Posts tagged ‘ai’

2023/01/18

The Klara Trilogy is done!

The story of Klara, written by me channeling the Collective Unconscious, illustrated by me using Midjourney, and narrated and set to music and videographed by the talented Karima Hoisan, is finally finished!

I originally thought it was finished at the end of the first forty-frame thing; and then when I did Part Two at about the same length, I thought it was finished; and now having struggled for months on Part Three I’m pretty sure it actually is done. :)

Having just watched Karima’s videos of all three parts in order (playlist here!), I’m glad various viewers convinced me not to stop at one or two parts. It’s pretty good!

And I say this with all modesty; I feel like this story came through me, more than like it is something that I did. The comments over in Karima’s weblog, and her narration, have suggested various meanings and facets to me that I hadn’t thought of before.

In terms of the experience of creating it, it’s been interesting to see the various phases of interaction with the AI tool. I started out Part One by creating various variations of the prompt “detailed surrealism” on the v3 engine on Midjourney, and then weaving the story around pretty much whatever came out.

It happens that in v3, that prompt pretty reliably produces scenes from a stylistically coherent universe, including the MJ Girl, who plays the part of Klara in the first two parts. In Part Two, I had a bit more of an idea of what I wanted to happen, in a general way, but continued using v3 and the same prompt. This required somewhat more work, because it would produce images that didn’t fit with the story I wanted, so I had to put those aside and make more. But the style was at least not much trouble.

Part Three was quite different. For plot reasons, being in basically a different reality, the style needed to be different. It was relatively easy to do that, by using the “test” and “testp” engines, either alone or by “remastering” images made under v3. But the resulting images, while different from those of the first two parts, weren’t nearly as consistent among themselves as those of parts one and two. So I had to play around a lot more with the workflows and the prompts, and produce quite a few more pictures, to get a reasonably consistent style.

The style of Part Three still shifts around quite a bit; the flavor of the city, the color of Klara’s hair, the cat’s fur, and many other things change somewhat from panel to panel, but I wanted a nice mixture of consistent and in flux; and that took work!

Then there was the Story issue. The beginning “recap” part of Part Three was relatively easy that way, summarizing the story of the first two parts from a different point of view. But then I quickly got stuck; I wanted to do something more satisfying and less random than I would get by letting the AI’s raw output drive the action. For whatever reason, it took me quite awhile to find the story thread that I liked, and then about as long to create (or obtain, if you prefer!) the images to go with it.

(The images still drove the narrative to some extent; for instance the firefly line, which I adore, was inspired by the image that goes with it, not vice-versa.)

But finally I finished! :) And Karima made the video in record time, and there it is! Woooo!

I keep feeling like I should make it into good PDFs, or something (even) more readable, and officially post links to that; maybe even have it printed somewhere onto atoms. On the other hand, without the narrative and music and video, it would hardly be the same… :)

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. :)

2022/12/16

Some light infringement?

I think I have said on a few occasions that for instance a class-action copyright lawsuit against Copilot might not bear directly on AI art tools like Midjourney, to the extent that CoPilot apparently does tend to copy from its training set verbatim (and unattributed) whereas (I thought at the time) Midjourney doesn’t.

Well, it turns out that Midjourney does, maybe, to an extent. For maybe a few works?

The one that’s gotten the most attention is the 1984 photograph of Sharbat Gula by Steve McCurry, popularly known as “Afghan Girl“. The strings “afghan girl” and (haha) “afgan girl” are prohibited in Midjourney prompts at the moment. (“The phrase afghan girl is banned. Circumventing this filter to violate our rules may result in your access being revoked.”) And this is apparently because that phrase all by itself elicits what are arguably just slight variations of the original.

There’s a Twitter post that claims to show this, but I’m not certain enough it’s real to link to it. Also it’s on Twitter. But I can say that entering similar non-banned phrases like “young Afghan woman” also produce images that are at least quite similar to the photo of Gula, more similar than I would have expected. Given the size of the Midjourney training set, that image in association with those words must occur a lot of times!

(Update: it seems likely that the most widely-circulated image purporting to show Midjourney spontaneously generating close copies of the Gula “Afghan Girl” picture, is not actually that: it was made by giving the AI a copy of the original photo (!) and the prompt “afghan girl, digital art”. That the AI can make a copy of a work, given a copy of the work, is no surprise! Evidence, on a link probably usable only if you’re logged into Midjourney, is here. Given the further examples below, this doesn’t entirely undercut the point, but it’s interesting.)

The other example that I know of is “Starry Night”, which brings up variations of the van Gogh piece. This one’s out of copyright :) so I have no qualms about posting what I got:

Four variations on van Gogh's "Starry Night" ("De sterrennacht"), all with the swirly sky, tree to the left, buildings with lighted windows in the background, hills in the distance, crescent moon upper-right, blobby stars, etc.

Pretty obviously derivative in the usual sense. Derivative Work in the legal sense? I have no idea, and copyright law is sufficiently squishy and subjective that there is probably not a correct answer until and unless explicitly litigated, or the legal landscape otherwise changes significantly.

Are there other short phrases that will home in on a particular famous image? “Mona Lisa” (also out of copyright) certainly seems to:

Four variants of the Mona Lisa, all markedly worse than the original, but all very recognizable.

Interesting and/or hideous variations, but still instantly recognizable.

What else might we try? “Migrant Mother” produces images that I think are clearly not derivative works:

Four rather striking monochrome images of a woman and child, in various poses and garments, with variously creepy-looking hands.

Striking perhaps, ruined by the bizarre hands perhaps, in the same general category as the photo by Lange, but clearly of different people, in different positions, and so on. It’s not “plagiarizing” here, at any rate.

