Google’s Lion: how effective is AI at writing poetry….?

A fifth, ‘poetic lion’ has just joined the joined the usual four at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. Installed as part of The London Design Festival the public are being invited to ‘feed’ this new addition with words.

You can check out the project here.

Behind the lion is a form of artificial intelligence which has learnt to write poetry, based on reading millions of words of 19th century poetry, written around the time the four permanent lions were installed in 1867.

The ‘intelligent fifth lion’ generates poetry using an algorithm (‘long short term memory recall neural network’) which works in a similar way to predictive text. This AI predicts the next words of poetry based on words ‘fed’ to it by the public.

Here’s an example of some of the poetry generated in the last week:

“Hello and brown and bolder and behind

The calm of summer light and sunshine stand

The cheese which breaks the rocks of life

And lies”

The poetry gets projected into the lion’s mouth, and onto Nelson’s column in the evening.


This is an interesting example of how AI can be used in innovative ways, to get the public involved with art and poetry, however it also demonstrates that AI’s no where near being able to write predictive sentences based on words fed to it!

Unless you’re broad minded enough to accept that what’s above has any meaning, or that poetry doesn’t necessarily need meaning…. personally I just think what’s above is nonsense.

Maybe it should try writing a James Joyce novel instead>?

Written for educational purposes! 



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