Here's a little slice of some Halloween-themed nostalgia for '90s kids to enjoy, only it comes with a 2018 twist. The team at Botnik studios have already had a go at AI-generated Harry Potter, Fire and Fury-inspired political bios, and a Goop-style health and wellness website. Now, they've turned their hand to spooky stories in the vein of R. L. Stine's Goosebumps series – and the result is (predictably) absurd.
“We took ‘Give Yourself Goosebumps’ as our inspiration and threw those books into our predictive text writing software,” explained Botnik’s Nicky Martin.
“Our goal was to create a playable ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style book where every word comes from ‘Give Yourself Goosebumps.’”
That's right. This is an interactive adventure story titled Give Yourself Goofbumps: Welcome to Sand Hands that you can play for your very self at botnik.org/goosebumps/.
The basic premise is that you are running late for gym class because of your cousin, Zoe. But it doesn't matter because she has a plan. There is a shortcut through the ominous sounding "Zombie Forest".
The robo-author asks:
"Do you dare beat feet through scary woods? If you do, you might get a magic sword. Or even a soda can from a ghostly horse. But how will you hold either when your hands are made of sand?"
Er, right. Anyway, it continues:
"Maybe you should stay home where the toys are. But be careful. You could wake up one day and find yourself married … with vampires!"
It's up to you but regardless of your decision, you can meet a fabulous (and very strange) cast of characters, from your mom who "scoops some cheese sauce into her purse" to your cousin Zoe whose mom was stabbed by "that man" and your sarcastic friend Brad with the foot fetish who you met at a lip-smacking contest. Depending on your journey, you might meet the King of Rodents, Dr Backpack the Time Scientist, a talking dog with a microphone, or your evil vampire children.
There are also some gems of sentences including:
"Today has been a saltshaker of horrors – and you're the salt!"
"You realize your hands are now made out of sand. Yes, you've got sand hands and there's no going back."
"You look through the listings, searching for something to take your mind off those undead bullies. There's nothing good on. You'll have to choose between watching reruns of Toothpaste Ninja or an infomercial for forehead cream."
Let's just say, it looks like Botnik could do with a little more practice...
“We started Botnik to explore whether or not artificial intelligence could be funny,” Martin explained.
“Clearly, we still have a long way to go, but we’re encouraged by what we’ve seen so far. Cheese sauce – in a purse? That’s good stuff.”
For more AI-written horror, check out this sample from "Shelley" from last year.