When I read the news that scientists had found chemicals on Venus that could be the product of microbial life, I joyfully tweeted a tasting note of a Venusian wine.
The wines of Venus have high acidity, but the atmospheric terroir crushes all tannic structure. They theoretically pair well with rich foods, but are instantly lethal in the smallest quantities.@RajivMote on Twitter
This was noticed by science fiction writer and technologist James Yu, who has been playing with Open AI’s GPT-3 project, a machine learning system trained on a vast spread of text from the Web, and does a spooky-good job of generating text similar to prompts it is fed. GPT-3 fleshed out more wines from the solar system. The following are all machine-generated wine notes
The wines of Jupiter are thick and strange, they tend to leather and liquid smoke. The Jupiterians might be unaware of the best pairings, we don’t know, they don’t share.GPT-3
The wines of Mars, the most common variety, show many faces–the lightest are floral and alive, the darkest offer complete obliteration.GPT-3
Wines of Saturn, by contrast, are so dry they register only as flavorless astringency.GPT-3
The most prized wines are of Uranus, and this is no great exaggeration. In its purest, most potable forms Uraanian wine is a kind of kerosene, redolent with the most gorgeously perfected nuances of coal tar. I write this knowing this will be lost on you, but you must believe me: you must make a point of tasting Uranian wines. I’ll have smuggled more along when next we meet.GPT-3
But GPT-3 was just getting warmed up. It then generated the following passage that blew my mind and filled me with anger and envy that I hadn’t written it.
I once heard of a place where they made wine out of fermented time. Imagine the moment when you met your beloved for the first time. And then imagine a second moment when you met her again in youth, the first time you made love. And finally a third time, older still, when you knew enough to realize what you had perhaps not before: this was the person you would always love. The wine is made from these three moments: the sweetness of the first time, bubbles bursting in your chest; then two-hundred years later, or maybe two-thousand, when the bubbles have gone flat, but the love remains and you have become quiet and wise, and you know that you will always be at home; and every eight years thereafter, a bottle of wine with a slightly different taste depending on what has happened in the intervening years.GPT-3
I asked James if he’d be willing to run a blog post I’d written, The Lost Wine Varietals of Atlantis, in the same vein through the API. It did not disappoint.
Flesh and soul of the region. Latin and Italian grapes grown (while parched by months of hot sunshine on limestone and granite) in deep volcanic soils produce this hauntingly bitter, almost saline grape, incapable of making a lifeless wine. Aged Dolorosa cellars, like subterranean Roman ruins, are haunted by temple priests garbed in near-translucent white and sandals smeared with dust from the fields. When poured into a shallow basin of forty-four-degree, mineral spring water, it looses a pneuma of unmistakable minerality and purity.
Green-tinted corpse-yellow surrendered-to-the-reaper–with-condolence-cake Semillon that, upon release from its chill, veers from straight kick in the teeth to lying on the floor laughing ’til you cry, then trying to leer up at you in a seductive, off-kilter way.
Overripe, vaguely rotten, and always sharp-tasting, wines from this grape result in at least five mercifully short-lived lactones. A tasteful after-dinner drink only after sipping 1,000 rounds of espresso, hot slivovitz, or beakers full of 65 percent ethyl alcohol.
A crisp, graceful(!) Riesling grows here, as graceful as the tall, slender edifice from which it takes it name. The wine could be used as a room deodorizer. The scent of lemon and lime, restrained here, is thrown into giddy relief when paired with the pepper, spice, tartness, notes of sauer-kraut that accompany German preparations of shredded raw pork studded with toasted fennel. It is a mistake to serve with German sausage drinking Strongbow on ice.
I’ve applied for access to GPT-3, but I’ve heard that users with commercial applications are typically favored, so I’m not holding my breath. But some of this magic may become available in James Yu’s and Amit Gupta‘s upcoming product: SudoWrite. It is a writing aid that uses GPT-3 to take things you’ve written and run with them, perhaps in unexpected directions. I’m eager to play. Soon the day will come when I’ll come up with an outline, a few paragraphs of text, and sit back and outsource my creativity to the machines.