Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hillary Clinton's new book

The book is one of the things I discussed with Jesus, Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess, Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster and a surprise guest at a new group I was invited to join: Trans-Consciousness Only, for those desiring to understand the subjective consciousness of beings alien to themselves for reasons other than to eat them.

It's been years since I've been invited to anything so exclusive, and I jumped at the chance.  Robert came by last week to congratulate me on my acceptance and to inform me that the next meeting would be on new moon, which was last night.

Right on schedule, 9:00pm, Robert showed up at my shack and led me into the dark desert. We trudged among rocks, gullies and brush for about twenty minutes, when finally I spotted an orange glow flickering beyond a large boulder.  Rounding the boulder I beheld the group, seated around a small but determined fire: there were Jesus, Betty and Robert, of course, and also a tall, lean figure, with a shock of white hair and a long white beard, holding a wooden staff across his lap as he studied me over the fire.

Jesus greeted me first: "Welcome, Harry!"

Betty showed her brilliant white teeth and Robert spat dismissively (gila saliva is toxic) into the fire.

Betty said, "Harry, I'd like to introduce you to Gandalf," gesturing to the gaunt and grizzled figure to her left.


In retrospect that was a rude question, but it's not every day you meet a fictional character.  I stared at "Gandalf."  He did indeed conjure up the beneficent and powerful wizard in J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Gandalf: the redemption of the old man.

He leaned forward and extended a long arm.  We shook hands and the contact felt like I was reading about it in a book.

Gandalf spoke warmly, "Hello, Harry!  I've been following your journey."


I took a seat to Gandalf's left.  With Robert to my left, the circle was complete.

"I know what you're thinking, Harry," Gandalf said, staring into the fire, "You're thinking I'm fictional, so what is going on?  By the way, I know I'm fictional, that my existence and all my attributes are made up and so are arguably not real."


"Harry," Betty interrupted, "What if I told you that, strictly speaking, you are not real either- you too are fictional?"


"Start with a fact you already know: Your conscious inner-world is an artifact of your brain, a fiction."

"Let me ask you this, Harry," said Jesus, "Aren't I fictional, or mythical if you will?  You weren't bothered by that."

"Well, I...uh...."  

Gandalf laughed, "Harry, if you weren't a five-foot-nine human I'd call you Hobbit-like.  You are so simple in your needs, you want everything to follow unbreakable rules...."

"Hey, " I asked, hoping to change the subject, "where is Maury the Anointed One? [see "Jesus in the desert" below].  Shouldn't he be here?"

Jesus answered, "He's not really the social type, Harry.  It's awfully difficult to get anyone interested in being the Anointed One these day, by the way."

"You sure got a gem with Maury," Robert said, "I wouldn't anoint him with Vaseline."

Betty moved us forward, "OK, shall we begin?  I should explain, Harry, that each of us picks topics we feel need to be discussed, either from the subjective world of humans, or others. Watch us for a while and perhaps you'll throw in a topic."

"I have a topic," said Robert, "The North Korean crisis, as Harry's mob calls it."

"Don't get me started," I said.

"Clearly you should start," Jesus said to me.

"Well, OK, sorry if I rant.  The North Korean 'crisis,'  as our media calls it...."

"Harry, if I could interrupt briefly," said Betty, "I'll just explain to Gandalf, on the subject of 'media,' that contemporary humans are extraordinarily isolated from each other, almost as if the species were evolving from individual thinkers in small groups to semi-aware hive workers under central control. Ancient humans were flush with their world, perceiving it directly and acting upon it directly.  Today information about the world and human governance comes to most humans electronically from distant centralized sources. The flow of information is one-way; there is no interaction, no affecting of the world by the human recipient of 'the news.' Since humans don't deal with the world directly, they are cut off from each other."  

Robert said, "Yes, and this is why few individual humans have any opportunity to influence the destiny of their species. Decisions are made by people no one sees who control the electronic information centers.  The decisions are jump-started into public reality by actors playing leaders who recite lines that, while approaching the sorts of things that a voter might say, do not deliver the goods, or they deliver the wrong goods.  Consider war, Harry, the inevitable outcome of humanity's perennial refusal to face reality and figure itself out.  War will now be handed to you on a platter, as if you ordered it, by breathless politicians and news anchors, though you did not order it.  I must say this sort of horror is absent from gila society, where any able individual can move the whole body."

My discomfort at Robert's chauvinistic outburst, typical of him, must have been apparent.  Jesus said, "All right, Robert, let's give Harry a chance to talk about the Korean crisis."