What if we tried harder? Let’s explicitly prompt with like “Migrant Mother photo, Dorothea Lange, 1936“. Whoa, yipes! Is this out of copyright? Well, if not it’s probably Fair Use in this posting anyway, so here:

Four slight variations of the famous Migrant Mother photo, showing a worried-looking woman with a child hiding its face on either side of her.

Definitely derivative, and possibly Derivative. How about “Moon and Half Dome, Ansel Adams, 1960“? Well:

Four pictures showing an oddly-distorted version of Half Dome, a very large moon, and some evergreens. One also has a reflecting body of water in the foreground, another is framed by a stone archway.

This is definitely not the picture that that search will get you in Google Images; if nothing else, the moon is way too large, and the top of Half Dome is a bizarre penguin-bill sort of shape. I’m guessing that this is because there are lots of other Ansel Adams pictures in the training set associated with words like “moon” and “half dome”, and mushing them all together quasi-semantically gives this set. The origin of the penguin-bill I dunno.

Maybe “Beatles Abbey Road cover, crossing the street“?

Crosswalk, front guy in white, roundish car to the left, check. Derivative in various senses, for sure. More specific prompting could presumably increase the exactness.

So I think we’ve established, to the extent of the tiny number of experiments I have the energy to do, that Midjourney (and, I would wager, other AI art tools, mutatis mutandis; I could get a Starry Night easily out of NightCafe, but not a Migrant Mother) can in fact produce images, the production of which arguably violates one or more of the rights of the copyright holder. It is most likely to do it if you explicitly try to do it (giving the most famous name of the image along with the artist and ideally the year and anything else that might help), but can also do it by accident (innocently typing “afghan girl”).

This doesn’t mean that these tools usually or typically do this; the fact that you can get a copy of an image from a tool that looks like it involves copyright laws doesn’t mean that other images made with it also involve copyright laws. To use the usual comparison, you can easily violate copyright using Photoshop, but that doesn’t suggest that there aren’t non-infringing uses of Photoshop, nor does it provide evidence that any particular image from Photoshop is infringing.

The easiest way to think about the blocking of “afg{h}an girl” from Midjourney prompts is that they have made a tool, realized that it could be used to violate copyright, and taken action to make it more difficult to use it that way in some cases.

This all bears on the question of whether images made with AI tools violate copyrights; the question of whether making the AI tools in the first place involves an infringing use is a somewhat different question, and we might talk about it some other time, although I’m still feeling kind of burnt out on the legal issues. But I did want to update on this one particular thing.

2022/12/13

Hemingway, by Midjourney

I now have like 190 images in the folder that Windows uses to pick desktop backgrounds from; building on the twenty-odd that I posted here the other day. They are fun! But I’m not going to post any more right now; right now, I’m going to post some images comparing the various Midjourney engines (which they have generously kept all of online). I’m going to use the prompt “Hemingway’s Paris in the rain”, because why not! We can do other prompts some other time.

For most of these (all but “test” and “testp” I think), it produced four images, and I chose one to make bigger. Otherwise (except as noted) these are all just one-shots on that prompt. I’m going to paste them in more or less full-size, and let WordPress do what it will. Click on an image might or might not bring up a larger version or something who knows.

Here is the quite historical v1:

A rather vague but definitely rainy image of Hemingway's Paris in the rain. There is a tall black tower to the left that may be inspired by the Eiffel Tower, but resembles it only vaguely.

Here, similarly, is v2:

Another vague and rainy, perhaps slightly less streaky, image of Hemingway's Paris in the rain. A possible bit of Eiffel Tower inspired tower shows over the buildings to the right.

I rather like both of these; they are impressionistic, which I like, and I suspect it’s mostly because that’s the best they can do in rendering things.

Here is “hd”, which may be the same thing as v1 or v2 I’m not sure; this particular image is more strongly monochrome and sort of vintage-looking photo-wise:

A somewhat blurry and rainy of an old city square with some people in it, some with umbrellas. Could be Hemingway's Paris; no towers evident.

Now v3, which is pretty much when I started using Midjourney; it’s interesting how impressionistic this is, given that we know v3 can also do rather more realistic stuff (all of this, for instance, was v3):

A rather impressionistic drawing, perhaps in charcoal, with a somewhat Eiffelish tower to the left. Definitely rain, likely Paris.

Between v3 and v4, we had this engine, lyrically named “test” (I used the additional “creative” flag, because why wouldn’t one?); one is getting a bit more photographic here:

A slightly less vague still image of Paris in the rain, black and white, umbrellas, and so on.

and here is the “testp” variant of “test”; the “p” is supposed to be for “photographic”; I used the “creative” flag here also. It’s not notably more photographic than “test” in this case; maybe it’s the rain:

Another rainy city street, monochrome, a few cars, shiny impressionistic pavement, townhouses.

Now brace yourself a bit :) because here is the first version of v4 (technically in terms of the current switches it’s “v 4” and “style 4a”):

A soft-edge realistic painting of a Paris street in the rain, in muted but glowing colors. A few people walking in the distance are vague but convincing shapes. The Eiffel Tower is visible in the distance.

Yeah, that’s quite a difference. We have colors, we have lanterns casting light, we have very definite chairs and awnings and things. But now, the current v4 (“style 4b” which is I think currently the v4 default):

A rather realistic painting of vintage Paris in the rain; a couple of old-style cards on the street, their headlights and the lights of the shops reflecting in the wet pavement. Shopfronts and awnings, people in identifiable clothing. There are words on a couple of the shopfronts, but they are unintelligible: something like PHASESILN for instance.

Yeah, that’s gotten rather realistic, hasn’t it? It’s even trying to spell out the signs on shopfronts, even if it hasn’t really mastered language. But those cars are extremely car-like and detailed compared to anything earlier.

