Pablo Gervás at TEDxBARCELONA SCIENCE 2012

Creatome: How to build machines that write tales

Words can create magic. Could we build machines that write tales and predict the feelings poems create? Pablo Gervas is trying to discover if machines could write poetry that a human would appreciate. In the course of this quest, he has learnt many things about how poetry works, the limitations of machines and what makes our brains so special, the way people appreciate poetry and various ways in which machines scare them.

What goes on in a poets mind when writing a poem? The human brain is very complex and it works with a lot of different information at the same time, in parallel; while machines are linear. They can only work step by step but very fast, and they can store a massive amount of information. Could we build a machine that worked like a poet’s brain? Some promising attempts have already been developed, like the WASP Poetry Generation System, a rule-based system that generates automatically verses in Spanish.

If we understood how brains work when using language, we could improve communication in our world, both by having machines help people to communicate, and, more recently, by helping people and machines to communicate with one another.