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These horse names chosen by artificial intelligence beat the ones in the Kentucky Derby

These horse names chosen by artificial intelligence beat the ones in the Kentucky Derby
[Photo: Mathew Schwartz/Unsplash]

As you prepare to chug a mint julep and watch the Kentucky Derby this weekend, you may find yourself wondering: How do these racehorses get their weird-ass names? Well, in the future, an AI could take up the job.

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When the folks at the Jockey Club released their list of over 42,000 registered racehorses in an effort to assist owners in “identifying an appropriate name for their Thoroughbreds,” they probably had no idea that the information would be fed to a neural network that would try to put them out of a job.

In the latest post for AIWeirdness, artificial intelligence savant Janelle Shane fed the Jockey Club’s dataset to two of her neural networks and tasked them with devising names for racehorses.

Turns out the neural networks are pretty good at the job, coming up with names like Long Range Toddy, Gunmetal Gray, Maximus Mischief, Bankit, Network Effect, and—just kidding! Those are all names of actual racehorses running in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. It just shows where the bar is set when it comes to the odd process of naming thoroughbreds.

In her post, Shane shows that her neural network is absolutely up for the challenge and may even be better suited to the task than humans. It came up with names like She’s a Babe, North Storm, Fabulous Charm, Frisky Joe, and Velvet One, which are so good, it’s kind of surprising they haven’t already been used by the professional horse namers.

Of course, not every name was quite as successful. For example, Ginky’s Rental, Moretowiththebotterfron, Orcha Shuffleston, Oats and is Fuct, Pat’s Glory Dance, Exclusive Bear, and The Madland Cookie. Although if I were a betting man, I would put all my nonexistent trust fund on Snuckles (or maybe Unbridled Dave or Pick’s Lilver or maybe Pickle Rake or Rapple Musty. (Look, there’s a reason I don’t bet).

As an added treat, Shane opted to have a few of the names illustrated by BigGAN, a neural net that generates pictures. Unfortunately, according to Shane, “horse” was not an image option, so Shane used “horse cart” instead, resulting in some very interesting images.

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