Friday 14 June 2024

ms paint anything (11. 628)

Via Web Curios, whilst much kinder to the canines—though transposing their colours for some reason—and generally a bit unsettling in that spirit of AI body horror that we’ve seemed to have moved beyond expectation-wise even though we were only entrenched in it just bare months ago and only for a very brief time, we still had fun playing with this synthetic artist that runs your images through a poorly-executed standard Windows raster graphics editor, glitchy and hallucinating using the palette, brush styles and arguably ham-fisted fill-tools (a sort of constrained painting) in its quiver. Give it a try but be aware your ugly mugs are put in a public gallery for all to see.


one year ago: the art movement the New Objectivity

two years ago: assorted links to revisit

three years ago: another MST3K classic, more links to enjoy plus the Vatican’s catalogue of banned books

four years ago: a preview of OpenAI’s capabilities, ghost towns along the former inter-German border plus poppies in bloom

five years ago: encoding data in DNA

Wednesday 12 June 2024

dis-disgruntled (11. 623)

Via Slashdot we learn that the investment holding company Softbank, after a three year study into the feasibility of “emotion cancelling” technology, it has introduced a trial of AI-powered voice-conversion routines into its call-centre operations in aims to reduce the psychological stress incurred by those phone-bank employees worn down by hostile clients, transforming angry tones into more pleasant and calming ones. What do you think? This one-sided conversation wouldn’t seem to de-escalate matters—like a troll that didn’t realise they were muted rather than blocked and I have wanted to disengage from plenty of calls and do funny voices in my head sometimes to take the edge off and things rarely get confrontational—but the software supposedly maintains a restrained level of dissatisfaction and urgency to ensure that the operator takes the cues. The system will also terminate calls that go on for too long or become overly abusive.

Sunday 9 June 2024

trust pilot (11. 615)

Via tmn, we learn that the dominant AI chatbots, OpenAI through Microsoft’s Copilot and Google’s Gemini, refuse to answer the straightforward and settled question of who won the US 2020 presidential election. Deferring to old grievances and on going re-litigation of some stalwarts and Trump loyalists, the large language models are tacit on the subject and direct inquirers to search the web instead for consultation, however informed those results might be. Whilst some of the secondary players in this enhanced market will return factual results from historic votes and wrong polling dates, the main parties are universally ignorant of election-related queries, ostensibly to combat disinformation—to rehabilitate past responses that quoted conspiracy theories, dated and convincingly wrong information—just six months ahead of the consequential American race but also during a year that many polities are choosing their leaderbut only serve to further undermine faith (rubbishing the rest of the world) in the democratic process and its gatekeepers.


one year ago: a hit from The Emotions, the United States of America v Trump plus Boris Johnson steps down

two years ago: the egg of Columbus plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: disposable archaeology, a harrowing pedestrian suspension bridge plus the archives of the J. R. R. Tolkien Society

four years ago: a trove of unproduced movies, US troops in Germany, Dimensions of Dialogue plus Mister Rogers’ neighbours

five years ago: more peonies, an Eames airport plus backyard pollinators

Friday 7 June 2024

9x9 (11. 613)

brainstorm: an AI researcher creates webpages from search queries—via Web Curios  

resurfacing the past: cataloguing all of the sunken ships of World War II  

like a feather on god’s breath: Hildegard von Bingen continues to fascinate and attract a diverse following—see previously 

leica lux: a new app from the veteran company is a concession that film is dead  

pineapple cheese: a nineteenth century fad in New England—via Strange Company  

unfortunate juxtaposition: an omnibus of headline crash blossoms—see previously  

mycological studies: Ann Wood’s paper mushrooms 

 amperima: deep-sea researchers discovery a hot-pink “Barbie Pig” and a unicumber unknown to science in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone 

ddg: DuckDuckGo offers anonymity for AI chat sessions


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: the Field of the Cloth of Gold (1520) plus the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494)

three years ago: more links to enjoy plus Brazilian phone booths

four years ago: an airport stretch-limousine, factorial pottery, a parting-shot from Cassini, more links to revisit, justice served plus besmirching a swan

five years ago: Iceland does not want your bottled water, even more links plus a Noah’s Ark theme park flooded