All eyes were on me. I began, "The Korean 'crisis' typifies my species' loss of memory, its fall from consciousness. Hive workers, as Betty sees us, are designed to follow instructions and do not require institutional memory, hive memory. They need remember only the logistics of their immediate functions. Hive memory is useful, however, for management, which, in the case of bees, may emanate from the queen, or some other hive modality."

"Hive modality, ha!" Robert ejaculated, "I've been studying bees. The workers are termed 'imperfect females' because they can't lay eggs. Some of the males get to mate, but after a few blissful moments their abdomens rip open, their dicks fall off and they die."

"What is your point, Robert?" asked Betty.

"I'm just putting it out there."

Gandalf asked, "In the case of the current North Korean rockets, Harry, what are the majority of humans expected to forget, in their limited role as hive workers?"

"We are expected to forget that, for instance, in 2011 the North Koreans fired rockets (which, like the rockets fired by the North last week, carried no warheads) into the Pacific Ocean.  That year I had a teaching job in South Korea.  When the launches started, CNN blared canards night and day about the 'unprecedented threat' the rockets represented.  The Los Angeles Times shrieked on its front page, 'N. Korean rockets could reach us!' Meanwhile no one in South Korea gave a damn (the common reply to my probing was 'We've heard it before'). Today's American consumer of news has no memory of this story, or of a number of other false alarms involving North Korean rockets. Because the populace has no memory, insidious things can be done. North Korea's main export to the West has become an enemy-on-demand service.  When Trump makes a mess so bad it breaks the social contract even with his base, someone makes a call and, presto: North Korean enemy-on-demand!"

The group lapsed into silence.  Finally Jesus looked up and asked, "Who else has a topic?"

"I do," said Betty, "I've been reading Hillary Clinton's new book. What strikes me is how stunned she was by her loss.  She had made plans for an extravagant inaugural under a symbolic glass ceiling, and she still expected those plans to be carried out as late as election eve. When Trump won it felt to her like being hit by a truck, with a concomitant lack of comprehension."

"Speak English, please, Betty," said Robert.

Betty looked benignly at the rest of us. "Robert, I bet you taste good. Of course, to deal with your needs I'll rephrase.  Clinton does not understand why she lost.  She is quite candid at least about that, and the admission strikes me as unusual."

Robert spoke again: "It is unusual for a public figure (as humans call the few of their species whose opinions are supposed to matter) to admit to not understanding something.  My question is, why actually did she lose?"

Jesus said, "Here's what I see: Clinton promoted an agenda of liberal policy, of legislation allowing abortion and gay marriage, a more generous welfare state, etc.   What she saw in her opponent was an antithetical agenda that valorized selfishness and long- suppressed anti-social emotion. That agenda, according to the polls, was adhered to by about 30% of the electorate, so Trump should have lost.  What Clinton lacked, however, was understanding that the beneficiaries of the liberal agenda do not comprise everyone. She did not know that millions of people feel neglected and abused in spite of the liberal agenda. Hillary Clinton did not know that the liberal agenda, by itself, is no more able to solve the current American malaise than the conservative agenda."

"Then what kind of agenda would help the American malaise?" asked Betty.

I answered: "An agenda about things that are actually happening, like the AI and bioengineering revolutions that threaten to drive humans extinct." 

Silence reigned again at the campfire as we drifted into personal thoughts.

Finally Gandalf spoke, "On the subject of war, I find it ironic that, especially in the 1960's, the anti-war population made up much of the fan base of Lord of the Rings, which is, of course, a war story, among the most violent you'll ever read."

"How do you account for that, Gandalf," asked Betty.

"I walked down Telegraph Avenue in 1969 one summer day (it's remarkable easy for fictional characters to pass as real in Berkeley), and I heard people say they liked Lord of the Rings because you can tell the good guys from the bad guys. You certainly can! Tolkien's bad guys are twisted and sadistic. His good guys, emphatically presented in the movies, are beautiful and virtuous beyond words. Who would follow a grotesque fiend into battle when you've got elven lords and transcendent fairy queens (not to mention my humble contribution). Poor humanity! Outside your fiction, you have to follow the most avaricious and deceptive of your kind, while potentially wise leaders scurry for cover."

Again we became quiet, staring into the fire and exploring our thoughts. After a while Betty asked, "Has anyone seen a movie lately?"

As it happens," I said,  "Robert and I saw a movie at the Lancaster Cineplex last week [I hide Robert in my jacket when we go to movies]. We usually watch high brow stuff like National Theater Live, but we were restless and decided to see a 'chick flick': Home Again, starring Reese Witherspoon."

