A Primer in Gont Poetics

Generated text, 2016

An entry in NaNoGenMo 2016.

The idea was to generate an exegesis of alien poetry, inspired by the messages we send as attempts to communicate with alien life. I was struck by the gap which separates the scientific parts of these messages (basic mathematics and fundamental physics) with the cultural parts (the Voyager Golden Record begins with a recording of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2).

When we learn a human language, we start from very human concepts ("how are you?", "I have three brothers and one dog"). In contrast, communicating with aliens may mean building everything up from the hyperfine transition lines of a hydrogen atom. This means a very different experience of culture. Is it even possible to communicate across such a gap?

Of course, by alien here, I really mean computer. Modern machine learning techniques for language tasks are the equivalent of the old trope of aliens learning to speak English by watching old TV broadcasts. Can they really understand us that way? Or is the cultural gap too vast?