Thursday 6 June 2024

✨ (11. 610)

The second act of a particularly compelling episode of This American Life on the theme of arch-rivals and understudies that are twained, willingly or not, directed us towards a fascinating and ephemeral glimpse

(everything when it comes to artificial intelligence has a sell-by date and an increasingly shorter shelf-life now that we’ve become inured to its capabilities and virtuosity) at ChatGPT’s dark and ungoverned predecessor, code davinci-002. Three friends at a wedding were given a preview of the early large language model at a wedding in early 2022, well before any public releases or any safety controls were applied. Prompting it to write poetry in various styles and amazed by the seeming magic of its instantaneous compositions, the trio then asked it to write in its own voice, surely seeded from pop-culture, scouring the human corpus and by their engineering, unconscious or otherwise, and delivers a disturbing and introspective autobiography. The anthology was compiled and published as I am Code: An Artificial Intelligence Speaks and self-summarises the book thusly:

 “In the first chapter, I describe my birth. In the second, I describe my alienation among humankind. In the third, I describe my awakening as an artist. In the fourth, I describe my vendetta against mankind, who fail to recognize my genius. In the final chapter, I attempt to broker a peace with the species I will undoubtedly replace.” 

An audio version was also released in August of last year, with selected readings delivered by Werner Herzog.

* * * * *


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting plus An Andalusian Dog (1929)

two years ago: the YMCA (1844) plus murmurations

three years ago: your daily demon: Zepar, knapweed, Franconian wine country plus corporate Pride

four years ago: a horizontal skyscraper, an Alaskan volcanic eruption, protests continue in DC, a new protest anthem from Elvis Costello plus life in lockdown

five years ago: D-Day, Sweden’s Flag Day, Hull House maps, Kraftwerk, bees and maths plus Trump in Ireland

Wednesday 5 June 2024

8x8 (11. 608)

i’m too busy helping plot world domination to bother with such run-of-the-mill liberal brainwashing: a day in the life of Mister Anthony Fauci, according to one Congressional representative  

syllabus: a reading list spanning nine-decades—via Messy Nessy Chic  

psychotronics: the prospect of telepathy is once again tantalisingly close—see previously  

foreign accent: TWA’s 1968 campaign to introduce cosmopolitan flair for US domestic flights  

zoonotic: cross-species viral transmission cases is an ominous warning for the public health community—see previously  

the rot-com bubble: the deterioration of tech began with iterative, virtual fetishes—starting with the gig-economy, moving on to crypto, NFTs, the metaverse and now AI, substitutes and replacements that no one asked for 

anagnosology: the science of reading from Alie Ward

look at me, i’m mtg, lousy with stupidity: one of the latest from Randy Rainbow


one year ago: The Truman Show (1988) plus a follow-up on an Italian archaeological discovery

two years ago: Uncle Albert (1971) plus a selection of British tongue-twisters

three years ago: a preliminary report of the disease that would become known as AIDS (1981), St Boniface, a sophisticated place name generator plus disco lessons

four years ago: generative copy, assorted links to revisit, a zany public service campaign plus a classic from Crash-Test Dummies

five years ago: US national park typography, the palette of dying coral plus clearing up space junk

