Neural networks are a type of computer program that imitate the way humans learn. If you give them a long list of examples of anything - paint colors, Broadway musicals, cat names, and even guinea pig names - they’ll teach themselves how to generate similar examples.

Last week, I tried giving a neural network a list of Star Wars planets and sure enough, it was soon producing plausible planets that (mostly) would have passed without comment as part of the Star Wars universe.

Now, I try the same thing with Star Wars character names, thanks to another list from blog reader Chris Jones. It turns out that it works pretty well.

Garan Sande
Seran Bant
Bri Dalrhon
Joff Bala
Bun Bana
Cantha Boen
Cemenan Shilen
Carton Doylan
Jo Grailis
Greki Ves
Lar-V Male
Slin Sran
Baran Saran
Rantar Tanter
Mana Kane
Captain Kreet

You’ll notice there’s a “captain” at the end of the list… the neural network would occasionally produce captains and commanders and admirals, but it’s rare that it would spell them correctly. This is because I was using some pretty aggressive dropout settings to prevent the neural network from memorizing entire names from the tiny input dataset. I was essentially forcing it to learn to function with only a small fraction of its neurons working at a time, so it had to stick to very simple rules that could be implemented with just a neuron or two. The upside: the neural network began to work with short Star Wars-y letter combinations rather than entire words. The downside: lots of “Cammanders” and “Anmirals”.

Inquisisor: Sarth Bertor
Grand Andiral Chenge Shelte
Anmiral Carn Daralo
Admira Sanos
Anmeral Teeran Salan
Cammander Copta
Carmander Sorod
Comtander Jan
Ganaral Danter

Some of the other names were also less than successful, but that’s not the neural network’s fault. It only knows about the words on its own list, not the rest of the English language. If a word sequence is pronounceable according to its rules, it’s perfectly valid as far as it knows.

Jan Moron
Reme Mold
Ban Sand
Cat Dars
Math Bins
Mad Danran
Santa Salane
Bun Mans
Bare Center
Granter Matter Broth

But my favorite part was the Sith lords.

There were enough Darths in the list that at the very lowest-creativity settings, everyone was a Sith lord. Here are some of my favorites:

Darth Teen
Darth Tannin
Darth Ben
Darth Toes
Darth Teena
Darth Darth
Dorth Darth Darth
Mon Darth
Man Darth
Darth Sans
Darth Band
Darth Mall
Darth Tall
Grand Moff Darth Salt

I would like to see the costumes for some of these.

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