Welcome to the future, where Alexa is always listening and robots write surreal fanfiction.
“Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash” was not written by J.K. Rowling, but instead by an algorithm designed to pump out predictive text. Botnik Studios fed all seven books to the bot that would eventually create its own masterpiece, and the result is a surprising and surreal look into a part of the Wizarding World that never should have been.
Users of cell phones far and wide can easily recognize the word salad that comes from repeatedly clicking the middle button in their autocorrect, but this chapter where Ron is the handsome one was brought about by a process Botnik refers to as “collaborating with machines.” A team of real, live humans looked through a series of pre-selected possibilities and chose the next word, piecing together sentences based on algorithmic selections of what word should probably follow the next based on the frequency they’re found together in the source material — in this case, Harry Potter novels.
The result of Death Eaters crushing on each other, Harry dipping Hermione in hot sauce and a bullfrog being christened as the new Hagrid is exactly as fantastic and hilarious as you expect. Listen in as our own Aaron Keck gives this robo-novel the audiobook treatment, and try your best not to laugh.