Archive for ‘randomosity’

2023/01/20

County Jury Duty

Well, that’s over! For another six years (for state / country / town) or four years (for Federal). This is probably going to be chatty and relatively uninteresting.

Top tip: park in the parking lot under the library; it’s very convenient to the courthouse (although you still have to walk outside for a bit, and it was windy and rainy yesterday).

I had to report originally on Friday (the 13th!) because Monday was MLK day. On Friday 60-70 of us sat around in a big auditoriumish jury room for a while, with WiFi and allowed to use our cellphones and everything. Then they called attendance and talked about random things like the $40/day stipend if our employer doesn’t pay us or we’re self-employed (where did that tiny amount of money come from, one wonders) and where to park and so on. Then we were basically allowed to decide whether to come back on Tuesday or Wednesday (although I imagine if you were far down the perhaps-random list and most people had said one, you had to take the other).

A cute isomorphic pixel-art image of a bunch of people waiting around in a large room. Note this does not accurately reflect the County Courthouse except in spirit. Image by me using Midjourney OF COURSE.

I elected to come back on Wednesday for no particular reason. We were originally supposed to arrive on Wednesday at 9:30am, but over the weekend they called and said to arrive at 11am instead. Due to an inconvenient highway ramp closure and a detour through an area of many traffic lights, I got there at 11:10 or so and felt guilty, but hahaha it didn’t matter.

In the big Jury Room again, the 30+ of us waited around for a long time, then were led upstairs to wait around in the hallway outside the courtroom, and then after waiting some more were ushered into the courtroom to sit in the Audience section, and introduced to the judge and some officers, and then dismissed until 2pm for lunch (seriously!).

Some time after 2pm they let us back into the courtroom and talked to us for awhile about how it was a case involving this and that crime, and might take up to a month to try, and the judge is busy doing other things on Mondays and Thursday mornings so it would be only 3.5 days / week. Then they called 18 names, and those people moved from the Audience section to the Jury Box section. They started asking them the Judge Questions (where do you live, how long have you lived there, what do you do, what does your spouse and possible children do, do you have any family members who are criminal lawyers, etc, etc), and we got though a relatively small number of people and it was 4:30pm and time to go home.

I had a bit of a hard time sleeping, thinking about what the right answers to The Questions would be (how many times have I been on a jury in all those years? did we deliberate? do I know anyone in Law Enforcement? does the NSA count? should I slip in a reference to Jury Nullification to avoid being on the jury, or the opposite?) and like that.

Since the judge is busy on Thursday mornings, we appeared back at the courtroom at 2pm on Thursday, and waited around for quite awhile in the hallway, then went in and they got through questioning the rest of the 18 people in the Jury Box (after the judge asked the Judge Questions, the People and the Defense asked some questions also, although it was mostly discussions of how police officers sometimes but not always lie under oath, and how DNA evidence is sometimes right but now always, and how it’s important to be impartial and unbiased and so on, disguised as question asking).

Then they swore in like 6 of those 18 people, told the rest of the 18 that they were done with Jury Duty, and told the rest of us in the Audience section to come back at 9:30am on Friday (today!).

At 9:30 nothing happened for quite awhile in the hallway outside the auditorium, then for no obvious reason they started to call us into the courtroom one person at a time by name. There got to be fewer and fewer people, and then finally it was just me which was unusual and then they called my name and I went in. The Jury Box was now entirely full of people, so I sat in the Audience Section (the only person in the Audience Section!).

Then I sat there while the judge asked the same ol’ Judge Questions to every one of the dozen+ people (I know, I don’t have the numbers quite consistent) ahead of me, and then finally, as the last person to get them, I got them. And the Judge went through them pretty quickly, perhaps because he’d said earlier that he wanted to finish with this stage by lunchtime, and I had no chance to be indecisive about the issue of following his legal instructions exactly and only being a Trier of Fact, or anything else along those lines.

Then we had another couple of lectures disguised as questions, plus some questions, from The People and the The Defense. I’d mentioned the cat as someone who lived with me (got a laugh from that, but the Whole Truth, right?), and The People asked me the cat’s name and nature, and when I said it was Mia and she was hostile to everyone, The People thanked me for not bringing her with me (haha, lighten the mood, what?). And asked about my impartiality.

Now we’d had a bunch of people from extensive cop families say boldly that they couldn’t promise not to be biased against the defendant (and when The Defense I think it was asked if anyone would assume from The Defendant’s name on the indictment that He Must Have Done Something a couple people even raised their hands (whaaaaat)), and I perhaps as a result and perhaps foolishly said that while my sympathies would generally be with a defendant, I would be able to put that aside and be unbiased and fair and all.

So The People asked me if I could promise “100%” that I would not be affected by that sympathy, and I said quite reasonably that hardly any sentences with “100%” in them are true, and the judge cut in to say that he would be instructing the jurors to put stuff like that aside (implying that then I would surely be able to), and I said that I would (but just didn’t say “100%”) and then The People came back in saying that they need people who are “certain” they can be unbiased (so, no way), but then actually asked me if I was “confident” that I could be (a vastly lower bar) so I said yes I would.

And when all of that was over, they had us all go out to the hallway again, and wait for awhile, and then go back in to sit in the same seats. And then they had I think four of us stand up and be sworn in as jurors, and the rest of us could go out with the officer and sit in the big jury room again until they had our little papers ready to say that we’d served four days of Jury Duty.

And that was it!

My impression is that they were looking for (inter alia, I’m sure) people who either believe, or are willing to claim to believe, that they can with certainty be 100% unbiased in their findings as jurors. That is, people who are in this respect either mistaken, or willing to lie. And that’s weird; I guess otherwise there’s too much danger of appeals or lawsuits or something? (Only for Guilty verdicts, presumably, since Not Guilty verdicts are unexaminable?) The Judge did say several times that something (the State, maybe?) demands a Yes or No answer to his “could you be an unbiased Juror and do as you’re told?” question, and when people said “I’ll try” or “I think so” or “I’d do my best” or whatever, he insisted on a “Yes” or a “No”. (So good on the honesty for those cop-family people saying “No”, I suppose.)

So if my calculations are roughly correct, after ummm two or 2.5 days of Jury Selection, they’ve selected only about 10 jurors, and exhausted the Jan 13th jury draw; so since they need at least 12 jurors and 2 (and perhaps more like 6) alternates, they’re going to be at this for some time yet! (Hm, unless it’s not a felony case? In which case 10 might be enough? But it sounded like a felony case.)

2023/01/16

Little Imaginary Diagrams

I asked Midjourney for some simple proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem. The results make me happy. :)

(On the text side: GPT-2 and even GPT-3 might have hallucinated something interesting. ChatGPT would just error out a few times and then give a boring literal description of one in a condescending tone. My ability to be interested in ChatGPT as an interaction partner is severely limited by how boring it is. But anyway, back to the pictures!)

Presented without comment (beyond the alt text):

A geometric diagram with various lines and colored areas and illegible labels (some of which may be small integers). Amusingly, there do not appear to be any right triangles.
A geometric diagram with various lines and colored areas and labels. Some labels are illegible, but there is an 8, a 3, a 4, and a few 1's. Some of the colored areas contain brick patterns, and there is a random architectural arch and a few other map-like textures thrown in.
A comparatively simple geometric diagram of lines and colored areas. There is a right triangle labeled E textured in a pebbly pattern, a rectangle labelled with a G and a unfamiliar glyph, and various areas with fine blue stripes.
A relatively modern-looking flat geometrical diagram containing three triangles (two of them right triangles) in gradients of different colors, a large grey striped area, and various lines. There are labels that look vaguely numeric, but are basically unreadable.

