From Upton Snodsbury to Nether Wallop, the British Isles is not short of the occasional amusing place name. Yet a computer scientist decided to train an artificial intelligence program to come up with its own attempts at naming towns, and the results were gloriously British.
Posting the list of the new names that would not be out of place in a map of the UK, US programmer Dan Hon gave real place names a fairly decent run for their money. He achieved it by feeding thousands of British names of towns, villages, and hamlets into the program, which then analyzed them before spitting out its own suggestions.
The AI created over 4,500 place names, from the wonderfully silly Mally-on Wick, to the potentially defamatory Cocken Northen. Some of the names weren’t necessarily the kind of place you might want to visit, however, as Colon-in Mead and Cockbeach attest, while others are just marvellously charming, like Cumble Castle and Farton Green Pear End. You can check out a much more deatiled list of the names generated, as well as how it was done here.
The British countryside is littered with hilarious, quaint, and sometimes downright rude place names. Fancy a stay in Shitterton? Or how about a stopover in Cockermouth? All sorts of fun can apparently be found in Fingringhoe and Sandy Balls, while Dick’s Mount may not be for everyone, though you never do know. Following on from that may seem tricky, but apparently the AI bot manages it without skipping a beat.
The history of artificial intelligence forays into trying to generate real content has been shaky, to say the least. From the beautifully innocent task of suggesting guinea pig names for an animal sanctuary, which produced the adorable Popchop and Princess Pow, to the slightly darker attempt from Microsoft to build a twitter chatbot.
The results from that experiment were a reflection of the worst of humans, as it ended up being shut down after using real user’s interactions to generate racist and sexist tweets all within the terrifyingly short window of 24 hours.
Perhaps AI should stick to naming British place names and pet for now. Anyone fancy a trip to Nockpop?
[H/T: The Telegraph]