“Dante’s Divine Comedy has inspired countless artists, from William Blake to Franz Liszt, and from Auguste Rodin to CS Lewis. But an exhibition marking the 700th anniversary of the Italian poet’s death will be showcasing the work of a rather more modern devotee: Ai-Da the robot, which will make history by becoming the first robot to publicly perform poetry written by its AI algorithms.
“The ultra-realistic Ai-Da, who was devised in Oxford by Aidan Meller and named after computing pioneer Ada Lovelace, was given the whole of Dante’s epic three-part narrative poem, the Divine Comedy, to read, in JG Nichols’ English translation. She then used her algorithms, drawing on her data bank of words and speech pattern analysis, to produce her own reactive work to Dante’s.
“‘We looked up from our verses like blindfolded captives, / Sent out to seek the light; but it never came,’ runs one of her poems. ‘A needle and thread would be necessary / For the completion of the picture. / To view the poor creatures, who were in misery, / That of a hawk, eyes sewn shut.’
“In another, Ai-Da writes: ‘There are some things, that are so difficult – so incalculable. / The words are not intelligible to the human ear; / She can only speculate what they mean.'” [. . .] –Alison Flood, The Guardian, November 26, 2021 (retrieved January 19, 2022)