In my opinion, one of the best applications of neural networks is for generating Halloween costumes. Thanks to a dataset of over 7,100 costumes crowdsourced from readers of this blog, I’ve been able to generate Halloween costumes with progressively more powerful neural networks. In 2017, I used char-rnn, which learned to generate costumes starting from no knowledge of English (Statue of Pizza, the Fail Witch, Spartan Gandalf, and Professor Panda were some of its inventions). In 2018, I used textgen-rnn, also training from scratch, and teamed up with the New York Times to illustrate the costumes (some of my favorites were Sexy Wizard and Ruth Bader Hat Guy).
Now, as of 2019, there are much more powerful text-generating neural nets around. One of these is GPT-2, trained by OpenAI on a huge dataset of text from the internet. Using the connections it’s gleaned from this huge general dataset, GPT-2 can generate recognizable (if often weird) lists, mushrooms, British snacks, crochet patterns, and even a to-do list for a horrible goose.
So, I trained the 355-M size of GPT-2 (the largest I can currently finetune for free via Max Woolf’s collab notebook)
GPT-2 is good at costumes. Many of its inventions could easily have come from the training data. In fact, the neural net did tend to memorize the training data and repeat it back to me - technically this is what I asked for when I asked it to predict the training data. (The neural net is trying to give me exactly what I ask for, which isn’t necessarily exactly what I want.) I was using a handy script to filter out duplicates (thanks to John Tebbutt), and even so I had to check several of these to make sure they weren’t near copies of the training data. My previous Halloween costume generators would not have been smart enough to come up with things like “jackalope” or “Carl Sagan”, but GPT-2 has seen these words used online in similar contexts to things that ARE in the training data, and it makes the connection.
Eye of Sauron
a raised eyebrow
A space squirrel
Frizzle the witch
Cleopatra on vacation
Sexy Lego Batman skeleton
Oh yes, the sexy characters. The neural net definitely picked that up from the training data, and innovated admirably, bringing in words that it knew from the internet (barnacle, groundhog, and bunsen burner were not in the list of Halloween costumes), and adding a sexy twist. This is impressive (if somewhat horrifying) work. None of these were in its training data, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them exist.
Sweet Potato Burlesque
Sexy Rubber Duck
Sexy Bunsen burner
Sexy gingerbread man
Sexy Flying Dutchman
Sexy Flames Of War
Sexy English Tea Party
And the neural net was pretty good at designing identifiable characters, even if they are a bit on the weird side.
A spangled Auroch manatee
M. Bison the Clown Prince of Darkness
Gingerbread Man guinea pig
fast food bald eagle
Fairy root vegetable
Ghost in a packet of potato chips
Kelpie the mage
Slytherin AI priest
A skunk in a moose suit
Semi-molten Kool Aid Man
Time Lord Power Ranger
The Power Dinosaur
Deadly Snow Monkey
An evil cupcake
basic plumber’s equine
Spooky mother hen
The Bozo the Destroyer
Eight Ball of Wrath
Ursula, Queen of the Fart Science
A poker player in possession of an onion
There are hints, though, that this is the work of an AI rather than the work of someone who understands what costumes are and how they work. These, for example, take somewhat ordinary costume concepts and then make them unnecessarily difficult.
Batman on egg
Vampire in hot tub
A Hidden Jesus Statue
Zombie ice cream cone
penguin as a Newt
A wizard encased in a icicle
Zombie fisherman on a quest
Computer generated horse(?)
telephone that accepts up to 4 numbers
Third Eye Blind Photographed By Dorothy
Zombie fisherman w/ lady diegrove tied around foot
And the following costumes are clearly the product of a glitchy AI:
Eyeballed Balloon Men
Green beans in bun
The Oatmeal Tree
102 SNOWBALLS in a basket
Pie and Jell-O
List of leg parts
world´s nicest fart
Pineapple wrapped sasquatch
Is it a Snake, a Watermelon, or a Bush?
Putting Turtles on Decor
Fish tank ‘n chair
pajamas made of wood and spiders
Ssssssssssexy SSSssssssstinky Ssssssssssssexy ssssssssssssssssexy
setup 9 × 11 party trick
Commentary couldn’t be heard over the squawking of clocks
Poltergeist might be entertaining, but he’s harder to read in Hungarian
Cereal Implanting Device
blueberry sipping fizzy pop with eyes of ice
blueberry sipping fizzy pop with fake blood on it
A sarcastic, racist noble using progressively tinier body parts as a human shield
The above costumes are all from temperature 1.2; I also tried a higher temperature setting, but the generated costumes were at an expert level of chaos (I would like to see someone attempt to go as “hypnopotamus embroidered death”). AI Weirdness supporters get them as bonus content! Or become a free subscriber to get new AI Weirdness posts in your inbox.
You can order my book You Look Like a Thing and I Love You! It’s out November 5 2019.