Electronic Bards: Artificial Intelligence and Literature (WILLIAMSBURG)

Using Electricity is a series of computer generated books by Counterpath, meant to reward reading in conventional and unconventional ways. The series title takes a line from the computer generated poem “A House of Dust,” developed by Alison Knowles with James Tenney in 1967. This early work, a FORTRAN computer program and a signifcant early generator of poetic text, combines diferent lines to produce descriptions of houses. The series is edited by Nick Montfort.

Join the authors in conversation with series editor Nick Montfort, and Dan Rockmore, computer scientist and director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science.

Ranjit Bhatnagar works in music, installation, and text, with a particular interest in algorithmic techniques and in improvisation at all stages of creation. His works have been exhibited across the United States and in Europe. Last summer, Ranjit worked with Ad Hoc Art Collective to build a large scale musical installation in Denmark. He has worked with New Orleans Airlif to build several tiny musical houses. He has performed recently with Lea Bertucci, Thessia Machado, and Margaret Leng Tan. His heaviest work is Stone Song, a 7500 pound outdoor sound sculpture; his longest is The Tapestry of the Search for Terrestrial Intelligence at 44 yards.

Li Zilles is a language hacker and programmer based in Seattle, WA. They hold an MS in computer science from the University of Washington, where they researched machine learning and natural language processing. In addition to writing two previous computer- generated books, The Seeker and Our Story, Li is also known for creating over thirty Twitter bots under the internet handle @thricedotted.

Milton Läufer is an Argentinian writer, journalist and teacher. He has published articles and short stories in Esquire, Vice, Guernica, CIA Revista, and Otra Parte, among others. Currently he is doing a Ph.D. at New York University focused on digital literature in Latin America. He was the 2016-2017 writer-in-residence of The Trope Tank, MIT. In 2015 he published Lagunas, a partially algorithmic-generated novel, which—as most of his work—is available online at http://www.miltonlaufer.com.ar. He has participated in art exhibitions in Latin America, the US and Europe. He lives in Brooklyn.

Nick Montfort is an author or editor of fifteen books, which include books of poetry along with six from the MIT Press, several collaborations, and several artist’s books. Seven of his books are computer-generated and in addition to The Truelist and Hard West Turn include #! (Counterpath, 2014), 2×6 (a multi-lingual collaboration, Les Figues, 2016), and Autopia (Troll Thread, 2016). He is professor of digital media at MIT and lives in New York and Boston.

Dan Rockmore is Associate Dean for the Sciences and the William H. Neukom 1964 Distinguished Professor Computational Science at Dartmouth College, where he is also the director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science.  He is editor of the recently released volume, "What are the Arts and Sciences? A Guide for the Curious", from UPNE. He has for the past three years sponsored the "Turing Tests in the Creative Arts" and this past year supported the inaugural Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards for playwriting and speculative fiction. His current research interests include harmonic analysis, computational cultural evolution and the machine analysis of text.