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Blog: Fun with AI: GPT-2 Does the News

Go to the profile of Greg Lang

At Talk to Transformer, you can use the most advanced AI text-generator ever created (well, the medium-sized model variant, anyway) for good, evil—or shennanigans. I chose the latter.

I fed it 5 headlines, panning for comedy gold—here’s what I got.

We spend a lot of digital ink ruminating over the potential for AI tech, its risk, its benefits, and so forth. But that got me thinking.

Whatever happened to AI tomfoolery?

For anyone who killed time in grade school playing with Mac Talker, you know what I’m talking about. Computers can be pretty funny if you give them the right prompts.

So when I had the good fortune to stumble across Talk to Transformer, a straightforward implementation of OpenAI’s GPT-2 text generator model by the very talented Adam Daniel King, I knew exactly what I had to do—find a way to make it say funny stuff.

Never let it be said that AI can’t do creativity.

I won’t share exactly how many things I tried before I arrived at the fodder for this post, but it was more than a few. I pasted in movie quotes, asked it absurd questions, and even briefly considered pasting in content from Twitter.

(Note: It is surprisingly good at reproducing authentic-sounding Tweets. While this is sometimes funny, it’s mostly upsetting.)

Then it hit me. The funny isn’t in the text itself, it’s the text in context:

An AI got this text, and it responded with that. == The setup is this, and the punchline is that.

Now I just needed prompts guaranteed to be kind of absurd in their own right. It didn’t take the lightbulb much longer to click deftly to ON.

Photo by Bran Sodre on Unsplash

“Headlines, of course!” I exclaimed loudly to my dog.

He immediately got as excited as I was, so I knew I was onto something.

What follows is GP’s responses to five headlines from different sections of Google News—curated for hilarity.

Fair Warning: Put this away if you’re in a place you’re not supposed to laugh (e.g. during Catholic Mass, in a bathroom stall at work when you’re not alone in there, etc.). Don’t worry, it’ll be here for later.

Photo by JJ Jordan on Unsplash

You’re still reading it anyway, aren’t you? That’s ok. Funny is funnier when you’re not allowed to laugh, right? No worries, you have my permission to blame my dog if you get in any trouble.

His name is Captain Seabass and he accepts full responsibility for your inappropriate outbursts of laughter.

Heads up: I’ll be referring to the GPT-2 AI agent as ‘GP’ from here on out—trust me, it’s funnier that way.

Headline 1: “Trump to World: You’re Tariffed!”

Published by: CNN

What GP Said

Trump to world: ‘I’m starting to think I just might win.’

Trump to world: ‘I don’t care how big your country is.’

Trump to world: ‘Why wouldn’t you go to Mexico?’

Trump to world: ‘It’s like China with lower taxes?’

Trump to world: ‘I could have Mexico pay for that wall.’

Trump to world: ‘We must keep our country safe.’

Trump to world: ‘You don’t know a thing about me but if you do, I will show you what I can do.’

Trump to world: ‘Nobody knows me better than China. You’re going to love China.’

Trump to world: ‘It’s illegal to enter the United States!’

Trump to world: ‘I’ve never seen something quite like this. We are so open and we’re so safe.’

Read the whole interview by clicking HERE.

GP took an unexpected turn by creating a list of 10 variations on the theme. While a few of them are actually plausible POTUS45-isms—some of them are sublimely absurd.

Anywho, onward, brave citizen AI researchers.

Headline 2: Costco store managers’ ‘surprising’ 6-figure salaries revealed

Published by: Fox Business

What GP Said

In an interview with BBC News this week, CEO Ron Johnson said that many store managers make between $600,000 and $650,000 a year as Costco.

He’s not the only one to claim a salary that rivals that of the likes of Walmarts, Costco or Walmart.

Here with Marketplace and as a guest of the Wholesale-Retail-Selling Alliance, Marketplace takes your shopping questions and turns them into conversation.

Wow, I sure picked the wrong career.

Headline 3: Georgia professor found dead near hot tub of man who kills himself, another man is arrested

Published by: NBC News

What GP Said

Shawn M. Hall Jr. was found dead in a hot tub near his home near St. Louis, just a few weeks after another man killed himself there in the same circumstances.

Hall was discovered by police outside the University of Missouri Medical Center’s trauma unit and taken by helicopter to Regions Hospital.

University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe issued the following statement on the discovery:

We are saddened and shocked by the tragedy at UMKC Medical Center. We are cooperating fully with the authorities and family members are making arrangements to come to visit his family in Washington. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Hall joined Missouri State University during the spring semester of his first year of medical school, but started working at the university around the same time, on November 5, 2016.

Hall was described as white, about 175 pounds with brown hair, brown eyes, and a mustache. He was 6-foot-1 and weighed 170 pounds when last seen.

I wasn’t sure if this particular headline would be able to generate a funny response, given the morbid subject matter.

But GP cranked the silliness to 11 and ripped the knob off.

I mean, a hot tub inexplicably situated outside of a trauma center, a mysterious earlier suicide ‘under similar circumstances’ a few weeks prior, and a wtf-worthy airlift that—until GP came along anyway—only Monty Python could’ve imagined.

And that’s barely scratching the surface! Never let it be said that AI can’t do creativity.

Headline 4: The secret YouTube plot to kill Internet Explorer 6

Published by: The Verge

What GP Said

On Monday, an alleged Russian hacking plot surfaced on YouTube. The video was posted to YouTube by user TheScoobyDoo. The video features a purported Russian government agent asking people to “hack” Microsoft’s browser, which has been criticized by a large number of developers.

The video also features one of the original developers of Internet Explorer, who claims that as a result, Microsoft shut down more than 10,000 sites. According to TheScoobyDoo, the video was posted to a Russian video-sharing service. “My name is Vladislav Bekovyukov and I made this video to expose the Russian government’s new plan to replace Internet Explorer with Microsoft Internet Explorer 6,” he wrote in his YouTube post.

The video has since gotten more than 5.8 million views. That’s about twice as many views as one of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 preview videos posted days earlier, according to Google Search. “It doesn’t surprise me that Microsoft is taking its attack offline in order to get Microsoft to stop censoring Internet Explorer 6.”

And they would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those darn kids.

Headline 5: A Bizarre Form of Water May Exist All Over the Universe

Published by: WIRED

What GP Said

“We are so lucky that our bodies do not have a built-in immunity to water,” Dr. Tamsin said. “If it were possible for water molecules to invade our cells, there would no doubt be a flood of diseases from this very fact alone.” Dr. Tamsin and his colleagues began investigating the possibility of a water-based immune system more than 30 years ago.

During the ’80s, research team members were studying immune cells from the gut in experiments. They found out that when the gut microbes were exposed to water, it could attack these immune cells. Dr. Tamsin’s theory was that the immune cells must be able to recognize water as their enemy.

And so was born the concept of the “hydrogen peroxide cycle,” which is known to be an immune system defense mechanism. By using the water molecule, Dr. Tamsin believes, the immune system can create water molecules to bind with the water molecules.

How science-ish-y.

Thanks GP—I’m sure Dr. Tamsin appreciates your accurate reporting.

That’s all for now! But hey, you don’t need me to keep the fun going—head on over to Talk to Transformer and give it a whirl! If GP gives you anything especially funny, please post in the comments so we can all join in on the AI-powered absurdity.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!


Source: Artificial Intelligence on Medium

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