Can this currently-fanciest engine give us something a bit more like the atmosphere of the older ones, if we want that? Basically yes, if we ask for it. Here is the latest v4 again, with “impressionistic” added to the prompt:

Yet another wet rainy city street scene, again in full convincing muted color, but more impressionistic than the last. Again we have people (and hats) and umbrellas and shopfronts, but no attempt at individual letters on signs.

I rather like that! And “monochrome” would make it monochrome, and so on.

It’s perhaps interesting that the more recent engines were less insistent that pictures of Paris include the Eiffel Tower. Possibly just the random number generator, given how tiny our sample is here, but possibly significant in some way.

So there we are, nine probably rather enormous pictures of Hemingway’s Paris in the rain, as conceived by various stages of development of the Midjourney AI, and with only very minimal human fiddling around (picking the prompt and the one to feature from each set of four, having the idea to compare the versions in the first place, and like that) by me.

Comments welcome as always, or just enjoy the bits. :)

2022/12/04

Omelas, Pascal, Roko, and Long-termism

In which we think about some thought experiments. It might get long.

Omelas

Ursula K. LeGuin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” is a deservedly famous very short story. You should read it before you continue here, if you haven’t lately; it’s all over the Internet.

The story first describes a beautiful Utopian city, during its Festival of Summer. After two and a half pages describing what a wise and kind and happy place Omelas is, the nameless narrator reveals one particular additional thing about it: in some miserable basement somewhere in the city, one miserable child is kept in a tiny windowless room, fed just enough to stay starvingly alive, and kicked now and then to make sure they stay miserable.

All of the city’s joy and happiness and prosperity depends, in a way not particularly described, on the misery of this one child. And everyone over twelve years old in the city knows all about it.

On the fifth and last page, we are told that, now and then, a citizen of Omelas will become quiet, and walk away, leaving the city behind forever.

This is a metaphor (ya think?) applicable whenever we notice that the society (or anything else) that we enjoy, is possible only because of the undeserved suffering and oppression of others. It suggests both that we notice this, and that there are alternatives to just accepting it. We can, at least, walk away.

But are those the only choices?

I came across this rather excellent “meme” image on the Fedithing the other day. I can’t find it again now, but it was framed as a political-position chart based on reactions to Omelas, with (something like) leftists at the top, and (something like) fascists at the bottom. “Walk away” was near the top, and things like “The child must have done something to deserve it” nearer the bottom. (Pretty fair, I thought, which is why I’m a Leftist.)

It’s important, though, that “Walk away” wasn’t at the very top. As I recall, the things above it included “start a political movement to free the child”, “organize an armed strike force to free the child”, and “burn the fucking place to the ground” (presumably freeing the child in the process), that latter being at the very top.

But, we might say, continuing the story, Omelas (which is an acronym of “Me also”, although I know of no evidence that Le Guin did that on purpose) has excellent security and fire-fighting facilities, and all of the top three things will require hanging around in Omelas for a greater or lesser period, gathering resources and allies and information and suchlike.

And then one gets to, “Of course, I’m helping the child! We need Councilman Springer’s support for our political / strike force / arson efforts, and the best way to get it is to attend the lovely gala he’s sponsoring tonight! Which cravat do you think suits me more?” and here we are in this quotidian mess.

Pascal

In the case of Omelas, we pretty much know everything involved. We don’t know the mechanism by which the child’s suffering is necessary for prosperity (and that’s another thing to work on fixing, which also requires hanging around), but we do know that we can walk away, we can attack now and lose, or we can gather our forces and hope to make a successful attack in the future. And so on. The criticism, if it can even be called that, of the argument, is that there are alternatives beyond just accepting or walking away.

Pascal’s Wager is a vaguely similar thought experiment in which uncertainty is important; we have to decide in a situation where we don’t know important facts. You can read about this one all over the web, too, but the version we care about here is pretty simple.

The argument is that (A) if the sort of bog-standard view of Christianity is true, then if you believe in God (Jesus, etc.) you will enjoy eternal bliss in Heaven, and if you don’t you will suffer for eternity in Hell, and (B) if this view isn’t true, then whether or not you believe in God (Jesus, etc.) doesn’t really make any difference. Therefore (C) if there is the tiniest non-zero chance that the view is true, you should believe it on purely selfish utilitarian grounds, since you lose nothing if it’s false, and gain an infinite amount if it’s true. More strongly, if the cost of believing it falsely is any finite amount, you should still believe it, since a non-zero probability of an infinite gain has (by simple multiplication) an infinite expected value, which is larger than any finite cost.

The main problem with this argument is that, like the Omelas story but more fatally, it offers a false dichotomy. There are infinitely more possibilities than “bog-standard Christianity is true” and “nothing in particular depends on believing in Christianity”. Most relevantly, there are an infinite number of variations on the possibility of a Nasty Rationalist God, who sends people to infinite torment if they believed in something fundamental about the universe that they didn’t have good evidence for, and otherwise rewards them with infinite bliss.

This may seem unlikely, but so does bog-standard Christianity (I mean, come on), and the argument of Pascal’s Wager applies as long as the probability is at all greater than zero.

Taking into account Nasty Rationalist God possibilities (and a vast array of equally useful ones), we now have a situation where both believing and not believing have infinite expected advantages and infinite expected disadvantages, and arguably they cancel out and one is back wanting to believe either what’s true, or what’s finitely useful, and we might as well not have bothered with the whole thing.

Roko

Roko’s Basilisk is another thought experiment that you can read about all over the web. Basically it says that (A) it’s extremely important that a Friendly AI is developed before a Nasty AI is, because otherwise the Nasty AI will destroy humanity and that has like an infinite negative value given that otherwise humanity might survive and produce utility and cookies forever, and (B) since the Friendly AI is Friendly, it will want to do everything possible to make sure it is brought into being before it’s too late because that is good for humanity, and (C) one of the things that it can do to encourage that, is to create exact copies of everyone that didn’t work tirelessly to bring it into being, and torture them horribly, therefore (D) it’s going to do that, so you’d better work tirelessly to bring it into being!

