What would it look like if, in the distant future, a group of machine intelligences tried to make tea? Not just to brew tea, but to recreate the entire concept from long-forgotten synapses buried deep within the hidden layers of their virtual brains?

To see what that might be like, I turned to a neural network I’ve used before, a huge model called GPT-2 that can draw on words and correlations that it’s learned from scanning huge chunks of the internet. I prompted it with a list of green teas - teas with evocative names like “Yellow Furry Peak”, named for its fuzzy leaves whose pointed tips resemble the peaks of the Yellow Mountains.

My first attempt, via talktotransformer.com, produced names that seemed more like what you’d get if you randomly started mixing words from the original list - you could tell what they were supposed to be, but they had less character, as if the features had all been smoothed away. That’s one way neural net-generated stuff can go - realism, but a sort of cardboard realism.

So for my second attempt, I used another way of sampling GPT-2, gpt-2-small, that gave me more control over the output. With temperature set to 1 and truncation turned off (both ways of letting the neural net produce less-probable output), I got results that wouldn’t pass as human teas, but were exactly what I was looking for. That’s my favorite style of neural net-generated text - the type that flagrantly fails the Turing test.

Six Vermilion Unicorn
Playing The Amber Eagle
Glowing Sky Rabbit
North Circular Eye
Afternoon Supper of Peace
Cold Sheep & Thunder!
Giving Away Stardust
Green Great Gourd of Sunrise
Slippery Violet Sands
Ember Lathe
Wet Leaves
Laptime Tree Spider (Black)
Old Blue Beetle Drink
Pieces of Peppercorns
Memory boops
Headaceous Granite Drink
Fine Deerscald (fresh scent)
Indoor Cream Wave
Safe Bucket Buddy
Somewhat fair Clever Cat
1 Angry Egg
Fluffy Sandberry Tea
Squirrely Bubbles
Sonara Goat Potswreck
Travesty Bee Hatch
Kitten Pond
Winter Snail Glitter Bomb
Hating Frosty Moon Glands
Green Slime Essence
Fresh Green Skunk
Strawberry Lime Dissolution B
Ice Chlorophyll Glaze
Bleeding Apples with Sea Salt
Dangerous Rock TREET
0-3 ½.5Gridges
26 Grief Hills
4 Cup Emulsion
Drcrated skin finishes!
Size Yes 37 (21,28,38) x 54 (9 or 15)mm
Shiny Living Veins
Blue Foam Duet
Fish Drumstick
A unique combination of leaf of fire and custard Sodium ascending Fujiyama

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