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AI-Powered Clock Sometimes Hallucinates the Wrong Time

Poem/1

Calling all investors with a soft spot for rhyming poetry and a blind spot for punctuality! If you'd rather exchange a firm understanding of what time it actually is for a two-line verse on the minute, every minute — well, we've got just the thing.

As Ars Technica reports, product developer Matt Webb launched a Kickstarter campaign yesterday to fund Poem/1, an AI-powered clock that communicates the time in rhyming poetry. There's a new poem every minute, meaning that the clock — which runs on the ChatGPT API — puts out a staggering 1,440 new poems each and every day.

It's a neat idea! Except, as Webb himself warns in his Kickstarter, there's a bit of a catch.

"It's sometimes profound, and sometimes weird," reads the inventor's post, "and occasionally it fibs about what the actual time is to make a rhyme work."

https://twitter.com/genmon/status/1752277598002880683

Vibe Check

Webb provides several examples of the botclock's bizarre little outputs throughout the Kickstarter page, all of which are admittedly quite charming.

One verse, for example, which tells onlookers that it's "11:51, time to be bold, /Minutes tick by, stories untold," might serve as a sweet and motivational reminder of the inherent magic of the passing moment. Another, exclaiming that "it's almost noon, don't be a loon! / Can't you see the sun shining high as a balloon?" veers more to towards the nonsensical camp, but it's delightful nonetheless.

And yet, amusing as these rhymes may be, there's still that hallucination problem. In an accompanying promotional video, Webb amusingly documents a moment where the clock, at half past four, reads: "A clock that defies all rhyme and reason / 4:30 PM, a temporal teason." And while here, the clock does get the time right, another detail is way off.

"I had to look teason up — it doesn't mean anything," Webb tells the camera. "So it's a made-up word."

The clock's weaknesses, in other words, cut to the heart of our current AI moment. A clock that makes up unique rhymes about the time is a fun concept, but fabricating words or switching up the actual time of day mitigates its actual usefulness.

You know what, though? Time, shmime. The vibes of Poem/1 still rock, and time's but an illusion, anyway. We want this crazy little clock!

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