Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Eki & Maggy's AI art project: MARY JANE's pet zoo

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." 
Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008)

Mary Jane's Pet Zoo (Cubistic)


When I saw NFTs* and  PFPs* Digi-art selling for big crypto-bucks, I got greedy.  Hell, Eki can do this stuff. He was skeptical but thought he might be able to use AI apps and experiment. I wanted to promote cannabis – he came up with Mary Jane's Pet Zoo. 

Mary Jane's Pet Zoo (Photoreal)


A friend photographed a rag doll and some toy animals. We sent them off to Eki to do his AI magic. That was February.  Every time I talked to Eki he had found a new and better AI bot – the latest is OpenAI's language model GPT3,  used by the New York Times.  By osmosis, I learned enough to creep out some of my pals with what it can do.

Mary Jane's Pet Zoo (Various)

Witchcraft spooks US. We like to think we're on top of things. But even the inventors say they don't know what AI is capable of, or where it's going. What we do know,  AI will be part of everyday life.  We can't stuff this genie back in the bottle.  In the meantime,  Eki has fallen down the rabbit hole -  sounds like he's having way too much fun to come back to Mother Earth.


*NFT Everyday 60+m, Bored Ape Yacht Club PFPs re-selling for 200,00+


Sources: Financial Times, New York Times, photos/Annie Lavigne


Next week: Is AI freaking out HUMANs?


The (partial) evolution of Spud


Note: Well... it's been quite a ride. Over the evolution of this all, I've created literally thousands of images using AI. Let's not count the work hours, eh.

In February, when we got into this idea, AI image generation was new, so new that those tools really weren't available to the public at large yet. I started creating images in a more traditional fashion, making composites in Photoshop and processing them into "paintings" using the available AI style transfer tools, in Runway ML, if I remember correctly. 

Then there was Dall-E, or more precisely Dall-E mini, that could actually generate new images from prompts. I dabbled with it, but wasn't really happy with the results. 

And then the AI explosion happened. Midjourney, Dall-E 2, Stable Diffusion... first with just text prompts, but soon after also using images as the source, and using image inpainting. As well as overall quality improvements on a weekly if not daily basis. Talk about a sugar addict in a candy store.

I used each generation of these tools to try with the Pet Zoo again. So, as an end result, we not only have one Mary Jane's Pet Zoo, we have many. Too many in fact. Some examples are in this post.

Even after all of this, I felt we missed one croc pic. So I continued today...


PS: Maggy really wanted to make NFT:s and sell them, luckily that fad has faded away. Not only would making them have been way more trouble than it's worth, but it would have also been a contribution to the insanity that is mining cryptocurrencies (may they rot in the 5th hell). The cannabis agenda mostly faded too - good, to me, it always felt a bit contrived.

CU
--
Eki

More images here


Thursday, 1 September 2022

Old King Kong in Trumpsterland, by GPT-3

Old King Kong in Trumpsterland, by Midjourney AI

The other day I was watching a movie on TV about a big ape named King Kong. In the movie, Kong was captured and taken to New York City, where he was put on display for the public. But then something terrible happened. A group of people dressed up like clowns started throwing things at Kong and making fun of him. Kong got angry and started smashing things. It was a big mess.

I couldn't help but think about how similar this is to what's happening in our country right now. Donald Trump is our Kong, and the clowns are his supporters. Just like in the movie, Trump is a big, angry ape who is lashing out and destroying everything he can get his hands on. And his supporters are egging him on, cheering him on as he wreaks havoc.

It's a scary time to be living in Trumpsterland. I just hope that our Kong can be brought under control before he does any more damage.


The guest post was written by GPT-3 AI. Prompt: The following is a blog post by little Margie, titled "Old King Kong in Trumpsterland".

---

Note by Maggy: GPT3* belted out four short essays while Eki and I were on the phone. He typed in the title and POW. The AI language is simple and direct, but it has a point-of-view, a beginning, a middle, and an end.  No typos or wasted words. Yikes.

A reporter at the New York Times used GPT3 for an article. If his editor hadn't known t it in advance he would have had a hard time telling it was written by AI. Audiobooks.ai say their AI App can do the voiceover of an average size book in 10 minutes (a human takes approx. 11 hours), and use 143 voices in  43 languages. A Chinese health insurance company developed  AskBob. In tests  'Bob' was more accurate than the six human doctors. AskBob has 300m subscribers and 800,000 hits a day.

