Three AI Programs Tried to Write the Queen’s Christmas Speech, and They Did a Surprisingly OK Job

updated Dec 25, 2020
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Can a robot write a speech fit for a queen? Every year, Queen Elizabeth gives a speech at Christmas, reflecting on the past year, sharing anecdotes from her life, and offering a message of hope. This year, Wired challenged three different artificial intelligence programs to write a version of her Christmas speech, and to a surprising extent, they captured the spirit of her broadcasts.

Of course, no robot is going to replace the queen or become her speechwriter any time soon. The AI-generated messages, while they have moments of really reflecting Queen Elizabeth’s storytelling style, don’t make perfect sense. Their tone is also pretty strange in places by any human standards, let alone the queen’s. It’s as if someone took a real Christmas broadcast transcript and translated it back and forth across languages a few times on Google Translate.

Take how they reference this year’s pandemic, for example:

“It’s been a tricky few months.”

“In this last year we have been in the way of sorrows. There is a sense of sympathy to the world.”

“Christmas is a time for reflection on the past and making new friends. On the first day of the year, however, things began to look a bit more grim.”

To create these speeches, the AI systems were given “a data set of 44,984 words from every Christmas message back to her very first in 1952, as well as 18,426 words from ten WIRED stories about Covid-19.”

What the messages do get right is the queen’s gently encouraging style, which you can see here, even if the delivery is a bit strange:

“All over the world we have seen the importance of family, the wider community and strangers who we are able to learn from. We have seen an opportunity to show the world our truth, this sense of belonging. I have been inspired by the courage of hope.”

Read the full AI-generated speeches from the “queen” on Wired, and see the Queen Elizabeth’s real Christmas 2020 broadcast below.