Computer, Write My Inauguration Speech

When Donald Trump opens his mouth, the output can seem like the work of a demented Markov chain, a poorly trained algorithm trying its hand at rhetoric. Key words—“great again,” “let me tell you,” “we don’t win anymore”—end up strung together by exceptionally weak ligaments. His syntax seems generated on the fly, word to word, each stumbling straight into the next, bound by the barest loyalty to grammar. As only he could, Trump’s brought the state of political speech down to the state of the art of machine speechwriting. This past winter, a graduate student at the Technical University of Denmark earned significant attention for the politicians he was crafting in Python. During an academic exchange at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Valentin Kassarnig had published “Political Speech Generation,” a…


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