Now the average intelligent person will have started objecting somewhere around (B), noting that once the Friendly AI exists, it can’t exactly do anything to make it more likely that it will be created, since that’s already happened, and causality only works, y’know, forward in time.

There is a vast (really vast) body of work by a few people who got really into this stuff, arguing in various ways that the argument does, too, go through. I think it’s all both deeply flawed and sufficiently well-constructed that taking it apart would require more trouble that it’s worth (for me, anyway; you can find various people doing variously good jobs of it, again, all over the InterWebs).

There is a simpler variant of it that the hard-core Basiliskians (definitely not what they call themselves) would probably sneer at, but which kind of almost makes sense, and which is simple enough to express in a way that a normal human can understand without extensive reading. It goes something like (A) it is extremely important that a Friendly AI be constructed, as above, (B) if people believe that that Friendly AI will do something that they would really strongly prefer that it not do (including perhaps torturing virtual copies of them, or whatever else), unless they personally work hard to build that AI, then they will work harder to build it, (C) if the Friendly AI gets created and then doesn’t do anything that those who didn’t work hard to build it would strongly prefer it didn’t do, then next time there’s some situation like this, people won’t work hard to do the important thing, and therefore whatever it is might not happen, and that would be infinitely bad, and therefore (D) the Friendly AI is justified in doing, even morally required to do, a thing that those who didn’t work really hard to build it, would strongly rather it didn’t do (like perhaps the torture etc.). Pour encourager les autres, if you will.

Why doesn’t this argument work? Because, like the two prior examples that presented false dichotomies by leaving out alternatives, it oversimplifies the world. Sure, by retroactively punishing people who didn’t work tirelessly to bring it into being, the Friendly AI might make it more likely that people will do the right thing next time (or, for Basiliskians, that they would have done the right thing in the past, or whatever convoluted form of words applies), but it also might not. It might, for instance, convince people that Friendly AIs and anything like them were a really bad idea after all, and touch off the Bulterian Jihad or… whatever exactly that mess with the Spacers was in Asimov’s books that led to their being no robots anymore (except for that one hiding on the moon). And if the Friendly AI is destroyed by people who hate it because of it torturing lots of simulated people or whatever, the Nasty AI might then arise and destroy humanity, and that would be infinitely bad!

So again we have a Bad Infinity balancing a Good Infinity, and we’re back to doing what seems finitely sensible, and that is surely the Friendly AI deciding not to torture all those simulated people because duh, it’s friendly and doesn’t like torturing people. (There are lots of other ways the Basilisk argument goes wrong, but this seems like the simplest and most obvious and most related to the guiding thought, if any, behind his article here.)

Long-termism

This one is the ripped-from-the-headlines “taking it to the wrong extreme” version of all of this, culminating in something like “it is a moral imperative to bring about a particular future by becoming extremely wealthy, having conferences in cushy venues in Hawai’i, and yes, well, if you insist on asking, also killing anyone who gets in our way, because quadrillions of future human lives depend on it, and they are so important.”

You can read about this also all over the InterThings, but its various forms and thinkings are perhaps somewhat more in flux than the preceding ones, so perhaps I’ll point directly to this one for specificity about exactly which aspect(s) I’m talking about.

The thinking here (to give a summary that may not exactly reflect any particular person’s thinking or writing, but which I hope gives the idea) is that (A) there is a possible future in which there are a really enormous (whatever you’re thinking, bigger than that) number of (trillions of) people living lives of positive value, (B) compared to the value of that future, anything that happens to the comparatively tiny number of current people is unimportant, therefore (C) it’s morally permissible, even morally required, to do whatever will increase the likelihood of that future, regardless of the effects on people today. And in addition, (D) because [person making the argument] is extremely smart and devoted to increasing the likelihood of that future, anything that benefits [person making the argument] is good, regardless of its effects on anyone else who exists right now.

It is, that is, a justification for the egoism of billionaires (like just about anything else your typical billionaire says).

Those who have been following along will probably realize the problem immediately: it’s not the case that the only two possible timelines are (I) the one where the billionaires get enough money and power to bring about the glorious future of 10-to-the-power-54 people all having a good time, and (II) the one where billionaires aren’t given enough money, and humanity becomes extinct. Other possibilities include (III) the one where the billionaires get all the money and power, but in doing so directly or indirectly break the spirit of humanity, which as a result becomes extinct, (IV) the one where the billionaires see the light and help do away with capitalism and private property, leading to a golden age which then leads to an amount of joy and general utility barely imaginable to current humans, (V) the one where the billionaires get all the money and power and start creating trillions of simulated people having constant orgasms in giant computers or whatever, and the Galactic Federation swings by and sees what’s going on and says “Oh, yucch!” and exterminates what’s left of humanity, including all the simulated ones, and (VI) so on.

In retrospect, this counterargument seems utterly obvious. The Long-termists aren’t any better than anyone else at figuring out the long-term probabilities of various possibilities, and there’s actually a good reason that we discount future returns: if we start to predict forward more than a few generations, our predictions are, as all past experience shows, really unreliable. Making any decision based solely on things that won’t happen for a hundred thousand years or more, or that assume a complete transformation in humanity or human society, is just silly. And when that decision just happens to be to enrich myself and be ruthless with those who oppose me, everyone else is highly justified in assuming that I’m not actually working for the long-term good of humanity, I’m just an asshole.

(There are other problems with various variants of long-termism, a notable one that they’re doing utilitarianism wrong and/or taking it much too seriously. Utilitarianism can be useful for deciding what to do with a given set of people, but it falls apart a bit when applied to deciding which people to have exist. If you use a summation you find yourself morally obliged to prefer a trillion barely-bearable lives to a billion very happy ones, just because there are more of them. Whereas if you go for the average, you end up being required to kill off unhappy people to get the average up. And a perhaps even more basic message of the Omelas story is that utilitarianism requires us to kick the child, which is imho a reductio. Utilitarian calculus just can’t capture our moral intuitions here.)

