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Column: An article designed exclusively to mess with SB Nation’s new article-reading robot

Warning: This article contains record levels of stupidity and profanity. Proceed with caution.

Presentation Hessian Center for Artificial Intelligence Photo by Arne Dedert/picture alliance via Getty Images

I know that No. 3 Ohio State has a gargantuan contest against the No. 9 Indiana Hoosiers scheduled for this Saturday, but if I’m being honest, I think Ohio State easily covers the 20.5-point spread. So, instead of spending today’s column breaking down that game, I am going to use this valuable interweb real estate to test — and mess with — the newest feature rolled out this week from our overlords at SB Nation dot com.

If you haven’t noticed, on the mobile version of Land-Grant Holy Land (and on select articles on desktop), there is now an option for you to have a generic, vaguely bougie, monotone male voice read you any given article, in its entirety (after an ad, obvi). Now, it should go without saying that I am completely in support of anything that provides increased accessibility to to folks who otherwise might have trouble accessing content.

But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to have fun with our new toy, which we absolutely did on Twitter today:

I’ve got to admit, the AI robot man actually does a pretty good job of reading the articles, but there are some things that trip him up, like records and abbreviations.

Instead of reading Penn State’s current record as “O and four,” he says “0-4.” Obviously a small thing, and understandable when you are dealing with a semi-sentient android who likely has no comprehension of sporting jargon. Then there are common football position abbreviations; while everyone probably is good with QB, normally when I read/write an article, if I type WR, I don’t hear the letters W and R in my head, instead I just hear wide receiver. So, having WALL-E tell me that Ohio State has a lot of young talent in their WR room, is a little odd, but on the whole, not a big deal.

But, since this feature is so new, there are a lot of things that we just don’t yet know how it will handle. So, friends, Ohioans, countrymen, lend me your ears (literally), as in the remainder of this article, I am going to do everything I can to mess with the robot and (perhaps even more so) entertain myself. I hope you enjoy the ride.

<author’s note: After initial publication, we made some edits to the text to try and fix some errors with audio version. However, apparently, once T1000 reads the article the first time, that’s the version we’re stuck with.>

Silly Words

There is something a bit weird about the AI voice, isn’t there? It sounds unflappably normal most of the time, but then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere there are occasional, odd moments in which it ventures into an audio Uncanny Valley, like the record or abbreviation things mentioned above.

So, I am going to see how it handles some fun word experiments, starting with some of my favorite words to say outloud:

Moist. Let’s do that one again... Moist. What, you don’t like that word? What if we elongate it. Mooooooooooooist. Or would it sound better as Moyyyyyyyyyyyyyyst? Either way, both are fun. Let’s continue, shall we?

Not bad, Bender. But, let’s move on to something a bit more challenging.

Another cool aspect of this audio feature is that you can choose varying speeds from 1x regular speed to 2x double-speed. So, what I would recommend that you do right now is pause, and turn it to double-speed and see if Hal (or whatever we’re calling him) can provide an adequate interpretation of Daveed Diggs’ epic first rap section from “Guns and Ships” in “Hamilton”:

“I’m taking this horse by the reins, making redcoats redder with bloodstains, and I’m never gonna stop until I make ‘em drop, and burn ‘em up and scatter the remains. Watch me engaging ‘em, escaping ‘em, enraging ‘em, I’m out. I go to France for more funds, I come back with more guns, and ships, and so the balance shifts.”

What do you think? Does the American Theatre Wing owe Raptimus Prime an honorary Tony Award? Either way, while you’ve got the speed up, let’s see how he handles some tongue-twisters:

She sells seashells by the seashore.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

Red leather, yellow leather.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

I’m guessing that our favorite AI handled the tongue twisters with aplomb, but what about jokes? Do you think C3POSU has any comic timing? Let’s find out.

<FYI: This joke is better if you close your eyes. Reading it could ruin the punchline:>

What do you call a fish with no eyes?

Fsh. Ba-dum ching!

Creative Profanity

Alright, that was a fun start to our experiment, but here’s where it’s going to get serious. One of the things that I enjoy most about writing for LGHL is the creative editorial freedom that we enjoy as part of SB Nation. If I want to write an article meant solely to tease an inanimate artificial intelligence apparatus, I can do that. If I want to drop some creatively colorful (yet sophomoric) language in an article, I can do that too.

So, in this section, I am going to try and (quickly) tell the story of the Big Ten East’s first half of the 2020 season while including some silly profanity that I really want to hear our boy Short Circuit read. So, without further ado:

At the halfway point in the Big Ten’s regular season, the conference has been an absolute dumpster fire, outside of Ohio State and Indiana, of course. The shitterific performances by the other five teams in the B1G East have made it more than reasonably possible that this once proud division of blue-blooded, cocksure elites is now the absolute most god-awful division in all of the Power Five.

At the bottom, the Happy Valley Nits are still winless after a soul-sucking overtime loss to the Hoosiers in Week 1 shattered their hopes of finally achieving elite status this season. While I believe that this is just a temporary stop in Suck City for James Franklin and company, I am still enjoying the hell out of the asserific performances that his team is engaging in this fall.

