Google Is Using 2,865 Romance Novels To Get Smarter

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
Although romance novels regularly top the New York Times' bestseller lists, they're often seen more as pleasure reads (no pun intended) than educational literature. But Google's recent use of this genre may shift that widely held perception. The company has fed its artificial intelligence system 2,865 romance novels in an attempt to make various Google products more conversational and natural during user interactions, Buzzfeed first reported. Why romance? "Romance novels are good for training a neural net to understand language because they tend to express the same ideas lots of different ways," says Jason Freidenfelds, a senior communications manager at Google. "There are only so many romance novel plots, but you have to keep writing new versions. That means the system learns lots of ways to phrase a given idea." Google's machines had the joy of "reading" Unconditional Love (Journey of Love Book 1), Fatal Desire (Desire Series Book 1), and Jacked Up (Fast Track Book 6), among others. And yes, those are all just as juicy as they sound. This romantic education is still just in its research stage, Freidenfelds says. But Google's system has shown that it is able to create conversational and sensible sentences "in between" already existing sentences in the novels. All of this is evidence that Google's neural networks are starting to better understand how various words relate to each other, making the technology smarter and better at answering your search queries, however you choose to phrase them. So who's up for some Danielle Steel?

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