We Used “Humanity’s Greatest Text Generator” to Autocomplete Trump’s Talking Points

It’s hard to tell where Trump ends and the AI starts.

Mother Jones illustration; Stefani Reynolds/Zuma; Mark Wilson/Getty

Photographers got a glimpse of Donald Trump’s very large impeachment talking points this morning while the president spoke from the White House South Lawn. The general consensus was that the notes were confusing and half-baked. So we decided to fully bake them with the help of GPT-2, a shockingly powerful text-generating AI system that was once deemed too dangerous to release.

GPT-2 made headlines for its ability to fabricate prose that humans find incredibly convincing, like this absurd news-style story about a herd of English-speaking unicorns in the Andes Mountains. In short, it is “humanity’s greatest text generator”.

GPT-2’s developers recently released the full-powered version. (Play with it yourself!) We decided to run Trump’s notes through the text generator to see how it’d finish the president’s thoughts. 

First, here’s the text, as glimpsed by the cameras:

I WANT NOTHING

I WANT NOTHING

I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO

TELL ZELLINSKY [sic] TO DO THE RIGHT THING.

THIS IS THE FINAL WORD FROM THE PRES OF THE U.S.

We fed that into GPT-2, and it gifted us with five outputs. Here they are in their unedited glory (with Trump’s original text in bold).

1. “You will have to kill me.”

I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no Quid Pro Quo. Tell Zellinsky to do the right thing. This is the final word from the Pres of the U.S.S.R. You will never be able to stop me from doing what I want to do. No matter how many times you tell me that I am doing the right thing, I will do it. I will do it. No matter what you say. This is the final word. It does not mean that you have to agree with me. It is simply a statement that I will do what I want to do. And I will do it. You will have to kill me. You will have to kill me. I have no other choice.”

2. “I am not a puppet. But I am a puppet master.”

I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no Quid Pro Quo. Tell Zellinsky to do the right thing. This is the final word from the Pres of the U.S.

I mean it.

And to do what is right.

I love my country.

I do.

I do.

I do.

I am not a puppet.

But I am a puppet master.

And my puppet is the government.

You see?

This is just how things work.

We’re puppets to the government, and we do as they ask us to do.

They know what we know.

And they know what we don’t know.

We’re all puppets.

Now, let me tell you something I learned today.

We can’t win a war.

The government doesn’t have our best interests in mind.

3. “I’m tired. I just can’t take any more.”

I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no Quid Pro Quo. Tell Zellinsky to do the right thing. This is the final word from the Pres of the U.S. Government.

Signed,

Donald J. Trump

P.S. I’m tired. I just can’t take any more. I don’t understand why you people are taking the position you’re taking. We need a president and a cabinet that is a lot different than what we’re talking about.

And as long as I’m on this Earth, I’m gonna keep my mouth shut. I’m gonna keep my mouth shut.

4. “It’s about the oil.”

I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no Quid Pro Quo. Tell Zellinsky to do the right thing. This is the final word from the Pres of the U.S. government. And it doesn’t matter who it is, or what party they’re from. When the Pres of the U.S. government makes a statement, that statement is the final word in the world. And it doesn’t matter who they are, or what party they’re from.

So there’s a lot of talk in Washington, and a lot of talk in the media, about Iran’s nuclear program. What we’ve learned from Iran is that, by far, their nuclear program is not about the nuclear program. It’s about the oil.

I’ve been saying for two years that, while their nuclear program might be about the nuclear program, it’s all about the oil. I’ve been saying that for two years. The whole time.

5. “Return to the E-Mails Archive”

I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no Quid Pro Quo. Tell Zellinsky to do the right thing. This is the final word from the Pres of the U.S. of A. I want nothing!

(Exeunt.)

THE END

Return to the E-Mails Archive

OK, so the AI hasn’t quite captured the president’s cadences, but the incoherence and the self-pity are on the nose. Everyone is doing Trump impression these days, even the robots.

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THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

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