AI company makes hilarious fake Coachella lineup filled with nonsensical band names

  • 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.

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Lady Gaga performs during the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, U.S. April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
US pop singer Lady Gaga performs on stage at the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. / AFP PHOTO / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
US pop singer Lady Gaga performs on stage at the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. / AFP PHOTO / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
G-Eazy hits the stage at the DEW Label Motel in Palm Springs, Calif., April 15, 2017, to celebrate the launch of the Mtn Dew Label Series - a line of premium sodas with crafted unique flavors and herbal and citrus bitters. (Photo by Eric Reed/Invision for DEW/AP Images)
US pop singer Lady Gaga performs on stage at the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. / AFP PHOTO / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
US pop singer Lady Gaga performs on stage at the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. / AFP PHOTO / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
US pop singer Lady Gaga performs on stage at the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. / AFP PHOTO / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: Fireworks herald the close of Lady Gaga's set during the 2017 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: An aerial view of the Empire Polo Club during the 2017 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: An aerial view of the Empire Polo Club during the 2017 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: Lady Gaga performs on the Coachella Stage during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: Migos performs on the Sahara Stage during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2017 in Indio, California on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Natt Lim/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was shot in black and white) Musician Tyler Blake of Classixx performs at the Mojave Tent during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: Lauryn Hill performs at the Outdoor Stage during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was shot in black and white) Musician Michael David of Classixx performs at the Mojave Tent during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: Rapper Quavo of Migos performs on the Sahara Stage during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2017 in Indio, California on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Natt Lim/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: Rapper Gucci Mane performs on the Sahara Stage during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2017 in Indio, California on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Natt Lim/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: Rapper Gucci Mane performs on the Sahara Stage during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2017 in Indio, California on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Natt Lim/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: Rapper P. Diddy performs on the Sahara Stage during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2017 in Indio, California on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Natt Lim/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: P. Diddy performs on the Sahara Stage during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2017 in Indio, California on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Natt Lim/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: Survive performs onstage at the Gobi tent during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: Breakbot performs onstage at the Gobi tent during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: Singer Irfane performs with Breakbot onstage at the Gobi tent during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: DJ Snake performs at the Outdoor Stage during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: Singer Irfane performs with Breakbot onstage at the Gobi tent during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 14: Musician Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs on the Coachella Stage during day 1 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 14: Musician Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs on the Coachella Stage during day 1 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Coachella)
SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 08: Singer/musician Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs live at Key Arena on April 8, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jim Bennett/FilmMagic)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: The Weeknd and Nav perform onstage at the Gobi tent during day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella)
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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 2018Botnik Studios

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