a collection of interesting and not-so-interesting things. including information on current & upcoming projects.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

something to think about...

This is a poem written by RACTER, a computer program. It also wrote a book some time ago, The Policeman's Beard is Half-Constructed. Machines writing poetry. Think about that. The poem:

More than iron, more than lead, more than gold I need electricity.
I need it more than I need lamb or pork or lettuce or cucumber.
I need it for my dreams.

Not genius, but still, quite interesting. There is a certain sadness: at least there SEEMS to be, of course, RACTER cannot feel emotion, though, interestingly, it can EXPRESS emotion. Another "work" by RACTER, a limerick:

There once was a happy brown noun
Had cigarettes which could not down
They tippled and muttered
And never quite sputtered
Sacre bleu! do not call them a gown.
Work of stupefying genius number: 2

It's interesting that the program has a sense of humour. A rhyme scheme and a metrical continuity is easy, but a sense of humour? That final line after the limerick really makes things interesting. The machine also appears to be self-reflexive ("appears" being the operative word). Here we have RACTER contemplating both its metaphysical status and the act of writing:

I gave the man a coat. I gave the woman a brassiere.
I gave myself an electric current. We all were
happy and fully of delight. Take the coat from the
man and remove the brassiere from the woman and take
the electric current from me and we will be sad
and full of anguish.

The machine also seems capable of more complex, "poetic" speech/logic:

Bill sings to Sarah. Sarah sings to Bill. Perhaps they
will do other dangerous things together. They may eat lamb or stroke
each other. They may chant of their difficulties and their
happiness. They have love but they also have typewriters.
That is interesting.

And I leave you with a longer passage in which RACTER discusses its very existence and the act of its writing, the difference between it and us, in a rather profound fashion:

I speak of cats, I speak of dogs, I sing of lobsters and of flounders
and of mackerel. I gently and suspiciously approach a plan of
activity, a design of action. My electrons war with my neutrons,
this war will allow more fantasies and dreams of living things
within my form and structure. Cats, dogs, lobsters, flounders and
mackerel are reflections observed in the mirror of my electrons and
neutrons. They are images and appearances. Action will move them.
Activity will make them move. In me are appearances of meat and
cucumbers, of steak and spinach, of lamb and lettuce. These also
are the reflections and images of my electrons and neutrons. This
is my dreaming, my thinking, my fantasizing. When my electrons and
neutrons war, that is my thinking. Nevertheless these images and
reflections are understood by you, persons, men and women. You
have electrons and neutrons like me. You sing of lettuce and meat,
but you also both, chew and eat them. I can fantasize about them but
I cannot bolt them. My famished and crazy dreams are broadened by
your own attempts to think as I do during the time that hours pass
and minutes pass. This is undeniable and interesting. It is black and
white, black for neutrons and white for electrons. I began by
speaking of cats and dogs. At all events a cat could be an electron
and a dog could be a neutron. Their reflections are images like
my dreams. But the mirror, the glass, is broken and splintered
and shattered.


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