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This article was published on September 30, 2020

This AI advised me to read The Hunger Games to survive this ‘cruel world’

The system uses GPT-3 to recommend books based on your mood

This AI advised me to read The Hunger Games to survive this ‘cruel world’ Image by: Troy Straszheim

If you’re unimpressed by the book recommendations provided by your tasteless friends, a new AI tool called GPT-3 Books could help revive your joy of reading.

The system is the brainchild of Anurag Ramdasan and Richard Reis. The duo are the co-founders of Most Recommended Books, a repository of reading suggestions from the world’s most influential people, from Bill Gates (215 recommendations) to the Rock (one recommendation: The Art and Making of Rampage, a behind-the-scenes look at a movie chronicling the love between a man and his genetically-engineered gorilla).

Ramdasan said he got the idea while he was building a platform to recommend books, and separately toying with OpenAI’s GPT-3 language generator. He decided to bring the two projects together to create an AI system that suggests tomes based on your current mood.

I checked if it could find some books of genuine appeal — and also whether it would recommend ones extolling bigotry.

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After entering my desires in the search bar and verifying that I’m a human — a requirement made by the OpenAI team to prevent spam on their APIs — the system spat back suggestions ranging from intriguing to bizarre. Thankfully, it didn’t endorse anything overtly prejudiced, unlike so many AI systems.

Credit: Most Recommended Books
My road to riches has been paved.
Credit: Most Recommended Books
Credit: Most Recommended Books
My request in Spanish didn’t produce as relevant a recommendation as the same one made in English.
Credit: Most Recommended Books
I can’t say I’m a fan of Amy Schumer, but at least the AI didn’t recommend something genuinely sexist.

It looks like the system could do with some fine-tuning, particularly for non-English books and more specific demands, and I’m wary of taking reading recommendations from a model trained on the horrors of the internet.  But it could provide some new ideas to anyone struggling to find a book that satisfies their desires.

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