Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

These AI-generated mascots make Gritty seem pedestrian

Tomato, tomataaah!
Tomato, tomataaah!
Photo: Wladimir Bulgar/ Science Photo Library (Getty Images)

For too long, we’ve relied on the human brain’s limited potential to dream up our mascots. While this approach has given us plenty of fascinating creations over the years, there’s always some unwelcome bit of organic logic that creeps into our minds to interrupt the sheer lunacy of what a mascot could be.

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That’s no longer an issue. Janelle Shane, eternal source for bizarre AI creations, has used neural networks to construct mascots so unbound from linear thinking as to render the human imagination irrelevant.

In a post from earlier today, Shane explains that she was inspired to use machine learning to create mascots after reading about some of the world’s finest existing ones, collected at Mondo Mascots. Using some real-world examples as prompts, she then generated some exciting new ones.

A few of our favorites include Baugo, “a cyborg tomato,” Bister-kun, “a scarecrow with a shark’s head for a nose and antlers on his head,” and Toritto, “a baby angel-owl who swings around on a single leg with the grace of a ballerina.” The network also produced a psychic sea anemone that has mittens for antennae and “eight toes on each hand. And, after tweaking her approach a bit more, Shane ended up with even weirder stuff, like GX70000000, “a gigantic space caterpillar shape unexpected and fascinating alien bizarre man animal thing” that’s beloved by “many kids.”

Because these unnerving creations could be mascots not just for sports teams, towns, and products, Shane started to create them for all sorts of unorthodox things. There’s her microwave mascot (“an egg that wears a gas mask”) and laptop mascot (“a dog with a backpack and an itch for adventure [and] a berry with long black hair.”) Worst among them is what Shane found when generating one for her bedroom closet. It unnervingly proclaimed: “I am the man with the pocket in the head. My head is a pocket. I am the mascot of my own head.”

Rather than think too much more about how the neural networks came up with that one, we recommend you just go read about some of the other, less subtly threatening mascots Shane created instead.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.