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This is how the AI crumbles

At a time when so many businesses are looking to integrate artificial intelligence into their processes, we would do well to remember its present limitations – as illustrated by one foray into the world of cookies

22/01/2019

Kevin Murphy

Kevin Murphy

Fund Manager, Equity Value

Too late, admittedly, to bolster your willpower on any regimes or resolutions you may be struggling with at this point in January, here on The Value Perspective, we have a great idea for a book that could really help you out this time next year. At first glance, it might only look like one more cookbook for cakes, biscuits and other yummy treats but here’s the twist – the recipe names will be chosen by artificial intelligence (AI).

That may not sound like much but, given the track record of machine-learning neural networks in creating deeply unappetising names for a range of different things, we are confident we have a potential best-seller on our hands. If you doubt us, don’t forget the range of AI-generated paint colours we noted back in 2017 – all shades of grey and given such lyrical names as ‘Dorkwood’, ‘Sindis Poop’ and ‘Stanky Bean’.

In that piece, we also referenced some sure-fire chat-up lines generated by computers – including ‘Do you have a pence because you stole my heart bat?’ and ‘You look like a thing and I love you’. In Why the robot apocalypse might not be intentional, meanwhile, we touched on some of embarrassment AI has caused tech giants such as Amazon and Facebook in recent years.

One terrific source for all such matters is the self-explanatorily titled AI Weirdness so of course this was one of our first ports of call for inspiration for our new book – and we were not disappointed. Almost immediately we fell upon a post where the author described feeding a list of cookie recipes into a neural network called Textgenrnn and asking it for what it saw as appropriate names.

The results...

So what do human cookies sound like to a computer that has no point of reference other than the information it has been fed? Well, fancy a plate of ‘Hand Buttersacks’, anyone? Or how about some lovely ‘Canical Bear-Widded Nuts’? Not even a solitary ‘Walp’? What do you mean you aren’t feeling so hungry anymore? Great – in that case that’ll be £12.99 for a hardback or £5.99 on Kindle.

As we say, a neural network starts from scratch. It does not have any actual intelligence – that is not its point. It is only designed to learn from the data it is given – in this instance, hundreds of cookie names and recipes – and the results are not always as impressive as all those headlines warning how the robots are coming and machines will take over the world would have us believe.

At a time when so many businesses are integrating AI into their processes – or at least into their company presentations – we would do well to remember its present limitations. And on that note, our new book should also be able to help out on ‘Dry January’. A couple of sips of the following AI-generated ‘Black Banana’ cocktail – also courtesy of AI Weirdness – and you should be pretty much guaranteed a ‘Dry 2020’ …

Black Banana*

Ingredients**

1.5 ounces gin

0.5 ounces dry vermouth

1.0 ounces cream

1.0 ounces creme de cacao

0.5 ounces creme de cacao

0.5 ounces rum

0.5 ounces lemon juice

0.5 ounces creme de cacao

0.5 ounces triple sec

0.5 ounces grenadine

0.5 ounces creme de cacao

0.5 ounces amaretto

Instructions***

Fill cocktail shaker with ice

Add gin, vermouth and pineapple juice

Shake

Strain into a Collins glass

Add coffee liqueur, creme de cacao and cream

Shake

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Garnish with a lemon slice

Enjoy (or tip down sink)

Notes: * Does not contain bananas; ** AI-generated ingredients may not match instructions; *** AI-generated instructions may not match ingredients. Source and for other such mixes: AI Weirdness

Author

Kevin Murphy

Kevin Murphy

Fund Manager, Equity Value

I joined Schroders in 2000 as an equity analyst with a focus on construction and building materials.  In 2006, Nick Kirrage and I took over management of a fund that seeks to identify and exploit deeply out of favour investment opportunities. In 2010, Nick and I also took over management of the team's flagship UK value fund seeking to offer income and capital growth.

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