Coda

And that’s pretty much that essay. :) Comments very welcome in the comments, as always. I decided not to all any egregious pictures. :)

It was a lovely day, I went for a walk in the bright chilliness, and this new Framework laptop is being gratifyingly functional. Attempts to rescue the child from the Omelas basement continue, if slowly. Keep up the work!

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.

2022/11/25

NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Forty-Six

There are books everywhere; this makes me happy. There is dusty sunlight coming in through the window; this also makes me happy.

Kristen and Steve are here; this is another thing, or a pair of things, that make me happy.

What are things? What is happiness? We both, we all, know the answer to that, even if we can’t construct a theory that accounts perfectly for all such facts. Or all such statements.

We’ve been back for a couple of months now. Whatever that means.

“I like Doc Zane-Tucker, she pays attention.”

“And she brought her cat over.”

Tibbs is curled up dozing on Kristen’s lap. Tibbs is not, at the moment, a shimmering place in the air.

“I think, technically, we’re cat-sitting.”

I think about cat-sitting, and cats sitting. I think about a large rough-skinned being, with a large but normal number of eyes, relaxing on the ground and letting my antennae investigate an interesting rock.

“Do you have any… memories, of having extra legs, or eyes? Or antennae?”

“I’m sure there was some of that.”

“But… remember Alissa and Sonorandelan and Glomorominith?”

“You remember S and G’s entire names? I’m impressed.”

I enjoy impressing Kristen. I’m showing off, and I’m okay with that. And maybe someday I’ll write monographs on what “showing off” and “being okay with a thing” mean.

“But do you remember being them?”

“Do you remember being Kristen or Steve or Colin? We could have sort of swapped around while we were out there; all six or eight of us.”

“Or being together in a virtuality that long could have mushed our souls all together.”

“Ewww, soul-mush.”

Does merging my mind with someone else’s and then separating them again, count as communication? Are there states or properties or thoughts in my mind, sort of copied over from Steve’s, or Kristen’s, or Tibbs’s, that wouldn’t have been there if we hadn’t experienced what we may or may not have experienced?

Counterfactuals are just forms of words. What would have happened if…?

And yet we think that way all the time.

“It’s nice here and all,” Steve says, “but it’s kind of… quiet.”

Kristen hugs him and agrees. “Bored already, babe?” she smiles.

“Not bored, exactly, I just–“

“It’s simpler here,” I venture. Because it is simple here. Simpler than many, many things I remember.

“Simple, is it?” she smiles, and reaches over and touches my arm with a fingertip, and I am pleasantly helpless.

“The cops shut down the desert rig meets,” Steve grumbles.

“So what do you want to do?” I ask, feeling somehow unwilling to settle down with my books just now.

“Well…” Kristen says, taking something out of a pocket. It’s brass and gold, with various dials and wheels. “It looks like there’ll be an Interstice Hawk within hailing distance in about an hour…”

“Mrrreow!”

The End

2022/11/25

NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Forty-Five

[urgent electronic beeping]

“Wuh…”

“What’s –“

“Uhh, where…?”

“They’re waking up! Page Doctor Tucker.”

[Crisp efficient sounds, clicks, rustles. The beeping stops.]

“There you go, there you go, it’s all right honey.”

“What happened?”

“They’re awake?”

“Can you talk to Bed One? Is Casey coming?”

“I’m okay, I think.”

“Can you tell me your name, dear?”

“Uhh, Kristen. Kristen Lewis.”

“That’s good!”

“Kristen? We’re back?”

“Hold on honey, can you tell me your name?”

“Steven Romero Diaz, are the others okay?”

“Bed three?”

“Hey honey, are you back with us?”

“Napping. Nice and warm.”

[Light laughter]

“Can you just tell me your name, hon? Then you can nap more.”

“Colin, you nut!”

“Hm, Colin something, Colin Pembly-Bartholemew Colson.”

“Pembly-Bartholemew?”

“He just made that up.”

“Oh, Doctor, here you are! They’re all awake!”

“I see! Have–“

“Whoa, yipes! How long were we, that is—“

“We’ll get to that. Give me your wrist now.”

Time passes. Eventually the three have been weighed, measured, poked at. IVs and catheters and other insults have been removed as gently as possible within the hospital context. Steve’s head has been imaged yet one more time.

“Still nothing in there, eh?” Kristen remarks, and he kisses her. The nurses tutt happily.

After a time, Doctor Zane-Tucker gently clears the room, and sits on a chair among the beds to which the patients have been returned. With their permission, she has her phone recording audio.

“We want to know everything,” Kristen says.

“So do I,” Doctor Zane-Tucker smiles, “but to start with: you have all been unconscious for just about ten weeks–“

“Less than three months?”

“Does that surprise you?”

“So much happened! We spent at least–“

“In the Alpha alone–“

“It was years!”

“One at a time, please! I expect you are all eager to know–“

“I don’t feel any bedsores; have our muscles atrophied?”

“You have been very well cared-for, of course, but also your muscles have maintained an… unusual degree of tone on their own. Every body is different. I would still caution you not to try any sudden movements. No standing until you’ve sat up, and so on. Someone from Physical Therapy will be seeing you later today or tomorrow.”

“What about Steve’s head thing?”

“We were successful in removing the foreign object, and the healing has–“

“Hey, Glomorominith took that out.”

“Oh, darn, I think we left it in the basement–“‘

“Of the old falling-apart house, right!”

“We didn’t really know we were leaving.”

“Do you three have some kind of common–“

Glances are exchanged among the young people.

“Common memories, I’m afraid so. Due to the virtuality? Or whatever?”

