Monday 13 May 2024

All PLAY, no WORK when AI takes our jobs

Uncanny Valley, by Ideogram AI
Uncanny Valley, by Ideogram AI

nailed it: AI is a new species.  It will  grow up and go to work. Even now, in its teenage stage, it has made a big splash. ChatGPT can record audio books in 95 languages.  A friend was texting.  Up popped :‘I can write this message for you’.  It writes articles, creates illustrations, incl. for the LMP blog.  Eki made an AI copy of my voice to narrate a short video.  Smarter, faster, cheaper than us,  AI doesn’t take time off or get a salary. 

It has made a huge impact in Health Care. AI is more accurate at diagnosing illnesses than human doctors. It discovered two types of testicular cancer: benign (no op  necessary) and the other invasive. In China ‘AskBob’ beat six doctors with more accurate, quicker diagnoses. It assists 1.32m doctors.  A New Zealand company has developed an AI ’doctor’ that looks and acts human. But  humans get an eerie, creepy feeling*  when they’re up-close to an AI bot that looks like us.

A big  stumbling block for AI is the humongous amounts of electricity it uses.  But still, AI will have the biggest impact, good and bad, on our lives since the 19C Industrial revolution - when Luddites wrecked the electric weaving machines. Welcome to the new world.

*"Uncanny Valley":  UUV AI post photography, Palmer gallery, London

Next week: TikTok on the   LOCK

Sources: Economist, BBC, Financial Times, Eki

Note to EKI re. third  party candidates:  in 2020 Ralph Nader got 97,488 votes in Florida.  Al Gore lost in that state to George Bush by 543 votes - the Supreme court wouldn’t allow a re-count. It cost him  the election. In 1996, Ross Perot got 19,743,921 votes.  Bob Dole lost to Bill Clinton. Neither Nader or Perot had a star-power name of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who doesn’t care if he dumps Trump on the US.

Uncanny Valley, by Ideogram AI

Note: I didn't coin the "AI is a new species" thing, got it from a TED talk - by whom, I do not remember right now. And it's not ChatGPT that reads audio books, but rather some other AI.

Which reminds me, the logical follow-up for AI images, videos and voices is AI music. And of course AI nails that too, the likes of Suno and Udio (and soon Elevenlabs Music, by the same company I used to clone Maggy's voice) can create custom songs in any style from heavy rock to classical opera in mere minutes for essentially no money or effort, and the results are rather stunning: like other art generating AI:s, though they still fall short from the crème de la crème, they are better than *most* musicians.

Little Margie's Blues by Udio

When it comes to AI generated art (except perhaps AI video), we are past the uncanny valley - the AI generated humans look real, they sound real. But in robotics we're still on the other side of the valley - sure, the robots are deliberately made to look somewhat like humans or animals, but also still clearly machines. So far there have not been any robots that cross the uncanny valley to the other side, looking and behaving so realistically that they would pass for real humans or animals - all attempts so far look repulsive.

About the elections: Yea, wormbrain may get some votes, but I think more from the Trump conspiracy theorist pool than from Biden's side. 




Monday 8 April 2024

“Double double toil and …” *3rd party candidates spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E*

"Do you like parties? I hope no bad people show up."
Beastie Boys - (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)

Seven 3rd party candidates are nipping at the the heels of the two old dogs running for US president. Four count:  Robert Kennedy Jr**., Jill Stein (Green party), Cornel West  (intellectual academic) , Libertarian party.  A lot of US voters, especially progressive Gen Zs, don’t like the US two party system.  And most voters are ho-hum about Biden and Trump. The bets right now are the outliers will give Trump a boost.

Eki thinks Tump will  be, or should be,  wearing stripes in jail - like a lot of his crooked pals. But if he wins it will be a ”get out of jail” card.  Like Biden, he babbles, mixes up names and is footloose with facts, But he looks more alive than Sleepy’ Joe. And he’s got a rock-solid base.

In 2020, Biden said he would be a ‘transitional’ president; in 2024 a new generation would  take the reins. That was then, this is now. The team that pulls old Joe off the stage when he starts to ramble, for ex. about long-dead leaders (Francois Mitterrand, Helmet Kohl) thinks they’ve done a bang-up job and deserve a 2nd term. Trump wants to stay out of jail and is puffed up by the power.  His team has been in working since 2020. It’s ready to take over: place their ‘people’ in all major government departments. Will Michelle O ride to to the rescue? Tune in.

