A computer program is writing new ‘Friends’ episodes. Are they any good?

A computer program is writing new ‘Friends’ episodes. Are they any good?
Credit: New Statesman

With a single tweet, Andy Herd raised a question about the job security of every TV writer.

The comic artist behind Pandyland shared scenes from an episode of “Friends” Monday that he trained a computer program to auto-generate.

“I was motivated by childlike fascination at the possibilities of machine learning and how it could be applied to humor,” Herd said over email. “I think the scripts are actually better than some current TV sitcoms. I have received a lot of positive feedback.”

To train the computer Herd used a neural network, a type of artificial intelligence in which the computer was fed every episode from the popular ’90s comedy. The computer then learned patterns to generate new scenes. This technique is used in other instances, such as a popular Microsoft computer program in China that was trained to carry on conversations with users by studying existing conversations.

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