Through the first four games of the regular season, Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines have also been wonderfully asstastic, going 1-and-3 to open the campaign. For any Ohio State fan, watching the Weasels struggle has been scrumdiddlyumptious this season. For all of the hype around new quarterback Joe Milton, Screech Powers’ cousin now has a QB controversy on his hands, and, fam, you hate to see it (do you think our Robo-Reader friend will be able to accurately indicate sarcasm? I’m guessing no).

And as much as I actually really do hate to say it, I think that our favorite be-khakied Michigan Man might have worn out his welcome in That State Up North, and the nearly six years of embarrassing fuckatude very well could end his tenure at his alma mater following this season.

But, the best part of *ichgan’s collapse is that they very well might be the only win for their in-state rival Spartans for the entire season. Former OSU assistant Mel Tucker is trying to pull Sparty off of the dungheap of mediocrity, but, save for an absolute annihilation in Ann Arbor, he hasn’t had a shit-ton of success just yet.

Over in Piscataway, despite also being Oh-and-Three, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights did execute the greatest play in the history of college football earlier this season, even though the asinine asshats wearing stripes overturned it for a barely observable illegal forward pass. However, while this traveshamockery might have erased the play from the record books, it will never erase it from our memories (or from YouTube).

Then there’s the Mary-Land Terrapins who have played well this year, but they screwed the pooch last week as their team had a COVID outbreak canceling their game against the Buckeyes and endangering this Saturday’s game against said Spartans.

Unsurprisingly, there were a number of people on the social meeds who tried to blame and shame the Terps for either a) not caring enough about football as not to contract a highly contagious, potentially deadly disease thus canceling their game against Ohio State or b) caring too much that they purposely contracted a highly contagious, potentially deadly disease in order to avoid playing Ohio State.

Either way, the butt-nuggets who think either of those things are a bunch of fuck-chunks, and don’t deserve to be listened to anyway. Instead, we’ll just wish the best to Maryland and hope they get healthy soon.

Then there is Ohio State and Indiana. They’re both undefeated, and therefore don’t deserve any profanity. However, completely unrelated to football, I’m wondering what would happen to our disembodied friend if I had him read one of the naughty parts from Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” but in the original Middle English:

“Now sire and eft sire, so bifel the cas. That on a day this hende Nicholas, Fil with this yonge wyfe to rage and pleye. Whil that hir housbonde was at Oseneye, As clerkes been ful subtile and ful queynte, And prively he caught hire by the queynte And sayde, “Ywis, but if ich have my wille For deerne love of thee, lemman, I spille,” And heeld hire harde by the haunche bones And seyde, “Lemman, love me al at ones Or I wold dyen, also God save me!”

Difficult Names

I don’t know about you, but for me, that was a hoot. But, it doesn’t truly tell us how R2-ReadTo will perform in the actual, legitimate task of reading college football articles. And while names like Master Teague and Steele Chambers and Tuf Borland are cool, they aren’t exactly difficult to pronounce. So, let’s try a few harder ones in a little bit of context.

Due to coronavirus concerns within the Maryland Terrapins’ program, the Ohio State defense did not have the opportunity to face off with the Terps’ dynamic transfer quarterback, Taulia Tagovailoa last week.

However, this weekend (knock on wood), the OSU secondary will look to get back to their #BIA ways as they take on the Hoosiers’ dynamic WR duo of Whop Philyor and Ty Fryfogle. and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. Yes, I said Penix.

tbh, I am a bit concerned that the more explosive IU offensive will take advantage of the Buckeyes’ notoriously unathletic linebackers on Saturday. Oh, how I long for the days of backers with speed, skills, and difficult to pronounce last names, like Tom Cousineau, James Laurinaitis, and Andy Katzenmoyer.

Moving on to action around the country, after missing the past two weeks due to a positive COVID test, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence returns as the Tigers will square off against the Florida State Seminoles. He will be resuming the signal-calling duties from D.J. Uiagalelei who played QB in the Heisman hopeful’s stead.

Unfortunately for the ‘Noles, after making his first career start last week against N.C. State, freshman quarterback Chubba Purdy (not to be confused with Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard) had season-ending surgery on Tuesday to repair a broken collarbone.

While I am sure Purdy’s broken clavicle was painful, one of the most painful things to ever happen in my life was watching Michigan’s Tshimanga Biakabutuka run for 313 yards against the Buckeyes in 1995. I can still feel the sting in my chest and the ache in my bones when the wind gets cold and it’s about the rain.

So, how did BB-8 do? Is this the dumbest feature that any website has ever rolled out since Al Gore invented the internet? Or, is it kind of cool, and this article is an embarrassing abuse of the technology that will revolutionize the sports blogging industry?

Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t worry, the AI can’t read your comments out loud... or can I? Muhahahahahaha.

After some unexpected start and stops, I am back to posting a column every single day from preseason camp until whenever Ohio State’s football season ends. Some days they will be longer and in depth, some days they will be short and sweet. Let me know what you think of this one, and what you’d like to see me discuss in the comments or on Twitter. Go Bucks!