What happens when an AI writes a Donald Trump speech?

Donald Trump’s speeches aren’t known for their coherence. He invents words, the flows goes off at wild tangents and they often break down into wild boasts about his achievements – even when he’s addressing the Boy Scouts of America. Slate found one run-on sentence that was 272 words long – they just couldn’t see any space for a full stop. For scale, the piece you’re reading now is 309 words long. Trump’s train of thought follows its own unique track, and it won’t be derailed by a full stop.

So if you want to train an AI to write a convincing Donald Trump speech, there are two ways of looking at the challenge ahead. On one hand, he’s so unpredictable that if it finds any kind of coherent pattern, then the AI has already overtaken humanity. But on the flip side, garbage results are likely indistinguishable from the real thing.

And yep, that’s pretty much how it turned out when The New Yorker trained a neural network with 270,000 words of Trump gold in the hope that the president could be replicated. They then hired top Donald Trump impersonator John Di Domenico (who The Guardian wrote about in a fascinating long read) to read them out in character.

This was the result:

The AI works on five levels of daringness with its word choices. When it’s playing things safe, its speech is just about coherent. By level five, it’s making up words like the man himself in full flow.

To be clear, the speeches are nonsense, but are they really that far removed from this?

AI might not be smart enough to replace the majority of humanity yet, but it’s not too far from being qualified to run the United States, now that the bar of entry has been suitably reduced. What a time to be alive.

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