- Cards Against Humanity just upped the stakes with its latest Black Friday challenge, as it pits its writers against artificial intelligence in a competition to decide the fate of its employees jobs.
- The company has repeatedly satirized the popular retail holiday, selling deeply discounted items like a $US20 bill and a life-size cutout of Orlando Bloom last year, and crowdfunding a massive hole in the ground for no reason.
- This year, it is livestreaming a 16-hour long competition in which its writers battle a card-writing algorithm to see who can write the most popular new pack of cards.
- It’s a clever stunt, following up on presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s warning that Americans are losing jobs to automation. But the company says it will let viewers read into the deeper implications of the challenge.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Cards Against Humanity is back to its usual pranks this Black Friday.
The maker of the irreverent card game announced on Friday that it had written (or, as it explained, hired a kid to write) a machine-learning algorithm to write its cards. And it’s now pitting its employees against the algorithm, to see who can sell more card packs.
The stakes are high, according to the company. Should the writers triumph, they will be awarded $US5,000, a tidy holiday bonus. But should the algorithm win, the company website says it will fire the writers.
“Listen, we only care about two things: reducing labour costs and increasing comedy efficiency,” the company writes on its site. “That’s why we’ve trained a powerful neural network to replace our expensive, cannabis-smoking writers. Today, we’re giving the writers one chance to save their jobs from automation.”
Cards Against Humanity is known for its satirization of Black Friday, and over the years, it has pulled off a series of ridiculous stunts. Last year, they launched a 99% off sale, selling everything from dollar bills to a life-size cutout of Orlando Bloom. Back in 2016, the company managed to raise more than $US90,000 to crowdfund digging a massive hole in the ground for no reason.
This year’s stunt is a little more dystopian, tapping into nationwide concern that automation is replacing jobs.
A gruelling, 16 hour-long livestreamed competition based on who writes the better-selling card packs will decide the human writers’ fates. And the company has made the tally (AI card sold vs. human cards sold) available up on their website. Web browsers can even upvote or downvote their favourite cards written on either side, although whether the votes will decide future card packs seems unclear.
The company website says that this year’s stunt is to “‘get attention and make money while overworking our employees,” in what the company says is the true spirit of Black Friday.
But the company has largely stayed away from a political position on the automation threat, only joking about presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s universal basic income campaign on their FAQ.
“Does this mean I should support Andrew Yang?” is a question that appears on the company FAQ.
“Who?” Cards Against Humanity asks in response.
A company spokesperson told Business Insider, “Mainly, we wanted to see if it would be funny for a computer to write jokes. We’ll let the viewers read into the deeper implications.” They did not respond to Business Insider’s question on whether or not they would actually fire the writers.
Six hours into the competition, the humans appear to be winning with slightly more than 2,000 card packs in the lead. Packs written by algorithm and human writers are each available at $US5 per pack.
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