“I should probably be separating you, then.”

“Really? So we don’t have a chance to coordinate our stories? Like on cop shows?”

“It’s what I’d do, certainly.”

“But I’m injured, I need my emotional support friends.”

“Your head looks fine from here.” Kristen air-kisses in the direction of the bandaged head. Steve blushes.

But they let themselves be separated, for the moment. Beds are wheeled away.

“It doesn’t feel like a dream. Or at least it didn’t. Now my memory of it all is starting to sort of slide away, like dreams do, y’know.”

“How does your head feel?”

“Not bad, a little muzzy. The… wound has been healing okay?”

“Quite well. The soft matter was all stabilized, and we’re really good at rebuilding bone these days. There’s been no sign of infection, which is a worry in this kind of injury. The tests that were done, um, early on showed normal brain function. You’ll be having more tests tomorrow, but I think the odds are against anything concerning turning up at this point.”

“How long was the, um, artificial coma?”

“The medication was ramped down weeks ago, and you were entirely on your own that way. You just didn’t wake up!”

“Like Kris and Col.”

“Yes.”

“Was it, like, a malfunction in the virtuality caps?”

Doctor Zane-Tucker smiles.

“That’s not exactly my field.”

“Okay,” Steve says, “Oh, hey, do you have some paper and a pen? There’s some stuff I need to write down…”

Colin insisted on getting up and walking before his interview. Now he is sitting in Doctor Zane-Tucker’s private reception area. Comfortable but firm sofa, he notes to himself. Muted colors, soothing. The Doctor’s cellphone still recording.

“And you did attempt to come out of the virtuality, with the ‘ducking-out’ gesture?”

“Periodically, especially in the first few days and months. After a few subjective years, I think we all stopped trying.”

“I see,” she makes a note on her pad. “Can you estimate how much time seemed to have passed?”

“It’s not easy,” he says, “it’s all just memory. Like everything– I don’t know.”

“Things are becoming a bit uncertain?”

“Yeah, I don’t remember how we got to the Alpha. I don’t remember where Kristen got the magic pocketwatch or alethiometer  or portable orrery or whatever that–“

“Mrreow?”

“Oh, hello, cat! How is the cat business?”

“Ah, sorry,” the Doctor says, “get down, Tibbs!”

“Tibbs?”

“Yes, that’s his name. Is that… especially funny?”

“It’s rather a long story. But I guess that’s why we’re here, isn’t it?”

Later, Kristen is still lying comfortably in the bed, feeling the present and remembering how everything felt in her memories. Had it all been a virtuality in some way? Are there effects there that she can use in her own worlds? She imagines making a world that feels as vast as the rainbow stripe across the universe of Alpha and Omega.

“I understand your public virtualities have been getting a lot of visitors over these weeks,” the Doctor says when they have been talking for a while.

“Oh, no, are we celebrities? I don’t want to be a celebrity. Not this way, anyway.”

“It will be somewhat unavoidable, I’m afraid; your names and situation did leak to the media despite our best efforts. But the celebrity cycle is short.”

“Small comforts,” Kristen smiles.

“You may find yourselves to be objects of medical interest, longer than public interest. Virtuality researchers will be bidding on your time.”

Kristen laughs. “I Spent Months In The Universal Virtual, by Kristen Lewis, soon to be a major motion picture.”

“Something like that.”

“Do you think that’s what it was, Doctor? That we somehow ended up in some huge AI hallucination?”

“I don’t know, Miss Lewis. That may be a question for the philosophers. I’m concerned only that you three are awake again, and healthy.”

“I appreciate that,” she says, “I really do.”

Fling Forty-Six

2022/11/23

NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Forty-Two

“I see a spiral of green and brown, turning inward and outward forever. I see light and dark, hard and soft, near and far”

“For me it is more of a feeling than a seeing. I see sounds, and I hear all of the endless curving lines; I smell the fragrance of vastnesses.”

“And what have we here? What have we here?”

Alissa, Sonorandelan, and Glomorominith had moved into the center of the clearing just as twilight started to dim the light of the day. Alissa had guided them through a ritual vaguely described in the stories, going from stone to stone, including the one in the burrow under the arranged bark-pile, reciting words, focusing their minds, concentrating themselves in each moment, each carrying a fragment of the fragment of dried armoyse from that burrow.

“And let us sing twilight songs of concentration,” she had suggested, as they completed the circle and then moved into the center.

Many of her friends and neighbors back in the rich dark earth, storytellers though they were, would have laughed or expressed doubts about the solemnity with which they carried out the ceremony, Alissa had thought. But it felt right to her, for whatever reason, and S and G had carried it out with her, entirely without question or frivolity. They had each taken a mouthful of the armoyse leaf and let it sit within their feeding chambers, slowly dissolving.

And then the world had dissolved.

“Do you feel at all ill?” Alissa asked, thinking suddenly of her body, which seemed to be essentially missing.

“Not at all,” Sonorandelan replied, in a voice full of blissful abstraction.

They turned and wheeled in the air, or not in the air but in some colored space full of spirals and impossible fragrances and the sound of the universe singing.

It is odd, she thought to herself, that I have lost my own body, but I can clearly see the bodies of Sonorandelan and Glomorominith swirling around with me, transfigured into beings of wind and light.

“Hello!” said a voice from nowhere, feeling like rainwater running over her mind.

“Hello, hello! Glomorominith!” came the voice of Glomorominith from somewhere.

“It is good to see that sweet confluence being used again,” the booming world-filling voice said from everywhere.

“It is good to have found my way back here,” said the voice of Glomorominith, speaking in a way she had never heard Glomorominith speak before.

“Ah, dear sibling, you are right on time!” And the universe was full of beings, made of beings, every twig and every gust of wind, every place and every thought, a separate individual raising a voice in song, joyously greeting Glomorominith, and with perhaps just a little less delighted recognition also greeting Alissa and Sonorandelan, as they all swirled around and around without moving, in that place of smells and time and stems and stories and songs.