I hope you find these at least as amusing, endearing, and/or thought-provoking as I do. :)

2022/12/26

December 26th, 2022

We made just 106 dumplings this year, plus another eight filled with Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (that was the little boy’s idea; they’re pretty good!). This is a smaller number than usual (drill back into prior years here). The small number was probably mostly because single units of ground meat from FreshDirect tend to weigh just a pound, whereas single units from the grocery in prior years were more like 1.25 to 1.4 pounds. (Although, come to think of it, just where did we get the ground meat last year? Not sure.) And also because grownups tend to put more meat in each dumpling, perhaps. But in any case, we are now all pleasantly full, and the little daughter and her BF are safely back in the urbanity.

What has occurred? I feel like things have occurred, to an extent. I am more on Mastodon now than on Twitter, and if you want to keep up with the images I’ve been making in Midjourney and so on, you’ll want my Pixelfed feed. I listed lots of various of these pointers back the other week (and wow having every chapter of the novel as a weblog post makes it hard to scroll through the weblog). When Elon “facepalm” Musk briefly prohibited linking from Twitter to Mastodon, I actually set up a LinkTree page with my links.

Someone must have said “they can still link to Mastodon via Linktree” in his hearing, because he then briefly prohibited linking to LinkTree. That caused me to set up my own Links page over on the neglected (and in fact apparently pretty much empty) theogeny.com; I should put back all the stuff that used to be there sometime!

Note how ossum that Links page is! When you move the cursor over it, the thing that the mouse is over that you will go to if you click (if any) changes color (although I drew the line at having it bouncily change size the way Linktree does). You can look at the page source, and see the lovely hand-coded CSS and HTML. :) It even validates! (w3c seems to have a change of mind about validation badges, which makes me a little sad, so there’s no little “valid HTML 5!” badge on the page that links to the verification of the claim, but hey.)

That reminded me of the One-Dimensional Cellular Automaton that I make in hand-coded CSS and HTML and JavaScript the other year; it vanished for a long time, even from my personal backups of davidchess.com, and I’d almost given up on finding it until I thought of the Internet Archive‘s Wayback Machine, and discovered that it had snapshotted that page exactly once, in February of 2012.

So after a bit of fiddling around, I can once again present the One-Dimensional Cellular Automaton for your amusement. The page source there is also quite readable, I tell myself.

Note that many other things on davidchess.com are currently / still broken, although in the process of bringing that page back, I also brought the main page back, so you can see the extremely retro rest of the site (working and otherwise), including the entries in this (well, sort of “this”) weblog between 1999 and 2011.

Oh yeah, we had Christmas! That was nice. :) I got lots of chocolate, and the little (not little anymore) boy gave me a digital image of Spennix (my WoW main) dressed like the pioneer in the Satisfactory game, with a perfect “Spennixfactory” logo. And wife and daughter both got me books: “The Hotel Bosphorus” (a murder mystery set in Istanbul, my current Bucket List destination, and involving a bookshop, so what could be better?) from M, and “Klara and the Sun” (which I’ve been meaning to get, but never had) from the little daughter. (She thought that maybe I already had it and that’s why Klara is called “Klara” in the Klara stories, but it was as far as I know a complete coincidence.)

I’m working away at Part Three of Klara, after she leaves the clockwork world, but it’s slow going. I have an actual plot in mind that I want to illustrate, and I’m using a different graphical style which necessitates a different Midjourney workflow that I haven’t quite optimized yet. But it’ll get done! Probably! :)

We close with a Seasonal Image for the Solstice…

A disc with abstract shapes of fir trees, decorations, planets, and whatnot around the edge. In the center a round shape with small spiked protrusions, perhaps the sun, sits atop what may be a tree trunk that projects upward from what may be the ground and some roots at the bottom of the image. Branches stick out of the perhaps-sun, and some stars and planets and a few more enigmatic shapes inhabit the spaces between the branches.

Here’s to the coming of the longer days! Or the cooler ones, to those on the flipside… :)

2022/11/30

Free Desktop Wallpapers!

Haha, what a great title.

But yes, in fact I’ve been using good ol’ Midjourney to make some wallpapers, and figured out how to get Windows to permute among them as desktop backgrounds on this brand-new Framework laptop I have (I should write a long boring geeky entry about my old Windows laptop breaking and my replacing it with this lovely new thing whose only disadvantage is that I’m still running Windows on it ewww), and I thought I would share them here as the first of the promised (or threatened) posts with tons of images made with Midjourney.

I think I will just do it as a big WordPress Gallery thing? Which means WordPress will I dunno display them in some random layout, but I hope you can still get the actual images at full size by clicking through and rightclick-saving? Or whatever?

2022/11/26

Woot woot!

Graphs from NaNoWriMo, showing a steadish 2,000 words per day from the 1st to the 25th of November.

Kept the ol’ 2,000 words per day pretty constant during NaNoWriMo, except for a couple of days off that I made up for on the next weekend, so I made the goal of 50,000, and not by coincidence the end of the story, right there on the 25th (which was, let’s see, yeah, yesterday!). A nice feeling.

I think I like this year’s rather a lot. The little Midjourney pictures at the start of each Fling (where “Flings” really turned out to be Chapters) was fun, but I think not ultimately transformative; not a big deal. A few plot elements, some important, (the libraries, the plants, the fast sharp ships) came from the images, but without the images something else would I expect have sprung to mind and perhaps carried the same basic ideas, about meaning, and communication, identity and the symbol-grounding problem.

As a reminder; the whole thing can be read in order by clicking on the cover page here, and then clicking the bold link at the bottom of each Fling. I may be going through and fixing a few errors between now and the end of the month (although the relative inconvenience of doing that in WordPress may limit how much I do).

In other news, I’ve been on Twitter less, and on Mastodon / Fediverse more, prompted by the gross antics of the billionaire narcissist, but continuing just because it’s a more interesting place, with (so far?) more interesting and less upsetting communication going on. (It could be argued that given the State of Things, one ought to be upset; but so far I think the argument is flawed.)

I’ve been making tons and tons of images on Midjourney still (getting up near 20,000, the system tells me!) and they are still constantly improving the engine(s), which is very cool. I’ve been posting some of them on PixelFed (roughly, PixelFed is to Instagram as Mastodon is to Twitter), and also still on Twitter (the same ones, mostly). I have enough pictures that I love to fill many, many weblog posts, and I’m sure such posts will appear.

Here’s just one image for now that’s a total favorite; it’s called “Accord”:

A woman with a very long neck in foreground just left of center, looking to our right. Her hair extends fractally into infinity upper left. An infinite line of smaller women in dark clothes, all looking in the same direction, extends from her shoulder to the right, where a tower is dimly present through fog and insects. Two more of the smaller women stand behind her, eyes closed.

Is that amazing, or what? He said modestly.

In the legal domain, there is talk of a class-action suit against Microsoft / GitHub / OpenAI / Copilot, on something like the claim that training an AI on a piece of code requires the appropriate license from the owner of that code (or equivalent, as for public domain code or code you wrote yourself). The possibility of implications for AI art tools like Midjourney, and AI text generators like NovelAI, is clear, although there may also be significant differences. For instance, there seem to be various examples of exact plagiarism by Copilot, whereas as far as I’m aware no such thing exists for say Midjourney or NovelAI.

(There was at least one person persistently spamming Twitter and Reddit with a copy-pasted claim that GPT-3 plagiarizes, pointing at various things on the web that did not actually show, or generally even claim, that. I can’t find them today; perhaps OpenAI’s lawyers sent them a letter. Similarly I’ve been told by one person on Twitter (and at least one other who agreed with them) that for “[a]lmost all pieces I’ve seen thus far, I can point at and name the elements that came from individual artists, and often individual paintings or works”, but when I expressed interest and asked for a concrete example, they said roughly “I’ll get back to you tonight” and then went silent.)