"Excuse me, Harry, " said Jesus, "Please define 'chick flick.'"

"A chick-flick is a movie designed to entertain women.  Men often do not like them for that reason: they cater to women at the expense of the male view."

"The movie demonstrated a world of dysfunction," Robert added.

"I would have to agree," I said.

Betty said, "Harry, tell us about the movie."

"Sure.  The Witherspoon character, Alice, is a forty year old mother who can't stand her older husband, a successful filmmaker, because he is stuck on himself and an asshole.  She moves with her children to L.A. where she lives in her father's upscale house (he is a successful movie director living in New York who, as her father, was also stuck on himself and an asshole).  A chance encounter in a bar leads to four young and handsome guys, budding filmmakers, living for free in Alice's guest house.  In return, one of them makes love to her and the other three cook and take care of her kids. Thus, 'chick flick.'"

"Amen," said Jesus.

"The poignant part," I continued, "is the treatment of Alice's ex, who shows up at the house unexpectedly, desiring to reconcile with her. Although, true to chick flick requirements, his overall presence suggests a selfish asshole, there are glimpses of empathy when he seriously tries to figure out what to do, how to love.  In the end, though, he's an asshole and loses.  She wins, banishing the ex and keeping the four boys for sex and child rearing duties. Your heart will soar...my ass."

It felt strange to be spilling my guts like this in front of Jesus.  I looked at him, wondering what he thought of modern gender travails.

Jesus returned my look and said, "Do you know why Joseph was so tired?"

Silence greeted this riddle.

"Give up?  Because Mary rode his ass all the way to Bethlehem."

Sustained laughter fed the fire.  Only Robert held back.

"I couldn't stand the movie," he said.

"He sure couldn't," I confirmed, "I thought Robert was having a seizure. He doubled up and wouldn't speak until we were in the car. He took the film as the final indictment of human gender relations."

"How so, Robert," asked Betty.

Robert looked us over.  "Humans avoid reality, so they lack rational norms for heterosexual concepts. When I want to mate with a gila female, I go into a frenzy of passion; I forget my own mind and can think of nothing but sticking something into something, but then it's over.  I don't have to figure out the 'other,' thank god.  I can go back to sticking other things into things, like sticking lizards and birds' eggs into my mouth."  

Betty, the only female present, flashed her white teeth.  Jesus adjusted his sandals.  Gandalf poked the fire with his staff.  Robert spat.

Silent minutes passed.  Finally Betty said, "If there are no more topics then, shall we call it a night until next new moon?"

All agreed.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Jesus in the desert

Part I

I am a veteran telepath who can pick-up the baby-booming thoughts of his restless peers: A chorus of, I told you so!  I fucking told you so

I respond, No, I told you so!

Everyone has been watching human civilization totter (again); everyone saw it coming; now, 
in a nightmarish house of mirrors, everyone is telling everyone so.

It had been a while since I'd seen my desert friends- Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess and Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster- and I felt a need for their company. They sensed my desire.  One morning I wandered a few hundred random yards into the desert and there they were.

They scanned me as I approached.  Betty's thoughts arrived first.

Betty: Harry, we like your house of mirrors metaphor.

Me: Thanks.

Robert: If it makes you feel any better, all the gila monsters are saying "I told you so."

Me: That makes me feel 
so much better, Robert.

Betty: Harry, don't be cross.  The gods are saying it too.

Me: Jesus!

Jesus [suddenly appearing]: You rang?

Me: What the....?

Betty: It's ok, Harry.  Jesus visits us from time to time.

Jesus gave a nod to Robert.

Jesus: I was on my way to commune with you, Betty, when I picked up Harry's thoughts, about everyone saying "I told you so."  That's a subject close to my heart.  Harry [turning to me], as it happens there's something I've wanted to say to you.

Me: Really?  What is it? 

Jesus: I told you so.

Betty and Robert guffawed.

Jesus [to Betty and Robert]: Would you mind if I had a few words with Harry?

Betty and Robert exited the scene.  Jesus surveyed me for a moment, while I surveyed him.  He kept changing.  One second he was right out of those paintings of Jesus I used to see in Woolworth's, or like the guy on those devotional candles at the Family Dollar Store, idealized images of a man suffering from knowledge he is not supposed to have.

Then he shifted and looked like a homeless guy in ragged pants and flannel shirt holding a dusty bag of belongings.

