Monday 6 November 2023

A Poem comparing Confucius and Marx (with a twist)

By Chengde Chen

I just asked ChatGPT, one of the new artificial intelligence to write a poem about Confucius and Marx. You can see what I got below:

Confucius and Marx 
In ancient halls where wisdom's flame did burn,
Two minds emerged, in different times they'd yearn.
Confucius, sage of old, with noble grace,
His thoughts engraved in time, a lasting trace.

In golden words, he spoke of virtue's way,
Harmony and order, like the break of day.
His Analects, a guide for hearts and minds,
A path to walk, where virtue intertwines.

Marx, a modern thinker, bold and keen,
In times of change, a revolutionary dream.
He saw the struggle, class against class,
A call for justice, echoing like glass.

Confucius sought the moral man's design,
Harmony in life, like a vintage wine.
Marx, the critic, saw the chains of fate,
Called for a revolution, a new state.

Two voices echo through the corridors,
Philosophers distinct, like distant shores.
Confucius with tradition, hand in hand,
Marx, the visionary, reshaping the land.

In ancient scrolls and communist tomes,
Their words live on, in intellectual homes.
Confucius and Marx, an unlikely pair,
Yet their ideas dance in the cosmic air.

I really think we poets, and writers generally, are close to be being made redundant by it, and I feel lucky to get my novel published before it came! . A philosopher friend (Donald Gillis) recently talked to me about this question: how should we define AI knowledge – and what is the difference between a computer gaining from ‘deep learning’ from numerous documents – and humble humans learning from experience? 

(Oh, and the image for the poem was also created by artificial intelligence!)

1 comment:

Donald Gillis said...

Both the poem and the illustration are remarkably good. Still, I don’t think that ChatGPT will make human poets redundant.
The philosophical issues raised really go back to Turing’s famous 1950 paper on Computing Machinery and Intelligence. Turing considers the example of whether computers could enjoy strawberries and cream, and comments as follows:
“The inability to enjoy strawberries and cream may have struck the reader as frivolous. Possibly a machine might be made to enjoy this delicious dish, but any attempt to make one do so would be idiotic.”
However, and this is the key point, when playing the imitation game, a computer can perfectly well say that it enjoys strawberries and cream. On the same page of his paper, Turing stresses that when computers are playing the imitation game, they are perfectly entitled to lie. For example, a computer might be detected as being a computer rather than a human by being too good at answering arithmetic problems. So, Turing says:
“The machine (programmed for playing the game) would not attempt to give the right answers to the arithmetic problems. It would deliberately introduce mistakes in a manner calculated to confuse the interrogator.”
Let’s now turn from doing arithmetic to writing poems. A poem is a communication between the author and the readers in which the author conveys his or her feelings and experience to the reader. This is why it is required that poems be authentic. They must convey feelings and experience which the author really has had. Now a poem composed by a computer, however good an imitation it is of human poems, cannot be authentic. The computer is conveying human feelings and experiences which it cannot have had, as when a computer, playing the imitation game, says that it enjoys strawberries and cream. For this reason, my view is that while computers can produce remarkably good imitations of human poems, they are not able to produce genuine or authentic poems.

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