beanz Magazine

Harry Potter and the Predictive Keyboard

Karen Roe on Flickr

How AI technology is helping fans keep the magic alive for one more chapter.

Almost ten years after the release of the seventh Harry Potter book, the magical story of a boy who discovered he was a wizard has finally been updated with a new chapter. This text, however, wasn’t written by J. K. Rowling, but by an artificial intelligence. It starts like this:

“The castle grounds snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind.” Not bad, right? Then it gets weird: “Ron was standing there and doing a kind of frenzied tap dance. He saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermione’s family.”

The great minds behind “Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash” are from Botnik, an online community of writers and developers who combine art and tech to “create strange new things.” To write this text, the authors used a predictive keyboard trained using all seven Harry Potter novels. You can real the full masterpiece here.

The magic of statistics

When texting on a smartphone, you’ve probably seen “word suggestions” pop up above the tiny digital keyboard. If you clicked on the first suggestion, and kept clicking until you had a full sentence, you’d be following the same process as the writers at Botnik. Except while phones analyze a person’s text messages, Botnik’s algorithm studied a specific author.

Predictive keyboards are built using a mathematical system called Hidden Markov Models (HMMs). The term may be fancy, but the logic boils down to this: every word in a sentence depends upon the previous word. Or, more accurately, upon several previous words.

Become a subscriber and get access to the rest of this article. Plus all our magazine articles.

Stories also include numerous links to help parents, kids, and teachers learn more. Get access today at just $15 per year for online magazine only or $29.99/year for print + online ($35/year outside US)!

Subscribe Today!

Also In The June 2018 Issue

Logic puzzles help develop reasoning skills useful for programming, computer science, and anything you might do.

Find perfect and fun gifts for your loved ones that teach STEAM concepts and skills.

From light-up bow-ties to conductive thread, you’ll be the life of the party with this STEAM-inspired gear.

A free online test service reveals how much personal data your web browser is giving away.

Add more tools to your command line arsenal, including running mini-scripts and making backup copies.

Use switches to take your robotic creations to the next level.

An old classic with a electronic twist, featuring JavaScript and micro:bit.

Create the American flag in SketchUp using this detailed tutorial.

From lasers to supernovas, Berboucha is making science communication a priority.

Code can always be improved. Check out these tips to make you the best programmer you can be!

It’s a programming language unlike any you’ve seen before. Check out this symbolic system designed for mathematical calculations.

New, improved, faster, and sleeker - it’s Scratch 3, your new favourite block language!

Learn about the brilliant algorithm behind all of your GPS devices.

It’s free, comprehensive, and available on-the-go. This cool app helps you master Python faster than ever before.

Open up whole new worlds to explore through these interesting, diverse add-ons.

Links from the bottom of all the October 2018 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.

Interesting stories about computer science, software programming, and technology for October 2018.