January 2023 Archives

(From elsenet, copied with permission, because I don't have a ChatGPT account and didn't ask the question) ...

Question to ChatGPT: What is the plot of the unpublished script Charles Stross wrote for Wallace and Grommit?

The villagers of a quaint and idyllic hamlet tucked away in the rolling hills of rural England suddenly realized that their beloved cheese shop, the lifeblood of their community, was closing its doors for good.

At first, they couldn't quite believe it. After all, the cheese shop had stood for generations, a symbol of the village's continuity and stability in an ever-changing world. But then, the whispers started. A dark rumour, like a cold gust of wind, that the cheese shop's proprietor, old Mr. Wensleydale, was retiring, and his business was to be taken over by a faceless conglomerate from the city.

Panic set in as the villagers imagined a future without their favourite cheeses and the comforting smell of cheddar wafting through the streets. The loss of the cheese shop would mean more than just the absence of a local business. It would symbolize the erosion of their way of life, the death of tradition, and the triumph of progress over all that was good and wholesome.

But then, on a drizzly Thursday morning, as the villagers gathered in the town square to mourn the loss of their cheese shop, something strange happened. A shimmering portal opened up in the sky, and a figure stepped out, a visitor from another world. The villagers looked on in awe as the stranger began to speak, and slowly, they realized that their cheese shop was not doomed after all. The future, it seemed, was not set in stone.

And so, with hope in their hearts, the villagers rallied together to save the cheese shop, fighting against the forces of change and entropy with a determination that would have made Mr. Wensleydale proud. In the end, they emerged victorious, their cheese shop still standing, and their community stronger than ever before.

This is a comedic and absurd tale set in a dystopian future. The story follows Wallace and Gromit as they navigate a world filled with sentient robots, interstellar travel, and advanced technologies. Despite their best efforts, the duo finds themselves entangled in a web of corporate espionage, alien conspiracies, and bureaucratic bureaucracy.

The familiar stop-motion animation style combined with elements of cyberpunk, wit and satire, is a unique and off-the-wall addition to the beloved franchise.

ChatGPT should need no introduction to anyone reading this blog. The ripples are still spreading out. However, I have seen a couple of interesting use cases (other than cheating at exams).

Firstly: provide a script (film, TV, or comic script) as input and ask ChatGPT to output the novelization of the film/show/comic, and apparently it can emit a pretty credible first draft. It will be missing details: scripts don't include visual descriptions of characters or physical action, so the author/editor will need to fill in the gaps—otherwise it's incredibly dialog-heavy, as if it's a novel by Samuel Beckett.

Secondly: provided with a novel as input, emit the film/TV/comic script as output. Again, what you get is very approximately a script-shaped thing. It'll get the dialog right, but it's lifted verbatim from the prose—and the cadence and rhythm of book-speech is very different from actual human speech, especially the dramatic spoken word in visual media. It may or may not get directions right, and it will probably make a horrible hash of any introspection/description, and in any case a prose novel is a bad fit for a movie script. But the point is, it's a starting point from which a good scriptwriter can probably distill something workable with much less effort than required in starting from scratch.

Third use case: ChatGPT is currently trained on an English language text corpus. It would be very interesting to see what it could do by way of translation with a sufficiently large input corpus of translated texts—like the huge trove of EU and UN documents that Google Translate was trained on.

It's not going to put movie/TV tie-in writers, scriptwriters, or translators out of a job any time soon (based on the quality of its output). But it might prove a useful tool for them, assuming the copyright issues are surmountable (and they are numerous).

Then Bioy Casares recalled that one of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had declared that mirrors and copulation are abominable, because they increase the number of men.

— "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", Jorge Luis Borges, tr. James E. Irby

the guymaker is a chaotic diety. with the ability to create human-like "guys" i could do something productive but instead I choose to make weird people who I get to watch do weird things. there is rarely an agenda behind any given guy other than "heh. funny"

— Twitter user @makeupaguy

Imagine that you could push a button and create a new person.

Or imagine that you were a witch and you could flick your wrist and curse any innocent passing toad with sudden humanity — a human body, a mouth, a name, free will, dreams. For the sake of argument let's say that they would be an adult, with an intellect appropriate for an adult. Maybe with a language or two; maybe amnesiac, but maybe with a cushion of forged past experiences to draw from. Other than that, what you would get is mostly random. (No, I'm not going to try to define a random variable on the set of all possible humans.)

And let's say you had the toad in hand. Let's say the toad was ready to go. Would you do it? If so, why? If not, why not?

My first new year's resolution for 2023 is to start inviting guest bloggers to post on my blog again—I slackened off after 2018—so here we are!

First up in 2023 is qntm. He self-describes thuswise:

qntm has been writing science fiction for most of this millennium. He has self-published five books so far, the first four of which are novel-length serials originally born on the web. Ed, Fine Structure and Ra were first posted on the persistently uncategorisable mid-2000s Web 2.0 project, Everything2. There Is No Antimemetics Division originated as a series of tales set in the collaborative sci-fi/horror universe of the SCP Foundation. His fifth book, 2022's Valuable Humans in Transit and Other Stories, collects the highlights of his short fiction, notably "Lena".

He develops software for a living. His notable personal software projects include HATETRIS and Absurdle, adversarial takes on Tetris and Wordle respectively. His website is qntm.org.

I've been a fan of his fascinating, cerebral writing for some time; particularly his short horrifying and brilliant short story Lena (which I've mentioned in various comment threads here previously). Oh, and (shameless promotional moment) we now share a literary agent, so hopefully you'll be reading more of his books soon.

So I hope you'll extend a warm welcome to qntm ...



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