How a neural network would prank you

Marbles in the fridge. Shirts in the ice dispenser. You know, standard stuff.

When the robots learn to prank, then we will know a new day has come.

Most April Fools pranks have been done to death. But when you have a neural network on your side, things can get a little spicier. Electrical engineer Janelle Shane is the creator of the blog AI Weirdness, a collection of all the wackiness produced by the various neural networks she teaches in her spare time. This week, instructed her network to come up with some excellent (and very unique) pranks in time for April Fool’s Day.

The process was achieved by feeding the algorithm pranks from lists found around the internet, giving it an understanding of words and phrases associated with some classic burns. “I gave up after I had collected only 132 entries,” she wrote. “This is a pitifully small dataset,” which might explain why the humour that the algorithm spat out was… odd.

The full list includes gems such as:

  • Try using old clothes to pee
  • Put marbles in the refrigerator
  • Hide an alarm clock in someone’s keyboard who isn’t a very good typist
  • Place a pair of pants and shoes in your ice dispenser
  • Glue all the eggs in the hubcaps of someone’s computer, and
  • If you rip up a toilet paper roll, then leave them a ransom note.

The good folks at Stimulant combed the full list to decide which of these absurd pranks they’d be most likely to play on their loved ones.

“I would probably choose putting marbles in the refrigerator. Not only would it confuse and inconvenience my husband, but I’d have a bunch of nice, cool marbles to keep my drinks cool without watering them down. Win-win.”
– Bree Rody-Mantha, Stimulant editor

“Every morning, my good friend puts his outfit in the oven, to warm and comfort him throughout the day, much like Kramer does on Seinfeld. What better way to surprise him than by putting them in the ice dispenser this year!”
– Justin Dallaire, strategy staff writer

“I’d tear up the toilet paper role and leave a ransom note. The note would be signed ‘The Cat.’ Not only would everyone fully believe the cat was capable of such evil, but I’d have my revenge for all the glasses that fuzzy jerk has knocked off counters.”
– Jeromy Lloyd, strategy and Media in Canada digital editor

Shane’s other work from neural networks includes traditional Irish music, a fake SXSW band lineup and daily self-confidence affirmations.