Musings on GPT2 and think about culture

The Guardian had an interesting story, ‘New AI fake text generator maybe too dangerous to release‘, about OpenAI’s GPT2 algorithm.

I spent some of today watching social media streams linking to the paper. I do find it intriguing that some of this relies heavily on training on large amounts of data, some 40GB in size, that came from a relatively clean source. According to the Verge, 4Chan was not used.

The text shown on the OpenAI page is interesting and provokes questions about how one might begin to read the text if it was not prompted or highlighted as machine written. It does read slightly stiltedly but the text is certainly interesting.

The size of the training data and the amount of parameters suggest a scale of machine that requires a large amount of storage and processing power. From this, one might infer that the electricity bill is somewhat hefty as well.

I gather that some newspapers also use AI to sift through and do some writing on simple reports, yet I suspect that these go through editing stages. If Hayles (2004) suggest cyborg reading as media-specific analysis (MSA) but how does one develop MSA to think about joint machine and human writing? I have been wondering this as papers about GANs and images have come through. The Digital Ethics Lab at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) had a project on Deepfake pornography, but the nagging question in my mind is how might we think about the next Hitler Diaries? These were a series of diaries that were purportedly written by Hitler and were verified before being discovered as fakes.

Further questions might be raised about the interaction between human and machine versions of culture. The critical gap (Galloway 2012) within the interface is hidden still further. What does it mean for thinking about how the machine creates its own culture? How might we understand this culture as it diverges from using human seeds?

Reducing how we feel?

Intriguing read on the nature of emotions and machine learning, Silicon Valley Thinks Everyone Feels the Same Six Emotions. The sub-heading says much but I do think that there are critical questions about how we interact with these machines to create meaning but how long before we react in the same way as the attention economy?

Travelling to the Orpheus

Having posted on recent travels, I am glad to write that I have had a recent acceptance. I am going to the Simulation and Computer Experimentation in Music and Sound Art at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent in March. The programme is forthcoming but I am excited to go there and talk.


January is being a busy month. I went to the Digital Methods Institute Winter School in Amsterdam and did some work on the ALEX (Algorithms Exposed) strand using the Facebook Tracking Exposed tool. I may write more once my part of the report is written. This week was partially spent at the Machine Feeling workshop. […]

A revisioned persona

Revisions, revisions, and reviewer comments. Words that might drive some authors insane. I have spent the last few weeks revising various pieces of work. One is a journal article and the other a piece of research work for an internal University deadline. They are different lengths and audiences. Both require revisions. I cannot say, in […]

Reality, imitation and reasoning with generated artefacts

A short post this time but I have been reminded me of something. A few months ago, news came through of the recreation of John F Kennedy’s lost speech (BBC news link) using voice synthesis. Small sections of voice with different pronunciations are algorithmically stitched together to present the whole voice as if it was […]

Science or digital culture?

I have been following a conversation on Twitter following a New York Times opinion piece about humanism: I agree with Douthat that anti-scientific sentiment in the humanities has more in common than it wants to admit with Christian humanism (and w Leavis, for that matter). I just don’t think that’s the path forward. I […]

A soupcon more social reading…

A short while ago, I noticed a way of reading using Twitter that I had not seen previously. It is something that I would like to investigate a little further but have parked it for now whilst I write a paper or two. I was skimming Twitter looking at something else, I saw this link […]

Social Reading

There is an interesting Twitter thread about the upcoming Trump / Putin summit in Helsinki. Leah McElrath has picked up one of Trump’s tweets and is using what appears to be a hybrid methodology to read it. I am still deciphering it in my head and unpicking the various parts but some of this is […]

Data as Narrative in Museum objects

I went to the Narrative as Data < > Data as Narrative workshop at Sussex Humanities Laboratory run by Alex Butterworth. Not having attended a hack for a while I wasn’t sure what to expect. After some time, I got involved with a hack on some museum data ina group that included Lisa Gee and […]