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Discover the strange, beautiful poetry of a real-life robot raised on romance novels.

It was only a matter of time before artificial intelligence entered its adolescent emo phase. Thanks to Google, that time is now.

Discover the strange, beautiful poetry of a real-life robot raised on romance novels.

Move over, Romeo; there's a new romantic master in town.

But unlike that creepily obsessive Shakespearean suitor, this saccharine paramour scrawls its sweet nothings across computer screens instead of scrolls of parchment. Here's a sampling of its lovely lyrical language:


Image (altered) via rabiem22/Flickr.

It sounds like the sparse, pseudo-profound writing of a potentially-talented-if-undeniably-angsty teenager. Except for the part where it was actually written by a robot.

Or, well, artificial intelligence if we're being technical since it doesn't have a body. Yet.

But the surprising wordsmith behind this — and many other accidental found poems — is Google Brain, an artificial intelligence system that's spent the last few years undergoing some pretty crazy deep machine learning programs. It's the same AI that controls video recommendations on YouTube as well as the speech recognition software on the Android phone.

It was only a matter of time before it entered its adolescent emo phase, just like those of us with non-artificial intelligence.

And how exactly did this robo-mantic learn such a way with words? The same way anyone else does: by reading a lot.

According to Quartz, Google researchers shared a scientific paper titled "Generating Sentences from a Continuous Space" at the International Conference on Learning Representations in May. The paper detailed the team's efforts to train their AI to parse the linguistic connections between sentences using something called recurrent neural network language models, or RNNLMs, which mimic human brain behaviors.

Researchers provided the AI with the text of approximately 12,000 ebooks, including 2,865 romance novels and about 1,500 fantasy novels.

And the romance novel influence is pre-tty clear.

The somewhat-sentient software attempted to identify patterns and relationships between the words and phrases of some 80 million sentences. They then challenged the machine by providing it with two separate sentences and instructing it to create a series of new sentences that would get from point A to point B.

For example, they told the AI to start with the sentence "Amazing, isn't it?" and gradually connect it to the sentence "I couldn't do it." And here's what they got:

While not intentionally created as poems, per se, a lot of the resulting text blocks read like cool, abstract poetry.

It's nothing revolutionary — although I do appreciate the e.e. cummings touch of writing in lowercase letters. But it's fascinating nonetheless and gives lots of room for the reader to project their own meaning onto it.

Like this one, which I clearly interpreted as the troubling confession of a heartbroken mall Easter bunny coming to terms with bisexuality (or possibly polyamory?):

Of course, the results weren't always as eerily esoteric as that.

The scientific paper details the researchers' attempts to write the right algorithm to instruct their AI accordingly. One of the major steps they realized was the need to give it some limitations — because without any other parameters, "Connect these two sentences! Go!" didn't go as well as they hoped…

To be fair, that's basically like handing a dictionary to a child and telling them to make a sentence. Which is why the researchers got nonsense like this, too:

You can spot some semblance of logic here — why word B would follow word A and so on. Unfortunately, these examples, ya know, don't make sense.

Eventually, the researchers figured out that a more gradual transition was required to get the Google Brain to produce anything resembling a natural sentence progression.

The resulting algorithm is what gives this accidental Google poetry its hypnotic repetitions of anaphora and diacope and other cool poetic terms. Again, it's not intentionally employing these clever literary devices.

But it's certainly cool that it does!

While this Google Brain poetry opens up a lot of cool philosophical questions about language and more, it's probably not something we need to worry about too much. For now, anyway.

Google's AI research has come a long way since just last year when it threatened researchers with physical violence. (Oops!) It's certainly doing better than Microsoft's failed genocidal robot Twitter teen.

And frankly, if we are going to train machines to think and act like humans, it's probably better that we wean them on romance novels than, I don't know, "The Terminator" or something.

But, for now, it's pretty unlikely this algorithmic lyricist actually understands its own words. It's mostly just an excellent mimic, feeling out how to make sense of different contexts and common phrases. Slowly piecing together the pieces of a much bigger puzzle as it goes along.

Which, when you think about it, sounds pretty human after all.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Images via Canva and Unsplash

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