artist, and Designer that worked on poem portrait stated that this art project is “an online collective artwork” that is “experimenting at the boundaries of AI and human collaboration”.
Devlin also revealed how interested users can create their own poem portrait. To do that interested users can head g.com/poemportraits and then “donate a word” of their choice along with their selfie for the filter to be applied. The dedicated blog post on poem portrait states that the more the number of words donated, the larger the generated poem is. Google revealed that the expansion algorithm has been “trained on millions of words of nineteenth-century poetry”. After the poem is generated, the system uses the lines of the poem and then combines them to form “an ever-evolving, collective poem”.
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Talking about the technology behind poem portrait, Devlin added that it teamed up with Google Arts & Culture Lab and Ross Goodwin to train an algorithm to write a poem. As part of the training, the algorithm read more than 25 million words that have been written by poets from the 19th century. She went on to note that even though the system works like predictive text but it does not copy or “rework existing phrases” that the algorithm used for training.
Talking more about how the final poem is created, the algorithm uses the training material that is used to make “a complex statistical model” to generate original phrases that are just emulating the style that the AI has been trained on. Devlin noted that sometimes the generated poems are “surprisingly poignant” while sometimes they are nonsensical.