For some reason, computers beating humans at chess has always worried me. I know chess is a logical game, mathematical even, but there's all that strategy, all that creativity, all those glorified checkers: that's the stuff of humans, right? We're supposed to be the poets and composers and scientists and chess champions, right? Computers are supposed to calculate pi to the umpteenth digit, allow me to aggressively avoid work, and watch videos of people embarrassing themselves whenever I'm feeling vindictive, right? Right?
Oh, but no. Paging John Connor.
In case you haven't been keeping up on your chess gossip (and of course I know you all have), World Champion Vladimir Kramnik (not American in any way) is half-way through a six-game match against mega-mega-chess-computer-of-death Deep Fritz. And, yes, the computer is once again destroying humanity. In fact, not only did Team Human lose the only game that didn't end in a stalemate, but he choked spectacularly, just like the 2004 Yankees or a parachuting clown eating thumbtacks.
It gets better. Or worse, depending on your point of view. In a experiment around 1999, humans were given 28 poem stanzas---a majority of which had been written by a computer, the rest by famous poets---and judges were able to pick correctly...six out of ten times. Which, if you're keeping score, is one coin flip in ten better than blind stupid chance. Not exactly the score you want to hear. And while you're expecting the computer poems to sound something like "MS Word/ DOS DOS Windows/ 011/ 000" we're going to play "Are you a robot sympathizer?" It'll be fun, I promise.
Remember: one of these is a stanza from a real poem by a famous and often lauded poet (I'll tell you who later) while the other was written by a poetputer. Let's play:
What seas, what shores, what granite islands towards my timbers
and woodthrush calling through the fog
Imagine now a tree in white sails still whirled
About the leaves
will be of silences
Calm and angels
Not that easy, right? Leave a comment, take a stab at it. No cheating. I mean, while we're waiting for the robot apocalypse, we might as well have a little fun. There's room in my bunker for at least ten of us. I call top bunk.