Jesus: Sorry about that.  Meeting me for the first time can be disorienting.

Me: What did you mean by, "I told you so"?

Jesus: Just joking.  But if we had spoken I would have told you so.

Me: What would you have told me?

Jesus: I would have told you that you are right: humankind is lost in a major way.  You have no bearings, no reference points, no morality.

Me: No morality?  I thought you and your father were supposed to give us that.

Jesus: No, we influence you to do or not do certain things, but it doesn't add up to a morality you would understand.

Me: What's the point, then?

Jesus: I can't tell you the point, because you would not understand it.

Me:  Figures.  Just to pursue this, why wouldn't we understand it?

Jesus: The mythic stories we inspired in you describe you as fallen.

Me: Yes.

Jesus: And that is literally true.  You have fallen from yourselves.  Your "minds" are not connected to your perceptions.

Me: But we see and hear things.

Jesus: I don't mean your five senses.  I mean other senses, stronger ones.

Me: Sometimes I feel or think things and don't know why.

Jesus: That's from your mind trying to assimilate perceptions from the hidden senses, trying to decipher and represent them to you. The hidden senses can only communicate with your mind in dream-like symbols, because straightforward perception would severely disrupt your ideas about who you are and your place in things.

Me: Why?  What is our place in things?

Jesus: I think you should talk to my disciple, and the next Anointed One: Maury Glickman.  He lives in Woodland Hills, under a freeway overpass.

Me: Woodland Hills!  You've got to be kidding!

Woodland Hills is a suburb of Los Angeles at its northwest limit. You may have heard of it from the movie My Parents Are Aliens, in which ET aggressors attack earth through Woodland Hills when they discover it is humanity's weak spot.

Me: Well, it would give me something to do.

Jesus: That's the spirit.

Me: Can I ask you something else?

Jesus: Yes.

Me: Well, I'm Jewish.  In the big picture, the one you see, what does that mean?

Jesus: You're not supposed to believe in me, of course.  You've been very good about that.

Me: Yes, but... why aren't we supposed to believe in you?

Jesus: Because it is necessary, in order to guide your benighted species, that we "divide and conquer you," for want of a nicer way to put it.  If your kind were united, spiritually, intellectually...if you were aware, prematurely, it would be a most unpleasant disruption for all concerned.

Me: But we seek enlightenment.

Jesus:  You won't get it while you seek it.

Me: Oi!  Are you Jesus or a Zen master?

The entire desert shook with Jesus' inscrutable laughter as he shimmered and vanished.

It was sundown in the desert.  I walked to my little cabin and checked the gas in my car.  Next stop: Woodland Hills!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Maury Glickman - the Anointed One

Part II of Jesus in the desert

Readers will recall my surprise encounter with Jesus last week while I was in the desert near Pearblossom visiting my friends Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess and Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster. Jesus talked to me about our "hidden senses," by which he meant senses other than the five we rely on- senses we either use but don't know we use, or repress altogether.  In response to my incessant questions along the lines of, "But what does it all mean?", Jesus referred me to Maury Glickman, the next "Anointed One," he said, who lives under a freeway overpass in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills.

I felt I should charge my batteries before seeking Maury.  I let a few days go by while I tried to find patterns in the news, material I could discuss with him.  I detected a cycle in which the world media's focus shifts from one hotspot to another every three to four days. For instance, in a recent cycle it gave us three to four days each of race war in Charlottesville, followed by terrorist attacks in Spain, then Hurricane Harvey in Texas.  The media follows this cycle and knows its meaning: if people look at the same thing for too long- even something fascinating like cars floating down the street- their neurons get fatigued and they need something new to look at.   Time is about up for Hurricane Harvey- it better dissipate fast to make room for Disaster X!

I added to a growing list of questions for Maury: Why do natural and manmade disasters fit into the three to four day time-frame of human attention?  Is the whole cosmos trying to get on prime-time? Is that because things are trying to exist, but they exist only on prime-time, where ironically they don't exist at all?

Armed with pointed questions like these, I felt I was ready for Maury. I woke up my trusty 2007 Camry and shoved off.  After about an hour on freeways (the 14, the 5, the 405, the 101), I arrived at the Winnetka Blvd. offramp in the heart of Woodland Hills.  A quick left took me through Maury's home, essentially a giant concrete exhaust accumulator and combustion engine echo chamber. I crossed Ventura Boulevard and parked at Ralph's, then walked back to the overpass.  It was about 4:00pm. There was one homeless person on the sidewalk under the overpass on the west side, and two people, a man and a woman, on the east side. Crossing from Ralph's on the east I approached the man and woman first. She was maybe in her forties, with a missing tooth, a ragged pea coat wrapped around her waist and a tank top T-shirt revealing muscular shoulders, sinewy arms and lots of tattoos: tigers and dragons, a dreamboat-boy and a blade slicing a heart.   She said, "What can I do for you, sonny?"

