InspiroBot: The AI That Fails Upward

A couple years ago, Bob Bly asked, “Can a Computer Write Better Copy Than You?” Maybe it can and maybe it can’t, but the AI InspiroBot can definitely write a weirder motivational poster than you!

A couple years ago, Bob Bly asked, “Can a Computer Write Better Copy Than You?” Maybe it can and maybe it can’t, but the AI InspiroBot can definitely write a weirder motivational poster than you!

InspiroBot is the AI antidote to all those "Keep Calm and Carry On" spoofs.
InspiroBot is the AI antidote to all those “Keep Calm and Carry On” spoofs.

The origins of InspiroBot are a bit of a mystery, but it’s clearly not trying very hard to pass a Turing test. In fact, the bot’s viral brilliance is in precisely the awkward juxtapositions its algorithm accidentally creates.

I got this results from InspiroBot five minutes before writing this post.
I got this nugget from InspiroBot five minutes before writing this post.

Of course, InspiroBot has gone viral, with nearly 11,000 Twitter followers and widespread news coverage across the July 4th weekend. IFLScience! (where Melissa spotted it and sent it my way) and Nerdist both had description stories up last week, and Daily Mail has done a more in-depth story since.

Two things are interesting to me about InspiroBot:

First, it’s an example of how AI doesn’t necessarily have to act convincingly human to be successful. InspiroBot succeeds precisely because it fails at being human-like. And because of that, it does things humans wouldn’t think to do. Those things are entertaining and memorable. That’s an overlooked aspect of AI that could be even more transformative than replacing what humans already do.

Second, sometimes the Internet is a slow burn, and influencers are increasingly important to success. Despite what the Daily Mail article says, InspiroBot is not new. It’s actually been around since 2015. In fact, TechCrunch did a pretty straight-up story on it then, but I don’t remember that seeing this kind of attention. The bot is hot this holiday weekend simply because the right influeners picked it up, and others followed suit. IFLScience!, Nerdist and Daily Mail are all most likely running the story because one of them saw another do it first.

The Internet has a short attention span. Not everything that’s “new” actually needs to be new.

The 9 Stages of Writing a Blog Post, Demonstrated by Minions

It’s a Friday afternoon in summer, the office feels like a winter night on Pluto, and we technically got out of work an hour early today but I’m still here, determined to provide you all with top-quality blog content. … And so, I present: “A Copywriter’s Journey, As Told By Minions.”

Honestly? I’ve always wanted to do a Buzzfeed-esque “name stuff and include a gif” type of post. Because I’m a (say it with me everybody …) Millennial! It’s what we do.

It’s a Friday afternoon in summer, the office feels like a winter night on Pluto, and we technically got out of work an hour early today but I’m still here, determined to provide you all with top-quality blog content, so that day is clearly today.

And what better to use as my visual than the yellow-and-blue plague (admittedly adorable plague) that seems to have swept every visible surface of the earth? The Minions. Can’t look anywhere these days without seeing them in all their overalled glory, so why not my blog, too?

They don’t speak any discernible language, but somehow they speak to our hearts. And so, I present: “A Copywriter’s Journey, As Told By Minions.”

1. The Blank Page

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This guy is like, 97 percent of the full process for me.

2. The Lightbulb Moment

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“Yes … a blog post with MINIONS … it’s genius!”

3. The Part Where Words Start to Happen (AKA The False Sense of Security)

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Oh, you’ve totally got this. Nothing to worry about at all.

4. The Self Doubt

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“On second thought, this is literally the worst idea I’ve ever had in my entire life.”

5. The Dreaded Writer’s Block

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I’ve actually never seen a better representation.

6. The Approaching Deadline

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EVERYBODY PANIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7. This Stage

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Needs no explanation.

8. The Second Wave

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It might be 10 minutes to press time (do we still have those on the Internet?), but you’ve got this for real this time.

9. PARTY TIME

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WEEEEEEE ARE THE CHAAAAAMPIOOONS MY FRIIIEEEEENDS …

And all that’s left is to wake up tomorrow and do it all over again! Thanks for the help, Minions. I’ll see you on every billboard, fast food advertisements, and I’ll see you at the movies! (And virtually everywhere else.)

Minions © 2015 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS.