Did Donald Trump tweet it, or did DeepDrumpf do it?

Donald Trump
Gage Skidmore/Flickr
A certain tincture of incoherence has become something of a calling card for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and now, a new Twitter bot has successfully emulated the man who very well could be the next president of the United States. The bot, named DeepDrumpf, was developed by some very brilliant minds at MIT, and is contingent upon “just a few hours of transcripts of Trump’s victory speeches and debate performances.” And surprisingly enough, that’s enough to make the whole “guess who said it” game pretty difficult. After all, doesn’t “I’m what ISIS doesn’t need,” sound like something Mr. Trump would actually say?

The name of the bot is based upon a recent Last Week Tonight segment with comedian John Oliver, who pointed out that Donald Trump’s ancestral last name is, in fact, Drumpf. This spawned not only a trending hashtag, #makedonalddrumpfagain, but also this new project.

The algorithm itself was inspired by a study last year that found that Trump speaks at a fourth-grade level, and operates by creating Trump-inspired tweets just one letter at a time. So if the bot picks the letter “M” to start the 140-character message, it’ll follow up with another letter that would create a word within a rather limited vocabulary. As MIT explains, “If the bot randomly begins its Tweet with the letter ‘M,’ it is somewhat likely to be followed by an ‘A,’ and then a ‘K,’ and so on until the bot types out Trump’s campaign slogan, ‘Make America Great Again.’ It then starts over for the next sentence and repeats the process until it reaches the 140-character limit.”

The bot has churned out some pretty convincing tweets, each of which are almost alarmingly similar to the sentiments Trump himself has espoused over the campaign trail (and the course of his Twitter lifetime). Here’s my personal favorite:

Bradley Hayes, the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) postdoc behind the brilliance, explained that Trump’s “more simplistic” language made him an ideal candidate to study in terms of deep learning and neural networks.

Some of the most entertaining results come from DeepDrumpf’s direct interactions with tweets from the real Donald Trump. Hayes will feed his algorithm language from Trump’s actual tweet, which allows the response to be a bit more “contextually relevant.”

Hayes revealed that, “It didn’t take that much work,” to get a bot to sound a whole lot like Donald Trump. He quickly began getting “crude”results that were “sort of like English, and very similar to political rhetoric.” So if you’re looking for a way to follow Donald Trump without following Donald Trump, you may want to look into DeepDrumpf instead.


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