Buying paint is always an enlightening affair. The names that companies come up with for their pigments are usually worth a chuckle or two, at least. Browsing through the color swatches, you’re likely to stumble upon some curious choices, like a soft lilac color called Potentially Purple, a light blue known as Salty Tear, or maybe just a nondescript Gray Area. Even so, humans may no longer have a monopoly on the esoteric color-naming game.
Janelle Shae, famous for using neural networks to come up with Death Metal band names like “Verk” or “Chaorug,” or cake and cookie recipes featuring novel ingredients like horseradish and chicken, has programmed software to create new paint colors and give them names. The results range from nonsensical to hilarious while also circling around terrifying.
Some of them would fit in nicely with human created paints, like a sunny yellow color named Bright Beach or a muted gray called Frosty Stone. Others like Farty Red and Rose Colon are something out of a Lynchian nightmare.
This is not the first attempt at programming artificial intelligence (AI) to be creative. There are plenty of examples of the beginnings of computer creaticity. Last Holiday Season an AI treated us to a taste of an uncanny valley Christmas with a “neural karaoke” Christmas song. Recently, movie lovers could watch a short film that was written by AI — and also happened to star David Hasselhoff. Computers are also becoming skilled designers as shown by the craftsmanship of this chair.
The offerings so far haven’t exactly been the greatest compositions ever created, but they are indicative of how rapidly AI is growing. Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, foresees the Singularity (the point at which AI passes humans in terms of intelligence) as imminent, predicting the event happening around 2045. He looks forward to this time and even speaks of the benefits in creative terms, “we’re going to be funnier, we’re going to be better at music.”
Just researchers teach AI to play (and win) games to increases its levels of thought, so too can they use creative applications to develop AI that’s capable of thinking more like us. In the meantime, we’ll just hang out for the laughs, courtesy of a purpley hue called “Dorky Brown.”