Explore the Future of the Web

Poetry for RobotsA Digital Humanities Experiment

In 1989, scholar Norman Cousins published a piece called The Poet and the Computer. Anticipating the computer revolution at his doorstep Cousins makes a plea: do not allow our machines to dehumanize us. And he offers a specific prescription against the potential malady - poetry.

"The danger," he explains, is "not so much that man will be controlled by the computer as that he may imitate it.” Intimate and repeated communication with the robots may require us to too conform our minds to their limited logics and cold calculations.

To preserve and reinforce humanness, Cousins hypothesizes that “…it might be fruitful to effect some sort of junction between the computer technologist and the poet.” And I agree. I propose we write poetry for the robots. What would happen if we created metaphorical metadata for an image bank? Would a search for ‘stars' return image of ‘eyes'?

At Poetry4Robots.com, we’ve made the experiment live. This ‘digital humanities experiment’ is being conducted by Neologic Labs, Webvisions, and Arizona State University's Center for Science and the Imagination.

This talk is about how we may further turn to the arts and humanities to ensure human-centric UX.