Using a data set of 2,000 Robert Burns poems, computing science PhD student Perry Gibson was able to create a artificial intelligence programme that is able to create Burns style poems.
The AI powered poem generator ‘Robot Burns’ is a tribute to Gibson’s fellow student who committed suicide on January 25th 2016, Burns Day.
Gibson has used the tool to create a limited edition Robert Burns pamphlet with the AI generated poems. He plans to donate all the proceeds from its sale to The Samaritans, a suicide prevention chairty.
The pamphlet includes 20 works in the style of the bard on a variety of topics and will feature illustrations by Alasdair Currie, co-founder of independent Scottish publisher Hoolet Publishing.
Commenting on his creation, Gibson said:“When the first Burns ‘poem’ came out, I blinked. I hadn’t thought of what the consequences would be.
“When I started, I just wanted to learn more about the technology, I hadn’t really thought too much about what the text was going to be.
“Before doing this my knowledge of Burns wasn’t more than the ordinary Scottish guy who’d learned a couple of his poems in high school.
“Now, because of losing Chris, Burns Day has been marked for me and his other friends in a way, and not for the best of reasons.
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“But reading Burns’ work, and also looking at the recent hypothesis that he might have had bi-polar has made me see him in a completely different light. Maybe he’s had more influence on me than I thought.”
“I’m excited to hear what people think and how they feel Robot Burns compares to the work of Scotland’s national bard,” he added.
Colin Waters, communications manager at the Scottish Poetry Library, said: “What you won’t find are many poetry generators that can produce poems in Scots.
“Poets, like many professions, are waiting to see if the day has come a little closer when AI can complete their task better than them. Once Robot Burns has mastered the language, it’ll be interesting to see what it writes about next.”
Due to be published on the 29th of February, the pamphlet can be pre-ordered online at https://www.robotburns.com/