It will be interesting to see what happens with this lawsuit. Somewhat sadly, I think that:

  • The most likely outcome is that they’ll just lose, because Microsoft is rich and individual Open Source contributors, even as a class, aren’t rich,
  • Second most likely, Microsoft will give some symbolic amount of money to something that will benefit some Open Source contributors a little and some lawyers a lot, and there will be no precedent-setting court decision,
  • Less likely, after some long wrangling process, something like the Private Copying Levy might be worked out, which is sort of like that last bullet, but more codified and involving more money, and possibly a precedent that there is a copyright violation at least potentially involved,
  • Even less likely, there would be some kind of opt-out process whereby a creator could indicate they didn’t want their stuff used to train AIs, and makers of AI engines would have to like re-generate their neural nets annually without the opted-art works,
  • And at the bottom, perhaps fairest in some sense but also least likely, a straightforward finding that AI Engine makers, at least ones that make money, really do need the right to copy and/or prepare derivative works of the things they train their engines on. So we’d get engines trained on just public domain works, things out of copyright, things posted under sufficiently permissive licenses, things they explicitly license, and so on. I would be fine with this, myself, but I wouldn’t bet on it happening.

We’ll see!

What else? That’s the main things I can think of. Oh, yeah, Thanksgiving was very nice; the four of us and the little daughter’s SO. We were (I was) especially lazy this year; beyond the HelloFresh pre-planned ingredients that we’ve used the last couple of years, this year we got the pre-planned pre-cooked just-needs-warming version from FreshDirect (ETOOMUCHFRESH). It wasn’t bad! And certainly easy. :) We also bought pre-made apple and pumpkin pies. I resist feeling guilty!!

Also my Windows laptop is broken (I’m not sure why or how; it behaves like a bad storage device, but both the HDD and the SSD seem perfectly readable when stuck into external USB things). Whatever’s wrong with it inside, it’s also vaguely falling apart, with cracked and broken keys, a non-functional direct Ethernet connection (on all connectors somehow), and some other stuff.

So I have an exciting new Framework laptop coming as an early Solstice present! (It’s supposedly in Alaska right now, on the way here in under a week or so.) Inspired, like so many other people, by Cory Doctorow’s glowing review. We’ll see if I am frustrated by the Intel graphics chipset. I’m pretty optimistic, as what I want to run isn’t like the latest AAA game; more like WoW and SecondLife and the GIMP and No Man’s Sky and Satisfactory. I might have to turn the resolution down some at worst I expect.

(In the meantime I’ve been using my phone and this tiny cheap Samsung Chromebook and just not using any of those programs; turns out my life doesn’t depend on any of them! The thing I’m most eager to do is get the GIMP going to work on Part 3 of Klara; in theory I could enable Linux on the Chromebook here and run the GIMP in that, but I rather doubt its CPU is up to it. Just typing this into the WordPress editor is lagging significantly just because I’m also watching YouTube and have a few dozen Chrome tabs open including like Discord and Mastodon and…)

There! :) Thanks for coming, and enjoy.

2022/10/31

Weirdness from the Copyright Office

A quickish update. I have said, and still believe, that things created using AI tools are just like anything else with respect to copyright. But recent events remind me that the Copyright Office is made up of people, and people are unpredictable, and US Copyright law is in many places a squashy mess made up of smaller squashy messes, so logic does not always apply.

Here is a currently-relevant set of data points:

  • I have registered the copyright on an image I made using MidJourney. I didn’t mention that I used MidJourney (or Chrome, or Windows) on the application form, because there was no place to put that; the form didn’t ask. The application for registration was granted routinely, without any complication.
    • I imagine there are hundreds / thousands of similar registrations from other people.
  • This person has registered the copyright on a work that they made using MidJourney (I think it was), and the work itself makes it clear that MidJourney was used. The application was afaik granted routinely, without any complication.
    • But now it appears that the copyright office has said “oh wait we didn’t notice that MidJourney thing, so we’re cancelling your registration”.
    • And the person is appealing, apparently with the help of MidJourney themselves. (Hm, they’ve also apparently deleted some of their tweets on the subject; lawyer’s advice perhaps.)
  • This person has applied apparently to register various images made with various workflows involving AI (dalle2 I think) to various extents, clearly stated, and rather than being just accepted or just rejected they’ve received emails from the copyright office asking them for details of what they did, and especially bizarrely suggesting that perhaps at least one of the works might have been “conceived” by the AI.
    • Which seems crazy, because the Copyright Office has generally had the opinion that software isn’t creative, and can’t (like) conceive things.

I suspect that things are just rather in disarray at the Copyright Office, and different examiners are doing different things, perhaps having gotten different memos on the subject, or just having their own different opinions about things. It will be interesting to see how the appeal mentioned above goes!

To me, it seems obvious that things created with AI tools should be prima facie registerable with the copyright office, just like photographs presumably are, and if someone wants to challenge based on some legal theory about either lack of creativity or derivative works or whatever, they can do that. The copyright office itself, I would think, would want to stay far away from any situation where they have to somehow evaluate themselves how many units of creativity are in each of the kazillions of applications they get daily.

On the other hand, the Copyright Office could simply issue some sort of guidance saying “We won’t register copyrights on works created with the significant use of an AI tool like dalle or MidJourney, so don’t bother asking” (and could even update the forms to have a question about it).

I think that would be dumb, and lead to court cases eventually that would either overturn that or at least cause a great deal of faffing about that they could have avoided.

But then people and government offices do dumb stuff all the time, so who knows! All is in flux…

And here is an image that I made using Midjourney. No matter what the Copyright Office thinks today. :)

2022/10/20

I hear they’re calling it “Jazz Cabbage”

Image

If and only if you share my neural architecture, I highly recommend taking a couple of doses of a nice THC edible just about an hour before any dentist appointment involving lots of pain (i.e. any dentist appointment). You may need to hang around in town for a little extra time after, to make sure you’re safe to drive home, but it’s well worth it (even if you accidentally have to eat two extra scoops of ice cream, but that’s another thing).

In my extensive experience (today), I find that it (the THC) has two complementary effects (man, either of those words could be spelt wrong):

Firstly, it drastically shortens the memory of pain. Or at least this was one of the deep insights that I had before the cannabinoids (oh, c’mon WordPress, that’s not mispelt!) started to wear off (and I had the thought “how sad, that these deep insights may be lost when normality returns!”): that most of the suffering from physical pain comes from the memory of the pain, not from the pain itself (there may have been other insights, that I’ve forgotten).

So when the hygienist jabs the spinning drill-head into one’s gums and presses it in (“Hm, you’ve got some bleeding on probes here”), one is like “heh, some pain!” like you just saw a (brief bright) shooting star, but a moment later it’s gone, and not a big deal, and pretty much forgotten (more than a real shooting star would be).

Secondly, it distances one from whatever it might be that is experiencing whatever pain is left. When there are big flares of pain, one experiences it as a sort of label (like one might see a large area of purple), but with the emotional content more like “Whoa, looked like that hurt a lot, poor body!”. Even when there was enough pain that the body winced or twitched or whatever, one was just observing it objectively, thinking, “looks like that hurt really a lot, tsk”, rather than getting upset about it.

I think my body’s reactions to the pain were perhaps, guessing, about half what they usually are. So there was still the initial motion / wince, but that slipped quickly out of memory (maybe the body, per se, doesn’t have much in the way of memory? that could be an insight) and so the physiological effects died down again quickly, not being enforced by consciousness-driving emotional effects (see how deep?).

Thinking about it, one major physiological effect that I associate with the dentist is a significant tightness across my chest and very tight breathing, and I have to consciously let go of those a few (several, many) times per session. I did notice that effect once this time, but similarly it wasn’t bothering me, I just casually noticed it, and consciously relaxed it away for the body’s comfort’s sake.

And that was all really nice. Another effect, or maybe a side-effect of the second effect, is that (as I think I’ve mentioned before) my attention gets considerably narrower (and possibly slightly deeper, but not as much deeper as narrower) than usual, and also it was sliding around all here and there, exploring other more or less nearby realities and planes of existence, and just checking in with this reality and the body now and then, not spending much time there.