* ”Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble.  By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes”.  Macbeth

**R.F.K quote: “Joe Biden is more dangerous to democracy than Trump“. Trump thinks a ‘Trump Kennedy ticket is red-hot brand. Kennedy says “no dice”. That might change.

Sources: Economist, Guardian, New York Times

Next week:  “Dr. AI will see you now”

littlemargie note: Found two typos in last week’s post. Decided to not to correct them to prove a human wrote it. But then realised that AI could have purposely made errors to pretend a human wrote it. Welcome to the new world. 

Note: First of all, good job working for Trump presidency, Maggy. It's people like you that haphazardly promote moot anti-Biden talking points fed to you that are the greatest danger in the coming elections. Not the 3rd party candidates. Because said rhetoric you help spew is the very reason the 3rd party candidates might actually get votes.

This said, my gut feeling is that despite the party, Kennedy Jr. has more overlap with Trump than with Biden. Both peddle in the same ponds of delusion, conspiracy theories, and anti-science. Stein might have overlap more with Biden, i surely hope she is wise enough to pull from the race. West I do not even know, which suggests he is not a big problem. Libertarian party is essentially a less religious flavour of the Maga cult - and very possibly, it's the libertarian and conservative think tanks like Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation that pull the strings behind the curtain on both, like they do with climate change denial. And of course the russkies - the goals largely align.

I do indeed think Trump should be put behind bars. That may not happen, but nevertheless, he will very likely be a convicted criminal by the time of the election. The hush money trial is about to start in a week, and the evidence against Trump seems so strong that he's very likely to be found guilty of federal crimes. He may be pardoned, or avoid prison time in some other way, but that does not take away the fact that he will be a convicted felon, just because of this case.

And there are dozens of others to follow.

PS: Michelle O? Not gonna happen.




Thursday 14 March 2024

AI takes a giant LEAP

Eki sent me a link to three SORA* videos.  And one he made  for a  for a competition. AI did the script, narration, video, edit with a prompt. He said some day AI could doing  his job. When Midjourney came out a couple of years ago people who thought  ‘what a hoot’, are out of a jobs today. Better check if you’re on the endangered species list.  For the time being Open AI is keeping Sora under wraps until it can figure out how to control its use. As they say, ‘good luck with…

There’s a monster in our midst, smarter than US. Geoffrey Hinton, the god-father of AI, is spooked by his creation. And hopes to hell someone figures out how to rein it in. 50% of the world holds elections in 2024. Fake AI crap will flood social media.  What’s to stop it?   Trump & Co. are hyper-ventilating.

Eki says AI is in its pre-teen phase. You can bet that it’s going to get smarter and more versatile. Without answers it’s better to sit back, pour a glass a glass of something, strong, smoke a joint, meditate.  Or as Gestalt-ers say as infinitum: ‘stay in the  here and now’.  AI is here for better or worse. 

*Japanese word for ’sky’

Sources: Eki, New York Times, Economist

Next week: ‘Double, double, toil and trouble……’: *  3rd party candidates for US     president 2024 

*Three witches in Macbeth

Note: When Maggy sent me this blog, it took me a few seconds to remember which giant leap we are talking about - they come at a pace where "a week ago" is ancient history. Since the SORA announcement, there have been many other giant leaps already.

There's a fully autonomous software engineer called Devin, an AI that can not only do code, but also all other steps required in making applications: research, plan, test, compile and deploy. Essentially, it is a computer program that can make computer programs without human intervention. Claude 3 was announced, and it apparently outperforms ChatGPT 4Stable Diffusion 3 is coming too, and it seems to be better than Dall-E 3 or Midjourney - and it also does videos. And then there's also another breakthrough with OpenAI brains - Figure-01 (video above) is a humanoid robot that is not only dexterous, but can also see, hear - and think. Essentially, it is the robot from science fiction films - a real life cousin of 3CPO (Before you ask, it's the golden robot from Star Wars, Maggy). As far as video goes, the "Chinese Amazon", Alibaba, announced a new model called EMO AI. It can take any image, and any song or speech, and make the image perform to the audio. 

But back to SORA. Sora is a video-generating AI that can make long (up to a minute) videos that are nearly indistinguishable from actual footage, with a lot of motion and even emotion. I'm of course already using the state-of-the-art-available-now video generators in my work, but they are nowhere near SORA - yet - but even as-is they are good enough to many tasks: creating elements for further manipulation, even full-screen videos as long as the clip is short (2-4 seconds or so) and the motion is minimal.

