Is Bank Butt the New Millennial Pink? What Happens When a Robot Invents Paint Colors

published May 19, 2017
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: IhorL)

If you’ve ever wandered the paint section of your local hardware store, wondering who comes up with some of these color names, we can assure you it’s a human person. How do we know? Because one research scientist created an AI to invent new colors and name them, and well, things got pretty weird.

Janelle Shane decided to train a neural network to not only generate new paint colors, but also name them. She explains on her Tumblr: “For this experiment, I gave the neural network a list of about 7,700 Sherwin-Williams paint colors along with their RGB values. (RGB = red, green, and blue color values.) Could the neural network learn to invent new paint colors and give them attractive names?”

The AI was quicker to learn how to create new colors, but at first, the names were total gibberish: “Caae Brae,” Saae Ble,” and the like. But as the neural network worked its way through the data, more plausible sounding names started popping up, though not exactly accurate. Ars Technica explains:

They were still mostly surreal: “Soreer Gray” is a kind of greenish color, and “Sane Green” is a purplish blue. When Shane cranked up “creativity” on the algorithm’s output, it gave her a violet color called “Dondarf” and a Kelly green called “Bylfgoam Glosd.” After churning through several more iterations of this process, Shane was able to get the algorithm to recognize some basic colors like red and gray, “though not reliably,” because she also gets a sky blue called “Gray Pubic” and a dark green called “Stoomy Brown.”

Here’s a sample of some of the AI-created hues:

(Image credit: Janelle Shane)

I think it’s fair to assume that the humans in charge of naming paint can count on job security. Though we’re calling it: Ronching Blue is 2018 Color of the Year, and Bank Butt is the new Millennial Pink.

Read more over on Shane’s Tumblr and Ars Technica.