Dangerous But Not Unbearably So
July 1, 2019 6:53 AM   Subscribe

Optical scientist Janelle Shane has helped demonstrate the inevitability of our AI dominated dystopian future by using the (scarily plausible) GPT-2 model from Open AI to show that AI tends to prefer names that sound like ships from Iain M Banks novels.

The list of real Culture ship names, for comparison.

Hat tip to Lexica for introducing us to all the other AI-based naming shenanigans that Janelle Shane gets up to through this post.
posted by Eleven (37 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
The procedurally-generated names are good but could do with a bit more... what's that word again? Gravitas?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:07 AM on July 1 [18 favorites]

Does bunnies too.
posted by sammyo at 7:11 AM on July 1

“A Small Note of Disrespect” is a perfectly Banksian name for an ROU.
posted by pharm at 7:12 AM on July 1 [19 favorites]

Dystopian? We should be so lucky.
posted by BeeDo at 7:13 AM on July 1 [4 favorites]

GSV Completely Unsurprising Results
posted by tobascodagama at 7:19 AM on July 1 [8 favorites]

True fact: LOU Hot Pie used to be Ser Pounce.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:25 AM on July 1 [7 favorites]

I'm currently using that colab notebook to train GPT-2 on some Patrick O'Brian ebook txt files I had lying around. I'll come back and post results once Google's had enough of backstays and mizzenmasts
posted by theodolite at 7:25 AM on July 1 [4 favorites]

For a listing of MeFite Minds, see the MeTa Cultural referents.
posted by zamboni at 7:27 AM on July 1

I, for one, welcome our new Culturesque named AI overlords.
posted by nubs at 7:48 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]

I'm currently using that colab notebook to train GPT-2 on some Patrick O'Brian ebook txt files I had lying around

lol ok this is frighteningly good

Here's some AI-generated dialogue:
Higgins responded by saying, 'It may be necessary,' and after some remarks about uniforms he added, 'I believe it is a fitting uniform for this time of the year, if we may dispense with a turbot now.' He left the tent and went on deck, 'And if ever we were to enter the frigates of the future, would you be your usual stern-cabin sort, carrying your bags or something of that sort?'

'I cannot think so,' said Howard, 'for as I was saying, all the stores are searched now, including the frigate's stores, which are somewhere over the Juan Fernandez River.'

'I will tell you what is called the Surprise's stores,' said Stephen, 'and what is called the Pacific stores, if I may use a pun.'

'Prairie pies,' said Jack.
And some action:
But there were huge strands of coral tangled on the windward side of the watch, and on the far frigate's windward side, where Captain Aubrey was being carried to the cutter, the whaler's men carried their blackswirls over the top, setting ablaze through the reef; the wreck's hold was instantly dug, the water-works lit, and the ship towed southward, killing, burning and razing across the far lagoon. A cable shipped the bosun along the gangway, triumphing triumphantly, and presently the chase began with Resolution, Pullings's small boat from Malta. The reef was now almost completely in the clear, and as the bosun towed her abreast the barge raced astern to face the whaler, lie lost along the larboard beam, and be towed horribly mangled across the lagoon.

The men's hands were full with action - all the party's party - fury, joy, joyless discharge. But they were also full of confusion, for while the bosun had the happiness of taking the first watch as well as the last, she had not managed to strike anchor when she was backflipped, with the wind abeaf' wide before her. Her bow-wave, which was what it was, diminished in pitch and almost gone when she was backflipped, though: her shortwave, which had always been her only waft of current, now stood before the watch in absolute silence, wafting abreast of the ship and almost certainly bearing up for Malta.
posted by theodolite at 7:52 AM on July 1 [19 favorites]

Ayup, that's pretty accurate for what I remember of reading O'Brian
posted by Molesome at 7:55 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]

We talked about an interactive GPT-2 tool earlier. These examples take this model and retrain it on specific texts, otherwise it tends to wander off into SEO blog posts and podcast transcripts.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:57 AM on July 1

Banks would be furious he hadn't thought of ROU Surprise Surprise.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:22 AM on July 1 [13 favorites]

Well I'm somewhat less concerned now actually, at least for the time being; thanks theodolite! Is the real Patrick O'Brian that incoherent? Because that's mostly gibbering nonsense, if poetic in its way.

