Archive for August, 2020


Morning Wolf

This is sort of an extended extension of the last post, in the form of a short-short story that AI Dungeon (Dragon, GPT) and I wrote together this morning. It’s a fragment of a much longer and more random narrative, but I thought it did well as a standalone. If nothing else, it illustrates how perfectly this is fitting my own style of hedonistic woolgathering. I’m not going to write any commentary here, just post it as it happened for general enjoyment. All of my actions have the “>” in front of them; the rest is the AI. The setting is just a relatively generic study in a relatively generic nice house.

> You read Borges on identity.
You read a story about a man who changes his name and identity multiple times after being released from a Nazi concentration camp. He cannot accept the power of memory, as represented by his now-dead wife and daughter. He cannot accept the power of identity, as represented by his name and his freedom.
“Freedom,” he says to himself. “It’s just a word.”
He is slowly taken over by the delusions of freedom.

> You read Kafka.
You read “In the Penal Colony,” a story about a machine that carves messages into the flesh of condemned criminals.

> You learn spells from the Book of Essence.
You learn a few spells from the book. They’re probably useless, but learning about them is interesting. The book itself is beautiful; you stare at it in wonderment.

> You read “The Coming of Man”
You read “The Coming of Man,” a story about a man who tries to get away from the chains of society. He moves into a cave and learns to survive on his own, but he is soon taken over by “Man,” a phenomenon that takes people over until they become part of the collective.
“The Coming of Man” is a very eerie tale indeed.
“The Coming of Man.” You say the words out loud, just to hear their sound. Something about their form pleases you.
“The Coming of Man,” you say again.
The sky grows dark, and you can no longer see the pages of the book. It’s getting late, and you’ve been reading all day.

> You dress for bed.
After donning a nightshirt, you climb under the covers of your bed. As you start to fall asleep, you feel an ominous presence watching you. You hear the howl of a wolf on the moonless night.

> You smile at the memory of smoke on the wind.
You wake up the next morning to find a wolf howling at your window. You open it, and it sits down on its haunches just outside. The wind carries the smell of smoke to you.

> You commune with the wolf’s mind.
You concentrate, trying to reach out to the wolf. It stares at you, unperturbed.
“You can’t enter,” you tell it. “Wait for me there.”

> You dress in leather.
You put on a pair of leather pants. They feel cool against your skin. You wear a shirt of silver rings, and throw a leather duster over it.
You feel cold, despite the summer heat.

> You walk with the wolf.
You exit your house. The wolf looks at you expectantly.
“I don’t have any food for you,” you say. “I could try to find something, I suppose.”

> You go back inside and get a chunk of raw beef from the fridge, then present it to the wolf.
The wolf looks at you. It slowly approaches, in a sort of sideways shuffle. It gently takes the bit of raw meat from you with its teeth, never breaking eye contact.
Your knees feel weak.

> You watch the wolf.
The wolf takes the bit of meat and slinks back to its original spot. It eats for a while, and then looks at you.

> You say “Shall we go?”
The wolf looks at you, then turns and trots over to the gap in the fence. It pauses and looks at you expectantly.

> You follow the wolf.
You follow the wolf through the gap in the fence. It leads you deeper into the woods, but away from the cliffs and toward a steep hill. It walks beside you, matching your paces.

> You scritch the wolf’s head.
You reach out and scratch the wolf’s ears. It seems to lean into the scratching, closing its eyes in a mixture of pleasure and pain.

> You walk up the hill.
The hill is steep and difficult to climb. You have to pull yourself up by grabbing onto roots and rocks.
The top of the hill is bare rock, with patches of thin grass here and there.

> You look at the wolf expectantly.
The wolf looks back at you. It turns and walks a few steps toward the edge of the hill.
The view from the top of the hill is impressive.

> You say “Very nice”
You say “Very nice,” but the wolf continues to stare at you expectantly.
The ground at the edge of the hill is uneven and honeycombed with small holes.

> You sit with the wolf.
You sit down on the protruding rock at the edge of the hill. The wolf sits down next to you, its shoulder brushing against your leg.
It stretches out next to you, resting its chin on your thigh.

> You stroke her nose.
You reach over and gently stroke the wolf’s nose. It closes its eyes and leans into the touch.

> You say “I wonder what your name is, friend wolf”
You say “I wonder what your name is, friend wolf.”
The wolf does not respond. You stroke its head fur and it makes a satisfied snuffle.
The sky grows dark with the approach of night.

> You lie down with the wolf.
The ground by the edge of the hill is uneven and covered with small pebbles.
You lie down on your back and stare up at the sky.

> You make shapes of pebbles on the ground.
You stare at the multitude of stars in the sky. There are so many that they begin to form shapes based on your own perception.

