Want to impress friends and family with your amazing vocabulary? Don’t care if the words you spew are actually at all meaningful? If so, I have just the site for you: ThisWordDoesNotExist.com, a one-shot webpage that uses AI to generate an endless stream of plausible babble. Just click the link and hit refresh to learn sweet nothings.
The variety on display here is truly impressive. Some words sound like modern managerial nonsense (“deleveragement – the action of humiliating someone by allowing them to remain silent”), while others hint at a genuine etymological history (“sabbatory – an institution devoted to the study of mystical religious learning”). Some seem to have been inspired by the back catalog of Urban Dictionary (“nungy – extremely flirty or promiscuous”), while others exude a powerful air of mystery and calm (“cheeless – of or covered with a layer of stone, bark, or other organic matter”).
The format is perhaps familiar. One-shot, AI-generated webpages have been a thing for a while now, starting with the startling fictional faces of ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com, and including more esoteric examples such as ThisArticleDoesNotExist.com.
ThisWordDoesNotExist is not quite as unsettling as imaginary people, but it’s still an impressive feat of AI. It was created by San Francisco-based developer Thomas Dimson (a former principal engineer at Instagram who designed the app’s recommendation algorithms), and it uses the AI language framework known as GPT-2, which was made by AI lab OpenAI and unveiled last February.
GPT-2 has been a bit of a rock star in the AI world, used to power a variety of language applications from chatbots to the infinite text adventure game AI Dungeon. Like other deep learning programs, the basic principle it uses is to look for patterns in data, which it tries to replicate. In this case, the data consisted of 8 million webpages, scraped from the most upvoted links on Reddit. Algorithms then map out when words appear next to one another and use this information to generate new sentences — and, apparently, new words.
So fire up the webpage, and teach yourself to speak like a machine. No doubt, it’ll be a useful second language in the future.