Can Robots Write Poetry? Or Fiction?

Bios robotlab writing robot

I have seen a number of articles in recent weeks on the topic of whether a computer could write a book. One software company has software that will automatically write newspaper articles on certain topics. A college business professor is working on software that  has already written 200,000 nonfiction books, half of which he has for sale on Amazon.

I haven’t yet seen an example of what these software programs produce, but I’m extremely skeptical of their quality.

Let’s do an experiment. Following are two poems. Each is a xenia epigram, a poetic form originally found in Latin literature. One was written by poet Luke Wright for the BBC. The other was written by a computer after being given instructions about the poetic form.

Can you tell which is which?

Here they are:

To Truth, by ??????

To truth I offer this thanks,
when needing something like reality
When I’m writing and drawing blanks,
I almost settle using actuality.

I am in search of more,
trying to sing your praise!
It’s you I very much adore,
lacking in so many ways.

To Felicity, by ??????

Felicity, my dear, my thanks
the cheque you sent was great.
Tomorrow I’ll go to the bank
my rent’s already late.

And sorry for the shoddy rhyme
I’m tired, I’m not on it,
perhaps if you send more next time
I’ll scribble you a sonnet.

Which was written by the computer and which by the human? Leave your guess in the comments. Don’t look at the other comments until you’re ready to make your guess.