The Zodiac Killer is one of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century. During his tenure, starting in the late 1960s, he killed at least five Northern Californians and claims to have killed as many as 37. All the while, he sent cryptic messages to local media and the police department explaining his motives and detailing clues to his identity using a cipher full of letters and abstract symbols, known as the Z340.
Though he hung up his boots, so to speak, in the late seventies, his ID remains a mystery. That’s not to say there haven’t been plenty of accusations made over the years, one of the most recent being the senator and ex-presidential candidate, Ted Cruz. (For the record, as hilarious as this theory may be, Cruz is way too young to be the killer.) The Z340 also remains unsolved.
Now, after decades of baffling detectives and amateur sleuths alike, a supercomputer is on the case. Programmed by one Keven Knight, an expert in artificial intelligence, cryptography, and code breaking from the University of California’s Information Science Institute, the machine – called CARMEL – is using the writings of the Zodiac Killer to decode the so far impenetrable cipher. It’s already been used to work out the Copiale Cipher (a handwritten manuscript from 18th-century Germany) so there is real hope we could soon know the true identity of the Zodiac Killer.
But that’s not all. CARMEL, the supercomputer detective, moonlights as a poet, as revealed in a new documentary on HISTORY.
Rather excitingly, there is an online tool where you can pick a topic and CARMEL will come up with a short poem for you about said topic. You can play around with the number of lines, the number of curse words, and alliteration patterns.
Warning: the lyrics veer on the creepy side (as you might expect from a program whose language skills are based on the notes of an infamous serial killer).
We plugged in a few vaguely science-related words like “life”, “chemistry”, “galaxy” and “dinosaur”. Here are the results:
A little happy daughter Jennifer!
The children die without a fear of dying,
Never ever gonna live forever,
On the wings of love and soul undying.
Travel through marine biology,
Feel the sounds of Compton scattering.
I write a lyrics from a human body,
Hear the sound of stress corrosion cracking.
Float and glide across the milky way!
A planets on a galaxy formation,
The worlds of earth and nuclear decay,
A world of peace beneath the constellation.
Snap my finger on a dinosaurs,
Catch a bullet from a lower jaw!
And when I hear the sound of thunder roars,
Fear of being blinded by the claw.