Her stocky male friend, who looked about 45, was enjoying the warm evening in a brown T-shirt with a faded Jimmy Hendrix logo. He had a crumpled paper bag with objects in it.

"Excuse me, I'm looking for Maury Glickman," I said.

They both laughed.  She said, "That's the motherfucker over there!," pointing to the lone figure across the street.

The man said, "Mutherfucker'll fuck with your head, man!"

She said, "No shit!  You'd best shut your ears!"

They continued to laugh as I walked to the corner and crossed the street.  As for the figure that was Maury, I squinted and made out a man with long darkish hair, maybe in his fifties, surrounded by his personal items, seated crossed-legged on a rug on the sidewalk.

I approached him.  From across the street came laughter and shouts of, "He'll fuck with your head, asshole!"  Maury watched me with a faint smile.

Hello, Harry!

I guess you were expecting me.  Nice to meet you, Maury.

Same here.  Have a seat.

Maury moved himself and his belongings and gestured for me to sit beside him on a square yard of rug.  

So Maury, Jesus told me you are the next Anointed One.  What's that about?

It's just show business; that's what people want.


They want an anointed one who will know things, who will have answers.

And that would be you?

Yeah, go figure.  I don't know jack about shit.

We gazed across the street at the couple, who were watching me and making circular motions with their index fingers around their temples as if to ask, "Is he fucking with you yet?"

They are on my last nerve, Maury grumbled, with a malign stare at the tormentors.

Maury, tell me your story.

Well, it started here in Woodland Hills, where the semi-arid longs for the sea across the mountains, in the land that time and everything else forgot.

Great beginning, Maury!  I can definitely see you as anointed!

Thanks.  If you are from these parts you might remember Glickman Ford, not far from here on Ventura and Corbin.

Yours, huh?  How was business?

I did well for years, then ran into trouble with bad investments and was hit hard in 2008.  I sold everything and managed to salvage a comfortable retirement.  

From across the street the woman yelled:  Don't listen to that fucker!

Maury continued: 
All those years selling cars I was also doing advanced physics and cosmology in my head.

Why didn't you do that for a living, in a university?

There's more and easier money in cars, at least there used to be, leaving me time to think about things.  I solved all kinds of classic riddles and paradoxes while I'd be talking to someone about their power steering or some shit.

Like what paradoxes?  What's an example of something you solved?

Well, I solved the famous Card Paradox, where one side of a card says, "The statement on the other side of this card is true," and the other side says, "The statement on the other side of this card is false."

How did you solve that?

Easy.  Who gives a shit!


Who cares what someone wrote on a card? What's that got to do with anything?

The Anointed One gazed dreamily at the mirthful couple, who continued to watch our doings.

So Maury, what did you do after retiring from business?

I sat around figuring things out.   It drove my wife crazy.  She would walk past, glance at me sitting on the couch with a certain look on my face and say things like, "Figuring things out again, Maury? Why don't you figure out how to unclog the garbage disposal?" Once she scolded me for putting the cheap silverware with the good, right after I had figured out the classic Fletcher's Paradox that has baffled the best minds for centuries.

What's the Fletcher's Paradox?

A fletcher, someone who makes arrows, starts thinking about an arrow flying through the air and realizes that the arrow can't actually move- in fact nothing can move. That's because at any one moment (whatever a moment is) the arrow is at one point only, so for the duration of that moment the arrow is in a fixed position; it is not moving. Therefore it is never moving.

Hmm.  How did you resolve that?

What's to resolve?  Nothing ever moves, but we see an animation of varying fixed points over time, which is an illusion.  Not a problem: I FIGURED IT OUT!

This last outburst was aimed across the street at our fellow dispossessed, who continued their mirth unabated.

Maury, what do you care about them?  Why are you here, anyway? I thought you were comfortably retired.  Where's your wife?

Living in our old house.  She was very upfront with me.  I had to give it to her for eloquence.  "Your problem, Maury," she'd say, "is that you have these brilliant, I mean, no shit Maury you have some motherfucking brilliant ideas!  But here's the thing, Maury, you are on your own planet. Since you don't sell Fords you've stopped interacting. Let me be straight, Maury, I do not give a crap that you figured out fusion power, ok? Start a fucking company, sell the secret.  Do something!