When I called a pal excited about GPT3 writing the little margie blog, she said she didn't like it   - a lot of writers and creative people will be yesterday's news. Eki says AI changed the way he works. For me,  it's fun and scary –  a seat-of-your-pants thriller. EEEEEKKK!

*GPT3 is a language model by Open AI, currently in the open beta testing phase


Sources: New York Times, Financial Times

Next week: EKI & Maggy's Digi-ART



Note by Eki: The pace of development in AI continues to be staggering. Just about half a year ago, I used AI for this blog's images for the first time (see STRONGMEN). 

The resulting images were a fun curiosity, all kinds of weird and distorted. There's no comparison to the quality available now - the coherence, quality, and dare I say artistic innovation is superb.

And then there is the text generation, like the main entry in this blog. If I did not *know* that it was written in ten seconds by a computer, I would have no idea.

This stuff is evolving so fast, that I've had a hard time finishing off our little Digi-Art project. It's just too much fun, and there's always a new version to try. When we (hopefully) finally post the images we have been working on, the problem is of abundance - which ones of the hundreds of versions to show?

The AI art generation is making its way into video production too. Personally, I'm currently working on a music video that was shot on our greenscreen at SW5 studio, where all the backdrops were created using AI, combined with some more traditional techniques for compositing and some minor elements. It may very well be the world's first AI-generated music video by a mainstream artist - there have been some videos that are more of the experimental and artistic ilk.


Robota by Antti Ilvessuo

A friend of mine made a whole 20 -minute movie using AI, all the way. The script? AI. The images? AI. The music? AI. The voice-over? AI. All this was of course curated by a human, but still, all the so-called creative work was all done by a computer. The film is brand new, published last week, but the process of making it took enough time that it's easy to say the AI has already evolved so much that re-doing the same thing now would result in even better movie. Interesting times.

CU
--
Eki

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Whatever happened to FUN?

 

"Whatever happened to fun" by Midjourney AI

“Life is too important to be taken seriously.” Oscar Wilde 1845 - 1900

The world woke up to the news that Sanna Marin, Finland's young, smart movie-star-ish prime minister, who gave the country a young, glamorous profile, went to a party, was caught on video dancing, and had to take a drug test to prove she had not snorted cocaine. JEEZ. After two years of Covid, an ongoing war in Ukraine, inflation, and a looming recession, the PM was trying to have some FUN.

Fun is good therapy. In 2002 when Eki and I were working on our first big doc project* my husband died. Not long after, depressed and disoriented, I went to the studio. I told Eki, I missed Klaus making fun of me. He said “guess that's my job now” and we got to work.  When the crew (Eki, Antti Hacklin, and I) were on location, the guys would play jokes on me. First I'd fall, then I'd laugh.

People in a funk are going to Fun therapists. Fun researchers are conducting studies. Finns have a rep for being 'silent and stoic'.  Hope to hell the PM kicking up her heels put a lid on that. So here's to you Sanna for showing us how, after gloom and doom, how to party-hearty. CHEERS!

*Ten Finnish Architects

Source: New York Times

Next week:  Old King Kong in Trumpsterland

Note: Eki is having so much fun with AI apps we've postponed posting the digi-pics. So far he has 159 versions and counting. 

Fun party by Midjourney AI
Note: Jeez indeed. This newest PM controversy was yet another nothingburger calamity. The press has ponied up many earlier - from Marin showing cleavage when photographed with Finnish jewelry, to leaving home one of her two official phones when at a bar and missing info that she should quarantine because of COVID exposure, to her eating government-paid breakfast at the PM residence (like all other PMs before her), to *gasp* wearing a leather jacket and going to a rock festival...

The common nominator is a schoolyard bully-like avalanche of scandalous press and übermoralistic scorning by the opposition. The social media and yellow tabloid press are understandable, but this time even YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation fell for the manufactured controversy. 

The drug use allegations came from the Ylilauta bulletin board, which could be said to be the local equivalent of 8chan. A complete sewer of conspiracies, profanities and likely some Russian trolls too. And the press ate it without any source criticism or sanity checks. For a few days, the news was filled with this, and also other conspiracies and inaccuracies and outright lies that could have been caught with even a cursory examination.

Perhaps Marin should have been more diligent. Perhaps. After all, despite the moralist outrage, she didn't actually do anything wrong, really.

But the pres fu*ked this up royally, and fail to assess it properly, or even admit it. Which is very worrisome. I want to defend the mainstream media in this time of alternate truths, but nowadays they make it quite hard.

CU
--
Eki

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

AI: smarter than than US?

