VentureBeat readers likely noticed this week that our site looks different. On Thursday, we rolled out a significant design change that includes not just a new look but also a new brand structure that better reflects how we think about our audiences and our editorial mission.
VentureBeat remains the flagship brand — devoted to covering transformative technology that matters to business decision makers — and now, our longtime GamesBeat sub-brand has its own homepage of sorts, and definitely its own look. And we’ve launched a new sub-brand. This one is for all of our AI content, and it’s called The Machine.
By creating two distinct brands under the main VentureBeat brand, we’re leaning hard into what we’ve acknowledged internally for a long time: We’re serving more than one community of readers, and those communities don’t always overlap. There are readers who care about our AI and transformative tech coverage, and there are others who ardently follow GamesBeat. We want to continue to cultivate those communities through our written content and events. So when we reorganized our site, we created dedicated space for games and AI coverage, respectively, while leaving the homepage as the main feed.
GamesBeat has long been a standout sub-brand under VentureBeat, thanks to the leadership of managing editor Jason Wilson and the hard work of Dean Takahashi, Mike Minotti, and Jeff Grubb. Thus, giving it a dedicated landing page makes logical sense. We want to give our AI coverage the same treatment, which is why we created The Machine.
We chose to take a long and winding path to selecting The Machine as the name for our AI sub brand. We could have just put our heads together and picked one, but where’s the fun in that? If you’re going to come up with a name for an AI-focused brand, you should use AI to help you do it. And that’s what we did.
First, we went through the necessary exercises to map out a brand: We talked through brand values, created an abstract about its focus and goals, listed the technologies and verticals we wanted to cover, and so on. Then, we humans brainstormed some ideas for names. (None stood out as clear winners.)
Armed with this data, we turned to Hugging Face’s free online NLP tools, which require no code — you just put text into the box and let the system do its thing. Essentially, we ended up following these tips to generate name ideas.
There are a few different approaches you can take. You can feed the system 20 names, let’s say, and “ask” it to generate a 21st. You can give it tags and relevant terms (like “machine learning,” “artificial intelligence,” “computer vision,” and so on) and hope that it converts those into something that would be worthy of a name. You can enter a description of what you want (like a paragraph about what the sub-brand is all about) and see if it comes up with something. And you can tweak various parameters, like model size and “temperature,” to extract different results.
This sort of tinkering is a delightful rabbit hole to tumble down. After incessantly fiddling both with the data we fed the system and the various adjustable parameters, we ended up with a long and hilarious list of AI-generated names to chew on.
Here are some of our favorite terrible names that the tool generated:
- The Artificial Intelligence publication
- The Artificers
- The New York Times
- The New New Thing
- BrainNuts Journal
- IBM, IBM, and IBM
- AIB ET N US P L AI
This is a good lesson in the limitations of AI. The system had no idea what we wanted it to do. It couldn’t, and didn’t, solve our problem like some sort of name vending machine. AI isn’t creative. We had to generate a bunch of data at the beginning, and then at the end, we had to sift through mostly unhelpful output (we ended up with dozens and dozens of names) to find inspiration.
But in the detritus, we found some nuggets of accidental brilliance. Here are a few NLP-generated names that are actually kind of good:
- The Singularity
- The Breakthrough
- We the Machine
It’s worth noting that the system all but insisted on “AIBeat.” No matter what permutations we tried, “AIBeat” kept resurfacing. It was tempting to pluck that low-hanging fruit — it matched VentureBeat and GamesBeat, and there’s no confusion about what beat we’d be covering. But we humans decided to be more creative with the name, so we moved away from that construction.
We took a step back and used the long list of NLP-generated names to help us think up some fresh ideas. For example, “We the Machine” stood out to some of us as particularly punchy, but it wasn’t quite right for a publication name. (“Hello, I write for We the Machine” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.) But that inspired “The Machine,” which emerged as the winner from our shortlist.
“The Machine” has multiple layers. It’s a play on “machine learning,” and it’s a wink at the persistent fear of sentient robots. And it frames our AI team as a formidable, well-oiled content machine, punching well above our weight with a tiny roster of writers.
And so, I write for The Machine. Bookmark this page and visit every day for the latest AI news, analysis, and features.