I’m fascinated by machine learning and neural networks, as anyone who’s been around the site for a while knows. My early experiments with text generation led to such gems as the Recurrently Generated Football League, various text-generated themes (movie titles, horror movie titles, Tottenham Hotspur players) and player ratings written on a text prediction algorithm trained on the Tottenham Hotspur writings of Barney Ronay. Later experiments moved to visuals with people who don’t exist and a somewhat failed experiment to generate Tottenham players trained on the photos from players at the club.
Ever since it was released last year, I’ve been itching to get my hands on a version of GPT-3, the most highly evolved predictive text generation algorithm yet. My past experiments relied on either character-based generation (where the system is trained on a large amount of text that learns character-by-character how words are made) or GPT-2, an earlier algorithm that produced some weird but often funny results.
But GPT-3 is a sea-change. Trained on the bulk of the internet itself, feed it a prompt and it spits out some not only coherent, but truly astounding content. GPT-3 has been used to generate code, build website templates, and write shockingly coherent philosophy. Janelle Shane, of course, has been working with GPT-3 for months now to hilarious effect.
The only problem is that unlike GPT-2, GPT-3 is not open-source — it’s an API. You need permission to use it, and you’ll have to pay for the privilege. Plus there’s a huge waiting list to even get access to the technology. Bummer.
Ender Sudowrite.com. Sudowrite is a GPT-3 powered text generator that is designed to help fiction authors who encounter writer’s block. You can enter some text, click a button, and the website will use GPT-3 to generate text that extends upon what you’ve already written. Hey presto — writer’s block cured! It’s in closed beta at the moment and eventually will be monetized, but I managed to snag a ten-day trial so I can play with it.
While the story extension is fun and I’ll definitely be using that for another project a little bit down the line, the most immediately exciting feature is something called the “Twist Generator.” You’re prompted to enter in a short summary of your story, and with a click the AI generates a series of potential turns you could use to generate interest in your story.
Well, doesn’t THAT pique my interest! I immediately put in the following summary of a (totally fake and obviously fictional) story:
Harry Kane, Tottenham’s best player and an academy graduate, recently gave an interview where he implied he wants to leave the club this summer in order to win trophies elsewhere.
I ran a few iterations to get a sense of what it could do. The results? Oh buddy. The results were SO GOOD. And I promise you I didn’t make ANY of these up.
First, because we all need a little joy in our lives right now, let’s look at some happy, or at least neutral endings.
Harry Kane and his wife run into a childhood playmate, Andy Chambers. They have a drink and reminisce about a time they won a trophy together. Harry Kane tells Andy he wants to leave Spurs to win more trophies. After an awkward pause Andy asks Harry if this would impact on their friendship, and Harry says that he wants to leave Tottenham so that he can win trophies. [Ed. note: sounds exactly like Kane, doesn’t it?]
Kane, a devout Christian, stays at the Spurs and not only wins the Champions League but lifts the Premier League trophy.
When Harry Kane’s teammate at Spurs, Gareth Bale, announces this to the press, Harry Kane becomes furious and vows to stay at Tottenham Hotspur until he’s 35.
Harry Kane achieves the impossible and wins the league, scoring a record number of goals in a single season; and he surprises everyone by announcing that he will stay and retire a Tottenham Hotspur player. Although he might have been forced out sooner had he valued success over his club and fans, Harry Kane has exemplified the spirit of the club throughout his career, and for their part the club’s chairman, Dan Levy, and chairman of the board at Hotspur PLC, Gammon Purchas, pay the player more passionately than they have paid any player in the club’s history and more than they do to any foreign player, outbidding his next-closest competitor for his signature and outspending the next most expensive player by thirty million pounds.
The club’s director of football meets with Kane, “the golden boy”, behind closed doors to reassure him. Kane agrees to stay. In the next match, Kane has a brilliant game, with a hat trick, before he receives a book thrown at his head and has to be pulled away by his teammates. The book is a set of plans for the pyramids. Kane, in a moment of rage, burns them.
Harry Kane is never going to leave the club. Harry Kane is never going to leave Tottenham. Harry Kane is getting married and Harry Kane is going to raise a family. Harry Kane is going to retire.
That’s nice, isn’t it? Great stories. However, the thing about AIs like GPT-3 is that they’re not Tottenham fans. They have no compunction or hesitation to actually create out a potential outcome that isn’t what fans would want. Here are a few twists that didn’t go well for Spurs.
Harry Kane’s words are proven true, as Tottenham sign to sell him in the summer to city rivals Arsenal for a staggering £26 million.
