Colorado Scientist Helps Artificial Intelligence Learn To Flirt

Artificial intelligence is learning to flirt thanks to Colorado scientist Janelle Shane.

Video Transcript

KELLY WERTHMANN: I'm Kelly Werthmann in the CBSN Denver studio. Recently on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert talked about a Colorado scientist who taught artificial intelligence how to generate pick up lines. Just listen to some of the results.

STEPHEN COLBERT: Can I see your parts list? It is urgent that you become a professional athlete. 2017 Rugboat 2-tone necktie shirt. You look like a thing and I love you. Hey, my name is John Smith. Will you sit on my breadbox while I cook, or is there some kind of speed limit on that thing?

KELLY WERTHMANN: There there's no shortage of entertainment with that guy. Well, joining me now is the brains behind these funny flirtatious sayings. Colorado research scientist and author Janelle Shane. So Janelle, thank you so much for being with us. My goodness, I'm laughing watching that over again. I'm curious, what was your reaction to some of your AI study being used on The Late Show, and did you see it when it aired?

JANELLE SHANE: I did not. I found out about it later. And I think the best part for me actually was the laughing in the background, and the fact that he couldn't keep a straight face during some of them, that makes me feel pretty proud.

KELLY WERTHMANN: Absolutely. I don't know how anybody can keep a straight face. What was it, I like your face? Or something about that. I just think it's great. So let's talk about your study in layman's terms. How did you even come up with this idea?

JANELLE SHANE: Well, this was actually something I had tried a couple of years ago with a much simpler AI, and it had come up with some kind of garbled things that-- it couldn't quite even string a sentence together with real words, so I would get things like, you must be a tringle because you're the only thing here. Tringle, what's that? We don't know. It was trying to sound like English.

So I wanted to see what would happen if I tried this experiment again on a much more modern AI, so something that had been trained on a lot of internet text, knew a lot about English language. Would its pick up lines start sounding really human, or would they be way different?

KELLY WERTHMANN: So how does it all work, Janelle? How did this come together?

JANELLE SHANE: So this is, what I was using this time was a, it's a kind of AI that looked at a lot of internet text, and learned how to predict what comes next in any given chunk of internet text. You give it the beginning of an article, the beginning of a sentence, it has to try to guess what the rest of that is like. So it will, in theory, know if it's doing a cooking blog, or if it's doing a news report, or even what the topic of that news report is, and what kind of characters and countries it should involve in that.

So with the pick up lines, my guess was that it had seen enough examples of lists of pick up lines on the internet that once I gave it the introduction, that these are the top pick up lines of 2021, for example, here's number one, period, and let it fill in the rest of that text, my guess was that it's going to know what a list of pick up lines should look like, and be able to fill in the rest from this internet training.

KELLY WERTHMANN: Well, it came up with "you look like a thing and I love you", so I don't know what that says about pickup lines, but I like that one. Now, we also stumbled upon some of those one word candy heart messages that were also generated from AI. Some of those results include evil, unbelief, and yeet. So how long have you generated these Valentine's Day hearts? They are interesting, to say the least.

JANELLE SHANE: Yeah, well, I've had a lot of fun with those, because back when these algorithms were a lot simpler, these short phrases were still something it could kind of do. One of the things it came up with was "love 2000 hogs yeah". Or another one was like, "bog love", but it could kind of do it, even the simpler algorithms could handle that, so that's why I keep returning to candy hearts, to see how they're getting along, and see if they're getting any more humanlike, or staying weird.

KELLY WERTHMANN: Well, do you have any other fun projects, weird projects that are in the works?

JANELLE SHANE: Oh, I always have a lot of fun just with whatever the latest memes are. So I had-- there was a meme going around saying, cautioning people you know, just because you're vaccinated, that doesn't mean it's OK to, and then people would fill in the blanks. So I gave this meme to this AI, which had been trained before COVID existed, so it was really interesting to see what it would come up with as what you could still not do if you were vaccinated, and it came up with you cannot rub vanilla cream all over your body and then change your species.


KELLY WERTHMANN: Well that's, I mean, you can't. So I guess that's true. But that's awesome. And I got to ask one last question for you, Janelle. Of all these pickup lines that have been generated, are you aware if anybody's actually used them?

JANELLE SHANE: The one time I know somebody successfully used a pickup line was when they happened to be connected on one of these internet sites with someone else who had also read the pickup lines, and responded with an AI pickup line of their own. So I think they hit it off through that.

KELLY WERTHMANN: Well, that's awesome. Look at you, making connections, and AI is helping all the way. Well, thank you so much, Janelle, for your time, and if you want to follow more AI humour, we have all the information at We'll be right back.