So looking back it seemed like the torment part of the appointment was very brief (since, I guess, my consciousness and memory were mostly in other realities), but also occupied a pretty long and active time (all that exploring of alternate realities). Not alternate realities like hallucinatory hallucinogen things, but more attention or thought-region or abstract-concept things. Mostly pretty bliss-filled (because I live right?).

Normally I don’t notice one or two little squares of my Bedrock Bar (“Elevate your life”, about 5mg TAC per square), when all I’m doing is the usual stuff around the house. I took four once, I think, and I did notice that, but as I was just doing normal home things that day, the only effect is that I was aware of my consciousness bugging out to other realms and checking back in to see if I’d finished my sentence or whatever.

But apparently after a couple of hours, two squares (10mg TAC) is enough to make a dental appointment much more bearable than usual. Today. For me.

YMMV.

And all! :)

2022/10/08

Simulation Cosmology at the Commune

Last night I visited the Commune in my dreams. I’ve been there before, to the extent that that statement means anything; it’s a great dim ramshackle place full of omnigendered people and spontaneous events and kink and music and general good feeling. I’d love to get there more regularly (and in fact this time one of the regulars teased me for always saying how at home I felt, and yet only visiting once in a while; I said that it wasn’t that simple [crying_face_emoji.bmp]).

As well as having ice cream, I took part in a spirited discussion about whether this reality is just a simulation running in some underlying reality, and whether that underlying reality is also a simulation, and then eventually the question of whether that series has to eventually end in some reality that isn’t a simulation, or if it can just go on forever. (The question of whether we might be in, not a simulation, but a dream, and the extent to which that’s a different thing anyway, didn’t arise that I recall.)

I remember trying to take a picture with my phone, of some book that was interesting and relevant to the discussion, and of course it was a dream so the phone camera would only take a picture a few seconds after I pushed the button, and it was frustrating. (Also there was some plot about someone releasing very small robots to find and blow up the dictator of a foreign country, recognizing them by their DNA, but that probably counts as “a different dream”, to the extent that that means anything.)

Then after waking up, I took a lovely walk outside in the sun and 50-something air, and it was lovely, and I thought thoughts and things. So now I am writing words!

Anything that is consistent with all of your (all of my, all of one’s) experience so far, is true, in the sense that it is true for someone out there in the possible worlds who is exactly identical to you in experience, memory, and so on. (Which is in a sense all that there is.) And so it would seem mean or something so say it wasn’t true.

So there are many incompatible things that are true; it is true that you live in a simulation running on a planet-size diamond computer created by intelligent plants, and it is also true that you live in a simulation running on the equivalent of a cellphone owned by a golden-thewed Olympian deity who does chartered accountancy in his spare time.

It is probably also true that you don’t live in a simulation at all, but in a free-floating reality not in any useful sense running on any underlying other reality, created by some extremely powerful being from the outside, if that can be made logically coherent. And also that you live in a non-simulation reality that just growed, so to speak, without external impetus.

(I notice that I keep writing “love” for “live”, which is probably an improvement in most ways.)

The “if that can be made logically coherent” thing is interesting; in my undergraduate thesis I had to distinguish between “possible worlds” and “conceivable worlds”, because I needed a word for a category of worlds that weren’t actually possible (because they contained Alternate Mathematical Facts, for instance) but were conceivable in that one could think vaguely of them; otherwise people would turn out to know all necessary truths, and clearly we don’t.

So now given this liberal notion of truth that we’re using here, are the negations of some necessary truths, also true? Is there a version of you (of me) that lives in a world in which the Hodge Conjecture is true, and another in which it is false? Not sure. Probably! :)

That is, given that in the relevant sense my current experience (this present moment, which is all that exists) doesn’t differentiate between Hodge and not-Hodge, there’s no reason to say either Hodge or not-Hodge, and therefore neither Hodge nor not-Hodge is any truer than the other.

Eh, what?

It’s an interesting question what would happen if I got and thoroughly understood a correct proof that, say, not-Hodge. Would there at that point no longer be any of me living in a universe in which Hodge? Given that I can (think that I) have thoroughly understood something that is false, there would still be me-instances in worlds in which Hodge, I’m pretty sure. Which kind of suggests that everything is true?

Given all that, it seems straightforwardly true for instance that you (we) live in a simulation running in a reality that itself a simulation running in a … and so on forever, unlikely as that sounds. Is there some plausible principle that, if true, would require that the sequence end somewhere? It sort of feels like such a principle ought to exist, but I’m not sure exactly what it would be.

It seems that if there is anything in moral / ethical space (for instance) that follows from being in a simulation, it would then be difficult and/or impossible to act correctly, given that we are both in and not in a simulation. Does that suggest that there isn’t anything moral or ethical that follows from being in a simulation? (I suspect that in fact there isn’t anything, so this would just support that.)

It’s true that you can communicate with the underlying reality that this reality is running on, by speaking to a certain old man in Toronto. It’s also true that you can communicate with that underlying reality by closing your eyes and thinking certain words that have long been forgotten almost everywhere. You can even be embodied in a physical body in that underlying reality! You could make your way down the realities, closer and closer to the source (which is also an infinite way off!)!

If you were to arrange to be downloaded into an individual body in the underlying reality, would you want the copy of you in this reality to be removed at the same time? That would sort of seem like suicide; on the other hand leaving a you behind who will discover that they didn’t make it to the underlying reality, might be very cruel. Perhaps the left-behind you could be (has been) flashy-thing’d, per Men in Black.

Another thing that appears to be true: it’s very hard to use any of these AI things to create an image that accurately reflects or elicits or even is compatible with my dreams of visiting the Commune and having ice cream! Not sure what I’m doing wrong. Here is one that I like in some way, even though it doesn’t really reflect the dream. (The center divider is part of the image; it’s not two images.) Enjoy!

2022/09/10

A Photograph #MidJourney

As we’ve discussed, one of my favorite things is to give a text- or image-generating AI a vague and/or ambiguous prompt, and just see what happens. The results are sometimes kind of horrifying, but here I’m going to post a bunch of results that aren’t especially horrifying, and that are sometimes lovely.

The prompt for all of these is basically just “a photograph”. And what I really want to do (and I am realizing that there are various services out there that would let me do it without much fuss) is make a nice coffee-table book of these, accompanied by text produced by like NovelAI. Just because it would be neat.

What a world, eh?

2022/05/23

The End of the Road is Haunted (and a bit more Ruliad)

Two different and completely unrelated topics (OR ARE THEY?) today, just because they’re both small, and hearkening back to the days when I would just post utterly random unconnected things in a weblog entry those title was just the date (and noting again that I could easily do that now, but for whatever reason I don’t).

First, whatsisname Wolfram and his Ruliad. Reading over some of his statements about it again, it seems like, at least often, he’s not saying that The Ruliad is a good model of our world, such that we can understand and make predictions about the world by finding properties of the model; he’s saying that The Ruliad just is the world. Or, in some sense vice-versa, that the world that we can observe and experience is a tiny subset of The Ruliad, the actual thing itself, the one and only instantiation of it (which incidentally makes his remarks about how it’s unique less obviously true).

I’m not exactly sure what this would mean, or (as usual) whether it’s falsifiable, or meaningful, or useful, or true, in any way. My initial thought is that (at the very least) every point in the Ruliad (to the extent it makes sense to talk about points) has every possible value of every possible property at once, since there is some computation that computes any given bundle of properties and values from any given inputs. So it’s hard to see how “beings like us” would experience just one particular, comparatively immensely narrow, subset of those properties at any given time.

It might be arguable, Kant-like, that beings like us will (sort of by definition) perceive three dimensions and time and matter when exposed to (when instantiated in) the infinite variety of The Ruliad, but how could it be that we perceive this particular specific detailed instance, this particular afternoon, with this particular weather and this particular number of pages in the first Seed Center edition of The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment?

