Manual Instructions

I asked DALL-E to show me “a step-by-step tutorial on how to draw hands”. Explains a lot.

AAN HARD OURND DOWVS NAVW ARE Rar Don Dangr Anaw tarr damg hvaarp Haund lid S 4 hiow ortand EG HMNSNG DAVW ANN DRRV HA

DALL-E 2 rendition of a step-by-step tutorial on how to draw hands

24 March 2024

State of the Artless

By now, the whole world has heard about Willy’s Chocolate Experience in Glasgow (archived), or as the page title has it, “Willy Choclate Experience”, which sounds like something quite different and not at all for the weans. That mangled English is in keeping with the AI-generated graphics promising “a pasadise of sweet teats”, “enigemic sounds” and “ukxepcted twits”, which is the usual xepctation in the uk these days.

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4 March 2024

Life Stories

The New York Times reports that Amazon is being flooded with AI-generated biographies every time a celebrity dies, with such compelling titles as Tom Smothers: Revealing 4 Untold Truth About Half of Smothers Brother. As you’d imagine, they’re badly written, full of errors, and shameless money-grabs that take advantage of Amazon rules around only allowing partial refunds on Kindle ebooks.

How could this possibly be? Surely the entrepreneurs behind them aren’t using an AI author bio generator or AI Biographer™ or a free AI social media bio generator or Simplified’s bio generator or the professional bio generator Jasper or 10 AI professional bio generators to try in 2024. Surely.

19 February 2024

Binary Dominion

AI is back in the news—in truth, it’s rarely left it since the heady days of 2022—with the latest development being the emergence of Sora, OpenAI’s new video generator. Sora can produce minute-long clips that almost look real, assuming that people’s legs really flip from one side to the other, and that their hands really clap in slow motion and flap around like a seal’s.

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18 February 2024

Make It Stop

A blog post I saw at Mefi the other day gave me the unsettling sensation, like so much web copy nowadays, that it had been written by AI. Perhaps it was auto-translated from another first language, or perhaps it’s AI all the way down. The blog as a whole gave no hints of any human or humans who might be behind it, no About page or first post introducing the project or anything like that. It made odd turns of phrase like “a truly emotionally gripping experience of this modern classic” land even more oddly.

It feels wrong to be told what to feel about a piece of music by a predictive text algorithm—if that’s what it is. That’s the trouble: you can’t trust that anything on the web is actually human now.

On that depressing yet increasingly familiar note: AI-generated obituaries are turning private individuals into clickbait, whether they’re dead or not (via Mefi).

Film Crit Hulk argues that the internet is an empty labyrinth.

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12 February 2024

Interview with the Vampire

Getting ChatGPT to write for you is all the rage nowadays, so I asked it to “write a blog post in a conversational style about starting the new year after returning to Edinburgh from Australia, and referring to a photo you took from a window seat on a flight over northeast USA at night”. Here’s what it burped out…

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22 January 2023


I was floundering around on Friday night with some verses on floating-point operations per second, as you do. Flops is such a fun word to play with…

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20 November 2022

Further Dalliances

I’ve been continuing my earlier experiments with DALL-E 2 and Stable Diffusion—now with added Midjourney. Click through for a gallery.

1 September 2022

Unstable Dalliances

Since my initial burst of activity with DALL-E 2 I’ve tried a few more queries on it, most of which didn’t produce much of interest, but there were a few exceptions. Things got more interesting when I was able to compare it with Stable Diffusion, which has been opening up to beta testers and let me (and thousands of others) on a few days ago. Unlike DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion is aiming to be completely open, with no holds barred, which means it’s inevitably going to be used to churn out AI-generated porn and to rip off living artists. Not the greatest advertisement for the power and promise of artificial intelligence. But judging from some of its results, I wouldn’t panic just yet (click through for a gallery)…

Stable Diffusion rendition of grizzly bears sitting at a desk

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14 August 2022

Intelligible Artifice

It seems a lifetime ago now, but as an undergraduate I took courses on Computer Graphics, Digital Image Processing and Artificial Intelligence, so it’s no surprise that I’ve been fascinated by DALL-E 2 and the results that people have been getting from it. I signed up for the wait-list two months ago, and yesterday received an invite. I’ve already burned through half of my fifty credits for the month, so had better start pacing myself… but it’s so much fun. Here’s a gallery of my best results so far.

DALL-E 2 rendition of a spaceship over Edinburgh

1 August 2022