Robopoets: Americans See Robot-Created Art On The Horizon

Robopoets: Americans See Robot-Created Art On The Horizon

Walt Whitbot, Evelyn Waugh5000, and Ee.e. Cummings might be on the way, as a recent Pew study shows 51% of surveyed Americans believe that within the next 50 years machines will be able to create art that is indistinguishable from pieces created by humans. 

The important thing to highlight there, machines will not only create art, but their art will be on a human level.

To put it in perspective, 39% of Americans believe that teleportation will be possible within that same time period, 33% expect that humans will be able to colonize other planets, while 81% believe that we will develop the ability to grow custom replacements for failing human organs.

Perhaps more interesting, a Huffington Post article explored the question of how people might feel about Jack Kerouac 2.0. Oscar Schwartz, a doctorate student working on a dissertation regarding robot art:

We’re emotionally and philosophically ready to deal with the idea of computers generating art. That's for a number of reasons, probably first and foremost of which is our constant proximity to technology and how integrated it is to our daily lives. When that starts to happen, people would probably start creating emotional bonds with various pieces of technology and feeling human-like things toward their devices.

The study shows a definite split on technology when it comes to improving our lives and what that looks like. Only 20% would be willing to eat meat grown in a lab. 72% would refuse brain implants to improve memory or mental capacity. 30% believe that improvements in technology will make our lives worse than they are today.

If you're curious how far along robot poetry is today, check out Schwartz's Bot or Not. Along the same lines, the Hemingway App blurs the lines between what we know about prose and how we feel about it.

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Sanbai's picture
Sanbai from the Midwest is reading The War of Art April 23, 2014 - 9:38am

Interesting post! I had to run over to my book shelf and pull out a sci-fi anthology to find that one story...

Ah! Closer, by Greg Egan.


After all, many publishers used computer programs - highly specialized, but unsophisticated algorithms, without the remotest possibility of self-awareness - to routinely produce both literature and literary criticism, indistiguishable from the human product. Not just formularized garbage, either; on several occasions, I'd been deeply affected by works which I'd later discovered had been cranked out by unthinking software. This didn't prove that human literature communicated nothing about the author's inner life, but it certainly made it clear how much room there was for doubt.

It's a great story, and you know what they say about it being science fiction yesterday, but tomorrow...

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like April 23, 2014 - 10:16am

Not to be a mudstick, but such a possibility (or inevitability) doesn't strike me as significant. If "art" is merely the object (or item) and in no way the process and its circumstances, then it is unremarkable that a non-human could produce it; especially considering the computer/bot would itself be made by a human to do what humans do. If a self-aware computer could produce art which humans could never imagine, that would be something; but we probably wouldn't recognize it.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami April 23, 2014 - 4:28pm

In my opinion art is in the process it takes to produce it. Particularly if your work is in any way partially biographical, it would be hard to get a robot to have the same nuance. Unless of course the one programming it had the resources to research all about your life.

Even still, it wouldn't only make up new stuff. Not base on real events.

With that said, give me the lab grown meat and human mental capacity performance. For the most part I'm all for innovation, as it long as its not interfering with your privacy.

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman April 24, 2014 - 6:18pm

You all bring up some really great points. Process v. Product. It does bring up a really big issue too, that scary question

What is art?

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami April 26, 2014 - 4:17pm

I'd welcome them in my household. Can you make it a pet dog or something.:D