Digital Doughnut Contributor
Digital Doughnut Contributor 23 November 2017

IAB Engage 2017, Introducing AI to Creativity and Weird Twitter Bots

We attended IAB Engage 2017 and came back absolutely inspired by the discussion around the dynamic between AI and creativity; here are our highlights!

IAB’s Engage 2017 event, ‘Create the Future’, took place mid-October. The day saw brilliant speakers from tech, media and journalism take to the stage, and even that guy Brian Cox who was in that band that sang ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ and now does a bit of physics on the side or something.

With such an interesting line-up, there’s plenty to cover in a ‘round-up’ style blog post, but one of the most interesting subjects was how technology and creativity work together.

Matevz Klanjsek spoke about an experiment he ran during the Tribeca Film Festival, pitting an AI judgeagainst the human panel to see the difference in their rankings of the best films. Matevz exposed his AI to lots of past festival winners, so it could build an idea of what constitutes an award-winning film. However, the robot was quite off the mark in comparison to the human judges. Its favourite came in at 5th in the overall results.

Matevz went on to explain how although we’ve been measuring humans for centuries (the Vitruvian Man was one example), not everything about us can be reduced to numbers.

Ideas of beauty and inspiration are harder to understand, even for us – let alone robots. Although his AI didn’t quite hit the mark on picking the ‘best’ film, concepts of beauty or creativity differ from person to person anyway. This made it a monumental task to assign to a bot, but an interesting one to see how close we’re getting to creating AI that can begin to play a real part within the creative world.

On that note, Matevz’s talk got me thinking about other examples where people are experimenting with technology, (or in these cases just simple bots, often created using ),and seeing how far it can become a source of creativity itself. Here’s a few of my favourites – either because they do something interesting and unexpected, or, like Matevz’s AI, they have a good go but it just feels slightly off kilter (which often results in the best outcomes).

Bot Conference

Possibly slightly awkward considering this blog post is centred around a conference, but this bot invents and tweets out imaginary conference quotes that more often than not could be real. Plenty of those ‘[insert industry name here] is dead’ type clichés floating about. The parody account was created by Nick Asbury, and he explains more here about teaching machines to talk. For a similar kind of bot that makes you think about the future of tech and writing, see Taglin3r – which comes up with imaginary brand taglines.

Tiny Bus Stop

A less thought-provoking example, Tiny Bus Stop is pretty much what it says on the tin. A really simple little Twitter bot that randomly creates a tiny bus stop made up of emojis. Who will be at the tiny bus stop next? Who knows. Why was this even created? No-one knows that either. But it’s weird and kind of cute.

Louis Theroux Bot

Carrying on with the weird and wonderful, this bot churns out imaginary quotations of Louis Theroux introducing new shows. Taking the structure of a standard Louis introductory line – “I’m in [place] to meet [name], a former [vocation] turned [weirder vocation] who believes [something completely bizarre]” – and filling it with plenty of interesting options, the parody bot has recently shot to viral fame after Louis himself noticed it and read one of its tweets out in ‘serious’ mode.

Predictive Keyboards Write a Scrubs Script

Botnik Studios work on projects combining artists, writers and developers with machines to make, you’ve guessed it, weird stuff. One of their latest projects involved training predictive keyboards on real scripts from the TV programme ‘Scrubs’ – and then letting it run wild and write its own. Including illuminating pieces of dialogue such as “After all, the right thing’s not always the best thing to do. You’d know that if you worked in a hospital,” alongside stage direction including “J.D. ignores Elliot because the room is now full of kissing ostriches,” it’s worth a read.

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