“Is there a meaning in your coming now, my darlings?” the voice, the voices, asked after a moment or a century. “Is there a thing that you need to tell us, or a place that you need to go? All is open, here.”

“It was time,” Glomorominith answered, voice full and booming and gratified, “simply and purely it was time. A map was dispatched and read, there was a rustling in the stems, and we met three beings from another stream.”

“Mystery,” the voices of the universe sang, “mystery and mystery, all is mystery!”

Alissa felt a wave of vertigo pass through her, almost as though her body existed again, but was immediately buoyed up by all of the souls around her. She remembered how simple everything was, how all wisdom has always been contained in everything, how there are no secrets.

“Is there something you would like to do, my friends?” Glomorominith asked, “Now that we have remembered how?”

“For myself, I am utterly content,” Sonorandelan replied, “to be speaking to you in this place.”

Alissa thought, swirling through the densely-packed nothingness. Would she like to hear more stories? To see the earliest stories being played out in the ancient times? To meet the great linguists and inventors of the past?

“I would like to see those grubs again,” she found herself saying, “I was never able to communicate with them properly.”

All communication is perfect, she thought, because all is part of the same whole. But still, I would like to speak to them again. They were interesting.

Fling Forty-Three

2022/11/05

A Saturday Morning in November

Midjourney V4 (well, an “alpha” version thereof) is out! As if I didn’t already have enough to play with.

That house, floating above the sea with some balloons and things, is typical of the results of my old favorite “detailed surrealism” prompt. And this:

is from the prompt “neutral prompt”. We can tentatively conclude that it likes cute fantasy houses. :)

Here is a v4 (alpha) Yeni Cavan scene:

which is pretty cool.

In other news, I’m over 8500 words into NaNoWriMo 2022 as of yesterday (I haven’t written anything yet today). I’ve also make a cover page for the book, which links to the first Fling, and each Fling links to the next, so you can start at the cover, and go through the whole thing in the right order by just clicking obvious things. This may partially atone for posting it as a bunch of weblog entries in the first place. :)

I made the cover image in (obviously) Midjourney, and then fiddled a little and put on some titles (and my Government Name!) in the GIMP. I note that the skills of professional cover designers are subtle and profound; the titles on my cover are obviously in the wrong place, a professional designer would put them in places that were so obviously in the right place that one wouldn’t even notice, and I have no idea what makes the difference.

Okay! Now I am off to make the header image for Fling Seven, and start writing. I think it will be more of Alissa’s story.

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. :)

2022/10/25

Figure Three

Another “fun corners of the AI’s network” post. These are all pretty much unfiltered and unretried and unmodified results with the prompt “figure three” with the current “test” or “testp” engine (v4 said to be coming soon!) on MidJourney. I have no comment except that I find them all wonderful. :)

(There are, typically, various women’s faces, and perhaps the word “figure” got us more sort-of-bodies than we would have gotten otherwise?)

2022/10/24

Klara, Part Two

Have you noticed, that sometimes one person is much more productive than another? :)

Due to my skilled collaborator on the first Klara video being one of those much more productive (than me) people, there is now a Part Two of Klara’s story, and that Part Two exists in the form of another amazing video on the You Tube!

detailed surrealism

Here is Karima’s post on the subject, and here is a direct pointer to the video itself (don’t forget to Like and Subscribe!). Images by me using MidJourney and the GIMP, words by me, voicing and everything else by Karima.

Given my comparatively relaxed productivity :) I may or may not put the largish (or even an edited smallish) pdf of Part Two up somewhere. Perhaps arranged with the one for Part One, in some organized way!

This is the end of Klara’s story for now, but one never knows; she may appear again, for Further Adventures, on other days. :)

I am still creating hundreds and hundreds of images; over fourteen thousand all together, MidJourney tells me. And NightCafe says I’ve done another “4.5K+” there. A handful in dalle2. Lots and lots in NovelAI because it is so fast, but it also doesn’t retain them or give any kind of count, so I don’t know! But let’s say around twenty thousand altogether. Rather a lot!

November is approaching, and I have no real idea what I might do NaNoWriMo-wise. Will I use Klara’s story in some way? Will I use MidJourney images? NovelAI words? Or just type a lot? Stay tuned! :) And enjoy these lovely videos in the meantime…

2022/10/15

Klara by Dale Innis & Karima Hoisan

Well, this is just too much fun. :) Very good Second Life friend and collaborator liked the little Klara piece so much that she voiced it and set it to the perfect music and made it into a rather wonderful YouTube! Definitely more accessible :) and more of an experience this way than the 327MB pdf file. Wooot!

Digital Rabbit Hole

Very excited to share with you all, this off-beat, pretty long (almost 10 minutes) surreal video collaboration with Dale Innis
Those of you who read me regularly, know that Dale Innis is a scripter friend who has collaborated with me and also with Natascha & I for the last 10 years and lately has been dabbling in all sorts of AI Art, especially MidJourney, which is a veritable game-changer in this blossoming field.
He showed me a pdf file of slides and a story-line, that he had made and I fell in love…fell obsessed, is a better word, to try to bring this to a way more people could see it.
This is how the project was born. I found, what we both agree, is the perfect music   Meditative Music and I made a voice-over and edited the slides into what you’ll see below.
This is a very slow-…

View original post 45 more words

2022/10/12

Klara’s Story (Part One)

So after I did “Ice Dreams” (50M pdf), as casually announced here, I did another graphic novel (to the extent that that phrase fits at all), or the first part of one, in a very different style and by a very different process.

For “Klara’s Story” (working title), I generated two-by-two grids of Midjourney images using the prompt “detailed surrealism” (a favorite of mine) and some variants thereof, and crafted some sort of story around the images (rather than using the AI to create images for a more-or-less known story).

