It’s April Fools’ Day, and life kind of seems like an endless prank at this point anyway. However, people are still out there, taking advantage of this occasion for practical joking and hoaxing. Janelle Shane, a research scientist and writer, is going one step further this year, with an AI that generates practical jokes that don’t make any sense, but do hint at what’s to come if Skynet ever decides to be mischievous in a non-murdery way.
I used the neural net GPT-2 to generate some April Fools pranks.— Janelle Shane (@JanelleCShane) April 1, 2020
conveniently they're all pranks you play on yourself. or possibly solo performance art.https://t.co/D1wb2Qs6GH pic.twitter.com/hHgGTzp59J
For those unfamiliar with Shane’s work, the research scientist who clearly states that she’s “not a robot” (perhaps a bit sus?), has put out numerous posts on her blog that utilize neural networks to come up with hilarious content. Shane has trained neural nets to spit out, for example, the most ridiculous Valentine’s Day heart candies ever, the funniest paint color names in existence, and a bonkers list of Dungeons and Dragons spell names.
To generate these particular pranks—which include putting “your fear of insects into a lemon” and painting “the fridge with red spiders”— Janelle used GTP-2, an unsupervised language generator developed by OpenAI. GTP-2 is a neural net that can mimic realistic language patterns thanks to the fact that it’s been trained on 8 million pages of text, or roughly the equivalent of all of Shakespeare’s works combined multiplied by 8,000.
A screenshot of Talk to Transformer, the GTP-2-powered tool Shane used to generate the practical jokes.
Shane says that she hand-selected practical jokes she generated from a 2018 post (not generated with GTP-2), which focused more on “pranks you can play on yourself” or “solo pranks.” Which is endlessly kind of Shane, who knows we’re all trapped indefinitely in lockdown, looking for a reason to laugh. Or, at the very least, to “spread the jelly eggs on the toothpicks to attract the jelly eggs.”
GPT-2 is impressively coherent. Main problem I ran into was it trying to complete the pranks with ordinary recipe steps. "Add two cups of flour" is not a prank normally— Janelle Shane (@JanelleCShane) April 1, 2020
What do you think about these practical jokes generated by a sophisticated neural network? Are you ready to “tear up a roll of toilet paper and make toast out of it”? Or are you unwilling to draw down your 401(k) at this point in time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, jelly eggs!