It seems that artificial intelligence can’t actually do everything, at least not yet. A research scientist and artificial intelligence aficionado tried to program a neural network to write Christmas carols and the lyrics it came up with are laughable, to say the least. To be fair to the neural network, Janelle Shane, the creator of the computer program, did not actually instruct it to create Christmas carols. Instead, she supplied it with a dataset of over 240 Christmas carols collected by The Times of London and another neural network enthusiast, Erik Svensson, the Daily Mail reports.
At first, the AI started generating nonsensical words. On her blog, Shane explains that that’s because it begins by using random rules to arrange the letters. But as time goes on, the AI learns to compare its rules to the other Christmas carols in the database. As its learning continues, the “songs” start kind of making sense. The algorithm realizes that the first word of each line needs to start with a capital letter and that there needs to be a line break between each stanza. But these early ditties are a long way off from sounding like the Yuletide tunes that we know and love.
Here’s one example:
“Hart fon the be the he br wong on the stor Christmas br he, or the wang
Christ, Christ, on bn a me the stord
Hont on thr st bong the wor
I he a s de poog the stow tome on be ser snur”
But then the AI’s songwriting skills become a lot more advanced as it continues to create new rules based on its analysis of the Christmas carols in the dataset. It’s still writing nonsense but some of the lines actually rhyme.
Here’s an excerpt from one of its later attempts:
“With a heart reindeer
But no more a stranger.
Santa baby, and Dancer, and Curry down
When the snowflakes will call the world wakes to bring
Glory bears and asses the air the angels sang
And Christmas tree”
What’s fascinating is that Shane says that the word “curry” is not in the dataset. It’s just a word that the AI invented because it thinks it sounds like it should be in a Christmas carol. As Mashable notes, it’s also important to remember that even though she did not instruct the program to write Christmas songs, it was able to reproduce their phrasing, sentence structure, and language rules.
Artificial intelligence seems to be everywhere these days. It’s the technology that’s behind face recognition software, self-driving cars, and virtual personal assistants like Siri and Alexa. One AI expert has claimed that they will eventually steal all human jobs away from us. SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that, without regulation, they could destroy human civilization as we know it.
But thanks to research scientist Janelle Shane’s experiment, we can rest assured that the Christmas carols are safe. For now, at least.