A.I. reads the Harry Potter series, then writes some absurd fan fiction

harry potter ai generation hp01
Botnik
Have you ever tried using the predictive keyboard on your smartphone to generate completely nonsensical messages, based on the words it considers to have the highest probability of following each other? A mischievous member of Botnik Studios, an online artist collaboration, just used a similar technique to write part of a new Harry Potter novel — with hilarious effect.

The predictive text generator used to write the story was trained on the seven previous Potter books. From this, it analyzed frequent recurrent word pairings and sentences to come up with text that is a weird mix of algorithmic randomness and something that, frankly, still reads a bit like J.K. Rowling may have penned it.

Titled Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash, the story is every bit as weird as you might imagine. A Death Eater wears a shirt reading, “Hermione Has Forgotten How To Dance,” Harry falls down a spiral staircase for an entire summer, and Ron does a tap dance and then tries to eat Hermione’s family. None of it makes a lick of sense, but it’s a whole lot of fun — and genuinely creative in a way that mixes human smarts with artificial intelligence.

This isn’t the first time computer scientists have used artificial intelligence to try and generate new Harry Potter stories. Last year, we reported on one attempt to generate new Hogwarts-related stories using a long short-term memory recurrent neural network trained on the series’ first four books.

Even more significantly, when Rowling was outed as the author of the detective novel The Cuckoo’s Calling a few years ago — writing under the pen name Robert Galbraith — computer scientists cracked the mystery in a very similar way to Botnik’s story generator: by analyzing the text based on frequent word pairings and the like. In the aftermath, Rowling admitted that she was the author.

If you are interested in finding out a bit more about Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash and the predictive text program used to generate it, check out this page on GitHub, where it is freely available to inspect.

Movies & TV

You should read these epic sci-fi novels before they become blockbuster films

You can get ahead of the next crop of science-fiction movies coming out of Hollywood by picking up the books that inspired them. We compiled a list of books you can add to your reading list now to get a glimpse of the future.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Computing

Don’t expect to see the new Dell XPS 15 with OLED display until April

There could be a delay in the release of Dell's new laptops with OLED panels. A new tweet from Dell executive Frank Azor suggests that these new devices might not come until a month later.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

NASA to launch SPHEREx mission to investigate the origins of our universe

NASA is launching an ambitious mission to map the entire sky to understand the origins of the universe. The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission will launch in 2023.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how Facebook taught its Portal A.I. to think like a Hollywood filmmaker

When Facebook introduced its Portal screen-enhanced smart speakers, it wanted to find a way to make video chat as intimate as sitting down for a conversation with a friend. Here's how it did it.
Emerging Tech

Probes exploring Earth’s hazardous radiation belts enter final phase of life

The Van Allen probes have been exploring the radiation belts around Earth for seven years. Now the probes are moving into the final phase of their exploration, coming closer to Earth to gather more data before burning up in the atmosphere.
Emerging Tech

How can digital art created on obsolete platforms be preserved?

As the lines between art and technology continue to blur, digital art experiences become more commonplace. But these developments are raising an important question for art conservationists: How should digital artworks be preserved?
Emerging Tech

Statistician raises red flag about reliability of machine learning techniques

Machine learning is everywhere in science and technology. But how reliable are these techniques really? A statistician argues that questions of accuracy and reproducibility of machine learning have not been fully addressed.
Emerging Tech

Chandra X-ray telescope uncovers evidence of the universe’s missing matter

Where is all of the matter in the universe? NASA's Chandra telescope has uncovered evidence of hot gas strands in the vicinity of a quasar which could explain the missing third of matter which has puzzled astronomers for years.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? You totally can with these top-of-the-line drones

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s space observatory will map the sky with unprecedented detail

NASA is preparing to launch a cutting-edge space observatory to create the most detailed map ever produced of the sky. Doing so will involve surveying hundreds of millions of galaxies. Here's how it plans to do it.
Smart Home

No strings attached: This levitating lamp uses science to defy gravity

Now on Kickstarter, the Levia lamp is a cool industrial-looking lamp which boasts a levitating bulb. Looking for a table light that will dazzle visitors? You've come to the right place.