Yesterday I ran across an amusing blog post from research scientist Janelle Shane who, just for the hell of it, has been “training this neural network to generate cookbook recipes by letting it look at tens of thousands of existing recipes.”
The recipes are pretty odd, as are the names the software picks for them, especially when Shane cranks up the “creativity” variable.
Here are a few that grabbed my attention:
- Cream Of Sour Cream Cheese Soup
- Artichoke Gelatin Dogs
- Crockpot Cold Water
- Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cake
Also yesterday, I ran across a horrifying post in the Incels subreddit in which the regulars attempted to come up with new pejorative terms for women. Oddly, many of the suggestions that weren’t completely obscene (“sperm garage”) or creepy (“future sex cadavers”) or just plain awkward (“the annoying, dumb, inferior pieces of flesh around the vagina that don’t invent or discover things”) ended up sounding, well, a bit like Shane’s computer-generated recipe titles.
So here’s a little quiz of sorts. I’ve mingled recipe titles from Shane’s neural-network experiment with anti-woman slurs from the Incels subreddit post. See if you can tell which are which!
- Cheese Hog
- Whole Chicken Cookies
- Sausage Jockey
- Meat Pockets
- Salmon Beef Style Chicken Bottom
- Completely Meat Circle
- Squeal Pig
- Bunny Boiler
- Cabbage Pot Cookies
In case you’re wondering, the neural-network-generated recipes will not actually produce anything resembling real food. The recipe for Greased Casserole with Slices of Lemon Juice, for example, requires a weird assortment of ingredients, including “1 cup cold boiled frosting,” “2 sprigs of bread,” and “1 sour and large fish.”
The instructions can be similarly baffling. One early recipe demanded that human chefs “bake until juice” and “sprinkle over skin greased with a boiling bowl.”
Things got even weirder when Shane plugged recipes into a neural network trained on H.P. Lovecraft, resulting in instructions like this:
Whip ½ pint of heavy cream. Add 4 Tbsp. brandy or rum to possibly open things that will never be wholly reported.
In a later experiment, she flipped the script, entering “phrases from Lovecraftian horror [into] an innocent neural network trained on 30MB of cookbook recipes,” which resulted in this almost perfect sentence:
Everything seemed to me tainted with a loathsome contagion, and inspired by a noxious alliance with the steamed chicken.
In conclusion, neural networks are fun. Certainly a lot more fun than incels.
ANSWERS: The computer-generated recipe titles are Whole Chicken Cookies, Salmon Beef Style Chicken Bottom, Completely Meat Circle, and Cabbage Pot Cookies. The rest are slurs for women.