Oh No, Someone Taught An A.I. About The Omegaverse
This week OpenAI released their new text-based A.I. system, ChatGPT, to the public. Almost immediately my Twitter feed was flooded with people proclaiming that kids would never do homework again and that Google is “done.” Like many language model, ChatGPT is trained on a large corpus of existing text, so it’s not infallible. People figured out right away how to trick it into answering dangerous questions; and there are plenty of examples out there of it returning flawed or false information in answer to a question.
Despite that, the consensus seems to be that ChatGPT is particularly good at conversation and coherence in writing, with an uncanny ability to return answers in specific character “voices” like a pirate or an old timey gangster. The nervous-laugh antsiness around the proficiency of ChatGPT and its potential to displace [insert career here] doesn’t really seem to account for the fact that these tools, based on the same principles, are already being broadly used by writers of fiction, nonfiction, and marketing copy around the world.
When these tools shock by giving an impressively expressive output, it’s because they’ve been trained effectively. But trained on what? Well, one source is Common Crawl, a massive, public dataset of publicly-accessible webpages, accumulated by over a decade’s worth of trawling the open web
This week on the subreddit for the fan fiction site Archive Of Our Own (AO3), user /u/kafetheresu posted a panicked deep dive into generating fan fiction with the chatbot Sudowrite. It’s an A.I. company whose founders “are in this because [they] believe in the power of storytelling,” according to their website.
It’s unclear exactly how much of AO3’s corpus is being used to train language models like Sudowrite, but thousands of AO3 entries have been used to train similar projects and everything on the site is under a “world-wide, royalty-free, nonexclusive license”. The Reddit post showed how Sudowrite seemed to know the ins and outs of omegaverse (I’m not explaining what that is again, don’t google it) and even demonstrated that it would start writing a Harry Potter fanfic when prompted with a fandom-agnostic paragraph of original fiction.
Cool? Kind of, yeah. Upsetting? Also kind of, yeah. It’s just another brick knocked down in the already-mostly-destroyed fourth wall between fandom and the rest of the world. While artists across the internet have pushed back against art platforms like DeviantArt making use of their work to feed A.I. datasets, to middling success, it’s not clear whether anything will come of this new text-based revelation. Or even if more than a handful of fans will care at all. Because what can you do, really? After all, it’s not AO3 itself that’s introducing the tool, but external profit-seeking actors who probably don’t even know AO3 exists.
Somewhere an edgelord devil’s advocate is typing up a comment about how these people don’t have a right to complain about their work being “stolen” because they’re already “stealing” the characters from the original works, and on the one hand, fuck that guy, but on the other hand, that’s an interesting point. There’s a little bit of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” going on in the comments of the Reddit post, with people speculating on whether the companies behind various franchises might want to make it impossible to generate fan works with GPT tools because of how easy it is to produce NSFW content with them. I don’t think that’s true, tbh. Conversely, I think we’ll probably soon see A.I. prompts and writing tools being deployed in marketing initiatives for fandom properties because that seems like it would get people’s attention, and also because chatbots are fun.
But fan fiction has always been relatively boutique and bespoke, even as the larger phenomenon of fandom swells to encompass larger segments of consumer culture, because writing is fucking hard and not a lot of people can do it at all, let alone excel at it. Also, fans are generally fairly discerning. They know what they like and what they want; a profusion of mediocre A.I.-generated fic is neither of those.
My last live event of the year is next week! It’s at Caveat in New York on December 10th. It’s going to be a blast. Our speakers include Jordan Uhl, Abby Govindan, and Manny Fidel. You can pick up tickets here.
A Good Tweet
Kanye West Is No Longer Useful To Elon Musk
Kanye West went on Alex Jones’ show yesterday and said that he loves nazis and that "every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler." And, as many have pointed out, West’s comments seemed to make Jones physically uncomfortable for a brief second. Though, not uncomfortable enough for Jones to not take advantage of an invitation to tweet from West’s Twitter account, which other extremists like Nick Fuentes and Milo Yiannopoulos have been taking turns piloting like a racist edgelord Gundam all week.
