So, today’s Halloween, which means the time is right for this writing robot to make its horror debut. But this super-intelligent, machine learning robot doesn’t just write scary stories – it can be used to create any content.
Developed by a couple of MIT researchers, the aptly-named Shelley uses a stream of content (in this case a Reddit channel) and turns it into a story.
Rather than a disjointed, random passage of text, it produces believable tales or horror – pretty impressive considering the majority of story generators produce a whole load of gobbledygook.
Shelley – named after Frankenstein’s creator Mary Shelley – was developed by three MIT postdoctoral associates and researchers that decided to use that particular Reddit feed to create the basis of its AI engine because it holds so much data. In fact, the robot has 700MB of amateur short stories at its disposal – much more than the few MB Frankenstein’s Monster would make up.
Shelley tweets the first line of a story every house on the @shelley.ai Twitter account and then it passes the story to its followers to continue with the prompt #yourturn.
Although Shelley was set up as a fun way to generate horror stories over Halloween, it demonstrates an important lesson in AI – vast amounts of data is essential when teaching a machine to learn.
“If you look at all the literature by Lovecraft or Stephen King or Edgar Allan Poe, it would be just a few megabytes,” Manuel Cebrian, one of the researchers involved in the project, told SFGate. “We would still not have enough data.”
He explained he wanted writers to overcome writer’s block, helping them craft immersive stories that don’t even exist yet.
“You tend to get stuck,” Cebrian said. “This kind of technology helps you write the next paragraph so you don’t get so-called writer’s block.”