I mean it seems likely they'll get coherent soon, but my only marketable skill (in itself only arguably) isn't going anywhere quite yet.
posted by Caduceus at 8:41 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]

Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Nominalism
posted by cortex at 8:53 AM on July 1 [10 favorites]

Semi Automated Luxury Curious Space Nominal Fucking Determinism
posted by lalochezia at 8:55 AM on July 1 [3 favorites]

GSV Mostly Gibbering Nonsense, If Poetic In Its Way
posted by Drastic at 8:59 AM on July 1 [7 favorites]

New Arrangement

I think I hitched a ride on this one once, it was a Very Fast Picket
posted by Shohobohaum Za at 9:09 AM on July 1 [4 favorites]

From the Guitar Pedal list:

A Tale Of Two Reverb Systems
A Room Like No Other
Best Damn Bass
Chuck Collins TinyTone Octifer
Meat Loaf Real Sweet Reverb
Boiling Point Coffee Deep Dish Fuzz
Cloudthunder Screaming Bird Tremolo
Damn Fine Aluminum Finger Wah Amounts Vibe
The Horribly Overgrown CIA Chorus
Release the Buffalo FLYBOARD Glamour Box
Blood Orange Overdrive
Beelzebub Wet Screamer Ear Flanger
Bigfoot Audio Radium Nitrate Distortion
Boogie Woogie Nonesuch Tones Embryo Chorus
Mr. Bubblegum Powered By God Tube Distortion

I would buy any one of these, just based on the name. Right now.
posted by signal at 9:10 AM on July 1 [11 favorites]

to show that AI tends to prefer names that sound like ships from Iain M Banks novels

These are amusing and all but there's a really high probability that actual Iain M Banks ship names are somewhere in GPT-2's training data even for the case where she didn't specifically train for them (e.g.).
posted by advil at 9:35 AM on July 1

Leonard Nimoy for President

Would endorse this GSV
posted by Meatbomb at 9:43 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:19 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]

Every Word or Phrase in English #bandoralbumorcultureship
posted by otherchaz at 10:37 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]

I would buy any one of these, just based on the name. Right now.

Me too, and I don't play guitar.

I'm reminded at that bit at the beginning of the Bible where one of the first things God got Adam to do was name all the animals, just before things went awfully wrong forever. But I'm sure it's nothing to worry about.
posted by Devonian at 11:32 AM on July 1 [5 favorites]

Thou Shalt

This is a good, if archaic, name for a cat.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:04 PM on July 1 [5 favorites]

Third Letter of the Week

This was the prototype for the not-as-stealthy-as-it seemed As Per My Last Message
posted by pykrete jungle at 12:14 PM on July 1 [4 favorites]

I want to know more about what actually went into these. Especially the cat names. But not quite enough to trawl through the github repository. "Give me a reason" is pretty great. When I next live with a cat, I might steal that one.

I'm lukewarm on Ian M. Banks as an author. But, the ship names are always fantastic. Here's hoping our AI overloards give the next generation of children less boring names than the warm garbage English speaking humans have been coming up with for centuries.
posted by eotvos at 2:49 PM on July 1

I mean, yes, because Iain’s Ships often name themselves with scraps of literary prose or phrases from discourse, but... that doesn’t actually say very much about this model that is built to produce literary prose and phrases from discourse.

(Sorry if am I making too much fun of the baby)
posted by emmalemma at 6:47 PM on July 1

"Dangerous But Not Unbearably So" and "Disastrously Varied Mental Model" are either real Culture ship names or the ghost of Iain Banks is haunting that neural network.
posted by drinkyclown at 10:23 PM on July 1 [2 favorites]

(Sorry if am I making too much fun of the baby)

posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:21 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]

GCU Yes it really is me, you idiots. Is this thing on?
posted by Devonian at 4:26 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

Banks would be furious he hadn't thought of ROU Surprise Surprise.

Pretty sure that we would have eventually seen Spoiler Alert.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:25 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]

GSV No Spoilers, Please
ROU Spoiler Alert!
GOU I SAID NO SPOILERS (you have to raise your voice when you say it)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:01 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

VFP Spoiler Alert, I Die in the End
posted by emmalemma at 10:14 AM on July 5

posted by emmalemma at 10:15 AM on July 5

Just for funsies, I took a bunch of these culture ship names and plugged them into this GPT-2 interface to see what would come out. I think it did ok:
  • You Never Saw It Coming (GSV)
  • Exclusionary Democracy (GSV)
  • Giant-Thighed Idiot (GSV)
  • Cerebral Deception (GSV)
  • The End Of Evolution (LSV)
  • We Are All On Our Own (LOU)
  • Esprit Librorum Prohibitorum (L
(The response field ran out of space after that last one so you'll just have to pick a class.)
posted by Going To Maine at 7:28 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]

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