C3P0 readingAccording to a report in BuzzFeed News, Google is training a new Al to understand human conversation and respond in a suitably human fashion by feeding it a diet of trashy romance. BuzzFeed News quotes Google software engineer Andrew Dai as saying: “In the Google app, the responses are very factual. Hopefully with this work, and future work, it can be more conversational, or can have a more varied tone, or style, or register.”

Apparently romantic novels are good for this because they’re, well, formulaic. Although they employ an adult lexicon, unlike children’s books, they follow a simple repetitive structure, making learning easier for the AI. So far it’s digested over 2,860 works, according to the report.

This approach has uncanny parallels to the examples of machines writing – or trying to. The Google researchers have already apparently got their AI to produce sentences in the style of the works it’s digested. And as I remarked before, many genre writers produce stuff so formulaic that a machine might as well have produced it anyway. Also, many theoreticians have been at work on using stories as the basis for machines to accurately model predict human behavior. It looks like Google is already applying that research in action. Whether that means getting sweet with Siri in future, or coming on to Cortana, is a different story …



  1. It’ll end up in a love triangle between Google Play, Siri, and Cortana, I just know it. Those always happen in romance novels, so they’re basically training their AI to assume that’s the way humans naturally interact. When it finally gains enough knowledge to achieve sentience, things are going to get weird.

    More seriously, it’s also amusing to consider that this is an instance where the formulaic nature of the genre actually counts in romance’s favor. Usually it’s a reason for people to dismiss it.

  2. It makes sense to me. I didn’t read romance normally, but when I began reading in English I discovered that romance novels are very good to learn slang and expressions you don’t find in other books. Maybe you can find them in mysteries too, but I began with urban fantasy authors that weren’t translated to Spanish, and then derived to romances.
    Curiously enough, I only read romantic novels in English, I can’t stand them in Spanish, although bad translations might have something to do with it too. I have only found one Spanish author that writes romances appealing to me.

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