High School Student Teams Up with BWH Lead Investigator to Leverage AI in New Ways
In this two-part Q&A, hear from the authors of “The Poet in the Machine: An Anthology of AI-Generated Lyrical Thought,” the first book written by artificial intelligence from start to finish. The book became the #1 new bestseller on Amazon for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education. A coordinated team of AI tools was orchestrated to design and create the images and text in the book.
Q/A with Param Adani:
Param Adani is a student at St. Paul’s School in London finishing his A levels. In the summer of 2022, he participated in the Research Science Institute at MIT where he worked with Gil Alterovitz, PhD, at the Biomedical Cybernetics Laboratory (BCL), an interdisciplinary program that includes Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Adani’s research interests are focused on computational biology, bioethics, and energy science. He has published papers in various journals such as ChemBioChem, and Environmental Nanotechnology Monitoring & Management, and has been recognized with awards such as the Energy Institute Climate Change Award.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
PA: As someone who has always been fascinated by the intersection of art and technology, the idea of creating a book entirely generated by AI was very intriguing to me. But what truly inspired me was when I heard Dr. Alterovitz’s dream of an AI that could write and understand literature at the level of a human. That really got me thinking about the possibilities of AI in the world of literature and how it could be used to create truly unique and innovative works. And so, working together, we set out to explore these possibilities and create “The Poet in the Machine.” The result is a collection of ballads, poems and sonnets that transport readers to new realms of emotion and imagination, while also inspiring them to pursue STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) careers.
Q: What sparked your interest in combining literature and the natural sciences?
PA: There were a few things that really inspired me to pursue this project. First, my grandfather suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and watching his struggle really impressed upon me the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration between the sciences and the humanities. I also had the privilege of working with BWH faculty member Dr. Gil Alterovitz in the Research Science Institute program this summer. Furthermore, his dream of using AI to bring together the worlds of literature and science really struck a chord with me. Ultimately, I believe that literature has the power to communicate complex scientific ideas in a way that is accessible and engaging to a wide audience, and I wanted to explore that intersection through this book.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?
PA: I think the most challenging aspect of writing “The Poet in the Machine” was balancing the emotion and romanticism of poetry with the precision and logic of science and technology. It was a unique challenge to ensure that the poems and sonnets written by the AI tools had the right balance of creativity and accuracy, while also conveying a sense of emotion and imagination. We wanted to make sure that readers would be able to connect with the poems and appreciate them as works of art, while also gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for STEM topics. It was a delicate balance, but I think we were able to achieve it thanks to the collaborative efforts of the AI tools and the human element provided by my work with Dr. Gil Alterovitz.
Q/A with Gil Alterovitz:
Gil Alterovitz, PhD, is a leading expert in artificial intelligence and precision medicine and director of the Biomedical Cybernetics Laboratory. He completed his graduate studies in the joint Harvard/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Division of Health Sciences and Technology. After completing his doctorate at MIT and subsequent fellowship, Dr. Alterovitz joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School. He is currently a faculty member associated with the Brigham. In this role, he has led research focused on developing computational methods and tools to analyze large-scale biological data, improve the understanding of human disease and identify patient-specific treatment options. He has also engaged international researchers as a Fulbright Scholar and various consortiums. In addition to his research, Alterovitz is also a dedicated teacher and has served as mentor to students and fellows that continue to make an impact in the field. He has published over 80 scientific papers and has been invited to speak at conferences and institutions around the world. His work has been recognized with several national and international awards.
Q: What insights has AI given you in your research and in your book?
GA: As I was researching for this book, I made many fascinating discoveries about the intersection of AI, science, and creative writing. One of the most interesting insights I gained was how the use of AI can enhance the creative process and lead to new and unexpected ideas.
This is what I see in the lab each day as well. We use AI for drug discovery and AI can sometimes find new types of molecules or use them in ways people have not thought of. In the lab, this led to a patent we recently got (Dec 2022) for new molecules for drug-resistant tuberculosis, with a framework applicable to other infectious diseases as well.
For the book, we also discovered how AI tools can assist with tasks such as language translation and editing, making the writing process more efficient and accessible worldwide. Overall, the research for this book has shown me that AI has enormous potential to transform the field of science and literature, and I am excited to see where this technology will take us in the future.
Q: In your opinion, what are the ethical considerations of using AI?
GA: The use of AI raises several ethical considerations. One of the main concerns is the potential for AI in replicating human creativity in science and the arts. However, I believe that AI can be a powerful tool for enhancing human creativity and aiding in the writing process, rather than replacing it entirely.
Another ethical consideration is the possibility of biases being built into the AI algorithms, which could perpetuate existing societal inequalities. It is important to ensure that the data and algorithms used in AI writing tools are diverse and inclusive to prevent these biases.
Finally, there is also the question of attribution of AI-generated works. As AI becomes more advanced, it will be important to establish clear guidelines and legal frameworks around these works. The ethical considerations of using AI in literature require careful consideration and attention, and I believe that we should approach this technology with a thoughtful and responsible mindset.
Q: Can you explain the main thesis or argument of your book?
GA: Certainly. The main thesis of our book is that an AI team orchestrated by humans can work together to produce something greater than either one could achieve alone.
And, that we can use approaches like chatGPT to promote STEM education. This is especially important when we see discussions of chatGPT being banned in schools. In the past, similar discussions took place about calculators when they were introduced.
We argue that by leveraging the strengths of both AI and human creativity, we can create art and literature that is more impactful and meaningful. Our book explores this idea through a combination of narrative storytelling and scientific research, highlighting the potential for AI and humans to collaborate and push the boundaries of what is possible in the creative process.
Q: What inspired you to create this book?
GA: As a scientist and writer, I have always been fascinated by the creative process and how it can be enhanced and augmented through technology. One day, I woke up having literally had a dream that an AI team could completely design a book from cover to cover, from pre- to post-production, including illustrations linked to text, even the description and AI critic on the back cover, to inspire young people in STEM education. My dream showed that AI could be quite beneficial in education if used the right way.
I had always been interested in intersection of computers, biology and the arts. As a student at Harvard, in one side project, I took gene expression and turned it to a music album dance mix which was played in dance clubs by DJ in Boston.
The inspiration for this book came from my deep passion for exploring the intersection of art and science, and my lifelong dream of seeing AI and humans collaborate to create something truly unique and beautiful.