The alternative theory is that we are in a specific universe, and more importantly not in many other possible universes, and that we experience what we experience, and not all of the other things that we could experience, as a result of being in the particular universe that we are in. This seems much more plausible than the theory that we are in the utterly maximal “Ruliad of everything everywhere all at once”, and that we experience the very specific things that we experience due to basically mathematical properties of formal systems that we just haven’t discovered yet.

We’ll see whether Wolfram’s Physical Project actually turns out to have “vast predictive power about how our universe must work, or at least how observers like us must perceive it to work”. :) Still waiting for that first prediction, so far…

In other news, The End of the Road is Haunted:

These are in the cheapest one-credit mode, because I was in that mood. Also I kind of love how the AI takes “haunted” to mean “creepy dolls”.

2022/04/30

“The Ruliad”: Wolfram in Borges’ Library

I think people have mostly stopped taking Stephen Wolfram very seriously. He did some great work early in his career, at CalTech and the Institute for Advanced Study, and (with a certain amount of intellectual property mess) went on to create Mathematica, which was and is very cool.

Then in 1992 he disappeared into a garret or something for a decade, and came out with the massive A New Kind of Science, which got a lot of attention because it was Wolfram after all, but which turned out to be basically puffery. And a certain amount of taking credit for other people’s earlier work.

Being wealthy and famous, however, and one imagines rather surrounded by yes-folks, Wolfram continues in the New Kind of Science vein, writing down various things that sound cool, but don’t appear to mean much (as friend Steve said when bringing the current subject to my attention, “Just one, single, testable assertion. That’s all I ask”).

The latest one (or a latest one) appears to be “The Ruliad”. Wolfram writes:

I call it the ruliad. Think of it as the entangled limit of everything that is computationally possible: the result of following all possible computational rules in all possible ways.

It’s not clear to me what “entangled” could mean there, except that it’s really complicated if you try to draw it on a sheet of paper. But “the result of following all possible computational rules in all possible ways” is pretty clearly isomorphic to (i.e. the same thing as) the set of all possible strings. Which is to say, the set of all possible books, even the infinitely-long ones.

(We can include all the illustrated books by just interpreting the strings in some XML-ish language that includes SVG. And it’s probably also isomorphic to the complete graph on all possible strings; that is, take all of the strings, and draw a line from each one to all of the others. Or the complete graph on the integers. Very entangled! But still the same thing for most purposes.)

Now the set of all possible strings is a really amazing thing! It’s incomprehensibly huge, even if we limit it to finite strings, or even finite strings that would fit in a reasonably-sized bound volume.

And if we do that latter thing, what we have is the contents of the Universal Library, from Borges’ story “The Library of Babel”. As that story notes, the Library contains

All — the detailed history of the future, the autobiographies of the archangels, the faithful catalog of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogs, the proof of the falsity of those false catalogs, a proof of the falsity of the true catalog, the gnostic gospel of Basilides, the commentary upon that gospel, the commentary on the commentary on that gospel, the true story of your death, the translation of every book into every language, the interpolations of every book into all books, the treatise Bede could have written (but did not) on the mythology of the Saxon people, the lost books of Tacitus.

Borges — The Library of Babel

It also contains this essay, and A New Kind of Science, and every essay Wolfram will ever write on “the Ruliad”, as well as every possible computer program in every language, every possible finite-automaton rule, and to quote Wolfram “the result of following all possible computational rules in all possible ways.” (We’ll have to allow infinite books for that one, but that’s a relatively simple extension, heh heh.)

So, it’s very cool to think about, but does it tell us anything about the world? (Spoiler: no.) Wolfram writes, more or less correctly:

it encapsulates not only all formal possibilities but also everything about our physical universe—and everything we experience can be thought of as sampling that part of the ruliad that corresponds to our particular way of perceiving and interpreting the universe.

and sure; for any fact about this particular physical universe (or, arguably, any other) and anything that we experience, the Library of Babel, the set of all strings, the complete graph on all strings, “the Ruliad”, contains a description of that fact or experience.

Good luck finding it, though. :)

This is the bit that Wolfram seems to have overlooked, depending on how you read various things that we writes. The set of all strings definitely contains accurate statements of the physical laws of our universe; but it also contains vastly more inaccurate ones. Physicists generally want to know which are which, and “the Ruliad” isn’t much help with that.

Even philosophers who don’t care that much about which universe we happen to be in, still want correct or at least plausible and coherent arguments about the properties of formal systems, or the structure of logic, or the relationship between truth and knowledge, and so on; the Universal Library / “Ruliad” does contain lots of those (all of them, in fact), but it provides no help in finding them, or in differentiating them from the obviously or subtly incorrect, implausible, and incoherent ones.

There is certainly math that one can do about the complete graph over the set of all strings, and various subgraphs of that graph. But that math will tell you very little about the propositions that those strings express. It’s not clear that Wolfram realizes the difference, or realizes just how much the utter generality of “the Ruliad” paradoxically simplifies the things one can say about it.

For instance, one of the few examples that Wolfram gives in the essay linked above, of something concrete that one might study concerning “the Ruliad” itself, is:

But what about cases when many paths converge to a point at which no further rules apply, or effectively “time stops”? This is the analog of a spacelike singularity—or a black hole—in the ruliad. And in terms of computation theory, it corresponds to something decidable: every computation one does will get to a result in finite time.

One can start asking questions like: What is the density of black holes in rulial space?

It somewhat baffles me that he can write this. Since “the Ruliad” represents the outputs of all possible programs, the paths of all possible transition rules, and so on, there can be no fixed points or “black holes” in it. For any point, there are an infinite number of programs / rules that map that point into some other, different point. The “density of black holes in rulial space” is, obviously and trivially, exactly zero.

He also writes, for instance:

A very important claim about the ruliad is that it’s unique. Yes, it can be coordinatized and sampled in different ways. But ultimately there’s only one ruliad.

Well, sure, there is exactly one Universal Library, one set of all strings, one complete graph on the integers. This is, again, trivial. The next sentence is just baffling:

And we can trace the argument for this to the Principle of Computational Equivalence. In essence there’s only one ruliad because the Principle of Computational Equivalence says that almost all rules lead to computations that are equivalent. In other words, the Principle of Computational Equivalence tells us that there’s only one ultimate equivalence class for computations.

I think he probably means something by this, well maybe, but I don’t know what it would be. Obviously there’s just one “result of following all possible computational rules in all possible ways”, but it doesn’t take any Principle of Computational Equivalence to prove that. I guess maybe if you get to the set of all strings along a path that starts at one-dimensional cellular automata, that Principle makes it easier to see? But it’s certainly not necessary.

He also tries to apply terminology from “the Ruliad” to various other things, with results that generally turn out to be trivial truths when translated into ordinary language. We have, for instance:

Why can’t one human consciousness “get inside” another? It’s not just a matter of separation in physical space. It’s also that the different consciousnesses—in particular by virtue of their different histories—are inevitably at different locations in rulial space. In principle they could be brought together; but this would require not just motion in physical space, but also motion in rulial space.

What is a “location in rulial space”, and what does it mean for two things to be at different ones? In ordinary language, two things are at different points in “rulial space” if their relationships to other things are not the same; which is to say, they have different properties. (Which means that separation in physical space is in fact one kind of separation in “rulial space”, we note in passing.) So this paragraph says that one human consciousness can’t get inside another one, because they’re different in some way. And although you might somehow cause them to be completely identical, well, I guess that might be hard.

This does not seem like a major advance in either psychology or philosophy.

Then he gets into speculation about how we might be able to communicate between “different points in rulial space” by sending “rulial particles”, which he identifies with “concepts”. The amount of hand-waving going on here is impressive; Steve’s plea for a falsifiable claim is extremely relevant. In what way could this possibly turn out to be wrong?

(It can, on the other hand, easily turn out to be not very useful, and I think so far it’s doing a good job at that.)

He also proceeds, hands still waving at supersonic speed, to outline a Kantian theory that says that, although “the Ruliad” contains all possible laws of physics, we seem to live in a universe that obeys only one particular set of laws. This, he says, is because “for observers generally like us it’s a matter of abstract necessity that we must observe general laws of physics that are the ones we know”.

