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By Michelle Smith

On Thursday 16 June, Amara Motala presented her Master’s dissertation, “Computer generated works in the literary landscape: artificial intelligence and modern poetry”. Amara is a freelance editor and completed her Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing degree at the University of Queensland in 2021.

At the beginning of the session, Amara explained that she particularly chose poetry for her study because of the meaning and emotion which is evoked in readers. Amara focused on poetry through three lenses and she found that each type of poem had a different level of sophistication.

Predominantly, Amara’s work was about evaluating the presence of visual imagery in AI-generated works of poetry, but also included a couple of published AI manuscripts. She discussed issues with the emotion of the reader being discounted, and the importance of audience in writing, which AI cannot understand. 

Amara explored the question of AI as a competitor or collaborator in writing and editing. She explained what she believes AI will mean for editors and authors in the future, including the inputs required in AI by humans and the necessity to humanise the output to avoid the “uncanny valley” feeling, such as is experienced in gaming. 

From a human perspective, Amara highlighted the value in the literary world of author and editor collaborating and working together to discuss, give feedback and parse how a story progresses. 

Amara challenged societal fear around AI and believes there is a place for viewing AI as a tool in the author/editor’s toolbox, explaining that literary context is a much more nuanced experience that requires humans.

Amara then answered questions about distinguishing the lack of humanity in texts, the current rate of AI development and copyright of AI-generated works. She also provided some recommendations on the newest thinkers in AI to look out for. 

It was an intriguing and thought-provoking session, and Amara’s favourite line from an AI-generated text is one worth revisiting. 

If you paid to attend this presentation, the recording will be made available to you. If you’d like to purchase the recording, please keep an eye out for the relevant “In case you missed it” email.