Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash was written by a predictive text bot, and it’s magnificently weird.
There are concerns in some industries that increasing automation may have a devastating effect on jobs. But it seems there’s one profession that it seems won’t be replaced by robots for some time yet: that of bestselling author.
At least, that’s what we’re reading into a new viral Harry Potter story written entirely by a bot. The chapter, titled ‘The Handsome One’, was generated by a predictive keyboard that had been ‘fed’ all seven of JK Rowling’s original wizarding novels – and the results are brilliantly bonkers.
The predictive keyboard was designed by robotics company Botnik Studios, and the three-page chapter is supposed to be taken from a made-up Harry Potter book called Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. The plot makes absolutely no sense, but the general tone of the writing is just similar enough to Rowling’s style (i.e. heavy on weather, adjectives and magic, and sprinkled liberally with British colloquialisms) to be hilarious.
“The castle grounds snarled with a wave of magically magnified winds,” the chapter begins. “The sky outside was a great black ceiling, which was full of blood. The only sounds drifting from Hagrid’s hut were the disdainful shrieks of his own furniture. Magic: it was something that Harry Potter thought was very good.”
From there, things just get weirder. Harry bumps into a tap-dancing Ron, who “saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermione’s family”.
“To Harry, Ron was a loud, slow, and soft bird,” the story continues. “Harry did not like to think about birds… Ron was going to be spiders. He just was. He wasn’t proud of that, but it was going to be hard not to have spiders all over his body after all is said and done.”
Other highlights from the AI-generated chapter include a door locked with the password “BEEF WOMEN”, Harry throwing his own eyes into the forest, Hermione dipping her face in mud, and Harry dipping Hermione in… hot sauce. Yes, hot sauce. Behold:
“‘Ron’s the handsome one,’ muttered Harry as he reluctantly reached for his [wand]. They cast a spell or two, and jets of green light shot out of the Death Eaters’ heads. Ron flinched.
“‘Not so handsome now,’ thought Harry as he dipped Hermione in hot sauce. The Death Eaters were dead now, and Harry was hungrier than he had ever been.”
The Verge reports that the both chapter and the predictive text programme that created it were designed by Jamie Brew, a former writer for satirical news sites Clickhole and The Onion. And of course, people on the internet are going wild for it.
You can read the story in full here. You won’t regret it.
Images: Warner Bros Pictures