Exploration of Co-Creation with AI

Since 2018, I've been experimenting with different ways that people can collaboratively create poetry with AI over the course of three projects.

2018: Exploring AI before UX/speculative design– What might it feel like to collaborate with AI to write poetry?

It all started with a curiosity about AI and the role of human creativity in an AI world. I started by creating conceptual art through orchestrating a dialouge between my poetry-interested friend and a recurrent neural network (the previous generation of text-based token prediction AI models). 

When creating this, I inadvertently learned about the roles of prompting, AI model tuning, and feedback loops within human-AI collaboration. Here’s what we created in this collaboration that brought back E.E. Cumming’s poetry style with AI and combined it with a modern human voice:

Pity, 2018
Bryce Li, Shilpa Rao, E.E. Cummings (dataset), Recurrent Neural Network

To someone, traveled 
Life’s mighty miles
Everything seems to come sooner
Because, to he
Who hangs off the falsest gears of God 
I lay but a body 
to his deep silence

And his look, less than those
who look beyond their birthdays
- & he who reminisces quietly
- & holds their father's love in a deaf and dumb
Can love thy before himself. 
Sorry of a promise of any more 
A promise of any as little 
By which you remember me 
Which you may not, perhaps.
sweet thee, acclaim thy silver, but leave me for dead

To dream, create and dwell
On mountains that have seen war
I know myself, all but nothing 
(but I’m just a hair off foolish) 

Oh, do I hate when his offer
Stands killed, despite one’s dare
Of a build and drive like me,
He visits, and his eternal silver presence
Invents with each moment it fades
And so I sing my song
Because here's to 8 in the morning
It’s my 35 miles per hour in a 20
I swear I could win over a schoolroom
They’d see it all, all I am, and applaud

But there is darkness I feel as well.

I murder in the hours that I sleep
And on a day of any less
(love shall scream first her song
on the green sea that lifts me so)

Face me, I all but inherited the love
They had said we should have for ourselves
But love itself must fade
My eyes hold you in them like mountains
and pity you, like a firstborn devoid of the truths of the world,
unable to speak and be spoken to

And at last
I’m dancing
I lean to you
Superfluous, as the world should have it Progress, in my eyes
Holding (wonderful) mountains;
And once again made
And reborn
And skillfully chained again.

2019: Bringing this experience to a product – Poet Tree App

Based on my previous concept, I envisioned Poet Tree as an experience of collaboratively writing with AI and sharing poetry with people. I created an interactive prototype using Sketch and Principle. 

Poetry Co-Creation

Based on initial explorations of poetry, I identified several key parameters of interaction that could shape how people co-create poetry. For the first parameter, users can choose a poet to generate poetry from. Based on a collection of models trained on poets like Edgar Allen Poe, the selected poet defines the vocabulary and structure of generated poetry. The next parameter is the "seed". For my model, the seed is the first set of words that are used for generation. This seed influences the content of the following words, so a poet can set the tone of poetry based on a word like "mountains" or "time". When a poet comes up with an interesting line they’d like to start a poem with, they can save it as a seed to use for later.

Once poetry is generated with these parameters, poets can edit the text and make it their own. When sharing their work, poets can attach illustrations or images to accompany their poem.

Sharing experience

Slam Poetry can be a powerful communal event that brings poets together through sharing poetry. This solidarity is often expressed through the norm of snapping– when audience members feel that they've been touched by poetry, they snap. Similarly, people who feel connected to a poem on Poet Tree can also snap for however many times necessary to express their appreciation.

Poets can also attach meaningful images to their poetry to complement their writing, using photography or illustration to bring further visual meaning.

2020: Immersive Installation


I aimed to create a mockup of an experience where users could be immersed in poetry that they created. Users are prompted to initially speak a single word, which would act as the "seed" in a similar way as the Poet Tree App. Line by line, AI-generated poetry is projected onto visuals to immerse and inspire people to co-create with AI and famous poets.