We’ve replaced all the blockchain buzzwords with AI buzzwords. Let’s see if big tech notices

Crypto collapse links

“Bitcoin’s current worth and future potential rest partly in the hands of the Bitcoin Core maintainers, a group who are chosen by their peers and are often vague about their whereabouts. A loose network of donors pays most maintainers’ salaries. At least once, the maintainers secretly patched a bug that bitcoin proponents say could have destroyed the cryptocurrency’s value.

A snappy, prescient review of crypto, from May 2022: “Its harms are substantial. It has enabled billion dollar criminal enterprises. It has enabled venture capitalists to do securities fraud as their business. It has sucked people in. So either avoid it or help me make it die in a fire.”

The final days of FTX: “Soon, news of FTX’s troubles was spreading beyond headquarters. Rental car agencies in Nassau demanded their vehicles back. Hotels and landlords turned out FTX employees, some of whom moved into properties owned by the company. Many workers rushed to book tickets off the island. ‘If you could get a flight out tomorrow, you would go,’ one recalled.

AI and chatbot links

“For a fun time, I decided to ask the new “Bing Search” chatbot what it knows about Leif & Thorn. […] By the second answer, the bot had made up a whole nonexistent storyline.

“How about a robot that instantly pulls and returning info from the internet when requested? Sixteen years ago, three guys had that exact idea—and it didn’t exist. The web was still a greenfield project. And thanks to some great foresight (perhaps too much, if that’s real) they created ActiveBuddy, the startup that built SmarterChild.

The joke here is “Chat GPT has very prudish sexual ethics“, but in all seriousness: we can all agree that’s not just predictive text, right? Some of those were phrases written by a human professional, once they noticed they were getting certain kinds of questions, where they absolutely couldn’t leave the chatbot to freeball the answers.

The Onion weighs in: Questions That ChatGPT Is Not Allowed To Answer.

“In this post, I catalogue a few of the analogies for “AI” art and how they are useful analogies and how they’re misleading.

Includes a link to an essay about data compression, and its fascinating failings. “It turned out that the photocopier had judged the labels specifying the area of the rooms to be similar enough that it needed to store only one of them—14.13—and it reused that one for all three rooms when printing the floor plan.


Going for the Silver in the crypto rubbernecking Olympics

There’s been a deluge of crypto-rubbernecking articles since FTX melted down 4 months ago…and I’m not even gonna try to link all the good reads. These are just some of the top hits.

November: “In less than a month, reporting and the bankruptcy process have uncovered a laundry list of further decisions and practices that would constitute financial fraud if FTX had been a U.S. regulated entity – even without any crypto-specific rules at play. […] The list is very, very long.

December: “Sam Bankman-Fried’s $30 million Bahamas penthouse looks like a dorm after the students have left for winter break. The dishwasher is full. Towels are piled in the laundry room. Bat streamers from a Halloween party are still hanging from a doorway. Two boxes of Legos sit on the floor of one bedroom.

“The Block, a media company that says it covers crypto news independently, has been secretly funded for over a year with money funneled to The Block’s CEO from the disgraced Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency trading firm, sources told Axios.

“Zhao [CZ, from Binance] was concerned that Bankman-Fried was orchestrating crypto trades that could send the industry into a meltdown. “Stop now, don’t cause more damage,” Zhao wrote in a group chat with Bankman-Fried and other crypto executives Nov. 10. “The more damage you do now, the more jail time.”

“[Trump’s] “digital trading cards” are indeed just another cash grab NFT project, but the low quality images and the company in charge of the project are a more complicated enigma. The images were so lazy that based on reverse image searches they were edited photos scraped off the internet.” Zoom in on some of them, and you can even see the remains of the Shutterstock watermarks…

February: “These are sophisticated idiots that not only acted with disregard for their customers’ funds – not that one can call anyone of Celsius a “customer” in the traditional sense, as no service was being offered – but with possibly the least financial acumen I’ve seen outside of the Minions from the Despicable Me movies.

“Dillon Danis said he felt bad for the victims of scams, but let’s see if he really means that. Putting an influencer to the ultimate test, by offering them money to promote what is an OBVIOUS fake NFT website, and then giving them a contract acknowledging the whole scheme.” [Video, another slam dunk from Coffeezilla]

Now: Crypto Collapse BINGO, 2022-23 edition, updated with the folding of Silvergate Bank. (I haven’t watched Crypto Critics’ Corner’s video about the de-bankening yet, but I’m sure it’s a good time.)

Good news, we have successfully taught the AIs to play Mad Libs

Artwork by neural nets:

New hot meme for webcomic artists: upload one of your comic pages to Have I Been Trained, link to the first 4 webcomics (not drawn by you) that AI registers as similar to yours!” (Can I make this a thing? I’m gonna try.)

“I read 19 comics with AI-generated artwork, all of which I downloaded or read for free online. In addition to the question of quality, I wanted to answer a few other questions: Do these comics share common characteristics? How about the creators? Are traditional comic creators getting something valuable from these tools?” A cool, thoughtful article about what people can produce using AI as a tool (and what limits they have to work around).

“Here is where it gets interesting. If I use the same prompt and add “Amazing awesome and epic”, the picture gets noticeably better. “Oh,” goes the neural net, “you wanted a GOOD picture”.” Rebloggable-on-Tumblr version of that AI art post from July 2021.

Writing by neural nets:

“I pulled a letter from the Savage Love inbox—something, low, slow, and over-the-plate—went to the ChatGPT website (, and asked ChatGPT to “answer this question in the style of Dan Savage’s advice column.” So, can the ChatGPT artificial intelligence chatbot really do a better job giving sex advice than I do? We’re about to find out.” [archive link]

My favorite part of that one: the AI gives basically the same answer to both questions. It registers “this is a relationship help question,” and then it outputs Generic Relationship Advice — with a few brief details of the specific question pasted in, Mad Libs style — for both.

