Founded in October 2016 by Jamie Brew, a former editor for The Onion’s sister comedy site Clickhole, and Bob Mankoff, who considers himself a “comedy futurist” and served as cartoon editor at The New Yorker for two decades, Botnik is is a brainstorming tool for various types of creativity. With funding from the Amazon Alexa accelerator program, Brew developed Voicebox, a predictive text keyboard (a responsive, robotic writing partner). Whereas Botnik is a digital company that specializes in artificial intelligence-assisted interactive comedy, Botnik Studios is a global community of several thousand writers, artists, and developers who experiment with using computational language tools to remix and transform existing content into new stories, screenplays, books, songs and more.
Bio to come.
Over the past two years, Botnik’s AI-assisted humor application has used various, popular, human-created texts to recreate work that has resonated so much with the general public, many of their projects (including the Botnik Bitcoin Explainer) have gone viral and received substantial media coverage for their results including:
This Harry Potter AI-generated fan fiction is remarkably good (The Verge)
The Surreal Comedy Bot That’s Turning AI Into LOL (Wired)
- Can algorithms be funny? Veterans of Clickhole and the New Yorker team up to find out. (Washington Post)
- Botnik strikes again with a short Bitcoin explainer made by a predictive text AI that was trained on other Bitcoin explainers. (Motherboard)
- This Is What Happens When Comedy Writers Collaborate with AI (Vice)
The Botnik creative collective is made up of about 30 writers, artists, and developers who are spread out across the country and the world (literally) and coordinate via Slack and email. Their revenue model is based on selling content to corporations. The Amazon’s Alexa Accelerator program, which they participated in back in 2017, asked Botnik to use their predictive tools to help “humanize” Alexa (Amazon Echo). Botnik has also partnered with CollegeHumor, Funny Or Die and the Onion.