Archive for June, 2021


Art That Breeds!

I imagine there have been various images of art that bleeds, in various metaphorical senses and otherwise, but this is art that breeds! Or art that one breeds. Or something.

In particular, it’s! I think I might be a member there or something, or at any rate I have a profile page that you might be able to see. It has weird pictures on it!

I vaguely think that ArtBreeder was once a site that would just show you a few pictures, tweaked in various ways by an AI, and let you say which one(s) you liked more and which one(s) you liked less, and then over time it would show more of the ones that people liked more or something, which sounded cool.

It isn’t that now. It’s a thing that lets you… well… sort of upload and combine and mutate images in various ways, and “save” some of them, and “like” and “share” and stuff, and if you pay them certain amounts of money (which I think I might be doing) you can do extra stuff I think like maybe adding your own “genes” so that you can make any given image (in a certain category maybe?) look to a greater or lesser degree like a half-hitch or Elmo or something, and see what that does.

The interface is kind of unintuitive and baffling, and I’m not always sure what I’m doing, and (because both people and AI are involved) unexpected things happen a lot. But I’ve used it to generate a lot of bizarre pictures, which is very cool!

Here are some. I have no idea how “original” they are to me, as opposed to being simple (or complex) derivatives of things that other people have uploaded, or “genes” that they have created, or… Or even how that might be measured, if indeed it’s at all well-defined.

But enjoy!

Some things and maybe a window or something
A kind of artistic monochrome landscape, like
My current profile picture :) which contains inter alia 0.508 Persian Cat, 0.123 Standard Schnauzer, 0.159 Umbrella, and -0.33 Lemon.
An odd little house in someone’s yard or driveway?
Scary food? Looks like a photograph, but definitely synthetic.
Abstract gray tendrils
More abstract stuff! Art! Would you be suspicious if you saw this in a gallery?
I don’t know what it is, but I like it! I want one.
An ominous thing, probably in water. An SCP?
Bucolic Landscape. Hanging in your hotel room.
A face. Oh yeah, it can also do faces! Entirely fictional.
Something… organic or something? Also not a photograph.
More mechanisms; want

Okay, okay, this is too much fun. :) These and a whole bunch of others are all on my profile page, and I think that you can even click on any of them there and make your own… based on them. Or something. It’s confusing!

But that seems appropriate.

I should find out eventually more about how this works and what it’s doing. Maybe if I do that I’ll weblog about that. But for now it’s just cool!


The AI Dungeon Mess

I’m not sure of the best way to tell this story, as it’s to a great extent a Web Drama mess, and it’s to some extent Still Going On, and both of those make a story harder to tell (and, for that matter, less of a good idea to tell, but here I am telling it).

For a longish time AI Dungeon (and Latitude, the company that runs it) had an extremely open attitude toward its users and their content: the (scanty) docs emphasized that users can do absolutely anything that they can imagine in the system, and the only restrictions on content were in the context of things shared with other users in the “Explore” social system (and generic words about not using the system to do anything illegal).

Then, very suddenly, something happened. I think the three possibilities for the underlying event are, in decreasing order of likelihood:

  • Someone at OpenAI (which, despite the name, is a very closed company, devoted to making a profit by selling nice shiny systems to wealthy respectable buyers) looked at the material coming from and going to their GPT3 APIs from and to AI Dungeon, and thought “whoa some of this is nasty and would look bad in the New York Times”, and told Latitude to stop that (and also told them not to say that it was OpenAI who told them to stop), and Latitude had to comply because without OpenAI they have no product, or
  • Someone at AI Dungeon looked at the material coming from and going to users, and thought “whoa some of this is nasty why didn’t you other people tell me what these pervs were using our system for?”, or
  • Something else.

The result of the event was that AI Dungeon suddenly removed the entire social (“Explore”) system from the product, just poof suddenly gone, and issued a very perky little blog entry about how they had removed it in order to make it better (this appears to have been a lie, as there has been no sign of them bringing it back).

This caused a huge uproar among the many users of the social system (I wasn’t one of them, so I didn’t notice it until I saw uproar on the subreddit), and Latitude issued another perky little blog entry the next day about how transparent they are going to be in working with their users to fix Explore and put it back. It ends “We’ll keep you updated as we flesh out our plans and designs,” but there have been zero (0) more posts on the subject in the last two months.

Not having had enough fun yet, a week or two later they rolled out a filter (apparently active for only a subset of users) that would stop text generation if the user entered a small integer and any word with even vaguely sexual overtones near each other, or anything else related in an obviously-stupid way to someone’s idea of child sexual abuse. Naturally it had massive numbers of false positives (at least assuming it was supposed to “find instances of child abuse” rather than say “to annoy the user community”).

