This month was the AGM for the BCS Animation and Games specialist group that I have been chairing for a very long while now. I gave a presentation from a personal view point (this is not a work presentation and I make that clear in the disclaimers, though it is what I work in too of course), on the advances in Metaverse and GenAI content creation. The full YouTube version is below but the link to the blurb and bio (and the video) at the BCS is here
We are always looking for presenters to come and share some ideas with our specialist group around all things games, animation, metaverse, esports etc, so if you are interested ping me there is a slot waiting for you. We sometimes get a big crowd, other times smaller ones but with the videos published like this it can be a useful thing to do and share.
For those of you who don’t know, BCS (formerly British Computer Society) Chartered Institute for IT is a UK based (but worldwide membership) professional body for anyone in the tech industry. It exists at all levels from just getting going in the business to Fellows with vast amounts of experience and willingness to help. It was part of my professional certification whilst at IBM and I then also became a certifier whilst there too. Volunteering and sharing ideas, such as this presentation, is one of the many ways to get involved (you don’t have to do this). It benefits you as an individual but also elevates tech roles within enterprises and organizations you work in.
Having my books Reconfigure and Cont3xt I am always using them and the story I created as a way to explore other mediums. I started drawing a few years ago to see if I could maybe go manga with it, that included buying some action figure mini drawing mannequins that have some tech and weapon props. I created some meta humans and have a unity based mocap suit from a kickstarter to see if I could produce anime. Audio voice generation has been another thing I tried. Each of these projects would be a significant amount of time, effort and probably cost too, but delving in as a mini proof of concept gives me an appreciation of what would be needed.
Midjourney and the AI image generators have offered another option to explore, an very quickly too. One of the challenges is to get the same character to appear in each generated image (i.e. story board). I decided to sort that out later in this POC. Though I did suggest that the actress to play Roisin should be Ruby Rose to get a potential consistent likeness.
Having got this image, which was pretty good for a first attempt, with very little text in the prompt I popped over to runway.ml and tried its new gen-2 image to video generation. This time with NO PROMPT at at all! It decided she should look up and stare into the distance, which in the book she is doing as she is being chased and very aware of her surroundings as she tries to outwit those after the amazing tech she has discovered. They only generate short clips on the free accounts, but those few seconds I found to be quite astounding and bewitching.
GenAI is obviously on a major drive into all sorts of areas, but the ability to potentially use tools like this to create a film version of my books on my own time and budget is emerging as a strong contender, unless Netflix or Prime decide they would like to do it instead 🙂
Ok so I tried something a little recursive in nature to see what ChatGPT AI do, and I think this is very much in the write style and has some surprising little rant in it about the process of writing a sitcom. I like this better than the first Blackadder sketch I had in the previous post.
write a Blackadder sketch of Blackadder writing a Blackadder sketch
Baldrick: My lord, what are you doing?
Blackadder: I am trying to write a sketch for our next Blackadder episode, Baldrick.
Baldrick: But my lord, you are Blackadder. Why are you writing a sketch about Blackadder writing a sketch?
Blackadder: Because, Baldrick, it is a clever and meta way to poke fun at the absurdity of the situation.
Baldrick: Ah, I see. But what is the sketch about, my lord?
Blackadder: It is about Blackadder sitting at his desk, trying to come up with a sketch for the next Blackadder episode. But every idea he comes up with is met with objections from the other characters.
Baldrick: Like what, my lord?
Blackadder: Well, for example, I might come up with an idea for a sketch where Blackadder and I go on a quest to find the Holy Grail. But then Prince George would object, saying that we already did that in a previous episode.
Baldrick: Oh, I see. And then what would happen, my lord?
Blackadder: Then I would come up with another idea, perhaps involving a time-traveling Blackadder going back to the Tudor era. But then Queenie would object, saying that we already did that in a previous episode as well.
Baldrick: So Blackadder can’t come up with any new ideas for sketches?
Blackadder: Exactly, Baldrick. It’s a satirical commentary on the creative challenges of writing for a long-running television show.
Baldrick: Oh, I get it now, my lord. That sounds like a very clever sketch.
Blackadder: Yes, Baldrick, I thought so too. But now I just need to figure out how to end it.
Baldrick: How about Blackadder giving up and going for a walk instead?
Blackadder: Hmm, not bad, Baldrick. Not bad at all. I think I’ll go with that. Thank you for your assistance.
Baldrick: Always happy to help, my lord.
Blackadder: Now let’s hope this sketch is a hit with the audience.
(Blackadder gets up from his desk and exits, with Baldrick following behind.)
My social feeds were getting full of people trying out a version of the GPT3 AI for text by OpenAI on https://chat.openai.com/chat so I thought I would have a look at it. It is as amazing as the AI art generation, not a sentient being but a tool that when asked the write questions gives interesting answers.
Whilst essay style responses are interesting I asked it a rather odd question with a style slant towards it and this is what I got. Not hilariously funny, but just consider that the characters are as you would expect them to be. There is a sense of trying to get out of doing something, then getting caught out and sent back to the beginning.
“Write a Blackadder sketch set in a 20th century office environment”
Blackadder: (sitting at his desk, staring at a stack of papers) Baldrick, I’m drowning in paperwork.
