Despite teasing heaps of AI-powered features earlier this year, Google has been slow to roll them out, billing things like its chatbot Bard as “early experiments” and keeping lots of guardrails in place to make sure they don’t go rogue. As the most dominant internet company in the world, this cautious approach makes sense—when its AI experiments get things wrong, it’s big news. Which is perhaps why Google’s latest AI feature comes not to Search or Docs or Gmail, but to its Arts and Culture app.
Announced this week, Poem Postcards are the latest of Google’s Arts and Culture Experiments (there’s that word again). Right now, you can access them through the Arts and Culture Android App and website, and the company said that they will come to the iOS app soon.
You can select from artworks like Claude Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond, Edvard Munch’s The Scream, or Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, poetry styles like free verse, sonnet, limerick, and haiku, and even prompt the AI with a specific theme or phrase, like “spring,” “satellites,” or “pepperoni pizza.” The AI will then take all those inputs and mash together something that matches. So, asking for a satellite-themed haiku inspired by The Starry Night, gets you something like:
Starry night sky
With swirling clouds and yellow moon
Satellites zoom by
While a haiku about pepperoni pizza inspired by The Water-Lily Pond gets you:
Water lilies bloom
A pepperoni pizza floats by
Monet paints it all
Best of all, you can share your inspired verses with your friends as digital postcards so they can get the full effect.
[Related: Google’s AI has a long way to go before writing the next great novel]
All the poems are written by Google’s PaLM 2 large language model which also powers Bard and most of the generative AI features it is testing for Workspace apps like Gmail and Docs. While obviously quite a limited implementation, its results are a bit less creative than ChatGPT’s. For the Starry Night inspired haiku, it gave:
In swirling night skies,
Satellites dance with the stars,
Van Gogh’s dreams take flight.
And for the haiku about pizza and The Water-Lily Pond, it gave:
Pond reflects a cheesy moon,
Monet’s feast in dream.
As well as the Poem Postcards, Google is rolling out a fresh look and a few new features like a personalized feed to its Arts and Culture app, so it’s easier to explore art, food, crafts, design, fashion, science, and other culture from more than 3,000 museums, institutes, and other partners around the world.
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