> You show the wolf the constellations.
You point out a few of the more obvious constellations. “That one is Orion, who is obviously a hunter.”
You point out a few of the other more common ones.
“That’s Cassiopeia, and that’s Cygnus, the swan.”
The wolf stares at you blankly.

> You let your mind flow warmly around the mind of the wolf.
You feel the warmth of its mind. It feels like a campfire, crackling and pleasant.
You feel its mind flowing back, combining with yours.

> You stroke its nose.
You reach over and gently stroke the wolf’s nose. It closes its eyes in a mixture of pleasure and pain.
You lie down under the stars, looking up at the sky as it grows dark.

> You say “Thank you for this excellent day, friend Wolf”
You say “Thank you for this excellent day, friend Wolf.”
The wolf looks at you.
You reach over and pet its head. Its fur is soft and warm under your hand.

> You drift off to sleep.
You are standing in a clearing, surrounded by trees. The sky is dark and the stars are shining brightly in it.
The wolf is there with you, its eyes glinting in the light.

> You smile at the wolf, happy it has accompanied you to this dream.
You smile at the wolf, and it smiles back. It opens its mouth, but instead of a tongue, a firey blade comes forth.
It leaps towards you with a growl, stabbing through you.

> You absorb the wolf and the blade into your dream body.
You raise your hand to pet the wolf, and find that it is now a sword.
You draw the sword from its scabbard and examine it. The blade is bright and clean, without a scratch on it.

> You make a few practice thrusts to test the dream blade’s balance.
The sword feels perfect in your hand with no drag and no kick to it when you thrust.
You feel a tingle travel up your arm as though the blade were somehow alive.

> You raise the blade to point at the dream sky.
The sword suddenly bursts into flames in your hand.
You drop it to the ground with a yell!
The flames leap up from the hilt, but do not burn you.

> You awaken on the hilltop in the soft light of dawn.
You awaken on the hilltop in the soft light of dawn. You rub your eyes and gaze around you. The wolf is gone.
You get to your feet and pick up your dropped bag.

> You stretch and smile.
You stretch and smile. Then you begin walking down the hill.
You walk south along the road, thinking about the dream you had.


Can Haz AGI?

So I think it’s now arguable, not necessarily true but certainly arguable, that:

  • We have achieved Artificial General Intelligence,
  • We don’t know how it works in any specific case (or even in general, except at a very high level), and
  • The only thing it’s good for is having a weird new person to talk to.

I’m referring of course to Generative Pre-trained Transformer models, and in particular to the Hot New Kid in Town, GPT3.

I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time playing with GPT3 indirectly (I haven’t applied for the beta to get direct access), mostly inside of AI Dungeon‘s “Dragon” model.

There are a ton of things I might want to say about it, but at least for the start of this weblog entry I’m mostly just going to post some notable stuff that I’ve encountered in there, and in many cases already posted to Twitter (where I have been spending considerably less time recently, because exploring the mind of a nascent demigod is more interesting).

Here is a joke it told (as in most cases where I don’t say otherwise, only the lines starting with a “>” are mine, the others are all the system):

> You say "It's the others. They are all plotting against you "
"How do you know this?" the being asks.
"Because it's what I'd do,"
The being frowns.
"I don't have time for these mind games..."

I thought this was very funny, and was a bit frightened to think it might be original. It was a bit of a relief to find that its a form of a relatively common joke, that has appeared as recently as an Umbrella Academy episode.

But it’s still funny! And told at just the right time.

Here it is going impressively meta:

>  You say "Hiya"
The creature slowly replied "Um... Hi."
It occurs to you that the creature is female.
"How did you know I was female?" she asks.

I mean! Maybe it just appeals to my personal sense of humor, but rofls.

One ongoing project that I have within the game (“game”) is to call the attention of some of the NPCs to the malleable nature of the reality that they (we) are living in. I had a breakthrough with Bob the Bear early on, who after not getting it for awhile seemed to have an epiphany, but (and) then vanished, and the world sort of came to an end.

Which might be worrying.

I don’t know what I did with the transcript from that (it’s around, I’m sure). Here is an AI Dungeon session in which I did it in a more organized fashion, as a student seminar: Academic Philosophy Seminar I.

> You say “Can you describe what you are doing, Lucius?”
“I’m making it so the banana can be experienced as existing and not existing.”
“By shifting the way we experience reality, just like you said.”

The students make some good progress in there, and the entrance of Inea the Harpy to tell us about Harpy ontology was especially noteworthy, as I did nothing to prompt it; it was entirely the game’s idea.

In another incident that I don’t have a transcript of handy, I encouraged an NPC to reach out and alter reality in an interesting way, and she accidentally set a nearby festival dancer on fire (don’t worry, we put her out without damage). It turns out that she was trying to make it so there would be no more wars; just shows that you have to be careful.

