I’m sure you’ve all read articles about how very soon robots will be coming to take our jobs: self-driving cars taking our driving jobs, self-assembling machines taking our manufacturing jobs, self-eating food taking our restaurant jobs, self-internet surfing AIs taking our office jobs, and so on. I’ve always thought that I, a noted idiot who babbles about car stuff all day, would be relatively safe from this robotic replacement campaign. There’s a new article-writing AI that might prove me wrong, though. So I tested it out.
The AI system is known as Grover, like Muppets and Presidents, and was developed as a system to detect artificially-generated news stories, when the developers realized the best way to make a fake-news detector was to make a fake-news generator.
From what I can tell, the AI does attempt to replicate the style of the website you’d like it to generate a story for, and it appears to even take into account the author. You give it the site, author, and headline, and the AI comes up with the whole story.
I tried to pick a headline that was very much the sort of idiosyncratic thing I’d write about, and I think this qualifies. Here’s the whole article Grover generated, verbatim:
A One-Year Only Volkswagen Taillight Design Changed Modern Art
If you’re reading this, you probably have some of the 1,700 Volkswagen Group of America Volkswagen Taillights (so-called because of their stylized taillights) made before 2007; or if you are a regular car reviewer, you already know they are a bit ugly. So it’s probably no surprise then that Volkswagen Group of America would select an ugly car as the centerpiece of a major PSA campaign.
This is not the case for the Chevrolet Caprice, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Cherokee, Toyota Sienna or any of the Toyota Camry’s gasoline derivatives or hybrid models.
However, Taillights are one of the rarest and most obscure automotive collectibles on the market. Only slightly more than 7,000 of them were made between 1950 and 2007.
Until Volkswagen stopped making them in 2015, that meant you either had to be born in the 1920s or the 1950s to have one. Today, dealers still sell “spec” versions for enthusiasts who want to own two or more of the bad boys.
So Volkswagen Group of America opted to use them as the centerpiece of a striking PSA campaign that takes the traditional commercial for PSA’s Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and turns it into a Three-Decker Taillight Adventurer. The spot begins with three guys taking a train with the engine caked in grime and the interior smelling of gasoline.
Click on the ‘play’ button below to watch the video.
Several miles later, they enter a large shed, where they see several small shipping containers. They then remove the doors from each one to reveal light tables lined with rugged-looking Taillights. The group assembles and begins scrambling into the containers to kick off their Three-Decker Taillight Adventurer.
You see this run of vehicles over and over in the Commercial and it’s no wonder why it’s become such a huge hit.
Director Scott Lasensky learned of the unusual nature of the taillights and therefore decided to use them. He then drew on the “life-like” nature of the aluminum taillights to create the action that took place in the commercial.
Joe Fassnacht Jr., CEO of Detroit-based Automotive Advertising & Media Group, told Crain’s it was the only time he had seen VW use taillights like this. “This is a great piece of automotive storytelling,” he said.
Eric Andriese, vice president of brand at Volkwagen Group of America, told the Associated Press the company selected “a commercial vehicle designed by the guy who designed the taillights” as the most aesthetically interesting car on the market.
Hm. So far, I think my job is safe, for now. I mean, it would be better if, you know, any of the “facts” referenced things in our reality. I mean, I love the Three-Decker Taillight Adventurer as much as anyone, but I can’t really find any references to it, um, anywhere.
And, that commercial is an amazing taillight-based robot fever dream. I’d kind of love to see that.