Hello! I'm Katy Ilonka Gero. Welcome to my website.

BIO

I am a human-AI interaction researcher, with a focus on creativity support tools and understanding the limits and problems of large language models. I'm a fifth year PhD candidate in computer science at Columbia University, advised by Lydia Chilton and about to graduate in November, 2022. I have been supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and the Brown Institue for Media Innovation. Starting January, 2023, I will be a Postdoctoral Fellow with CSIRO, Australia's national science agency.

I'm also a poet and essayist. I write about the ocean, our looming climate crisis, my nieces and nephews, sexuality, and the intersection and distinction of the arts and science. I'm working on a poetry manuscript called 'whalefall'. In 2020 I was named a Brooklyn Poets Fellow and was a 2020-2021 CultureHub Resident Contributing Writer. I was a Writer in Residence at the Vermont Studio Center in 2022. I'm currently on the editorial team for taper, a literary magazine for small computational pieces.

I used to build machines and sensors. I hold a Bachelors of Science in mechanical engineering from MIT, where I recieved the Carl G. Sontheimer Prize for Excellence in Innovation and Creativity for my work on soft robotics. I worked at two startups: Rest Devices (we built baby monitors) and Soofa (we built smart city furniture).

RESEARCH

See my CV or Google Scholar for a full list of publications.

AI & the writer

My thesis asks how writers use computer-generated text. In particular I look at constrained, creative writing tasks, like metaphors and science writing. I've developed new interfaces and technologies that generate text for writers, as well as studied existing systems. My thesis culminated in a study that asks when and why writers turn to computers versus humans for support.

Select publications:

Problems with large language models

As large language models have begun to swallow up research on text generation, I've become increasingly concerned with their problems. I'm interested in developing tools that give end-users the ability to understand bias in text generation for their particular use case, as well as foundational work on using smaller models with well-understood datasets.

Select publications:

PhD materials

During my PhD, I was always looking for people's materials (thesis proposal, fellowship application essays, etc.) to use as examples, particularly anyone whose thesis was similar to mine either in content/subject area or form. Here are my own materials, for those looking for examples:

Application for NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (2017)
[personal essay] [research plan]

Application to Columbia University PhD program (2017)
[statement of purpose]

Candidacy (2020)
[list of papers] [presentation]

Thesis Proposal (2021)
[original document] [revision]

Dissertation (2022)
[dissertation]

ART & WRITING

I have created some freely available writing tools. These tools range from a simple website that will rearrange the lines of your poem, to custom generated thesauruses based on different styles and topics. Poetry is often about seeing the familiar anew, and computation provides a way to interact with your own writing in curious and foreign ways.

My poems, essays, and small computational pieces have been published in a variety of venues, as well as been performed live. In some ways I'm a typical poet: I want my writing to be beautiful, and interrogate myself in the context of my condition, Australian, American, Hungarian, bisexual, female, a scientist, fearful of climate change and the social injustices it perpetuates, curious about the natural world but attached to the city. When computation enters my work, I prioritize the beauty of language over the concept of the algorithm, and in this way I often feel more aligned with the concrete poets than the computational ones. I love the browser as a place of play, and see websites as a medium worth taking seriously.

I curate a list of publications that accept computational poetry.

Select poems

Select essays

Last updated October, 2022