What “observers like us” means there is just as undefined as it was when Kant wrote the same thing only with longer German words. He goes on like this for some time, and eventually writes:

People have often imagined that, try as we might, we’d never be able to “get to the bottom of physics” and find a specific rule for our universe. And in a sense our inability to localize ourselves in rulial space supports this intuition. But what our Physics Project seems to rather dramatically suggest is that we can “get close enough” in rulial space to have vast predictive power about how our universe must work, or at least how observers like us must perceive it to work.

which is basically just gibberish, on the order of “all we have to do is find the true physics text in the Universal Library!”.

It’s hard to find anyone but Wolfram writing on “the Ruliad” (or at least I haven’t been able to), but the Wolfram essay points to an arxiv paper “Pregeometric Spaces from Wolfram Model Rewriting Systems as Homotopy Types” by two authors associated with Wolfram Research USA (one also associated with Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, and the other with the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, and one does wonder what those institutions think about this). That paper notably does not contain the string “Ruliad”. :)

I may attempt to read it, though.

2022/03/20

I’ve been watching YouTubes

I’ve probably mentioned that sometimes I stream random things while coding etc, to keep the easily-bored parts of my mind occupied or something. For a long time I was streaming mysteries like Bones and Lie to Me, and I would get annoyed with them when they switched from self-contained mystery stories to long arcs about the personal and family problems of the characters (if I wanted soap opera, I would watch soap opera), and that segued over to police procedurals, which had both that problem and more or less toxic levels of copaganda and testosterone (looking at you, Jethro “Mary Sue” Gibbs). So I mostly stopped that.

I didn’t switch over to podcasts, because 90% of podcasts have (at least) two people on them, and they spend an annoying amount of time exchanging meaningless in-jokes and chuckling at each other. Which, even if I’m not really listening and only playing it for background, makes me switch them off.

So for reasons that I can’t recall, I started streaming some random long-form essay things on YouTube, probably based on my ongoing curiosity about the thought-processes of conspiracy theorists (so presentations and debunking of Q stuff, Flat Earth stuff, Sovereign Citizen stuff, Creationist stuff, MLM stuff, etc), and gradually I followed links and recommendations and stuff, and subscribed to some YouTubers and joined some Patreons and stuff, so I thought I’d list some of the stuff I’ve been watching. Let’s start with, like, my YouTube subscriptions in whatever order they appear in here, and see where that takes us.

Legal Eagle is cool; a smart and articulate actual lawyer talking about actual legal stuff, in an approachable but not especially dumbed-down way. Does both fun puff stuff like “A real lawyer reacts to TV shows with legal stuff in them”, and more serious stuff like analyzing impeachments and what international law means for people who invade countries.

Rachel Oates is a smart young woman with a fun UKish accent (not the last one we’ll see), who talks intelligently about her reactions and opinions on internet culture and all sorts of random stuff; I may have gotten to her via feminist or anti-creationist stuff. And she has a cute dog.

greencat01

Münecat is another smart young woman with a fun UKish accent (see?), and a more thorough investigative and technical bent (as well as high production values and some rockin’ musical numbers). I probably got to her via anti-MLM stuff; amusingly, her most recent essay is about Crypto and NFT stuff, and she draws parallels between that and MLMs beyond the obvious stuff that I’d already noticed.

The Non-Alchemist (did I actually subscribe to them? I don’t remember doing that, but there they are on my Subscriptions page, so likely I did) is a smart guy with no particular accent (whaat?) who does atheist, and anti-anti-atheist, stuff. There are a Whole Lot of YouTube channels that do that, this is one that I got to and noted.

Paulogia is another one; that is, a smart guy with no particular accent who does atheist and anti-anti-atheist stuff; more specifically “A former Christian looking at the claims of current Christians,” which gives him an interesting perspective. He (like some of the other people on this list) spends what seems an inordinate amount of time responding to certain I guess Big On YouTube but otherwise unremarkable creationist figures like “Kent Hovid” and “Ken Ham” (who are apparently, and confusingly, different people), but I guess it’s good that someone is. He does other stuff, too, though, and has some interesting guests (some of whom I may have wandered over to and subscribed to also).

Emma Thorne is perhaps the first smart young woman with a fun UK accent that I subscribed to. She does atheist stuff and anti-MLM stuff (and other stuff), and was perhaps the conduit by which I got from watching the former things to watching the latter things. She has lots of plushies and action figures and so on, and is a Satanist who starts every episode with “Hallo, lovely people!”.

Geeky Faye Art is rather completely different from those I’ve mentioned so far. Smart young enby, apparently (as I just noticed) in the UK, but without an accent (or, presumably, with an American accent), but less about atheism or pyramid schemes and more about making really cool stuff using 3D printers and little Raspberry Pis and whatnot. Which is fascinating, and something that I’m much more likely to watch than do myself. Also I just really like their energy somehow, inchoately.

The Illuminaughtii is a cartoon lady with a pyramid for a head (and no / an American accent), and does really detailed and thoroughly-researched essays on all sorts of things, including corporations behaving badly, MLMs, frauds, crimes, and a whole bunch of more or less related stuff. Hours and hours of good listening.

(I am finding as I go through this that I haven’t actually subscribed to some of these people, and have just been relying on I guess The Algorithm to tell me about new stuff they do; so I’m fixing that as we go along.)

The Lady of the Library (for whom I seem to have a “user” link rather than a “channel” link? I don’t understand YouTube) is a smart young woman apparently named Cinzia, with the (what?) plummiest imaginable accent; a pleasure to listen to. She talks about a bunch of interesting historical and academic subjects, often around Ancient Greece and Rome; I think I got to her because of one episode where she responds to someone who claims that the Roman Empire never existed (this is apparently a thing!). According to an Instagram post she struggles with low self-esteem, which just goes to show; if this person can have low self-esteem, anyone can!

Jenny Nicholson is a smart young woman with (no particular accent, and) a marvelous sense of comedic timing. She is / has been very into various fandoms, like Star Wars, Disney Parks, and My Little Pony, and talks humorously and with sharp self-awareness about it all. She reviews movies with a really impressive amount of critical acumen, and also did one episode about how she traveled to another state with some friends to pick up a huge plush Borg (edit: Porg (lol)) that she’d bought on ebay or something. Whether she’s doing that, reviewing a Major Motion Picture, or doing a reading of a really terrible piece of fanfic, she brings the same (surely there’s a word for it that I don’t know) deadpan perfectly-timed sense of humor to it, and I love all of her stuff. I joined her Patreon when I’d watched basically all of her public stuff from the last several years on YouTube.

Heh, there are more of these than I’d realized!

Lindsay Ellis is apparently a huge Twitter and YouTube celeb, who might or might not currently be on hiatus / offline, and who has been cancelled and the subject of much drama. She’s also smart and interesting and funny, if a bit (what?) jaded or something.

Strange Aeons is a smart young woman who seems like she should have a UK accent (what?) but doesn’t. She has an excellent modified Furby which is like three feet long, and talks about Tumblr culture, lesbian culture, her Sphynx Cat, and lots of other stuff. Always fun to watch.

Genetically Modified Skeptic is another atheist who used to be a Christian, even an Evangelical, and smartly covers various topics in atheism and Christian apologetics, and sometimes appears with other folks on this list.

Ask a Mortician is a smart deep-voiced woman who (wait for it) is a mortician, and talks about all sorts of interesting death-adjacent topics, like the faking of spirit photographs, historical vampire panics, whether it’s legal to mummify your cult leader, and so on. Excellent sense of humor, interesting topics, easy to listen to.

Jordan Herrod is a smart young woman and PhD student in machine learning, who talks about various AI-adjacent and PhD-adjacent topics. I got to her when I was first learning all about generative transformers and all (GPT3 etc). Some of what she says is very specific to people wanting to get degrees in machine learning (and I’m sure it’s very useful to them!) but most of it is more generally-interesting AI and learning stuff.