SORA could also be used to create, well, pretty much anything. Including using it for nefarious purposes. So, just like they did with ChatGPT, OpenAI has a period of testing and aligning the model to acceptable values. We will get our hands on it some day, but it can take months. But when we do, it will be interesting, not least for the future of my discipline, visual effects production.




Monday 26 February 2024



Michelle at Oval Office, by Midjourney & Eki

Will she or won't she?  The New York Post says it's a done deal that MICHELLE will  take the plunge. Throw her hat in the ring in May. God save the Dems. If Old Joe runs and loses to Trump it will be an epic disaster.  Michelle, whip smart, quick on her feet, experienced, is almost too good to be true.  The Guardian says it ain't gonna happen.

Joe Biden's cognitive skills have been  rusty for a while. It all became public when the special counsel, appointed  to investigate Biden's  stashing and using state documents.  The SC spilled the beans and caused an 8.9 earthquake in the White House. But the disclosure wasn't news to anyone interested in the 2024  election. High ranking Dems have suggested Biden step down. A scientist wrote an article for the Economist with the message that Trump and Biden are both too old to run for president.

So we liberal voters are left to hope and wonder if Michelle will step in and save the day. And maybe save US democracy. What a cliff-hanger. Bets anyone??

Sources; Ne York Post, Economist,  Guardian

Next  Week:  AI takes a GIANT LEAP

Note: Well, Biden is old, sure, but not much older and Trump. And I'd say the image of his mental decline is more a product of political opposition propaganda than reality (and his mental health is also arguably leaps and bounds above his rival). In the latter, A.K.A. The Real World (TM), Biden is doing quite fine, actually. In a recent 2024 Presidential Greatness Project Expert Survey, he was ranked the 14th best president of all times by political science academics and historians. Not too shabby for someone whom you call "rusty".

As far as Michelle Obama goes, she would probably make a great president. But, unfortunately, I must side with the Guardian, it probably will not happen.

PS: Trump ranked last, no surprise there.


Monday 5 February 2024


Pink Floyd: Dark Side of The Moon | A 50th Anniversary Animated Tribute by Eki & AI |

asked me if I knew PINK FLOYD. I got all puffed up and said, ‘DUH’.
 And  added, ‘but I don’t know HIS music
. Eki jumped in with a withering, ’it’s a group, not a person’.  And said, for the 50th anniversary of ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ they invited AI prompt engineers to illustrate the album.

A huge task but right up Eki’s  alley. He sent me the link to ’The Wall’.  And told me Pink Floyd had a huge influence on him as a kid. When he saw i 'The Wall' as a young teen he decided ‘movies and music’ were what he wanted to do when he grew up. He stuck with it and made it happen.                                                                                                                                                         

To illustrate the old album using AI was a brilliant way for the iconic group to celebrate the Golden anniversary.  And give fans a way to to take part in the project. Eki sent me a link  to his  AI illustrated album. When I asked  people  about Pink Floyd, who were around Eki ’s age, they zeroed in on ‘The Wall’. But when I talked to a GenZ  guy, he knew Pink Floyd  was famous, but he liked ‘Arctic Monkey’. Time marches on. But Pink Floyd found a way to make their 50 year old ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ new again.  Hats off!

Sources: Eki, internet, interviews

Next week:  Please say YES!  Will  MICHELLE  OBAMA  run or PRESIDENT 2024?


To be more specific, it's an animation competition: the rules do allow the use of AI, but do not require it. Also, the task was to create an animated video for any song from the album - or more. It was my own decision to go full monty and try to come up with videos for every song, the whole album.

And that decision was made because of the emergence of AI - doing the work manually would have been practically impossible, due to the sheer amount of animation needed. So, i not only created the majority of images with AI, i also created the majority of the hundreds of needed text prompts with AI. As well as some custom code needed to make it all work. 

This said, there was a lot of manual work involved too - 3D and 2D animation, editing, compositing etc. I chose to attempt a hand-drawn style, something that would have been theoretically possible in the 1970s if they had unlimited budget. So even the 3D animation elements were pushed through AI processing for the hand-drawn look.

To me, this was largely a testing ground for the AI tools - a reason to spend time learning them and pushing them to the limit. The judges are still out making decisions about the winners, but to me, the trip itself was the goal. Getting awarded would of course be a nice bonus, but considering the high number of participants and the high quality of many entries, a quite unlikely one.