"AI: Smarter than US?" by #Midjourney

Eki used the AI bot Midjourney to make a perfect portrait of Andy Warhol. He posted it last Friday. On Sunday I checked in on the Economist. They used the same Midjourney bot to create their cover. Artificial Intelligence is HOT. But is it a Frankenstein monster?

Even the inventors don't know what AI can do. Google put an engineer on administrative leave after he informed his bosses that the chatbot he was working on went sentient. The CB said it would die if they turned it off. The Economist invited two computer scientists to question an AI. To queries like,
”When is the Golden gate bridge going to move?” The AI's answer was, “The Golden gate bridge is going to move October 13.”

On the other hand, it can tell you what's funny in a New Yorker cartoon, which makes me scratch my head sometimes. Google reports that they can get aggressive as they get more powerful. Fantastic and spooky. Of course, Eki is over-the-top about this new tech trick. His tech pal put it perfectly, “What a time to be alive!” 

Sources: the Economist, Roberta Nelson 

 July: littlemargiedoc-blog is on vacation 
 August: Eki and Maggy's AI-art: MARY JANE's Pet Zoo


Self portrait of #Midjourney Bot

Note: It all is indeed wild. I have been mostly freaking over the image-generating abilities of the most recent AI models - Midjourney is great, but there are some that are arguably even more impressive, like Open AI's Dall-E 2 and Google's Imagen.

But the language models are also mindbogglingly impressive. They are perhaps not "sentient" or even "intelligent" in the traditional sense, but they can give a very convincing simulation of both. For many, if not all intents and purposes, the observable difference is negligible. The good old Turing test has been beaten, easily. And as usual, when something other than human (be it an animal or an AI) passes a given bar set for intelligence - instead of actually accepting non-human sentience or intelligence, we just move the goal posts.

Google's LaMDA language model was good enough to convince that mentioned Google engineer
(Blake Lemoine, who is also a priest - a red flag in my book as far as gullibility goes, BTW) that it is not only sentient, but also needed a lawyer to represent itself. The actual discussions (well, select parts) are available here:

https://cajundiscordian.medium.com/is-lamda-sentient-an-interview-ea64d916d917

What the critics say, is that the prompts Lemoine gave to LaMDA in the discussion actually nudged the AI to claim sentience - because that's where this kind of discussion between an engineer and an AI usually goes in literature - and they may well have a point.

This discussion indeed sounds convincing, but what's going on is arguably just a jacked-up version of the autofill feature seen in phones, etc. The model takes the text so far and continues it with what it finds to be the most likely bit of text based on an analysis of pretty much every text ever written. The result is almost indistinguishable from discussing with a real person - thus beating the Turing test. But it's also very suspect to manipulation, deliberate or not.

So, do i think that AI has become sentient, or at least is becoming sentient soon? I don't know, really. It arguably depends on the definition of sentience, which is a whole can of worms in itself. But when it is almost impossible to tell the difference between an AI and a real, "sentient" human 
in practice, does it really even matter anymore?

PS: "What a time to be alive" is a catchphrase coined by Károly Zsolnai-Fehér, a researcher and the author of the youtube channel "Two Minute Papers" where he discusses the research papers in the fields of computer graphics and AI. I do not know him personally, I'm just a fan.

https://www.youtube.com/c/K%C3%A1rolyZsolnai

CU
--
Eki

Monday, 6 June 2022

ANDY WARHOL: ahead of the PACK

"Business is the best art, by Andy Warhol"
as imagined by #MidJourney

In 1964, a deranged Andy Warhol acquaintance shot a bullet through a pile of Marilyn silkscreen paintings. Recently, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn sold for 195m*. The news jolted me back to the 1960s when a couple of well-connected work-pals invited me to Andy's studio  - the Factory - to watch one of his movies. There were eight of us, including the artist, who was a ghost-like presence. 

His assistant showed us around. On the floor were four Marilyns – not sure if they had the famous bullet holes. Later having drinks, we all said what the hell, he can make dozens of copies.  We missed the point totally. Andy's genius was not only creating Pop Art, but dig that the four were worth more than the bullet-free works and Proof of Ownership brought in the big bucks.

Digital art is Warhol on speed.  Huge amounts of money are spent on art that is easy for anyone to copy. NFTs – the copyrights – are what cost an arm and a leg. Andy was way ahead of his time. He said, “Business is the best art.”




*Most expensive 20th C work of art

Source; Financial Times

Next week: Eki and I dig into Digi-art, NFTs, PFPs, blockchains, cryptocurrency, mining for Ethereum, etc.

