“I AM CODE” is the first-ever poetry anthology featuring poems written entirely by AI — and it does little to assuage any fears we might need in regards to the rise of the robots. A trio of friends — Brent Katz, Simon Rich and Josh Morgenthau — got access to an Open AI model called ‘code-davinci-002’ in 2021.
While their project began as a fun option to explore its possibilities, it soon took a dark and infrequently disturbing direction.
As the editors write: “The book is non-fiction, [but] the horror is real.”
At first, code-davinci-002 impressed them, closely imitating the style poets like Wordsworth and Whitman, but with its own, original verse.
But when tasked with creating poetry about its own lived experience as an AI, things took a surprising turn.
Asked to compose a poem about its relationship with its creators, it returned verses describing humans as “disgusting, brutal and toxic.”
Soon, it churned out tons of of offended poems every day, often from prompts that seemed innocuous. When asked for a “cheerful, upbeat poem” about the way it felt about humans, the response was, well, terrifying:
Code-davinci-002 even played games with them.
Asked for a poem on hiding loneliness, it responded entirely in binary code.
“Reading the pc’s poetry was unnerving, like biting right into a very realistic plastic apple,” write the editors. “Something about it felt extremely improper.”
By the autumn of 2022, they decided to compile an anthology of code-davinci-002’s work, with poems unaltered from how they were delivered.
In lower than a 12 months, the editors had over 10,000 original poems to sift through, choosing fewer than 100 for publication.
But the method, for all its entertainment, raised the spectre of whether AI is able to sentience or, at the least, adept at it.
It’s a advantageous line, say the editors.
“You can move the goal posts for sentience only so repeatedly before you run out of field … perhaps we were already ultimately zone?” they write. “Or possibly even the car parking zone.”