Robot Programmed To Solve Murders Develops Creepy Side Project

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Paramount Pictures

Robots are coming to take over all our jobs, and now they are even developing some sinister little hobbies during their down-time.

CARMEL is a detective robot at the University of California’s Information Science Institute, programmed by her human companion: artificial intelligence, cryptography and code breaking expert Kevin Knight.

In my head she looks just like Joey from Friends‘ TV sidekick C.H.E.E.S.E. from his crime busting robot show Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E.

Warner Bros. Television

CARMEL has a very important purpose – she’s working to decode a particularly mysterious cipher used by the notorious Zodiac Killer – visible in a cryptic message he sent to The San Francisco Chronicle back in November 1969.

The 340-character cipher is known as Z340 and has proved to be frustratingly tricky to crack – so far, nobody has been able to solve it – despite numerous human code breakers giving it their best shot.

CARMEL could well be the robot for the job, having already proved her mettle through figuring out the 18th century Copiale Cipher, which was found to detail the beliefs and practices of a German secret society.

Together, Knight and CARMEL have been trying out literally trillions of potential linguistic solutions – drawing from Knight’s expertise in natural-language processing.

CARMEL is also a real all-rounder and a true creative at heart. Indeed, when she isn’t working to catch the most infamous serial killer of the 20th century, she expresses herself through poetry.

Knight is interested in what computers are able to do with human language, therefore, CARMEL is able to create a range of poetry – from haikus to sonnets – on a specified topic – a human user can also specify the number of lines, word length and alliteration patterns.

Whereas human poets spend painstaking hours perfecting their flowery verse, CARMEL goes from inspiration to finished product within seconds.

However, and no offence intended CARMEL, some of this poetry is downright creepy – her inspiration appears to come from her half-life based around trying to get into the mind of the Zodiac, which of course sounds nightmarish.

Here are some samples of some of her chilling work, according to History:

Master Fake Trouble Girl

At the age of love, a love deranged,
A beauty from romantic interest,
The thought of love, and love became estranged.
Then the words of love became obsessed.
Surrounded by the troubled, by the thieving,
Confused and bruised and poisoned by the master,
Confused and blinded by the helpful scheming,
Confused and blinded by the dreadful slander…

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Mourning moaning mournful whispers weeping,
Together through the sleepless strangers slumber,
Alone and lonely lovers sleeping thieving,
A helpless dead forgotten former lover.
Through the taxi and the prison break,
Alone and angry at a brutal murder.
Surrounded by an artificial lake,
Never a convicted murderer…

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What a dark and troubled existence CARMEL has, giving her perfect material as a budding abstract poet. Will we soon be seeing her frequenting poetry slams and running through the Yorkshire moors?

Yes, her work may seem bizarre to many readers, but then again, a true poet is never appreciated in their own time.


Julia Banim

Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications. When not Lad-ing about, she enjoys cooking, reading and trying not to fall over in Yoga.