Maggy's little blunder about the identity of Pink Floyd is not an uncommon one. In fact, Pink Floyd themselves have made fun of the misconception, e.g. in the lyrics of "Have a Cigar", where the record label executive asks them "Oh, by the way, which one is Pink?".

PS2: I was 5 years old when
The Dark Side Of The Moon came out - a little too little to pay attention. But when The Wall was released about a decade later... I've been a fan of the band ever since, and the ground-breaking animations in The Wall feature film were one of the reasons why I pursued a career in the film/animation/VFX industry, along with the more usual suspects like ILM:s work on Star Wars, Raiders etc. They were indeed creating magic, and I wanted to do that too.




Wednesday 10 January 2024

CHARISMA: weapon of mass destruction

Donald and Adolf at a comedy club stage, by Stable Diffusion

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, next as farce."
Karl Marx1888-1935

HITLER had IT in spades. TRUMP has IT a knock-of f version. Two badass guys with egos on crack-cocaine. Comic-book kooks. Their chosen villains/victims: Jews and migrants. Con-men who hooked masses of malcontents with their dark CHARISMA.

It took the HITLER Nazi nine years (1924- 1933) to take over the German government . He lasted about twelve. Trump has been at it for eight. His legal troubles help haul in the money. His cult-base is rock-solid. He has an iron-grip on the Republican party. 

And is neck and neck, or ahead of Biden in multiple polls If Trump wins in 2024 it will be because Joe (past his sell-by-date) Biden lost. When high-ranking Dem, David Axelrod, said the 80 year old should quit. Biden called him a 'prick'. That ain't ‘charisma’. TRUMP/HITLER: love ‘em, hate ‘em, has IT.

Sources: the Economist, Washington Post, New York Times, Cambridge dictionary, personal opinion

Next week: Eki does Pink Floyd

"The argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with an average voter."
Winston Churchill 1874-1965

Note: No, it is not Joe Biden's fault if Trump wins. It is the fault of the people who vote for Trump. Period.

When (well, still "if") there are two or more options, and one of them is Trump, voting for him is a catastrophic failure by the person casting the vote. It is rather irrelevant who the other option is, the only reasonable option is to vote for someone else. Anyone.

And that right there is arguably the second most dangerous human trait. People act and vote based on emotion, not on reason. What is the most dangerous trait then you might ask? It's a close relative: faith. A strong belief that is held despite of evidence (as opposed to trust, a belief that is held because of evidence).

These two traits, held by ordinary people, create Donalds, and Adolfs. 
Charisma is irrelevant. Or rather, it should be.

- Eki

Friday 17 November 2023


"Swear" by ChatGPT/Dall·E3

Whatever language, swearing works. In a study at Keele university, participants jumped into ice-cold water. Half were told to swear, the other half to use neutral words. The ‘swearers’ were able to stay in the freezing water 67% longer than the ‘neutrals’.  They also found that swearing increased self-confidence and risk-taking. Oxford  researchers found 'swearers'’ to be more intelligent, creative and honest. than  NSs.

According to the OED ‘shit’ was first used  to describe ‘obnoxious  persons in 1504. ‘Bull ’ came from the old French word ‘bole’ (clod or lump of earth). In English it became ‘bull’. The origin of ‘fuck’ probably came  from the Germanic languages:  ‘funken’ (ger).  

Swear words work best if they’re kept in the shadows.  The taboo that gives them power. In 2020  ‘History of Swearwords’, hosted by Nicholas Cage began streaming on Netflix. It got trashed by the LA Times: ‘predictable and unfunny’. In 2022 the ‘word of the year’ was FAMO (fuck around and find out). Bad omens. Let’s not fuck up a good word. Hold your fire. When you need it BLAST OFF. 

Sources: New York Tines, NY Post, Daily Madil online, OED online

Next week:  CHARISMA: weapon of mass destruction

Note: Using swear words can be an enjoyable art. It can also be just uncivilized and dull. It's all about the context, the company, and the actual language used. I have noticed that in the now unfortunately rare occasions me and my old pals get together, we all immediately switch the language we use. It's as if we were still teenagers, trying to verbally out-rude each other. It is fun, even liberating, as long as the bubble is maintained. As soon as, for some reason, something breaks the bubble for a second, and you think about the interaction you're having from an outsider's angle, it is, well, just plain stupid ;-)