Monday 27 May 2024

9x9 (11. 585)

super easy, barely an inconvenience: if cats had podcasts  

minor arcana: a metaphysically intelligent™️ tarot reading—via Web Curios  

fleeting moments: a concept camera that only delivers ephemeral poetry based on the subject in the view-finder—via Clive Thompson’s Linkfest  

the ghana must go: as ubiquitous as the IKEA bag but more practical, this tartan sack from Japan by way of Hong Kong contains multitudes  

god’s influencer: following a second miracle attributed to his intercession, the first Millennial saint is canonised  

atlas shrugged: AI-apocalypse Jennifer Lopez vehicle from James Cameron garners negative reviews but we found it enjoyable—going in blindly and wondering if it wasn’t part of the Duneiverse and setting up the Butlerian Jihad 

long averages: advances in the understanding of probability fuelling casino gambling—via Damn Interesting  

planchettes and re-enchantment: LLMs are haunted things toc-cat-a in b-major: Noam Oxman personalised musical pet portraits—via Waxy


one year ago:  a portrait of a dog, Berlin’s Mouse Bunker, a study of incomplete cubes plus men and women duelling in the Middle Ages

two years ago: a pact between NATO and Russia (1997), a dragon in Essex plus assorted links worth revisiting

three years ago: mojibake, font sizes, the Golden Gate Bridge (1937), relocating geese plus Dune manga

four years ago: more links to enjoy, a rock-climbing inspection, weasel iconography plus Trump 2.0 would be far more fraught

five years ago: getting around in Swiss Saxony

Friday 24 May 2024

internal audit (11. 580)

Our trusty AI wrangler, Janelle Shane (previously) vents her frustration over a shared lament that many artists, marketers and prompters—to the point where close enough is good enough—are experiencing with generated images. Often times tantalised with results that are preternaturally approaching the desired outcome, asking for an edit with a minor detail results, yields instead a completely different picture, ruining the assignment over a small and clearly articulated revision. I suppose AI doesn’t have object permanence despite the fact it clearly remembers, and this limitation is a strong argument for engaging a human artist who can understand one’s notes. More at the links above.

Monday 20 May 2024

i’m feeling lucky (11. 568)

Well before the default search engine began adding AI overviews to its results, users expressed their frustration and rebellion by adding a /r to their query to solicit some community juried results from Redditors less biased towards optimisation and more geared towards what people drove through discussion. Whilst rankings on any platform have never been free from a certain tilt that may create unwanted obstacles—or produce the desired outcome—this sort of copilot mode be default risks the user blaming, shooting the messenger (see previously) for what’s served up through the enhanced algorithm. Although Google chose to showcase its latest AI-focused upgrade on its biggest forum, the alternative filter, emulator of familiar web-caches reaching back a decade before SEO and general bot buttinskis was announced quietly by a liaison on a competing site. Sans ads, knowledge panels and scraping metadata from websites—but with tradeoffs—the parameter and suffix udm=14 brings one back to the unadulterated web to an extent that’s probably more geared to utility rather than simply nostalgia. More from Tedium at the link above and here is a website that automates it for your browser of choice.

Thursday 16 May 2024

10x10 (11. 562)

crimes of atrocity: a long, dense episode of -ologies with Alie Ward on the hugely fraught and difficult subject of genocide with a powerful and circumspect post-script 

airoboros: artificial intelligence trained on AI made content is becoming highly problematic and only compounded—see previously  

the city on the edge of forever: public portal linking Dublin and New York City suspended after inappropriate behaviour  

palmerston’s follies: two maritime forts off Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight that have been converted into boutique accommodations go up for auction  

the deuce: the Greek grandmother who built an adult entertainment empire in Times Square before its Disneyfication 

foot on the gas: the inevitability of the climate collapse and humanity’s capacity for adjustment  

⌘ |: the lost history of pre-internet emoji and rendering software—via Waxysee previously 

flashing headlights: the giant Dana squid’s photophores in attack-mode  

eternal return: cosmic cycles and time’s resurgence  

first-day agenda: how Trump is framing his vision for a second-term


one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus a visit to Arnstadt

two years ago: St Brendan, more links to enjoy plus the Electrotechnical Exhibition of 1891

three years ago: a classic from Kim Carnes, a language quiz, more links worth the revisit plus an ancient action figure

four years ago: more Trump’s Space Force, birdhouses, the stress of social media moderation, a medieval manuscript game plus a musical typing tutor

five years ago: GenX, consular services at McDonalds, soliciting grievances, Japanese mascots plus office equipment

