Is it just me, or is artificial intelligence the funniest thing that ever happened in the entire history of the world? (she said, right before computers took over the earth). But, seriously, every time computers try to act like people they end up sounding like somebody’s drunk, philosophy-major ex-boyfriend. And scientists (or other kinds of experiement-y-type people) keep egging them on.
Like, last summer, when a research scientist had an AI try to come up with names for paint colors. The computer spat out such gems as “Snowbonk,” “Sindis Poop,” and — my personal favorite — “Clardic Fug.” Or, have you ever read those lists of autocorrect fails? You know, where people’s text messages get “corrected” by their phones to say hilariously weird things? (Whenever my husband finds me sitting all alone and laughing so hard I’m crying, he knows I’ve found another one of those lists.)
Well, Merry Christmas, everybody, because a bot has written a chapter of its own Harry Potter book. And it’s absolutely hilarious. The book is called Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash, and it was written by a predictive text keyboard from “a community of writers, artists and developers collaborating with machines to create strange new things” called Botnik.
— Botnik Studios (@botnikstudios) December 12, 2017
The thing that makes this so funny is how much the book actually reads like Harry Potter, except that it makes absolutely no sense. “The castle grounds snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind,” the book begins. “Ron was standing there and doing a kind of frenzied tap dance. He saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermione’s family.” Later on: “Harry tore his eyes from his head and threw them into the forest. Voldemort raised his eyebrows at Harry, who could not see anything at the moment.” I mean come on, I could read this all day.
Botnik’s keyboard has also tried its hand (keys?) at other literary ventures, and the results are just as hilarious. There’s an X Files script: “SCULLY: Smoke, Mulder. Smoke and speak. Speak of what happened here. And ignore the obvious while simultaneously smoking. Scully turns around and attacks a man wearing blue coveralls. He is very upset.”
There’s also a Seinfeld script which is so much funnier than the actual show (which isn’t saying much, in my opinion). “Kramer enters, eating cereal from his pocket. Laughter enters with Kramer as Jerry gets on his comedy t-shirt. JERRY: (acting) George and I have to go undercover at the pool party. Somebody wants to make people live right and we have to stop it.”
There’s a textbook on otters: “Clearly, otters belong in the Smithsonian and no-where else!” And an ad to make you want to visit Norway: “You need skin without feeling, and sublime bronze light. Now you can comfort your hair with Flonase.” Book me on the next flight to Norway! I’ve got to say, Botnik’s keyboard is definitely my new favorite writer.
Please stand back as our writers use predictive text to persuade you to go to Norway.[http://botnik.org/content/norway.html]
If this is the current state of artificial intelligence, I guess we’ve got a little while until bots rise up and take over the world. Or at least, if they do rise up, we’ll all die laughing.