“A close examination of the work produced by CNET‘s AI makes it seem less like a sophisticated text generator and more like an automated plagiarism machine, casually pumping out pilfered work that would get a human journalist fired.” Computers are great at taking an existing sentence and automatically replacing some of the words with synonyms. But you need a human to come up with the sentence first.

These AIs are trained with text auto-scraped from all over the internet…so, how can you keep it from presenting unsuspecting users with the find-and-replaced version of, oh let’s say, somebody’s graphic noncon Joker/Robin fanfic? Pay a bunch of humans in Kenya less than $2/hour to manually flag all the noncon Joker/Robin fanfic, obviously.

All these tech people boasting they’ve developed an AI that can replace human creatives (or are on the verge of developing one, please give them millions of dollars to finish the job) — dig a little deeper and you’ll find they’re just reinventing the Mechanical Turk with extra layers.

it has four boxes with some art and some white blobs with rows of lines, that’s a comic, right?

So the “forexposure_txt quotes turned into comics with Midjourney art” link from the last post is gone :(

Good news: has a saved version! Bad news: it has a wild “getting stuck in an infinite loop of reloading” problem. Saving-grace news: it looks like if you hit Stop at just the right time, you can get a version where…most of the images have loaded.

Gonna quietly save the whole thing to my own hard drive now. Just for posterity.

Four AI cats in business suits, labeled: Lots of cats aren't professional, they expect me to pay for something I can do, if I just tried.

It was originally posted back in August, btw. Some of this AI-art discussion makes it sound like it’s a revolutionary new concept that just launched this month, and, no? This isn’t the first iteration of AI art. Probably not the tenth, or even the twentieth. People have been refining it for years.

Have a post from August 2018, with sample prompts and their AI-generated images. It’s fascinating — you can tell the software associates the keywords with certain shapes, or patterns, or blobby impressions, but can’t put all those concepts together in a comprehensible way.

And a post from July 2021, trying to get a picture of sheep grazing on a green hillside, but, come on, a good picture, please? Lots of iterations, comparing the results when you add different keywords. Some of the scenery comes out really lovely! The sheep…dlet’s just say they never quite look like sheep.

…And this is a 2022 post with an AI’s best attempt at a (simple, 4-panel) comic.

Fellow comic artists: I, uh, don’t think we have to worry about the computers taking our jobs any time soon.

Links: social networks, Twitter, AI good stuff, NFTs and other bad stuff

Twitter and other social networks:

twitter_refugees is a DW comm for Twitter natives encountering journal sites for the first time. I’ve been on journal sites way too long to know if this is helpful. Maybe someone else can give it a review?

“I posted a thread on Twitter about potential legal liabilities for United States people who decide to run a Mastodon instance, and the response made it clear there’s a lot of people who could use the extended background. So here is a guide to potential liability pitfalls for people who are running a Mastodon instance, and how to mitigate them.” Not for everyone making a Mastodon account, but if you’re hosting other people’s accounts, read it.

“Mark Zuckerberg (founder and CEO, Facebook): I was in my sophomore year at Harvard. It was 2003, which is the year that historians call The Dunce’s Millennium because the world was dark chaos. Everyone was running around with all of their secrets locked up in their brains. Nobody knew anybody’s favorite movies. Nobody knew what anybody else looked like in a bathing suit. I wanted to change that.” Clickhole’s definitive oral history of Facebook.

Tesla Fire tracks all Tesla fires – including cars and other products, e.g. Tesla MegaPacks – that are reported by news articles or verified primary sources. We also tally the number of fatalities involved with Tesla fires and provide links to additional photos or footage wherever possible.” (Total, as of this posting: 143 confirmed cases, 44 fatalities.)

AI things that are fun, actually:

A neural net AI, “when faced with predicting what would come next on this [New Year’s Resolution] list, predicted first one drawing-related resolution, and then multiple others. Soon this became not just a list of resolutions, but specifically a list of drawing-related resolutions. It generated a broccoli-and-drawing-related resolution, and then the list became a list of resolutions by a painter/broccoli fanatic.

Another one was set to the task of predicting color names: “Some of our other color scales have four coordinates (like the ones designed for print), but the common ones don’t go up to 255. I like to think that Starbat is a color meant for birds to see, and the 1st color is actually meant for their ultraviolet vision.

“For nearly a decade, I’ve run @forexposure_txt, a twitter account that anonymously posts real quotes from people trying to convince artists to work for free. The humorous rationalizations it uncovers sometimes read like found poems. So I took 120 of my favorite quotes, and used Midjourney’s AI art creation tool to turn them into comics.

Crypto and other scams:

A part of the popular narrative around NFTs was that royalties were built into the operation of the blockchain. This was never true.” And now that the profits are slipping, NFT marketplaces are starting to ditch their obligations.

The writer of that one uses the tone all credible crypto-reporting should take these days: “If you are reading this and can still hold your mobile device even as you roll on the floor in a fit of “I told you so” laughter…”

Speaking of yelling about crypto, here’s a video clip of a guy on Bloomberg News, yelling about how FTX was never regulated. The “…you idiots” is unstated, but surprisingly audible.

Back in traditional finance: “Etsy is now forcing shop owners to be part of their ads. We can not opt out. […] Be aware that half the results WITHIN ETSY are ads as well, and if you click on one of those during browsing, even if you do not buy from that link, you have set a cookie within Etsy that tells them you’re shopping off an ad, and so they will charge the fee to whoever you buy from regardless if it was related to the ad you clicked. Please clear your cookies before you make an Etsy purchase. Yes really truly.”