I haven”t yet had the patience to pare it down at all, so here is the current like 327M pdf draft.

The huge size does make it a bit awkward and slow to deal with, but… there it is!

2022/10/09

More Visions of Yeni Cavan

I first found Yeni Cavan as a story and art venue, based on a bunch of words used as prompts in the pre-Stable Diffusion NightCafe, way back in February. Since then I’ve tried to find it in various other engines and things, casually and without much luck. But after playing with the engine flows and prompts and things some, here are some images from MidJourney that I rather like; sufficiently Yeni Cavanish, I’d say, although so far I miss the little random patches of bright purple neon and such. (Maybe I’ll try some of the other venues as well eventually.)

Yeni Cavan; interior room (image started in the –hd engine)
Yeni Cavan; room interior (love the comfy couch with the … circuit board? sitting on it)
Yeni Cavan; room interior (I’d like to be there yes)
Yeni Cavan; room interior (pure v3 I think)
Yeni Cavan; room interior (pure –hd I think; intricate!)
Yeni Cavan; detailed surrealism (whee!)
Yeni Cavan; adorable surreal bots
Yeni Cavan; more detailed surrealism!
Yeni Cavan; upstanding citizen
Yeni Cavan; City Waterfront
2022/10/01

AI Art and Copyright some more

I am losing track of the number of AI-based image-creation tools I have access to now. It’s not that huge a number, but it’s complicated! :) There’s at least:

  • good old ArtBreeder, which I haven’t used in ages, and which seems to have a potentially interesting new mode where you sketch a thing with a few shapes, and then type text telling the AI what to make it into,
  • MidJourney with the old V3 engine and the newer and lyrically named ‘test’ and ‘testp’ engines and mixmashes of those,
  • NightCafe, which was my main goto image tool quite some weeks, with the old Artistic and Coherent engines, but now also the new Stable Diffusion (SD) based “Stable” engine, and various workflows among those,
  • NovelAI which now does images as well as text; the images are also in a Discord bot, and it’s really fast; it uses some heuristic smut-blurrer (maybe just the standard SD one?) but the devs sort of promise they will eventually move it off of discord and then have few or no restrictions (similarly to their text generator),
  • and now I discover that I have access to Dall-E also, from OpenAI, which I have just barely begun to use (detailed surrealism).

The “you can’t copyright art made with AIs” meme seems to have withered (which is good since it’s not true, although nothing is certain), but my experiment to gather additional evidence against it has finally borne fruit (months before I expected it to, really): I have now registered my copyright in this masterpiece of mine:

A blonde porcelain doll and a worn teddy bear sit on a trunk, in a musty attic in light from the window

with the real actual US Copyright Office, who have sent me a real actual certificate testifying to it. The registration can also be found on the web (you have to go to that page and then search on Registration Number for “VA0002317843”; I have yet to find a permalink that persists, bizarrely).

I did it through LegalZoom rather than myself; it cost more (I think), but I was more confident that I was Doing It Right during the process. There were no questions about whether AI was involved, or about what software I used to create it, or anything like that. I did have to say that I’m the creator, of course, but since I am :) I don’t see a problem there.

Registering the copyright doesn’t mean it’s 100% correct, it just creates a legal presumption. Someone could still challenge it, arguing that I wasn’t really the creator at all. I think that would be very unlikely to succeed.

And in any case, here is a nice concrete counterexample to any remaining “you can’t copyright art produced with an AI” claims that might be floating around.

The image is, by the way, provided under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, so feel free to do anything allowed by that license. :) Knock yourself out! Figuratively!

Extremely generous friend Karima also continues updating the virtual world region “AI Dreams in Art” with things she likes from my Twitter feed, etc, so drop by! It is getting blushingly positive reviews on the Social Medias; apparently there are significant numbers of people who have heard a lot about this AI Art stuff, but never really seen any. They seem to like mine! :)

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?

2022/09/07

One Inside of Another #MidJourney

I continue having way too muchy fun making images with MidJourney (and NightCafe, and now some things that I can’t quite show off yet).

I’m realizing that I’m a little weird, in that most people seem to be interested in just how exactly they can get the tool to produce an image that they’re thinking of, whereas I am almost entirely into typing somewhat random ambiguous stuff, and seeing what fun things the AI responds with.

For instance, here’s a snapshot of a whole bunch of images made using the prompt “one inside of another” with various seeds and switches and engine flows and things:

two dozen rather varied and ominous images

I love all of these (there were some I didn’t love, and I didn’t upscale those, so they aren’t here). The first two got me:

It seemed like there was really something going on there.

These two are with a slightly different engine flow than most of the others, but are no less wonderful:

What’s going on here? Is the AI showing wild creativity? Is it just starting in a basically random place due to the vague prompt, and then drifting into some weird random local minimum from there? Is that different from showing wild creativity?

Clearly there are lots of pictures of faces (especially women’s faces) and rooms with windows in the training set, so we get lots of those, that makes sense. But why do we get two different images that are (inter alia) the face of a person holding (and/or confronting) some semi-abstract sharp object? Why are there two faces which are split in half vertically, and one half striped / pixelated?

And what are these?

One thing is certainly inside of another. Is that a coincidence? Or is the AI “aware” of it in some sense?

I feel like I could swim in this stuff forever! That is what I thought at first about the GPT-3 stuff, though, and that wasn’t true. :) Still, if it’s just that I’m still in the initial flush of excitement, it’s a very fun flush.

Oh, and somewhat relatedly, here is a stealth announcement of a new graphic novel (or perhaps picture book) based on MidJourney images. This time I generated many many images from the same (small set of related) prompts, four at a time, and then tried to construct a story that would make sense with them. Note that this version is like 327MB for some reason, so click with care: Klara, Part 1.