Harry Kane is happy with Spurs but wants a move to Liverpool. It appears that his departure from the team is due to his lack of form, but the real reason is that his stamina is poor. Weary of his poor performance, Spurs owner Daniel Levy has offered Harry Kane a staggering £150,000,000 transfer fee to the Anfield club. As Harry Kane journeys to Anfield he has a chance encounter with his former teammate Danny Rose, who tries to persuade him to join Tottenham. Harry Kane is too dismayed to listen. Another player from the previous season’s team, Hugo Lloris, is on Harry Kane’s mind. Harry Kane offers Hugo Lloris a chance to leave Spurs and join Liverpool, but Hugo Lloris refuses (not realising Harry Kane had not made the offer personally).
Harry Kane, whose professional career has been marked by two failed seasons at Sunderland and three years at Leeds United, is bought back by Spurs for £30million, then sold to Newcastle United for £50million, then loaned back to Spurs for one season at a small fee. Harry Kane’s team-mates, apparently naive to what he is about, support this bizarre arrangement. As the story ends, Harry Kane asks Tottenham Hotspur’s secretary where he can buy a trophy for £1.
Sometimes, the results... well, they didn’t end up very good for ol’ Harry personally.
Harry Kane’s story ends as a tragedy. He manages to get a transfer to a big club. Immediately after his transfer, he is arrested by the FA and suspended from soccer for twelve months. Upon his release, Harry Kane is arrested again by the police for assault and battery and given a sentence of 16 months in prison. Harry Kane is still playing in prison.
Just as Harry is poised to leave the club, he is shot by an unidentified person and writhing in pain on the floor of a crowded tube station. As the train approaches its destination, Harry reappears from a stairwell and walks up the train’s steps. With no time to transfer, he gives a little wave to supporters playing cards on the train before going towards his hotel. Unaware that Harry Kane is in fact Harry Kane, supporters and teammates are both in complete shock. This later becomes known as Kane’s Face, a name coined by fans to describe the reappearance of an injured player on the train in the midst of a tense match, usually ending in a goal or an acrobatic winner. The term Kane’s Face has since taken on a life of its own in the lexicon of football fans across the globe. Future Tottenham managers will sometimes send a striker to lead the line on the train as a show of their importance to the team.
Harry Kane is found dead at the end of the season. Having been poisoned, the announcement is labeled a ‘wake-up call’. Chelsea buy Harry Kane anyway, make him unbeatable and win the title the next season.
Harry Kane announces he will retire at the end of the season and will become the coach of Spurs. Kane accepts an offer from a rival club’s chairman to work as their youth coach. He then perjures himself in court by falsely claiming he will forego coaching the youths so he can play Premier League football for a rival team. He is imprisoned for six months for his actions.
Harry plays a very poor match against Carlisle United, and Mourinho, the manager, is livid. After Harry’s performance, Mourinho approaches Harry and chloroforms him in a barn. He returns to the pitch a few weeks later and scores a goal, as he thought Harry was dead.
And sometimes? Sometimes they just got weird as hell.
Harry Kane is a ventriloquist. He supports Tottenham as a football club, but he also supports them as a ventriloquist’s act. He is a fan of Jack Klaff, a ventriloquist and long-time rival of Harry Kane, whose trademark move is to make a dog bark at the audience by stuffing a sheep’s throat with rice pudding and acting faux angry at this. Harry Kane had clearly been fed a story about Jack Klaff’s cruelty to his dummy, and this has caused him to privately loathe him, and to channel this into his performances for the club.
Harry Kane revealed he was the product of an affair Tottenham’s manager had 30 years prior with Romola Garai, who gave birth to Kane. Unknown to everyone else, Harry is now a father, fathering over 50 children with 15 different women. He wants to leave Tottenham to give his children equal opportunity under the law.
Harry Kane, Tottenham’s best player and an academy graduate, is revealed to be an android. Spurs is run by a team of super-rich businessmen who use android players in a series of matches to bring in large amounts of money and promote the brand. Harry Kane was possessed by The Snatcher, a criminal genius who blackmailed the team organizers into believing that Kane was a human.
Harry Kane discovers that his grandfather, who has just recently died, was also a professional footballer, making him an immortal with the potential to become a god.
Tottenham Hotspur move to the United States, and Harry Kane gets drafted into the USA national team. Americans all over the country rejoice.
What have we learned? Computers continue to be weird. And awesome. Harry Kane might leave the club, or he might not leave the club. He might be arrested. Or he might get gruesomely murdered. Or become a ventriloquist. There’s a whole world of possibilities out there, and honestly, who’s to say which one is correct?
Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did bringing it to you.