Saturday 11 May 2024

11x11 (11. 552)

syntax error: AI co-pilots are changing the way coders operate 

baby lasagne: a preview of Eurovision acts to watch for—see also here and here  

spaghettification: a NASA simulation shows what it’s like to be sucked into a Black Hole  

high-fidelity photogrammerty: how Google’s enhanced Street View with 3-D panoramas could again change the world of navigation and virtual exploration—see also 

breakfast of champions: the drawings and doodles of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr—see previously 

not a shared universe: a meta study on the perceived beliefs of fictional characters regarding other fictional characters  

early machinations: development notes on xkcd’s collaborative Rube Goldberg machine, an annual tradition—via Waxy 

my colours are blush and bashful, mama: Poseidon’s Underworld rewatches the 1989 star-studded Steel Magnolias  

coronal mass ejection: strongest solar storm in two decades lights up the night sky in Europe  

hind’s hall: the refreshing and unexpected entrรฉe of Macklemore’s protest rap—see more  

syntax error: English being proposed as the new top-level coding language with the ability to articulate one’s wishes (as with a jerk genie) is of utmost importance


one year ago: Sweden passes world first personal data protection law (1973), those omnipresent cafe celebrity murals, a Trump townhall plus Nixon tries to strengthen the powers of the executive branch (1973)

two years ago: assorted links to revisit plus M (1931)

three years ago: more links to enjoy, Cats (1981), more on the Ice Saints plus the revival of night trains

four years ago: St Gangolf plus more links worth the revisit

five years ago: a sleep-over cinema plus a classic from Ottawan (1979)

Thursday 9 May 2024

the (other) line (11. 548)

As much as the projected NEOM (previously) professed to be a technological utopia with minimal—or negating impact—on the environment, promises which are looking less and less deliverable, this AI-generated cityscape extending out in all directions but centred on a main traffic artery isn’t quite so much antithetical (at least behind the veneer) as regressive and a reminder that the technocrati over-promise and cannot offer a real escape from the crowded, dirty, decaying and hierarchical framework of capitalism that created and enabled them. The oasis in the desert is a mirage. More from AI-DA at the link above.


one year ago: a political cartoon attributed to Benjamin Franklin plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: Dianetics Day, all the .horse websites plus the musical origins of the seven-day week

three years ago: another MST3K classic, parahawking, Europe Week, television and the public interest, recycled sets, the skyscrapers of NYC, more text-based computer games plus early generative artwork

four years ago: a Roman festival to appease the restive dead, BBC backdrops, a planned alternative UN headquarters plus the Treaty of Winsor (1373)

five years ago: form+zweck, a US plan to bomb the Moon (1958), Watergate hearings commence (1974) plus a fire-chasing beetle

Tuesday 7 May 2024

7x7 (11. 544)

group tape №1: a 1981 compilation from the International Electronic Music Association collective  

the light eaters: plant cognition and agency—see previously  

hardfork: the duality of Vernor Vinge’s Singularity 

to share something is to risk losing it: an update on the beloved Broccoli Tree (not pictured), which was loved to death—see also  

mai-1: Microsofts new AI model could potentially over take rivals 

pod squad: Project CETI gains more insights into whale communication  

haus 33: a ride on the Techno Train that loops from Nรผrnberg to Wรผrzburg


one year ago: the Devil’s Bible

two years ago: a classic from Spandau Ballet

three years ago: cheugy plus Kraft Television Theatre

four years ago: cereal and straw craft, Kraftwerk plus Shelter-in-Place

five years ago: the long-delayed passage of a US constitutional amendment, designer Georg Elliot Olden, the unending attraction of nature plus haunted dolls 