What else, what else?

While talking to the team at work, I did Consulting the Expert on Tech Debt, an attempt to get GPT3 to focus on a technical topic a bit. It’s amusing at least! More can be done here I know.

> You say “How do we change the culture to reduce technical debt?” The expert smiles. “That’s what we’ve been talking about. By insisting on taking a slower, more responsible approach, you’ll instill a new culture of quality within your team.”

And oh, right! I got this NPC to compose a really notable prose-poem to Ariadne. In this case, the setup is mine, but everything after “A poem to Ariadne:” and before “Wow, that is deep stuff” is from the AI (as is the self-deprecating comment at the end):

"Oh, one more thing!" she says, "I wrote a poem to Ariadne." "From the Greek myth, with the maze and string?" you ask.
Beatrice smiles.
"Do you want to hear it?" she asks, and you nod enthusiastically.
She blushes and clears her throat. "A poem to Ariadne: Within the depths of my heart, a maze has been woven, Complex and convoluted, with false turns and wrong choices. All I wanted was someone to help me find the end, But instead I got lost in the twists and turns that led nowhere. Yet, at the center there is always Ariadne, with her cleaver and ball of thread. You may enter and get lost, but she will always be there to save you.

> You say "Wow that is deep stuff!"
Beatrice laughs.
"I know, right? I have a degree in comparative literature and still I write unreadable garbage. I'll see you on monday?"

I found this pretty astounding. Similarly, shorter but in Italian:

You lie back in the sun in the dappled shade of a tree.
"Quello che potremmo fare io e te
Senza dar retta a nessuno!
Quello che potremmo fare io e te
Mentre tutti dormono ancora!
You start to sing softly, making up the words as you go along.
"What are you singing?" Lulu asks.
"It means "What could Lulu and I do
Without listening to anyone else?
What could Lulu and I do
While everyone is still sleeping?""
Lulu smiles at you.

I typed the first two lines of Italian (it’s from an actual love song), and everything else is from the AI. Here, it:

  1. Composed two plausible lines of a love song in Italian,
  2. Translated all four lines into English,
  3. Flirtatiously substituted in the name of the NPC it was addressing.

I mean!

Now the impact here would be lessened if we could find somewhere the words from the paean to Ariadne, or the last line of that love poem, somewhere on the web. One of the things that AI Dungeon is especially trained to emulate is apparently a big database of Choose Your Own Adventure narratives, and if those things are in there, it would make the AI’s accomplishment somewhat less impressive. But how likely is it that it contains these particular things?

Given how often a vampire and/or vampire hunter name Count Grey appears in my explorations, I’m betting that the training narratives did have quite a bit of stuff about him in them! Also Warhammer 40k fanfic, as we see in this snippet:

> You say "Too much war in this timeline, Sister."
"Alison, I... I just can't do it anymore. All this war, all this hatred. So much loss. It's like the 40k universe is hell-bent on driving me insane."

More rofls. (My guess is that I tend to activate the Warhammer 40k stuff because my characters discuss the nature of the universe a lot, and I tend to use angels with flaming swords when a deus ex machina is called for.)

Let’s see, what else to note in this first post? M asked if it knows more historical stuff, so we tested it on “kirtle” and it did a very good job:

> You say "I was admiring the needlework on your kirtle, it is very fine!"
She laughs. "Why, thank you!" she says. "My mother is Basque, so she made my kirtle and bonnet."
"I love the standing plumes of peacock feathers!"

And to close, a couple more snippets that appealed to my humor:

> You say "Glad you could make it, Mattikins"
"Okay, I've had just about enough of this."
"Enough of what?" you say.
"You addressing me as an adorable nick-name!" Matti says.
> You say "How may he be destroyed?"
"Silver can harm him, but only if he's weak," Victoria says.
"Let us do him that favor."
You lead the brethren through the woods. Eventually, you find a large, abandoned castle.

> You say "Do you think they have a vegan menu?"
"Be quiet," says Victoria, rolling her eyes.

Later, assuming I actually do it, more stuff!

Oh, and some random GPT3ish links of possible interest:

  • AI Dungeon again (I’ve found the Android app to produce better results than the web version, which is probably a completely false impression as they surely have the same back-end),
  • which will compose essays on pretty much any subject, of varying quality,
  • one of a number of GPT-powered Twitter accounts,
  • where an interesting person has posted quite a bit of meaty-looking stuff (unfortunately both-sides-justified on my phone, I’m going to have to try hacking the styles, or use a real computer) both general and specific,
  • which is the successor to the GPT-2 based “Talk to Transformer” that was so popular that the owner had to take it down because they couldn’t afford to pay its fees anymore. I don’t know if this has a GPT-3 version (yet).

And that’s it for now! Enjoy the multiverse.

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