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Kanye West in the studio, 2008via Wikipedia

A teenager built a rapping AI using Kanye West lyrics

It was trained with 6,000 of Ye’s lyrics and built in a week

In “Robocop”, Kanye West tells a girl: “Bitch I’m cold, I ain’t used to being told, stop. So I could never be your robot”. Though Ye can’t see himself as a cyborg, a US-based teen has built a rapping Artificial Intelligence using only Kanye West lyrics in a week.

The 17-year-old grew up on a farm and taught himself how to code and build AI programs using open-source software made available by tech companies. The project, his first AI, was born out of a bet when his school’s programming club was debating whether artificial intelligence could ever perform tasks better than humans. Barrat believed that it could, but his peers weren’t sure, so he had a week to prove his point. Could the bot churn out a robotic twisted fantasy?

Robbie Barrat told Quartz: “We’ve got to figure out the way to make more transparent machine learning models,” adding, “If we’re able to make progress into seeing into the thought process of a neural network, I think it’s going to teach us a lot about Go, or language, or the structures that we aren’t able to pick up on yet.”

Open-source programs and textbooks, which made Barrat’s project possible, have been made openly available in an attempt by Silicon Valley to cultivate young talent. Google, Facebook, and others have a number of programs on offer that are meant to encourage and teach teens and children about coding. Even Minecraft has free Hour of Code camps available on Microsoft stores. All of these projects aim to cure a deficit of coding talent, as 2015 numbers indicate that there are 10 times as many computing jobs as there are graduates with computer science degrees.

For the project, Barrat used 6,000 Kanye West lyrics. He said: “originally it just rearranged existing rap lyrics, but now it can actually write word-by-word”. On his previous efforts, he said: “I got a neural network to write piano melodies. I’ve been trying to get neural networks to generate abstract art. I don’t know if you can call teaching a neural network to make rap songs artistic, but I like to think that you can.”

He managed to write most of the original code in an afternoon, but had to spend a few days optimising the results as he ran into some hiccups. The A.I. can not only generate original bars, but rap them with semi-appropriate pauses. You can listen to the deep neural network-written rap below.

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