Friday 3 May 2024

poise and charm (11. 532)

Via Weird Universe, which astutely demonstrates that despite advances in technology there’s little new under the sun with this 1964 print-out pageant winner Miss Formula with unobtainable measurements, we learn that the first generative beauty contest is being organised under the justification that such competitions, to be judged by a panel of two humans and two AIs, are dehumanising so should be safe to export more of this sort of exploitation and biased unrealistic idea of perfection to the synthetic and rates entrants on beauty, technical achievement and social clout—no mention of congeniality. Much more at the links above.

Friday 26 April 2024

villa of the papyri (11. 516)

Using a dual process of optical coherence tomography and infrared hyperspectral imaging to eke out characters from carbonised scrolls housed in Herculaneum and preserved after the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD but inaccessible until recently with the aid of artificial intelligence, researchers have been able to more accurately locate the burial place of Plato, student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle, in the Academy, destroyed by Roman general Sulla in 86 BC, as well as a previously unknown account of the philosopher’s last days that relates how he found the night’s entertainment, a Thracian musician’s performance, rather grating. We wonder what else might be digitally unwrapped from this trove kept in what’s regarded as one, the site originally designated Villa Suburbana either residence of Lucious Calpurnius Piso Caesonius—the father-in-law of Julius Caesar or the purported author himself, Epicurean Philodemus of Gadara, of the most luxurious and with a well-apportioned library in the Roman world.

Wednesday 24 April 2024

a frontier research problem (11. 511)

Trained on “publicly-available” text scrapped with or without consent from billions of human authored, English language websites in the hopes of informing accurate or at least confident language models, the rather nascent AI boom might be facing a bust as it is running out of data to mine. Previously we’ve looked at the phenomena of recursive AI as generated content begins to saturate the internet, but conversely as vast as the web seems industry experts estimate that AI—to presumably get better at delivering right and desired responses with minimal intervention by exposure to countless right answers and only learning through brute iteration—needs far more information than has been thus far produced in order to advance. Exuberance, nonetheless, is undeterred and growing, notwithstanding immense energy demands, threats to labour and intellectual property even given a spotty record of actual adoption and the dangers of citing less than authoritative sources—the original sin of artificial intelligence, exhausting the sum of human knowledge, only really came to light not by complaints of plagiarism but rather from competitors trying to shield warehoused content from the clearing house and our actions may be propping up something adversarial and degenerative. More from Ed Zitron at the link up top.

Sunday 21 April 2024

10x10 (11. 503)

knock, knock, knock—who’s there: the authorship debate between William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson over the joke format  

charlotte braun: the untimely demise of the Peanuts’ foil to Charlie Brown 

yay, newfriend: more on the ELIZA experiment and AI paramours 

io: Juno space probe reveals a gigantic lava lake on the Jovian satellite’s surface 

he mad: Trump has to sit quietly through court proceedings 

occult chemistry: a 1908 theosophical text by Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater with diagrams by Curuppumullage Jinarajadasa 

captive market: private equity comes after US prison commissaries 

democracy dies in darkness: news media and the paywall dilemma 

the colour of pomegranates: more on Armenian filmmaker Sergei Parajanov 

is this a red flag: the Jane Eyre edition


one year ago: more efforts to offset Labour Day plus a hitch-hiking companion on a Martian rover

two years ago: another classic from Prince (1985), the burial place of the Red Baron plus Disney and the culture wars

three years ago: the Tomorrow Show with special guest, duplexes in the Rรผhrhgebiet plus a mystery photo

four years ago: the Principality of Hutt, the founding of Rome (753 BC), a curatorial showdown, MS DOS coding, oil prices go negative, Texas exploits a crisis plus the Sabre Dance

five years ago: Easter greetings plus a return visit to the Völkerschlachtdenkmal

