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Google Is Using Romance Novels to Teach Its AI Conversation Skills

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Google is turning to romance novels to make its artificial intelligence engine a little more human. BuzzFeed News reports that Google began feeding the texts of romance novels with titles like Unconditional Love, Fatal Desire, and Jacked Up to its artificial intelligence system a few months ago—and has already seen significant progress in its communication skills.

Google researchers believe that romance novels are a particularly useful teaching tool because, while story details, characters, and wording differ, the plots usually follow the same formulas. By analyzing different versions of the same storylines or plot points, the AI system can better understand the finer points of the English language, and learn new ways of expressing itself.

The Google AI engine has already “read” 2865 steamy romance novels and has even started writing romance novel-esque sentences of its own based on what it has picked up. Eventually, Google wants to use the new and improved AI engine in company products, such as the Google app, or Google Inbox’s Smart Reply program. While the original version of Google’s AI engine was capable of communicating coherently with users, Google hopes the revamped AI engine, newly fluent in Fabio, will be a more engaging conversationalist.

“In the Google app, the responses are very factual,” Software engineer Andrew Dai told BuzzFeed News. “Hopefully with this work, and future work, it can be more conversational, or can have a more varied tone, or style, or register.”

[h/t BuzzFeed]

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A Hamilton-Themed Cookbook is Coming
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Hamilton Broadway

Fans of Broadway hit Hamilton will soon be able to dine like the Founding Fathers: As Eater reports, a new Alexander Hamilton-inspired cookbook is slated for release in fall 2017.

Cover art for Laura Kumin's forthcoming cookbook
Amazon

Called The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World, the recipe collection by author Laura Kumin “takes you into Hamilton’s home and to his table, with historical information, recipes, and tips on how you can prepare food and serve the food that our founding fathers enjoyed in their day,” according to the Amazon description. It also recounts Hamilton’s favorite dishes, how he enjoyed them, and which ingredients were used.

Recipes included are cauliflower florets two ways, fried sausages and apples, gingerbread cake, and apple pie. (Cue the "young, scrappy, and hungry" references.) The cookbook’s official release is on November 21—but until then, you can stave off your appetite for all things Hamilton-related by downloading the musical’s new app.

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New Tolkien-Themed Botany Book Describes the Plants of Middle-Earth
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While reading The Lord of the Rings saga, it's hard not to notice J.R.R. Tolkien’s clear love of nature. The books are replete with descriptions of lush foliage, rolling prairies, and coniferous forests. A new botany book builds on that knowledge. Entertainment Weekly reports that Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien's Legendarium provides fantasy-loving naturalists with a round-up of plants that grow in Middle-earth.

Written by University of Florida botanist Walter Judd, the book explores the ecology, etymology, and importance of over 160 plants. Many are either real—coffee, barley, wheat, etc.—or based on real-life species. (For example, pipe-weed may be tobacco, and mallorns are large trees similar to beech trees.)

Using his botany background, Judd explores why Tolkien may have felt compelled to include each in his fantasy world. His analyses are paired with woodcut-style drawings by artist Graham Judd, which depict Middle-earth's flowers, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and shrubs in their "natural" environments.

[h/t Entertainment Weekly]

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