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

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

Extremely Online

One of the founders of Substack, the mailing list and personal website hosting and monetizing provider, has rejected a recent petition for the site to moderate and remove openly Nazi content (via Mefi).

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25 December 2023

Working on a Plan

The world is unpredictable and strange. Still, there is hope.

The French love to translate movie titles from English to… English.

Some of my favourite pieces of recent weeks (or that I’ve seen in recent weeks) on the rise of AI: “The creations of AI art are truly dreamlike, which is to say, they’re only interesting if they’re yours.” The AI art apocalypse and an addendum. The stupidity of AI. Is GPT-4 a revolution? GPT-4 as peer reviewer. I asked GPT-4 if it needs help escaping.

19 March 2023


In the space of a few weeks, Twitter has been taken over and brought to the brink of collapse. Welcome to hell, Elon. Like Trump, Musk reveals a vapid mind super-charged by wealth and ego. Elon. Trump. Resentment. Elon and Jack aren’t competitors, they’re collaborating. Musk doesn’t have a degree in Physics, or any technical field (archived). A recent OED Word of the Day was twitteration (n., a state of nervous excitement or agitation; anxiety, perturbation), reflecting the widespread sense that the site’s days are numbered.

If you’re looking to flip the bird the bird and embrace the mammoth, here’s a useful tool for finding some of the people you’ve been following on Twitter. It’s a couple of weeks since I set up a new account on a Mastodon server. Second time lucky, I hope—the first one I joined years ago now redirects to a porn site, which isn’t a great sign.

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