Scientist trains AI to write messages of love on candy hearts

A scientist has marked Valentine’s Day by teaching a neural network to compose romantic messages for candy hearts.

Janelle Shane, who in her day job creates computer-controlled holograms for studying the brain, collected genuine messages printed on the heart-shaped sweets to use as training data.

She then fed them to a neural network so that it could learn the patterns behind the words.

The messages it produced ranged from the endearing “LOVE BUN” to the frankly insulting “MY HAG”.

Shane could only find about 360 authentic messages to use as training data, so she decided to perform a follow-up that added her favorite ones produced by the neural network. This increased the total training dataset to almost 500 messages.

Sickly sweet candy hearts

The neural network’s second attempt produced a slightly disturbing fetish for bears, producing messages including “BE MY BEAR”, “TIME BEAR” and “STACK BEAR”.

In fact, I’m seeing worrying signs of a bear-based feedback loop that might lead to 100% bear content after a few more iterations of this,” Shane wrote in a blog post.

[Read: Love is a myth, Tinder earned $1.2 billion revenue in 2019]

It also produced more complimentary, ambiguous and risky expressions of love — as well as revealing a dirtier side to its tastes. Those X-rated messages have been hidden for the benefit those of a sensitive disposition, but if you’re brave enough to take a peek you can do so by signing up to Shane’s email list.

The candy hearts aren’t Shane’s first attempt to mix AI and romance. She previously taught a neural network to invent pickup lines, one of which became the title of her book: You Look Like a Thing and I Love You.


You’re here because you want to learn more about artificial intelligence. So do we. So this summer, we’re bringing Neural to TNW Conference 2020, where we will host a vibrant program dedicated exclusively to AI. With keynotes by experts from companies like Spotify, RSA, and Medium, our Neural track will take a deep dive into new innovations, ethical problems, and how AI can transform businesses. Get your early bird ticket and check out the full Neural track.

Published February 14, 2020 — 11:44 UTC

Leave a Reply