Samaneri Jayasāra – Wisdom of the Masters is a person with a silky voice and a perhaps Australian accent, not afraid of a profound pause, evocatively reading various writings in various wisdom traditions, including Buddhism and including Zen. I don’t think they say any words of their own, they just read the writings over calm and soothing background music. Excellent for depth.

And if I’m going to widen the list to include things that aren’t people doing long-form essays, I should add Karima Hoisan, who makes Second Life and Opensim machinima (which, I proudly but shyly admit, sometimes have my Second Life name in the credits for some scripting that I helped with). So much virtual world art is for whatever reason of the “broken dolls in a wasteland” school, but these aren’t; they are celebrations and depictions of basically everything human, often beautiful often funny often profound. She worked extensively with Natascha Randt, who we sadly lost recently.

(What happens to YouTube channels when the owners die? Has this started to be an issue yet? One might expect it’s been long enough…)

I could continue to other non-essay channels that I subscribe to, and get into like Susan Werner and Pomplamoose [sic], but that would become a whole nother post, like “Music I Listen To”, and I suppose maybe someday I’ll do that; but not today!

2022/03/17

More AI dreams

Timely: “ink sketch: the Irish countryside”

I tried to elicit some other appropriate Irish images, but this was the main one that I liked. :) Very green.

And then, unrelated and just at random, some “Enigmatic sketches found in the ruin” (with different random seeds):

Again I love these for the hints of things lying behind them, and am a little sad to think there is nothing there…

2022/03/08

The Things We Guess

For some reason I vaguely think of Mastermind as annoyingly confusing, due I think to edge-cases that are problems only in my imagination. Like, what if the target has two reds, but the probe has three, one of which is in the position that’s red in the target, and another one is…

As it turns out, this is not really a problem in practice, and people play the game all the time without having to have a philosophical debate about what response is correct in any actual case.

In Mastermind, the target can be any pattern of N colored dots, each of which is one of K colors; N=4 and K=6 for the standard game. In the “Word Mastermind” variant, the target is a three or four letter word in some language (English, say), and one is competing with the other player, so it’s okay if it takes lots of guesses, which is good because while a probe response may tell you that you have two letters exactly right, it doesn’t tell you which two.

8kCuxwZ7yVum6FPWordle (you probably know about Wordle, and apologies if you’re in the “Everyone shut up about Wordle!!!” camp) is a clever variant, in that rather than just being told how many “right thing in the right place” and “right thing in the wrong place” you have, you’re told, for each position in the probe, which kind of thing it is (right thing in right place, right thing in wrong place, or wrong thing entirely). This makes the problem much easier; what makes it much harder again is that you get only six probes (😱). It also has social-engineering stuff that turns out to be great, like there being only one per day, everyone getting the same one, and it being easy to share your results.

With those subtle but brilliant changes out there, a whole bunch of related “lots of information per probe, but limited probes, share to Twitter” (as well as some broader variants) games come into view, and given that we are all still bored out of our minds and at the same time overstimulated, many have caught on. All I’m really doing here other than talking to hear my own voice, is listing the ones that I’ve been playing more or less regularly. :) There are surely lots more (I’ve vaguely heard of a sound-based one, for instance, but never tried it); feel free to mention in comments!

I have I think a legitimately perfect record at Wordle itself, partly due to luck. I have a starting word that I always use, that I’m sure isn’t optimal but I don’t care :) and I always play in hard mode because although I can imagine a situation in which it would be a good idea to use one of my precious probes on a word that I know is wrong, it seems unlikely that it’ll ever occur. (The example in the image included here may be the closest I’ve come to that, but I prevailed!)

I have a not-nearly-perfect record at Octordle, which is just (“just”) eight Wordle boards at once, with just one additional guess allowed for each additional board (so 13 total). I do feel like I’m getting better over time, so that’s good. In general I’m not patient enough to plan my next probe with reference to more than like two boards at once, though, so winning for me mostly depends on winning each board with few enough probes that I have enough left for the rest. Or something like that.

(I gather that there is a four-board version also, but I haven’t played that more than once or twice. All or nothing, eh? YOLO and all!)

There’s the adversarial Wordle Absurdle, which is funny and evil, from qntm of the incredible Antimimetics Division stories. It doesn’t actually choose a word, it just gives as negative as possible a response to your probes, without eliminating all possible words. Which (unless I’ve missed a twist) means that for a given set of probes it always returns the same thing. The fun there is… I’m not sure exactly; maybe seeing how you can steer negatively through the space of words, and where you end up.

Going from words to numbers, we have Nerdle, which is just the same :) except that there are eight slots, the alphabet is 0123456789, +-*/, and =, and the target and valid probes are valid arithmetic equations (with exactly one “=” as the last non-digit symbol, for that matter, although that might not be required of probes I dunno). This is fun, feels the same as and also different from Wordle, and I think I have a perfect record there also so far.

Then jumping rather far (but there are lots and lots of directions!) there is Semantle. Here the probes are basically any word at all (although if it’s a word the game doesn’t know, you’ll get no signal), and the responses to the probes are similarity measures, in some similarity metric derived by some AI from some big corpus of news stories or something. You get as many guesses as you want; the instructions say it takes “dozens” (hahaha), and I think my best is like sixty-something, and typical is like a couple of hundred.

Playing Semantle is interesting; it’s feeling around in a very-high-dimensional space for the center of a big N-sphere, given just linear distance measurements, where the distance measure is a lot like our own feeling of concept relatedness, but is also different from it in ways that one is also feeling out.

“Hey, those words are basically synonyms, how can they have completely different distances from the target?” And then sometimes there’s an “Oh, that sense of the word” moment and you realize why, and other times there isn’t and you think maybe the AI is just weird.

I’ve definitely failed on Semantle, in the sense of wandering off before solving it, and then not wandering back until the next day when that one had expired.

So my routine now is that as soon as I think of it in a day, I do Wordle relatively quickly, start working on the day’s Semantle, and then or perhaps in parallel do the Octordle and/or Nerdle when I think of it. And occasionally go and poke at Absurdle just for fun. :)

2022/02/21

Imaginary Isles

Sometimes I try a random prompt that springs into my head, and fun unexpected things happen. Why this particular style of illustration results from things like “Detailed colored ink on paper, illustration of … island”, I dunno! Maybe there is a subgenre, or a few prolific flickr posters?

(Harder to search the web for similar images than it is to search for texts similar to GPT-3 outputs, but nothing obvious came out when I tried.)

But anyway, I kinda love these isles, from the dreams of a neural network… :)

Sunrise. Suns scattered around like big egg yolks.
The Towns
Carnival!
Sunset; good night!

And a few bonus images, with slightly smaller / sketchier settings. I wanna go!

2022/02/20

And all like that there

Back in the day (and especially back in the day), I used to just, y’know, chat a lot more than I do now. Rather than posting a particular thing about a particular thing, or a bunch of AI-generated images or whatever.

Speaking of which:

Ink on Rice Paper: Cozy

Why that is associated with “cozy”, I don’t know. Which is part of the fascination of this; exploring the odd mind of the AI. (See also of course GPT-3 and additionally Semantle for that matter, in the textual sort of area.)

I don’t think I’ve linked to semantle before, so there you go! I’ve become very much in the Wordle habit (even in the New York Times period here) (haven’t lost one yet!), and Semantle is also fun. It’s much harder, but on the other hand you get an infinite number of guesses. I realize in writing this that I got distracted and didn’t get yesterday’s, although I was within like two or three words of it.

(Long pause here while I do today’s Semantle in a mere 442 guesses, hahahaha. Toward the end there I was just typing random words that sprang to mind. In retrospect, though, it makes sense and I should have gotten it quicker.)

