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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Great Statistical vs Human Sonnet 146 Crux Challenge
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1177  Thursday, 12 June 2003

From:           Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Jun 2003 14:17:20 -0400
Subject:        Great Statistical vs Human Sonnet 146 Crux Challenge

I don't have a dog in this fight, just something I am focusing on this
week, Sonnet 146.

It does seem that AI can be a research tool, but only the human (for
lack of a better word, whether humans are real or mythical)
interpretation of the results can make sense of it.  The stakes are high
for those of us invested in Shakespeare, in other words literature,
culture, art, Art, Kultur.

Chess is dead, a victim of the cpu. The moment Shakespeare can be
understood by a computer he will no longer be important to us. I am a
life-long chess player, who can play in my head, sharked in college.
But, a $100 handheld can now defeat just about everyone but a hand few
in the world, consistently.  The human part of chess, the poker quality,
is defeated by a machine opponent, too. Computers don't bluff, play or
act spontaneously.  Poker, I play table-stakes & Texas Holdem, Bennett
notwithstanding, is still not beatable [consistently] by computer IF,
but ONLY if, the rules allow the irrational- one can bet anything at
anytime, something a computer doesn't compute. The computer can only
play the odds, like a beady-eyed actuary.  Bluffing can't be programmed
spontaneously, only by premeditation. Bluffing in chess is a paradox,
why games over the Internet, say, are not real, but bluffing is an
essential part of poker, which is why it is truer to Life-poker is
bluff.  Which brings us to the Sonnets... Shakespeare loved to gambol.

Helen Vendler, for example, in her recent Sonnet book, suggests the
missing word in the second line of Sonnet 146, is "Feeding." It is one
thing to tabulate the given, but can anyone, has anyone, tried to fill
in such holes in the text, here or elsewhere by statistical analysis,
AI?  Vendler, doing only what a human can do, finds correspondences,
echoes, that I don't think anyone suggests statistical analysis is
capable of.  It is one thing to dissect a presence, another detect an
absence.

I bet the results of such a statistical analysis would be lame, and
never original, never Shakespearean.

One could delete a known word from a famous line, for example, & no
computer would suggest this:

Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul
But do I love thee! and when I love thee not,
[?] is come again.
--Othello Act 3, scene 3

Would any computer suggest the missing word?

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