April 19, 2024
It's Noon You Loon: AI-powered clock tells time with poems written by ChatGPT

What time is it? A clock that counts down the hours with rhyming AI-generated poems.

“The colors mix together, the brush takes flight. Three fifty-seven, a palette of light,” one poem reads. Another reads, “The tick-tock clock is four fifty-four. Time to sit and relax. Don’t work anymore.”

London-based product designer Matt Webb’s whimsical Poem/1 watch displays a new poem every minute, like Shakespeare for the digital age. Sometimes the couplets are silly, sometimes lyrical. They are always co-written by ChatGPT, the OpenAI online chatbot that has aroused awe, amusement, apprehension, and endless creative experiments since its debut in 2022.

Webb, who runs design studio Acts Not Facts, originally designed a prototype for the watch in March 2023, playing with OpenAI’s language models. He came up with the invention himself, and others had a similar reaction after the Web shared photos of the invention On X, formerly known as Twitter. “Pure genius,” one X user responded to the tweet, which went viral and has been viewed 848,000 times. “Make it a product and retire.”

Kickstarter Kickstarter

Webb hasn’t retired yet, but he has decided to keep the clock on a nightstand other than his own. On January 30, they launched a Kickstarter campaign for Poetry/1, which as of this writing has raised over $69,800 of its $100,000 goal, which will go toward manufacturing costs and AI and server fees. Campaign backers who contribute $125 or more will receive a watch, with delivery estimated to take place in August (of course, keep in mind that not all Kickstarter projects deliver on time or as promised).

“Poem/1 is often profound, as it should be because I wrote it in the vein of AI,” said Webb, who co-founded the design consultancy Berg and serves as its CEO and is the author of “Mind Hacks Wrote the book, An Exploration of the Working of the Brain. “But it’s also often strangely inspiring, and sometimes very strange, with frequent mentions of the universe and balloons.” (A poem about noon: “It’s almost noon, don’t be silly! Can’t you see the sun shining like a balloon?”)

Webb’s previous projects include a book vending machine that tweeted every time a sale was made. His tiny Wi-Fi-enabled watch projects his short, two-line poems on a closed e-paper display. The screen isn’t backlit, so it naturally takes in ambient light. Poems/1 promises a constant rotation of fresh poems, so today’s poem at 10:18am will be different than yesterday’s.

“We have a machine-poet velocity of 0.5 million poems per year,” Webb joked over email. “There’s a new unit of measurement for you.”

No membership fee, please oh please

Webb expressed its determination to reduce AI resource costs to avoid subscription fees. “The way to achieve this is to write the poems once and share them across all clocks,” the designer said.

To bring the device to market, Webb is collaborating with London-based industrial design firm Approach Studio and Tom Armitage, a technologist and hardware engineer.

His watch comes with a warning. On rare occasions, rhyme/1 sets the time to make the rhyme successful.

“This is called hallucination in the AI ​​world and is part of the watch’s charm,” Webb said, “but POM/1 owners should not rely on its timekeeping ability in situations like athletics competitions or rocket launches.”

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