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#wordonthestreet –  the AI edition

We got an AI to generate fake (and hilarious) overheard quotes

How do you teach a robot to talk like a Londoner? Train it on overheard conversations from our #wordonthestreet column!

By James Manning
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Every week since 2012, we’ve published the most ridiculous things that we and our readers have overheard in London. Our #wordonthestreet column has become a kind of London hive mind: a repository of the city’s changing trends, moods, hopes, fears and sexual hang-ups (so many hang-ups). But what happens when you feed all that data to a robot?

We handed over a database of more than 1,000 #wordonthestreet quotes to Time Out’s awesome Technology team, and they used them to train a version of GPT2: an AI language model created by the American non-profit OpenAI. These are the (mostly) scarily convincing original quotes it generated, all based on your overheard comments.

In other words: London, you created this monster. So enjoy!


‘If there was ever a time to be talking about carrots, it’s now.’

‘I’d rather be ticked off than over the top.’

‘It’s so hot, all I’ve seen on TV is cats in dresses.’

‘I can honestly say: I’m quite the giver.’

Pancakes

‘I’m pretty sure there aren’t calories in pancakes.’

‘I would love to be an emoji for Brexit.’

‘Every time I touch you I feel like an ex-girlfriend.’

Toilet paper

‘I’m going to throw up on some plastic bags, and then get my shit together and run out and get some toilet paper.’

‘The thing is, my vagina is an absolute mess.’

‘I feel like everyone has their day at the karaoke bar.’

Squirrel

‘No, I don’t literally mean it’s a handsome squirrel.’

‘My friend’s dog gets migraines. He goes and does yoga.’

Donald Trump

‘Are you talking about Donald Trump? Are you trying to impregnate me?’

‘My dominatrix’s libido just goes out the window.’

Wine

‘Do you think I’ve overextended myself against the wine list?’

‘Look, I’m not going to smack your face. I’m not going to touch your crotch.’

Piano

‘I’m very high-key.’

‘It’s a good vibe, but it’s not good for the environment.’

‘If you look like the Grinch, you can’t go to London.’

…and here’s last week’s #wordonthestreet column, with all quotes submitted by actual humans – we promise. Don’t forget to tweet us your own weird overheard comments!

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