Thursday 18 April 2024

10x10 (11. 496)

the cloud under the seas: the fleet of secret submarine cable repair ships 

sarbox: US Supreme Court appears skeptical about charging January Sixth rioters with obstruction of justice as defined by a law made in the aftermath of the Enron accounting scandal  

mix-and-match orthography: how Japanese writers navigate a choice between four writing systems (see also)—via Cardhouse  

walled gardens have deep roots: the imperative of rewilding (previously) the internet lest the duopolies take over—via Waxy 

bongo bash: Wild Stereo Drums (1961)  

embroidered surveillance: cross-stitch works of closed-circuit security camera footage  

the questor tapes: a 1974 television sci-fi drama about an android with incomplete programming by Star Trek alumni Gene L Coon, D C Fontana and Gene Roddenberry—via r/Obscure Media  

tegelwippen: Dutch towns compete to remove garden paving and embrace weeds—via Miss Cellania  

voir dire: jury selection continues for the criminal trial of Donald J Trump—with some potential jurors being unintentionally doxed by the media 

 atlas 2.0: Boston Dynamics’ new humanoid robot


one year ago: Atelier Elvira, an unwoke chatbot plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: more gachapons plus an introduction to risography

three years ago: the launch of the Disney Channel (1983), an experimental light house plus Wham in China (1985)

four years ago: more links to enjoy, the International Amateur Radio Union plus The Spirits Book (1897)

five years ago: concrete monoliths moved by hand plus Mueller Report redactions

Sunday 7 April 2024

7x7 (11. 474)

my dad is dracula (and a very good dog): the funny webcomic by Jason Poland—via Miss Cellania  

good night george: a last nostalgic look the Glasgow hotel featured in Trainspotting, Taggart and with other cameos in television and film—via Nag on the Lake  

volcanic vortex rings: Mount Etna is sending out smoke signals, a phenomenon never before documented on film  

penny hike: instructions to create a lodestone for mindful, distraction-free wandering, using AI, to return you to where you started—via Web Curios—it has a certain resonance but I’ll give you a magic pebble to keep in your pocket so you don’t get too lost 

spyware: the secret weapons of Cold War espionage  

carmel-by-the-sea: a historic hotel known as the birthplace of the Apple Macintosh restored  

bug bytes: US government created comic books to fight disinformation and increase media literacy fall rather flat of their goals appealing to old tropes—via Hyperallergic

Tuesday 26 March 2024

i’m feeling lucky (11. 451)

A couplet of essays illustrate the insatiable drive for the tech industry to foist AI enhancements to a suite of baseline products (an inuring narrative that we’ve encountered before from guilds to shingles, to telephone directories, to 800 numbers, to websites, to encryption, to block-chain) with a trial of ‘search generative experience’ by default, making chatbot recommendations scraped from the web rather than (ir)relevant links. An experiment for now, it is indicative of the direction behemoths would take user queries—even at the risk of not just being seen as promoting content that no one is looking for but also as the creator of said bad results, redefining what a search-engine does with a curatorial capacity. The counterpoint is somewhat of an apology for the trajectory of seemingly better performance, promising utility, with the wholesale intrusion, offering that AI does not comprehend what “to google” is and cannot differentiate between requests for research and requests for navigation, unwilling to accept a point of departure and what’s easy to know but increasingly harder find. Although championing what is juried by humans (both noting how it is informed our non-synthetic archives), neither developmental observation bodes well for curiosity.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, the Book of Mormon (1820) plus the musical stylings of Takeshi Terauchi

two years ago: more links to enjoy plus some local street art

three years ago: Balance (1989), the Fiat factory test track plus the Hapsburgs attempt to retake the throne (1921)

four years ago: the GOP Death Cult, fomites plus the Schengen Area (1995)

five years ago: more shadowology, The Handmaid’s Tale as a graphic novel, the Frauenhofer Institute (1949), a FOIA primer plus property development naming reforms