I look forward to seeing more of your illustrations. I know it's a new level of vulnerability to post them, but I can appreciate the effort to improve both your writing and art. I started creating new story images for my posts, but it's slow going. I find I enjoy getting to completion more than I do the final outcome, so we'll see.

Expand full comment

Thank you for this. As an illustrator, its been very disheartening to see its use in its current form with no oversight. This really boosted my spirits!

Expand full comment

I hear you and respect your decision even if I'm not remotely there yet. I use AI as THE most incredible collaborator I've ever encountered. Real creative humans are still the best, but as I'm sure you well know, their availability, and willingness to focus exclusively on MY projects makes relying on them as collaborators less than sayisfying.

I've always been more of a "tools aren't the problem" person. I don't think they should be banned just because some people use them irresponsibly. Make it easy for responsible use. Make it harder for the idiots or bad actors.

Easier said than done, to be sure, but the AI genie isn't going back in the bottle, so we have to figure out how to tame it. Or ask it for more wishes.

Expand full comment

Hooray! Right decision.

Expand full comment

Love that this has reignited your passion for drawing! So cool!

Expand full comment

Lot to unpack here. I join those applauding you in returning to original art. I've played with multiple AI generators (and have played most with Stable Diffusion implementations where I can at least feed it one of my photos or drawings as an IMG to IMG starting point), but they either frustrate me (spend enough time refining a prompt where I could have just done it myself) or bore me (get a technically solid result that's just meh). I've generated hundreds of images, only to delete them the next day.

The AI will never understand the "proper" output to the prompt, "a white cat facing away from camera in a Snowstorm" is a white frame and a pink dot.

Also, it's a bit frustrating the current code is biased towards European influence. Feed it a source image of one of my white friends and I get something photoreal. Feed it an African, Asian, >other< source and the AI either turns them white or I get nightmare fuel - unless I add additional prompt language. I spent a whole week testing that. *(no more line breaks) *And plenty of Prompts where the AI just won't give me what I want. Feed any AI HP Lovecraft's description of Cthulhu and you'll get the octopus head - but no body, no wings. The AI is still pretty stupid. *Same with ChatGPT. I've run experiments, but, ultimately quickly hit the point where asking for elaboration on X means Y completely goes away. After a few iterations it's better to just write it my own damn self. I'm better. Period. And I'm only ok. *The tech is new. It will improve, but I suspect I'll always be a Luddite here. I just don't get personal satisfaction from the AI tools. *Don't think I got back to you over the weekend, but the articles, also linked here, were excellent reads. Thanks for sharing!

Expand full comment

I enjoyed reading this post, and for the record, I applaud your decision to do your own illustrations, even if they aren’t at the skill level you’d like. As a reader, I can appreciate that you are developing your talent in this area. Raw and unpolished is okay. Truly.

Also, how did you insert the “quotes” to Erik’s posts? Were these cross-posts? I’ve not used that feature yet so I don’t know how to do it.

Expand full comment

Eric Hoel is right about ChatGPT being banal. He's wrong, and, I have to assume, deliberately hyperbolic, about Bing being evil. Bing has been trained on too many bad sci-fi novels in which such conversations occur regularly. ChatGPT is passing exams because it has the answers written on its sleeves. It's a pastiche machine, and exams are an exercise in pastiche -- no one is looking for original thought, they are looking for regurgitation of the required texts and that is what ChatGPT does best.

ChatGPT does not think. It ingests and partially macerates existing thought and spits it out again on demand. The only thought in the system is in the input, not the process. Thus the banality.

The great danger I see in all this is that the public may not detect the banality of AI art. The creative industries, after all, have been working for some decades now to dull our senses and our sensibilities. The books it turns out are simple tedious repetition of the exact same emotional triggers which have now been timed down to the page.

That emptiness you rightly detect in AI art is there is so much of the human produced art as well, and it is not an emptiness born of lack of talent, but a deliberately cultivated emptiness engineered by an industry the had instrumented attention and commoditized it. (Orwell predicted this in 1984.)

Apocalyptic writing is, of course, a core part of instrumented and commoditized attention, and Hoel seems to have mastered the craft of it and has turned it into an attentive audience and doubtless a nice living. He is very far from being alone in this. The question is whether there remains any other way of finding an audience these days.

Ironically, of course, that's a somewhat apocalyptical thought in itself. An apocalypses of apocalypticism is perhaps the thing we should worry most about. If there is anything to the recent reports about a developing teenage mental health crisis, I think we see the results of our apocalyptic attention grabbing. There are minds too naïve to see through this nonsense, minds who are being told they are heading into a perfect storm of apocalyptic threats just as they are at their most vulnerable as they prepare to leave the nest and start independent lives. Want to cheer the kids up? Stop telling them that the world is going to end.

The danger is not what the climate may do to us, or what the robots may do to us, but what we may do to ourselves.

Expand full comment