here's a recording of big ol' lecture I wrote & delivered for BMOLab and Vector Institute last month, entitled "Language Models and Poetics," in which I claim that computers not only *can* generate poetry, but in fact they can *only* generate poetry.
the discussion touches on GPT-n (of course), speech act theory, William Carlos Williams' _Spring and All_, Frank Lantz (twice), and more 🎶
(the audio didn't come out great, happy to supply text/slides to interested folks)
@aparrish just watched this and it's great! am wondering if there's a distinction between speech acts generated by a statistical model, and those that arise from something more simulation-based. is it really empty and void when dwarf fortress tells me my dwarf has died? that's a fact about the (a?) world, not a mere citation
@mewo2 there is a really great chapter (chapter 3) about this very thing in James Ryan's PhD dissertation, which even references speech act theory, and I have no idea why I didn't think to discuss it in the talk! I'm not sure how to answer. On the one hand, it's a question about fiction/nonfiction & simulated events, but on the other it's a more basic question of artifacts that relay information, like—is it empty and void when my car's speedometer shows me how fast I'm going?
@aparrish yeah, I think I'm less interested in the fiction/non-fiction distinction than the second question - it feels to me like purely statistical manipulation of language tokens is qualitatively different to language being used as a way of relaying information, even if it's coming out of a machine. your argument makes perfect sense in terms of language models, but those aren't the only way that computers generate language (even if they are the flavour of the month)
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