If computers made Edinburgh Fringe shows.. | An AI bot is generating some fake titles and blurbs - but are they any weirder than the real thing? © Markus Spiske/Pexels

If computers made Edinburgh Fringe shows..

An AI bot is generating some fake titles and blurbs - but are they any weirder than the real thing?

comedyThere may not be an Edinburgh Fringe show this year, but hundreds of shows are still being generated.

Or at least their titles and blubs are.

A new artificial intelligent project from Edinburgh University is creating an entirely fictional festival programme, complete with those all-important 40 words that producers use to sell their shows.

ImprovBot has scanned the last eight years of actual Fringe programmes, comprising around 2.5million words, then used machine learning (a Long Short-Term Memory recurrent neural network, to be precise) to try to replicate the format.

The project was intended as a live show for this year's Fringe, withthe university's resident improv comedy troupe The Improverts performing what they imagined these computer-generated shows might actually be.

Despite the festival's cancellation, the research team – led by Melissa Terras, the Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage at Edinburgh University – said they are still going ahead with the project, 'as a reminder of the playfulness of the Fringe, to build on remembrances of Fringes past, and to bring some levity at a time when digital connection has become ever more important for us all'.

Their bot is publishing a new show and description to Twitter every hour, and make the disclaimer: 'Any likenesses to shows or individuals created by our AI is purely coincidental'.

Here are some of the results:

Published: 12 Aug 2020

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