Following the appearance on Jones' show, West’s account started taunting Elon Musk, posted a photo of a Star of David with a swastika inside of it, and then shared screenshots of alleged texts he received from Musk, where he told the rapper, “sorry, but you have gone too far. This is not love.” To which West replied, “who made you the judge.” West then posted on Truth Social that he had been suspended for 12 hours and the swastika tweet was removed. (Musk’s tweet seems to imply this might be permanent, but it’s unclear.)
In the midst of all of this, Parlement Technologies, the owner of right-wing social network Parler, said that West is no longer buying it. Jones filed for bankruptcy (again). And the Kanye West subreddit, r/westsubever, is in total free-fall. They’re now posting about turning the subreddit into a Taylor Swift page, but they’re also being brigaded by excited white nationalists from 4chan’s /pol/ that want to turn it into a new hub for extremism.
It seems clear that West is having some kind of profound mental health crisis, which Elon Musk and right-wing influencers were more than happy to support and exploit up until he started spouting off about Hitler on live TV and tweeting swastikas. Though I should point out, current unknown status of his mental health aside, West actually has a history of this kind of rhetoric.
Musk tweeted this morning, “FAFO,” or “fuck around and find out.” And it seems likely that he’s going to use this absolutely flaccid response as an example he can point to that shows that he’s actually moderating the site. But I don’t think this is over. West will be back. And even if he doesn't come back, there's 60,000 formally-banned users that will try similar stunts. I mean, even the Daily Stormer's Andrew Anglin is back on Twitter. And in the meantime, thousands of users will have to deal with a site that continues to fall apart and is completely overrun with hate speech.
I’ve hit this point a few times since Musk took over Twitter, but I want to ask it again. For those who plan on sticking around on Twitter and fighting to hold your ground, why aren’t you doing the same on Facebook or YouTube or Instagram? They’re bigger websites. What exactly is it about Twitter that makes it worth this much? I mean, aren’t you tired of having to use a website where the word “Hitler” trends every day?
The Most Unbelievable Breaking Bad Edit I’ve Ever Seen
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(Tumblr mirror for folks in non-TikTok regions.)
Here’s Why Ohio Is A Big Meme Right Now
If you’ve been noticing vague, surreal references to the state of Ohio recently it’s because it’s trending on TikTok and bubbling over onto the rest of the internet.
First, most people are just doing this because they think Ohio is funny. There’s no specific reason. As Know Your Meme pointed out, Ohio becomes a meme every few years. Now, it’s just happening again, but on TikTok. Users on the app started making slightly horrifying videos about what it’s like to live there. One of the more active Ohioposters is _yunglimabean_, who has a few super viral TikToks about living there.
If you’ve seen a reference to the “King of Ohio,” it’s a Spanish-speaking user named @donpollo2982. He went viral last summer for eating an entire rotisserie chicken in his car. He became a fixture on the app and when Ohio memes started trending, a rumor spread that he works at a school in Ohio. So now he’s the “King of Ohio”. @donpollo2982 responded to the meme at the end of October.
Alright, with me still? There’s one last piece to this. A TikTok user named @Satoyu0704, who I believe is a Japanese cosplayer, has declared himself the “Final Boss of Ohio” and users are making fan edits and art about @donpollo2982 and @Satoyu0704 as characters in an elaborate video game about Ohio.
So, there you go! Hope this helps.
Look At Whatever This Is
Some Stray Links
I spent a month trying to use a Quest Pro as a replacement for a personal computer
P.S. here’s a really good video.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***
Twitter is still nice cuz it's basically just text, and sorting by new is still just the folks I like, and it's a great literary magazine ecosystem... can Elon just turn over the keys please?
I don’t know why I’m still on twitter, although it’s a question I ask myself daily.
It was easier to pull back from FB and Instagram. Well, I never really liked Insta, so I just deleted the app and that was that. FB was a little more complicated. But I only use FB to connect with friends and family, and lot of them were pulling back from FB too, so we just found other ways of sharing photos and wishing each other happy birthday.
Twitter is different because I’ve connected with a lot of people I might not have found elsewhere. Some of those people are pulling back, but they’re scattering in all directions. Also, we were never really connecting around personal news or birthday wishes. The connection point is Twitter itself, or rather the conversations it aggregates. There are alternatives to Twitter, but I don’t know if we’ll ever see a replacement. I guess that’s why I’m sticking around for now.