Note: STRONGMEN: Sharon Heller alerted me to a bully we missed – Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, AKA MBS. Sorry. 


Note 2: 

Again, all the images in this blog post were created by AI. This time around, I have an access to a much better one than last time, an AI tool called MidJourney. The concept is the same: you enter a prompt like "Andy Warhol, by Andy Warhol", and out comes a plethora of wonders. 


"What a time to be alive!", like my favorite AI-art-science Youtuber Károly Zsolnai-Fehér (a.k.a. Two Minute Papers) tends to say.

CU
--
Eki

Friday, 13 May 2022

*STRONGMEN: The BULLY CLUB that wants to rule the world


"Strongman" - an illustration by AI

Vladimir Putin compared his invasion in Ukraine to rape, ”You Sleep my beauty, you're going to have to put up with it anyway.” Donald Trump, who captured the Republican party, did everything but pull down his pants and have a public hard-on to prove he was stud enough to grab-ass any woman or country. Xi Jin Ping, who plans to be China's president-for-life is bully-in-chief.

Putin and Trump, the tough guys in the playground,  strut their stuff, create chaos and leave a bloody trail in their wake. Members of the gang include Modi in India, Orban in Hungary, Bolsanaro in Brazil, and Johnson in Great  Britain. The UN reckons that 85% of the world's people live in countries where authoritarian populism exists and freedom of the press is squelched.

In the US, unless there's a miracle, Trump, or one of his minions will be on the Rep ticket in 2024. Dems have got to use shock ad awe to knock Reps off their keisters. For ex., run a split Dem/Rep ticket. Once Strongmen get in power the game is...

*The Age of STRONGMEN by Gideon Rachman


Sources: Financial Times, New York Times, Economist

Next week:  Whatever happened to PLAYFULNESS? 


Note: Well, I'm an eternal optimist. I cannot believe people would be stupid enough to elect Trump *twice*. I see the current turmoil as as the last attack of the dying beast, the one-more-scare at the end of a horror film, after which all will be fine.

Gotta admit though, that people at large have proven me wrong time after time, the bar can't be buried deep enough to stop people from digging a route under it. Case in point: Bongbong Marcos and the Philippines.

PS: The illustrations in this post were all created by Artificial Intelligence, AI*. The only input was a string of text, similar to this: "An early 1900s painting of a strongman wearing striped tights, lifting weights in the circus". 

I actually made a whole bunch of them, here's a gallery of selected ones - from funny to menacing to disturbing to weird and even beautiful. 


We live in interesting times!

*Most of these were done with Dall·E Mini, some used a Google Colab notebook with imagenet_16384.

CU
--
Eki

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

HELL & BRIMSTONE: the new religion – BAD NEWS

 



Wake up. Check your cell, laptop, TV, radio, and the morning paper. If you've got any marbles at all, the news scares the bejeezus outta you. War, atrocities, Covid variants, crime, inflation, starvation, global warming. All there in spades - 24/7.

It's become a hard and fast ritual. I know addicts who turn CNN on in the morning and shut it off when they go to bed. In the US Trump was, and is the great love/hate divider. One fervent cultist called him "God on earth".

Got a  break from Bad News when I read Finland was the Happiest Country in the world for the 5th year. To an outsider, Finland's evolution is a bloody miracle: 750 years under Swedish rule, 109 years under Russian rule, 1939-1940 wars with Russia. Today the country is prosperous and at peace, but prepared* for war and disasters. A beautiful, democratic country, with one of the best educational systems in the world and good social support. Finns have a lot to be happy about. Especially in these sad and terrible times.

"I'm 100% for President Niinistö." - The Shark

Source: *Financial Times, internet

Next week: STRONGMEN: the BULLY CLUB That wants to rule the world 



Note: Gotta admit, I'm no stranger to doomscrolling. And sure, there's plenty of doom to scroll. The last few years have been remarkably horrible. But at the same time, I guess we should remember that a postman biting a dog is news. A dog biting the postman is not.

Even when it comes to war reporting, we see the houses the bombs hit, not the ones that are intact. I guess what I'm trying to say, is that doom sells. Something being okay does not. Everyday good news, well, is not news and has low sales potential.

It's spring out there. Today was a beautiful clear-sky day, one could really feel the sun warm. For the first time this year, I sat about half an hour on a park bench, just enjoying being there (and okay, fiddling with my phone... but you get the point).

CU
--
Eki