I also I used to use other fonts and stuff more often, because that is fun, and I used to write in raw html rather than in this WordPress environment here, which gets easily confused if you try to do anything too fancy, and often just deletes random markup that one might add in raw mode, oh well. Also it often looks radically different on my phone than on the computer here, in ways that I don’t have the patience or energy to look into to understand.

(Like, will this be in a different color everywhere? I dunno!)

I am reminiscing about Back In The Day, because for some reason that I can’t recall at the moment I was digging around in the ancient weblog on the personal site (whose front page still says “COMING SOON” and I really ought to fix that) looking for a particular funny story, and I read all various old entries while looking for it.

And also, I found it! Here is a copy of it, as well as that link there. The context (also interesting in itself) is a journal that I needed to get to someone in Indiana.

Then after lunch I took it down to the “Post Office”, where a lady agreed to take it to Indiana for me. I also had to buy her a little paper package to carry it there in. (That seemed sort of odd; why didn’t she just factor the package into the price of the service, the way she presumably does with gas fare and stuff?)

I’m not sure she’s really got a viable business model going here; the price was so cheap! I mean, she agreed to take the journal to Indiana (a particular place in Indiana, even) for like six bucks (including the price of the little paper package). I gather that there’s an economy-of-scale thing here, that she waits until she’s got a bunch of things all going to Indiana, and takes them all at once, to save on travel costs. But she also promised to get it there in just two days, so if no one else comes in and wants her to take something to Indiana by Wednesday, she’ll have to go there on just my six bucks, and there’s no way that that’ll even cover her costs.

(She’s probably got to pay someone to keep the place open while she’s going to Indiana and back, also; and then there’s rent, and utilities, and all sorts of other stuff.)

Probably she’s selling at a loss right now to get people used to being able to send things cheap, and she’ll raise prices later, once she’s got mind share. Sorta like pets.com did so well!   *8)

Still, it was nice that she was still in business today, so I didn’t have to, like, drive to Indiana myself…

Apparently this lady or her successors are still in business, which is nice!

That journal was part of a project which is probably (although not certainly) the same as this 1000 Journals Project, about which there is apparently a book and a documentary and stuff, which is pretty cool. I had (briefly) number 278, about which the old weblog talks a bit. Do go take a look! I wonder if it still survives, somewhere out there. Or even in the book or documentary!

There is some extra space for eyes

So that was all fun to discover and reminisce about. (Ha, I’d forgotten that I scanned the whole thing and burned it onto CD (remember “CDs”?) and included a copy of it in a little paper slipcase inside the journal itself. How clever of me!!

Hi-Tech Comix!

One thing that’s rather different from Back In The Day (in addition to having less control over the HTML, and not being in the habit of doing one catch-all entry per day, with the date as the title), is that I no longer feel guilty about putting more-or-less-huge images in the weblog here. On the assumption, I guess, that hardly anyone is reading this on like a 4096 bps modem or something. (But if anyone is, or is otherwise bothered by all of the huge images, do let me know! You can even leave a comment right here in the weblog and I might notice it.)

I am still very enamored of NightCafe and the inexpressibly vast universe of images that it’s willing to create. It feels (still) like I’m a tiny kid wandering through a vast library of lavishly illustrated books, dashing joyfully from shelf to shelf, delighted and overwhelmed.

I felt roughly that way about GPT-3 for quite a while, too, only with words instead of pictures; and, as the structure of these words hints, I don’t really feel that way anymore, at least not at the moment. I’m not certain how or why, but one theory that I have is that I gradually came to realize that there is no “there” there; that is, as far as I can tell, when interacting with a GPT-3 or NovelAI model, it’s easy to feel like the funny and crazy and suggestive things make sense in light of some thoughts or model of the world or way of thinking, and that by continuing to interact with it, one will come to know more about that way of thinking, and that’s cool. But after interacting with it for awhile, that seems less likely, or at least it’s more like “this writes stuff superficially like random fanfiction but without even that much sense to it” than it is like “wow, this crazy alien being I’m talking to sure has some interesting ideas!”.

I can easily imagine the same kind of thing happening with NightCafe; looking at the panel from “Hi-Tech Comix!” up there, my first fascinated reaction is that those enigmatic machines and blurred speech bubbles must be About Something, must be Saying Something in some enigmatic language and universe into which the image offers us a preliminary glimpse. But perhaps one ultimately realizes that it isn’t; it’s just a mindless imitation of stuff on Flickr or whatever.

If indeed that’s all it is. :)

What else what else? The family still exists and prospers. The little daughter is working remotely from Queens for an IT company (“IT company”) and going to tango events again now that there are vaccines and things are opening up somewhat. M and the little boy and I still live here in the ‘burbs, but I went in to work in Chelsea a couple of days last week (yay!), and I intend to do the same this coming week.

It’s wild how, after living up here and barely visiting the City at all for decades, once I started working down there I fell in love with the place, and have been going somewhat crazy not being able to get in for months and months.

Ah, Chelsea, how I missed ya!

I skipped my usual bowl of cold cereal at home, and got a Bacon Egg an’ Cheese on a Roll, Salt, Pepper, Ketchup from the vendor on the way to work the other day. It was glorious.

So that is a nice completely random weblog entry, as in Back in the Day. Now I will probably generate many more images (Twitter link assuming it works, and NightCafe link similarly), and perhaps play some Computer Games (although I’m kind of plateaued on everything I play, including WoW and Satisfactory and No Man’s Sky, but that doesn’t always stop me), and perhaps read some books (Oh, I was thinking I should do a weblog entry on a couple of rather meta books that I finished lately, maybe I will some time), fight some entropy, and/or go for a walk in the sunny chilly day.

Blessed be!

2022/02/19

The Adventures of Hugo and the Lamb

A comic strip from NightCafe. In a variety of styles.

Episode 1: We meet Hugo, and the Lamb
Episode 2: At the Bridge
Episode 3: A twist!
Episode 4: The Sign
Episode 5: Return to the Source
Episode 6: The Lamb Considers
Episode 7: The Puzzle
Episode 8: A Dark Turn
Episode 9: The Nightmare
Episode 10: The Baker You Meet In Heaven
Episode 11: Resolution
Episode 12: Returning Home

Special bonus content: Coming This Summer, Hugo and the Lamb, the Motion Picture!

Publicity Still
2022/02/16

Manuscript with ominous drawings

… all that was found at the scene was …

2022/02/06

Night Life

Waiting
Frightened business men with lamps
concept art film noir, library with lamps
concept art film noir, wonderful mechanisms
concept art film noir, street scene
concept art film noir, dancers
concept art film noir, cafe
concept art film noir, We are so happy to see you
The Latest Thing
concept art film noir, The nuns return to the air
concept art film noir, coffee
concept art film noir, Night Life
concept art film noir, hearts of sweet gold
concept art film noir, singers of fire and ice
concept art film noir, the hum of the crowds
concept art film noir, when the parade goes by
concept art film noir, finally to sleep
2022/02/03

Welcome to Yeni Cavan

Welcome to Yeni Cavan; The Shade
Yeni Cavan, called The Shade.
A city, a maze, a warren, a million lights in the smog.
Yeni Cavan; street scene I
Always happy to help a newcomer.
Yeni Cavan; street scene II
Y’can trust me, for sure.
Detailed steampunk cyberpunk noir
Avoid the caps and capes, just sayin’.
Detailed steampunk cyberpunk noir
A fine choice, y’won’t regret it.
Detailed steampunk cyberpunk noir gunfight
Across the square, left at the red alley.
Look confident.
Yeni Cavan street dancers
Street dancers
Dancers in midair
and midair dancers
Orbis and Kline, Hostelers
Happy to get to our hotel.
Fine Dining in Yeni Cavan
Fine Dining
Standard Equipment
One is provided free in every room.
Rental Car
Yeni Cavan rental car
The Dashboard
User Interface Design
Lovers in The Shade
So close that they share
a single endocrine system.
Manufactory
The fabled Manufactory
Detailed steampunk cyberpunk noir skyline
It’s always twilight here.