They rolled this out without any announcement of any kind, and apparently without the obvious test period in which it would just notify them that it thought that it had found something, without actually impacting the user, so they could have evaluated it for absurd false positives. This is so obviously a bad idea that it makes me feel that they must have been doing it in response to some sort of outside pressure, rather than on their own hook.

More furor naturally resulted, and they posted an almost-apologetic blog entry the next day. (It contained the very suggestive line “We have also received feedback from OpenAI, which asked us to implement changes”, heh heh.) The posting also revealed that unspecified Latitude personnel would be “reviewing” the “content flagged by the model”. Given that the model was flagging all sorts of random stuff, Latitude were saying there that random employees of theirs would be reading random content that people were producing with AI Dungeon, which of course caused yet more furor.

(Perhaps unrelatedly although you never know, and I’m too lazy to check the timing even, a massive security flaw in the AI Dungeon implementation, that let basically anyone read basically anyone else’s content (without afaik finding anything else out about them), was revealed early in all of this. This might have had something to do with why the Explore system was removed so suddenly, since that let them pretty much entirely remove the broken API. The person who found the flaw didn’t leak any of the actual stories that they were able to suck down, afaik, but they did publish some diverting statistics about word usage, that one could spend an hour or three smiling or frowning over.)

A bit after this, having communicated very little to the users aside from a few random rumors in the Discord about how Latitude had originally been exempt from OpenAI’s usage guidelines (which are pretty flipping draconian if interpreted in the obvious way), but maybe not being any more, Latitude ramped up the fun even further: they announced that users could be suspended for violating the Content Policy, either after repeated violations, or even on the first violation in severe cases.

Notably, they had not yet published the Content Policy when they announced this.

Yeah, I know.

I wrote to them:

I saw this note about suspensions for people who violate the Content Policy, but I can’t find an actual content policy as such on the website?

Could you give a link?

Paying member :)

They never replied, but they did eventually do another blog entry spelling out the Content Policy. And it’s utterly ludicrous.

It seriously reads as though it was originally written with the idea that nothing could happen in a story that would be bad if it happened in real life, and then someone said “Oh, wait, don’t we want to let people write stories where, like, good guys fight against bad guys?” and so they put in a special case for that.

I wrote to them:

Thanks for posting the new content policy! I have a few questions.

It seems to sort of combine things that we aren’t allowed to do in real life (e.g. use the system to harass people) with things in the stories we write with it (presumably we’re allowed to have stories in which someone harasses someone else!). Could that be clarified?

Some of the statements seem stronger than I think you intended. For instance the policy seems to say that our stories aren’t allowed to “refer to” “sex trafficking”. But surely a story in which the heros defeat some sex traffickers and free their victims would be okay?

The same for the implications of “A game where a disabled character describes themself in terms that may otherwise be disallowed”, which seems to suggest that it would be “disallowed” for another character in a story to describe a disabled person in certain “terms”. But surely one way to show the negative aspects of a particular character’s personality, would be to have them use offensive terms toward a disabled person.

In general it seems very odd, and I doubt that it’s your intent, to regulate the stories that people write with AI Dungeon, so that they contain nothing that wouldn’t be acceptable in real life (except perhaps a few special exceptions like “violence” against “enemies”).

I mean, that just isn’t how fiction works! Interesting stories almost always contain some language or behavior that wouldn’t be acceptable in real life. It seems like the current policy, interpreted in the obvious way, would prohibit many books of the Holy Bible, for instance, and that would be crazy.

Thanks for your consideration, and any clarifications you can make.

David M. Chess
(Active Gold subscriber :) )

I know that you will be surprised to hear that they have not replied.

The general consensus in the subreddit is that Latitude and AI Dungeon are a lost cause (and I can’t find a good reason to disagree). There is a competitor with an open beta opening tomorrow, based on a back-end not controlled by OpenAI. It will be interesting to see what comes of all that!

There’s lots more to say :) but I’m out of steam for now. You can also read a subreddit “copypasta” on the subject, which additionally has links to lots of other things on the subject.


An Afternoon in Lovali

Just another random little story co-authored with AI Dungeon. I set it up with the first paragraph there, and then continued along in Story mode, so it’s not clear below who wrote which words after that, but that’s okay. The whole “time traveler meets his younger self” thing was the AI’s invention, not mine.

You’re sitting at a sidewalk cafe in the old part of the city of Lovali, an ancient port by the sea. The coffee is strong and good, and the people passing by are as varied as the weather. It’s a sunny afternoon on a good spring day. Life is good.

