Stay on target
“You must be a tringle*? Cause you’re the only thing here.”
Try that pick-up line at the bar this weekend, and you’ll get more confused looks than phone numbers.
At least you’ll have an excuse when it inevitably fails: a robot wrote it.
Research scientist Janelle Shane trained a neural network to invent chat-up lines—conversation starters intended to woo a potential mate.
By feeding her system existing content, no doubt plucked from the depths of the Internet, Shane was able to lay the groundwork for the computer to generate its own flirtatious comments.
“Gathering the dataset was much more painful than I expected,” the researcher wrote in a blog post. “I hadn’t really read many of these before, and most were obscene, or aggressive, or kind of insulting.
“I began to regret the whole project,” Shane admitted.
But while the neural network managed to identify the basic pick-up format—”You must be a … because…” and “Hey baby, wanna…”—it mercifully never learned to generate what Shane called “the worst lines.”
“Most of these were based on wordplay that it didn’t have a chance of reproducing,” she said. “Instead, it began to generate lines that varied from incomprehensible to surreal to kind of adorable.”
Just like human-inspired displays of romantic interest, the neural network’s openers range from straightforward (“You look like a thing, and I love you”) to flat-out bizarre (“Hey baby, I’m swirked to gave ever to say it for drive”).
Admittedly “not a neural network researcher,” Shane uses her blog, Lewis, And Quark, to experiment with the scientific computing framework on her 2010 MacBook Pro.
What started with cooking recipes—a number of which she has shared online—has grown into an almost-daily task, covering topics like superhero names (Sapgirl FTW), Pokemon characters (Staroptor’s hidden ability: stick hat), Irish song titles (I’d listen to “Seat of Slugs”), knock-knock jokes (Ireland who? Ireland you money, butt), types of fruit (three hencoughs, please), Dungeons & Dragons magic spells (I cast a Finger of Enftebtemang!), and Doctor Who episodes (watch for “The Crows of Doom” in 2018).
*”Tringle” means “rod” in French