CNN headlines, according to a neural net


The world is a chaotic and confusing place. Could advanced artificial intelligence help us make sense of it? Well, possibly, except that today’s “artificial intelligences” are not exactly what you’d call sophisticated. With a couple of hundred virtual neurons (as opposed to 16 billion neurons in the human brain), the neural networks I work with can only do limited, narrow tasks. Can they digest a list of CNN headlines and predict plausible new headlines based on what they’ve seen? No, but it’s fun to watch them try.

Thanks to Rachel Metz and Heather Kelly of CNN Business, I had a list of 8,438 headlines that have appeared on CNN Business over the past year. And thanks to Max Woolf’s textgenrnn, I had an algorithm that could learn to imitate them. In most of my previous experiments I’ve let neural networks try to build words and phrases letter by letter, because I like the strange made-up words like “indescribbening” and “Anthlographychology”. But to give the neural net a better chance of making the headlines grammatical, I decided to have it use words as building blocks. It could skip learning to spell “panther” and “cryptocurrency” and focus on structure. It helped. Sort of.

Early on in the training, it kept generating headlines that were completely blank. This was either a very nihilistic view of world affairs, or its calculation that a space was the most likely (occasionally a headline would just be: “The”). If I told it to be very very daring, then it would finally use words other than “The” in the headlines, generating things like:

Instagram of Suddenly
Its iPhone Look it
Facebook Wind
11 Fake Tesla My People
Million do Regret
Supermarket Disney New Label Signature Company: Why
Cordray to the SpaceX Coal Administration Africa Jared Internet Big the Talks
to Pizza Videos

(I added the capitalization). After much more training (about 30 min total on a fast GPU), it grew confident enough to use actual words more often. It had learned something about business as well.

Why the Stock Market is Trying to Get a Lot of Money
The US China Trade War is so Middle Class
Bank of the Stock Market is Now Now the Biggest Ever
The Best Way to Avoid Your Money
How Much You Need to Know About the New York City
How to Make a New Tax Law for Your Boss
The Stock Market Market is the Most Powerful Money
Goldman Sachs is a New Super Bowl
Facebook is Buying a Big Big Deal
Why Apps in the Country
5 Ways to Trump on Chipotle Industry is the Random Wedding
Premarket Stocks Surge on Report of Philadelphia Starbucks Starbucks Starbucks

One curious pattern that emerged: companies behaving badly.

Walmart Grilled With a New Leader in Murder Tech
Coca-Cola is Scanning Your Messages for Big Chinese Tech
Amazon Wants to Make Money Broadcasting from Your Phone
Should I Pay My Workers
Amazon is Recalling 1 Trillion Jobs

My favorite headlines, though, were the most surreal.

Star Wars Episode IX Has New Lime Blazer
Mister Rogers in Washington
Black Panther Crushes the iPhone XS and XS Max Max
How to Build a Flying Car Car
You Make Doom Stocks
The Fly Species Came Back to Life
India Gets a Bad Mocktail Non Alcoholic Spirit
How to Buy a Nightmare

I talk a bit more about AI and creativity in this CNN article.

And that’s all the news for today – now it’s time for cake! Yes, I will now share with you two fine* recipes generated by a neural net trained solely on cake recipes: “Cargot Puddeki Wause Pound’s Favorite Ice Cream: Plant Tocha” and “Three Magee Coffee Cake”. To get them (and optionally, bonus material every time I post), sign up here.


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I’m the black lesbian who made the post about running away from my family in the middle east where I was physically and mentally abused by them for years and was being forced to getting married off, because of you who spread and donated to me I was able to finally run away and be safe here in the states, and I had an amazing friend too who let me stay with her for awhile and I’m really thankful for her. Eventually I ended up in a DV shelter here in NJ and I’m trying now to build my live up but I’m struggling so far with many obstacles.

So first being the fact that I don’t have money at all, I have very few dollars left on me and thank god for the food here cause otherwise I would’ve starved too. I applied for benefits in welfare but since I have a fresh record I’m having a hard time getting through and I have to wait through dates.

Second I find a place to live in, I passed my exit date in shelter and I asked for an extension but that’s for 2 weeks and I dont even know if it was approved yet. I applied for housing in the welfare but again it’s a long process and my entire stay in the shelter passed as I was waiting and going though that.

Third and most importantly is college, so I ran away during my last semester of college because I was gonna be send back home after I graduated and married off so I couldnt risk staying till I graduated. So I wanna pick up from there and I have a chance in a university here but the application fees are stacking up since I’m an international transfer student and I need to take an English Proficiency Test (around $200) and get my transcript evaluated ($160-200). My case manager who has relations with the university ie advocating for me and I have a chance of going to college but the fees are holding be back and I can’t work right now unfortunately. If I go to college I can move into the dorms and secure a place to live in so I’m focusing on establishing my application.

I’m trying not to post images or even link to my old post and my blog is private because my family are still actively looking for me, even getting access through my emails and trying to contact me by Facebook (which I deactivated and deleted all). They use whatever lead they have get to me and they even tried to contact the local police back where I lived. But I’m safe here and as long as I don’t share any leads or details I’m good, so I hope you understand why I’m not sharing much.

I’m so grateful for everyone who basically saved my life when I posted about it and I’m this close to settling down and I need help. So please spread this post around at least if you cant donate because that helped me a lot last time.

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Hey, I just got done chasing around this animal that was over there, what animal is it? look at it, so strange. I found it and I thought it was a duck. Look at those feat, HEY BITCH DON’T YOU START MOVING. I’m gonna go take it to someone I know. But its a really strange anima AHHHHHHHHHHH!! IT PECKED ME MOTHERFUCKERRR!!!! AHHHHHHH!! ITS FUCKING PECKING ME FUCKING BITCH, LET ME THE FUCK GOOOOO!!“ 



For my money the absolute weirdest thing in leftist discourse is when folks get the (very sensible!) notion that it’s necessary to be aware of how economic class influences our experience of certain social phenomena twisted around into “my experience of X is the universal working-class experience and anyone who differs is clearly bourgeois scum”, and you end up with a bunch of working-class people loudly accusing each other of secretly being wealthy over slight discrepancies in lived experiences.

Aye. For example a lot of poor people I grew up with had 4 different TVs —all salvaged and hobbled from scrap parts— in their house. One in the kitchen, one in the parent’s room, one in the children’s, and one in the dining room. Cue me going to college and meeting friends who read a lot and didn’t watch TV, assumed they were secretly wealthy and snobby, only to find out they spent days in the city library because they couldn’t afford to keep the heating on during the day. Lots of things poor folk do can seem like luxuries sometimes. Eating freshwater fish and game meat? Eating rabbits or quails? Things my 8 aunts and uncles did to feed themselves way past reaching adulthood. Be in a boarding school? It was that or 50 miles of road every morning.

Poverty is both an universal experience in that it sucks, but also that it happens to anyone (except the wealthy of course, but I mean it in a geographical, racial and cultural way. Black Lutheran poverty in the Midwest differs a lot from Southeast asian diaspora poverty in Berlin)

Anyhow while wealth is wack, hunting down folks for their seeming richer than you while having the same ideals goes a long way into maintaining an ideologically sanitized and dogmatic, and thus divisive, which is not the reason we got together to fight in the first place