AI isn’t Funny Anymore

by Matt Reed

What we learned from an OpenAI tweet takeover

If you’re like me and absolutely love watching AI fail at trying to be human then you know why it seemed like such a good idea to let an AI run our Twitter account for a day. Much like Skynet being released into the world, we wanted to see what happened if we released OpenAI’s latest fake-text generator into Twitter. We soon realized that modern AI is getting too smart to play dumb.

This year we were introduced to OpenAI’s GPT-2 text generation AI that has been trained on 100s of millions of web pages in order to have it generate new content that reads like it was written by a sensible human.

The GPT-2 code was released earlier this year along with the “small” dataset because OpenAI felt that the “full” dataset produced fake content that was too dangerous for society. Fast forward to recently and they’ve (reluctantly?) released the “medium” model that generates considerably better fake text than its smaller little buddy.

So in order to see just how good this latest AI could perform we thought it would be a good idea to throw it into the human’s text-based warzone, better known as Twitter. Based on our experiences with the smaller GPT-2 we knew that it could produce some funny strings of text because, you know, AI tries.

We named our twittercentric GPT-2 implementation R2TWEET2 and then asked it to write us some hilarious marketing tips to tweet out. But to our surprise, the results were just, how do I say this, boring. Usually, within the first few sentences there are some awkward gems that are so uncanny valley that they could only have been written by an inept AI. Usually this would be the point where we laugh at the nonsensical yet thought-provoking results of the AI. However, this time that was not the case. The results that we were getting were way too realistic and not funny in the least. For example, this is the kind of thing it was writing…

How can DTC’s data influence brand impressions? DTC data can be used to influence brand impressions by increasing the perception of your brand’s value. The data can also be used to create products or services that appeal to a particular demographic and set a trend with your targeted audience.

…this is NOT funny in the very least and is borderline useful. This is definitely NOT engaging tweet material. To add to the problem, that type of quasi useful content was the majority of what it was generating so it quickly became overly time-consuming to comb through the text to find clever tweet material. R2TWEET2 was supposed to spit clever hot take tweets a rate no human, or Moonpie, could compete with but it just wasn’t happening.

Just read this rational sounding argument for Innovation that it generated…

Innovation is not a department, job or finish line. It’s a discipline. A way of behaving. It is a process. It is an attitude. And we believe it is at the core of innovation: a healthy, positive attitude.

But it’s no longer an attitude that is shared by everyone who works this hard. We can see in science a clear change in culture from traditional, closed-off, closed-minded thinking to openness, acceptance and collaboration. It’s an outcome that is being seen across all fields, especially in innovation.

This includes not only scientists who are changing their attitudes, but also those in government, non-science industries and even society at large.

It quickly became apparent that finding the clever tweet-worthy gems in this haystack of decently boring marketing tips was going to be way more time consuming than I thought. I mean, just look at these blandtastic AI-generated marketing tips…

Use Social Media. To a great extent, it requires more than just a solid website. Social media can provide a great opportunity to build a presence via one of the largest social networks in the world.

Eventually after sifting through the mind-numbingly benign generated content R2TWEET2 was endlessly spitting out we approved a few things for it to tweet but apparently they still weren’t very engaging enough.

We had a few people, that were obviously not associated with redpepper in any way, interact with R2TWEET2. We took their comments and fed them right back into R2TWEET2 and it then replied with some seemingly relevant and thoughtful responses like this.

Not everything R2TWEET2 generated was a marketing snoozefest though. A few bits of clever content that did make me chuckle but were never tweeted…

There’s nothing worse than walking up to a customer, hearing the words “I’m sorry, but I’ve been out of stock” and seeing your favorite shoe is out of stock for several weeks. That’s no way for a brand to operate.


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Now if you recall, all of R2TWEET2’s content was being generated by the GPT-2 medium model. After this experience, I have a sense that the AI uprising may actually be much less violent than we thought, much more insidious—if OpenAI ever releases the full model we may just be bored to 💀.

If you’d like to check out more of R2TWEET2’s tweets from that uninspiring debacle of a day you can head on over to the Twitter and peruse at your leisure.

Originally published at on September 30, 2019

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