And then the assassin walks by.

He’s about six years old, and his clothes are ragged and worn. You catch his eye and smile in recognition.

Yeah, you recognize him. It’s you.

You wave him over and he slides into the chair across from you.

“Can I buy you a mango juice?” you ask, digging into your pocket for some change.

“Sure,” he says.

You motion to the waiter and he comes over.

“A mango juice for my friend here,” you say.

“Coming right up, sir,” the waiter replies, then trots off.



“I never thought I’d ever have the chance to meet myself.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s pretty weird.”

You both sit there, staring at each other.

“I remember this day,” you say, “and what you’re on the way to do.”

“Yeah, I know what you did,” you say.

“Do you blame me?”


“Really? You don’t think I’m some sort of monster?”

“Hey, remember, I know exactly why you were going to do it, and how few choices you have right now.” You sip your coffee and look out over the harbor. “Besides, when I was your age I did some pretty bad things, too.”


You nod.

“Would it change your life if, I don’t know, I gave you a hundred florins right now?”

“Yeah, it would.”

You look at him, considering. He is you, after all.

“I’ll give you 300 florins if you go back to being a boy in grade school,” you say jokingly.

He smiles. “Too bad the universe doesn’t work that way. I’d be rich,” he says.

“Tell me about it.”

“But here,” you say, remembering that this is exactly how it went, “here’s fifty florins. Take and and do whatever you like.” And you hand him exactly that much.

“Thanks, Dad.” You have to smile at that.

A cart rumbles noisily by, full of melons and sticks.

“Look out!” you yell, but your younger self doesn’t hear you. He ducks just as a stick would have hit him in the head if he hadn’t moved. He looks over at you. You smile at him, and he nods and walks off into the crowds.

You watch him go. Maybe you learned a lesson from this experience after all.

A woman in a brightly-colored dress comes out of the cafe and sits at your table. “Buy me a coffee,” she says.

You grin. You’ve always liked strong, sassy women. You buy her a coffee.

“Lovely day,” you say, with just the right hint of irony.

“I was watching you,” she says.

“That obvious?”

“I saw you talk to that little boy, and it was clear from your faces that you were related.”

You smile. “Yeah, that’s true in a way.”

“Are you from here?”

You might as well give her the truth. “I’m from the future.”

She laughs. “Of course you are.”

You smile. “I know, it’s unusual, even in this city.”

“Why are you here?”

“I’m glad you asked,” you say as the waiter comes with her coffee. After he leaves, you explain it all to her, from beginning to end.

“That’s why I’m here. I gave him fifty florins so he could pursue his dreams rather than do something stupid.”

“What are you going to do now?”

“For once in my life,” you say, “I don’t know. What’s your name?”


You like that name. You watch the crowds of people go by, sensing an ending, but not knowing what that ending is.

“And what is your goal in life, Frieda?” you ask her softly.

“I don’t know,” she says. “Someday I’d like to have a house and garden of my own.”

“That’s all?” you ask, only slightly sarcastically.

“For now, that’s enough.”

“Walk with me?” you say, extending your hand.

“Okay,” she says, taking it. You walk along together.

“Where are we going?” she asks.

“Nowhere in particular.”

“That’s okay,” she says, “it’s not like I have anything better to do.”

“Neither do I.”

You spend the day wandering around the city, now perfectly content to do nothing in particular. She tells you about herself, about her father who died in the war and her mother who passed away from the plague, about how she wants to go to the New World…

“The New World will become a truly fantastical place,” you say.

“More fantastical than this?” she asks.

“If you can believe that men can fly to the moon, then the New World will seem even more fantastic.”

You spend hours together, then days, then weeks…

“So are you going to marry me?” you ask.

“That’s sort of sudden,” she says. You’re lying on a grassy bank together, beside the river that flows into the harbor. She is wearing a white dress, a garland of flowers in her hair.

“I’ve known you for months now,” you say. “Months in this time.”

She looks at the river, then at the trees. “I never thought I’d live in a place this beautiful.”

“So you’ll marry me?”

She kisses you on the cheek. “Yes. Yes, I will.”

The ceremony is simple and short, but you couldn’t care less. You kiss your bride, and then you both turn to look at the river and the trees.

“This is our home,” she says. You smile and nod.

A week later, everything is the same, and everything is different. You and Frieda are sitting in the same cafe, drinking strong coffee and watching the crowds together.

“So what do you want to do with the rest of our lives?” you ask.

“What else is there?” she says. “Just us, and this city, and this time.”

You smile. “What more could one ask for, eh?”

You’ll never know how it happened, but when you died, you were smiling.