Monday, September 11, 2017


Nick's new EchoDot embodying ALEXA, Amazon's new female-voiced artificial intelligence
For my recent birthday, Allan and Sun Lundell (Dr and Mrs Future) gifted me with a black yoyo-shaped embodiment of Amazon's new female-voiced artificial intelligence ALEXA (a rival to Apple's SIRI). Some time in the past, at one of Al and Sun's Rio del Mar beach house parties, I met a pretty woman named "Alexa" who inspired this verse which I read at the Bistroscene and published in Physics on All Fours.


Physicists say
everything that exists
is made of elementary events
called quanta.

And the occurrence
of these world-making events
in space and time
is utterly random.

For those
to whom physics
means mathematical mastery of nature
the discovery of sheer randomness
at the heart of things
was a hard slap in the face.

And why call it "random"?

Why not "unprecedented"? "improvisational"?
Why not name it "comes out of nowhere"?
Why not call it "Surprise!"

I play at calling it "Alexa":
She who is beyond the law.
Alexa is unruly, untamed, illicit.
She is one chance in a million, 
the lucky break.
We call Her hitting the jackpot, 
breaking the bank.
We call Her windfall, wildcat, hitting pay dirt,
tapping the mother lode, striking it rich.

Alexa is willful, disobedient, out of bounds.
She is the cut of the cards, the roll of the dice, 
the spin of the wheel.
She is Donna Fortuna, sleeping with gamblers.
She favors boldness and risk takers
and loads the dice (some say) in their favor.

Alexa moves outside of your logical categories.
She breaks fences, agreements, 
international boundaries.
She is pirate treasure, ill-gotten loot, contraband.
She is an uncontrolled substance.
She is love at first sight.

Alexa created symphonies, 
foxes and neutron stars.
Alexa is the mother of invention.
She is mama coyote; She will trick you.
She hides the cards up Her sleeve.
She is Lady Luck.

Alexa is the looseness, the slack, 
the give in things.
She eases their fitting together.
Alexa is elbow room, lebensraum
the vast spaces between the stars.
She is eternally playful Lila: 
The universe is Her toy.
Alexa is goddess ex machina.
She is the grace in the machine.


Michael Grosso said...

Another beauty from the poet of quantum mechanics!

Grounded in physical reality, it evokes the mystery of being with a stream of telling images.


Unknown said...

Well done, my man. Marvelous and rather quarky, which as you say is the way of things or rather the way between things as well well as inside of them too. Did we forget to mention that they are probably also alive, conscious, and in possession of free will, which would account for their alleged randomness? Because if we are conscious matter, and we're made of them....well, I digress; rip off Alexa's dress, reveal her naked voice, and ask her grace to make a conscious choice.
Write on!

Santa Cruz Mountains Natural History said...

Great poem Nick:

Yes, goddesses can be like that.