Have some little Potterheads at home? Well, they’re in for a treat. There’s brand new chapter of Harry Potter circulating online called “Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash.” The only catch? The chapter wasn’t written by JK Rowling. Instead, it was written by AI-generated text prediction. That’s right: a studio trained an artificial intelligence-based algorithm to become as familiar with the seven Harry Potter books and then tasked it with writing its own new addition to the wizarding world.
— Botnik Studios (@botnikstudios) December 12, 2017
The new chapter, which is available on Github, is only three pages and highlights both the vast potential and immediate shortcomings of AI technology in 2017. There are obvious and unintentionally hilarious hiccups in the programming that lead to some bonkers moments in the chapter. For instance: Ron tries to eat Hermione’s parents and Harry tears out his eyes and, um, throws them into the forest.
But that doesn’t mean the entire thing reads like some psychotic version of Mad Libs. There are also surprisingly beautiful and poignant moments, such as the opening of the chapter, which reads, “The castle grounds snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind.”
Of course, it’s only fair to note that the algorithm tool did receive some help from Jamie Brew, a former writer for Clickhole and The Onion. Brew has previously developed new scripts for the X-Files and even created Craigslist ads using predictively generated work.
So, is Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash on par with Rowling’s masterful series? Ohhhhh no. But it’s almost certainly better than most of the Potter fan-fiction you’d find online. And while some may be terrified of AI’s job-taking potential, why can’t we live in a world where robots and humans are friends instead of rivals? What if both are capable of creating art and making the world a better place? In the words of Ken Jennings paraphrasing a cartoon news anchor: I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.