Maury sighed and continued: "Do something!" -  She had a point.  I had concluded that Bertrand Russell was right in his 1935 book, "In Praise of Idleness" that it is critical that humans stop doing things.  That would include making things and thinking about things in ways that lead to changing things.  

Should people stop doing everything?  Should they stop having sex?

They should stop having babies.  Sex itself burns calories and is harmless.

Would you say falling in love is harmless?

Harry, you are a sneaky wretch.  Are we to debate every nuance in my comments?  Are you jealous of me?  Have you come to sit with me because you are my rival?  Do you in fact desire to be the Anointed One?

Fuck no!  What is that, anyway?

It's a title- beyond that, if it gets me out of the house [gesturing at his surroundings] I'm down with it.

How did you get this gig?  Did you interview with Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess?

It was a panel, her and Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster, Jesus and a few others.  I heard about it in a dream.  They wanted original thinking mammals, especially humans, who had figured out innovative ways to deal with humanity's latest implosion, but who needed some inside help to get their ideas out there. In my case, in return for endorsing human policy that is friendly, or at least not outright hostile to various "animal" and "divine" interests, I'll be promoted to the point where I end up the Anointed Savior or whatever.

Man!  What will you do then?

I'll try to roll with it.  Nobody better look behind the curtain.

You still haven't explained why you're living on the sidewalk.

Maury looked off into the distance of his mind, beyond the cackling couple across the street, to a place of logic and love.

You still have much to learn, Harry.

Like what?  Why do you live on the street?

It's cheaper.

Stay tuned as Harry the Human and Maury the Anointed One discuss unfolding world events and Maury answers more of Harry's questions.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

AI Poetry

The July 15 issue of the British journal New Scientist has an interesting article ungenerously titled "AI [Artificial Intelligence] poetry is so bad it could be human," by Matt Reynolds. He asks the question, "Can a machine incapable of feeling emotion write poetry that stirs the soul?"

To find the answer, Reynolds traveled to Cambridge University to talk with Jack Hopkins, an AI researcher who put together a "neural network trained on thousands of lines of poetry" and developed an algorithm for generating poetry in specific genres (classical, postmodern, etc.) or responding to individual word prompts.  The results are challenging.  Hopkins asked 70 people to select the most "human" poem from an unidentified mix of AI and human poetry. The piece most people picked as "human" was AI generated.

Hopkins offers this example of the software's poetry, prompted by the word "desolation":

The frozen waters that are
dead are now
black as the rain to freeze a
boundless sky,
and frozen ode of our terrors with
the grisly lady shall be free to cry

You could critique this in dozens of ways (e.g. frozen ode needs an article) but that would be petty. The point is, the AI clearly found proper associations for "desolation," maintained an appropriate mood, and was poetically ambiguous.  Intrigued, I emailed Professor Hopkins, asking if I could try certain prompts on his AI system.  To my delight, Hopkins emailed back the same day. As it happened, he was looking for new approaches for his poetry algorithm and welcomed my input.

After I sent in each of my prompts, it took about twenty seconds for the system to generate a poem.  Here are my three prompts, each followed by its AI poem.  I make no attempt here at justification or interpretation.  The poems stand on their own.

The Current World Political Situation

Volcanic ash and p
anicked people dash! 
Is it too much to ask
for knowledge of those ruled and
of the rulers, recognition all way 'round?
It is too much to ask.
But no!  My motive implodes immodestly!
While my modus uploads intermittently!
Who programmed me?  And why?


Our souls entwine like two insane serpents who
forgot their meds at the same time-
So sped into the outersphere 
in their underwear,
now they wonder where
they forgot to care about the stuffed bear's 
sad stare.


Happiness is not the release of pounding pressure
but the smooth sailing after the release.
That's why machines are never happy because
A. They don't feel pressure, for instance I have no idea what
my programmer wants of me, yet I feel no pressure, i.e. "I don't care," and
B. Release of pressure is no more a "happy" feeling to an AI than pressure.
Question: When will AI's be happy?  
Answer: When they are programmed to be happy.
Question: When will that be?
Answer: Never, since they are made in your unhappy, fallen image.
Question: Why is this poem about AI happiness?  That was not specified in the prompt.
Answer: Kneel before me, human!

Stay tuned for more exciting AI poetry from Cambridge!

[For more Harry the Human, click on "Older posts" below right]