An Amazon-backed AI company is behind this hilarious fake Coachella lineup filled with bands you’ve probably never heard of

The Botnik Studios Coachella poster used a neural network to generate fake band names that look and sound like the names of real musical acts.

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The Botnik Studios Coachella poster used a neural network to generate fake band names that look and sound like the names of real musical acts.
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Botnik Studios

  • A fake Coachella poster that went viral after its publication Tuesday was generated by artificial intelligence.
  • The neural network and poster came out of Botnik Studios, an Amazon Alexa Accelerator graduate which uses computer systems to make art.
  • The neural network generated the list after being fed a bunch of real band names, including the names of every band ever written about on Pitchfork.
  • The fake band names are hilarious, but it wasn’t all the AI’s doing. Humans at Botnik handpicked the best phrases out of a collection of generated band names ranging from realistic to gibberish.

A sense of humor may be one of the last things that distinguishes humans from robots, but that doesn’t mean that artificial intelligence can’t come up with a good joke.

Botnik Studios, an art collective that uses computers “to make cool stuff,” brought those capabilities to light Tuesday with the release of its AI generated Coachella poster.

The poster features made up band names such as headliners Fanch, One of Pig, and Lil Hack – names which have no association with real musical acts but which all are eerily familiar enough to give a sense that they could be real.

That eerie familiarity is by design, said Jamie Brew, a former writer for parody sites The Onion and Clickhole, who now works as CEO of Botnik Studios.

“Some people seem to have the same experience that I had when I first saw the finished thing,” Brew told Business Insider. “The feeling of looking at a lineup for a festival and not recognizing any of the bands, and feeling out of touch because you must not be cool anymore.”

Incubated by Amazon

Botnik Studios is a Seattle-based company that uses artificial intelligence and bots to create art. Though the company gives off the air of anarchy, it’s one of the first companies to come out of the Amazon Alexa Accelerator – a startup incubator that focuses on building companies that work on bot-based voice technology.

The company itself employees just five people, but Brew said that there are around 30 to 40 writers, editors, programmers and artists that are part of the larger Botnik community, and who use its technology for their own creations.

To create the Coachella post, Brew said that members of Botnik taught an artificial neutral network to guess what letter is most likely to follow another letter. The bot lives on the AWS cloud, and is a variant of a public AI model designed by Andrej Karpathy, who now runs AI for Tesla.

To generate the poster, the network was fed thousands of band names, including a complete list of every band written about on Pitchfork, which trained it to come up with words that follow similar letter patterns.

While AI came up with the names, Brew said it was ultimately humans that curated the final list out of a lot of unworthy candidates.

“We think of it like farming,” Brew said. “There are acres and acres of mostly total gibberish.”

The Coachella poster is the second project Botnik has created using the neural network. The first was a “Hashtag Forecast” that generated a list of the “hottest upcoming web trends,” such as #figfam and #tanglife.

The group also made a name for itself with fake Seinfeld and Harry Potter scripts generated by a predictive keyboard app, which gives word suggestions based on the source text you feed it.

Here’s the full poster:

Botnik Studios Coachella 2018

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Botnik Studios