Baldrick: (leaning against the doorframe) Yes, sir.
Blackadder: (sighing) It seems like no matter how much I do, there’s always more to do. And on top of that, the boss is breathing down my neck.
Baldrick: (nodding) Yes, sir.
Blackadder: (slamming his fist on the desk) I need a break, Baldrick. I need to get out of this office and do something fun for a change.
Baldrick: (smirking) I’ve got just the thing, sir. How about we play a game of darts?
Blackadder: (raising an eyebrow) Darts? In the office? Are you mad, Baldrick?
Baldrick: (shrugging) Why not, sir? It’ll be a nice change of pace, and it’ll take your mind off all this paperwork.
Blackadder: (considering) Hmm, I suppose you have a point. But we’ll have to be careful not to break anything.
Baldrick: (grinning) Don’t worry, sir. I’ll go get the darts.
(Baldrick exits the room and returns a moment later with a dartboard and a set of darts)
Blackadder: (picking up a dart) Alright, Baldrick. Let’s see who the better marksman is.
(They start playing darts, with Blackadder proving to be the better player)
Blackadder: (throwing a dart and hitting the bullseye) Ha! Another bullseye, Baldrick. You’ll have to try harder than that if you want to beat me.
Baldrick: (throwing a dart and missing the board entirely) Oops, sorry sir.
Blackadder: (rolling his eyes) Never mind, Baldrick. At least we’re having fun.
(Just then, the boss enters the room)
Boss: Blackadder! What is going on in here?
Blackadder: (turning to face the boss) Ah, just taking a break from all the paperwork, sir. Playing a friendly game of darts.
Boss: (scowling) Darts? In the office? This is highly inappropriate, Blackadder. I expect better from you.
Blackadder: (apologetically) My apologies, sir. It won’t happen again.
Boss: (sternly) See that it doesn’t. Now, get back to work, both of you.
(Blackadder and Baldrick sheepishly return to their desks and resume their work, with Blackadder grumbling about the unfairness of it all)
It’s not just long form that this bot can produce I also asked it for something shorter and to the point
“Write a haiku about cars”
Cars speed down the road,
Metal beasts with roaring engines,
Nature takes a backseat.
Next I chose to mix it with some AI image generation (this time using photo leap on the iPhone)
Create a play with two people discussing the Metaverse, one person is positive the other person is negative
Person 1: Have you heard about the Metaverse? It’s this amazing virtual world where anything is possible.
Person 2: Yeah, I’ve heard of it. But it’s just a bunch of hype. It’s never going to happen.
Person 1: Are you kidding me? The technology is already here. It’s just a matter of time before we can all access it.
Person 2: I don’t know. It sounds like a utopia, but I think it’s more likely to become a dystopian nightmare.
Person 1: That’s just fear-mongering. The Metaverse has the potential to revolutionize the way we live and interact with each other.
Person 2: But what about the consequences? What happens when people start spending all their time in the virtual world instead of the real one?
Person 1: That’s a valid concern, but I think it’s a risk worth taking. The potential benefits are just too great to ignore.
Person 2: But what about the loss of privacy? In the Metaverse, everything about us will be out in the open for anyone to see.
Person 1: That’s true, but I think the benefits will outweigh the drawbacks. The Metaverse will allow us to connect with people in ways we never thought possible.
Person 2: But what about the cost? Creating and maintaining the Metaverse is going to be incredibly expensive.
Person 1: That’s a short-sighted view. The Metaverse has the potential to generate huge amounts of wealth and create countless new jobs.
Person 2: But what about the impact on the environment? The amount of energy needed to power the Metaverse will be enormous.
Person 1: Again, I think the benefits will outweigh the drawbacks. The Metaverse will allow us to explore new frontiers and push the boundaries of what’s possible.
Person 2: I still have my doubts. The Metaverse sounds like a pipe dream to me.
Person 1: That’s okay. Not everyone has to believe in it. But I have faith that the Metaverse is the future, and I’m excited to see where it takes us.
Person 2: I hope you’re right. But I’m still skeptical.
Person 1: That’s okay. Time will tell. In the meantime, I’ll continue to dream of the possibilities the Metaverse holds.
Yet more wonders I did behold when I asked…
“Describe the Metaverse in the style of William Shakespeare”
In the style of William Shakespeare, the Metaverse may be described as a boundless realm of virtual reality, where spirits roam free and digital avatars take on form and substance. It is a world beyond the flesh, where imagination is the only limit and all things are possible. Here, one may forge new identities and explore uncharted territories, unfettered by the constraints of the physical world. In this vast and wondrous domain, the boundaries of time and space are mere illusions, and the possibilities for adventure and discovery are endless. So come, brave travelers, and enter the Metaverse, where you may revel in the boundless wonders of a virtual world, and unleash the full power of your imagination.
Very clever, and this is accelerating very quickly. Certainly something to keep an eye on!
I have carried on experimenting with the wonderful Midjourney app on Discord. My previous post had some images and a degree of explanation, but as a reminder. This is one of the new generation of publicly available of AI based image generation from text. Just watching the flow of requests and the range of styles and images that appear constantly is fascinating. It generates 4 images for each text request which you can then curate and push for further generation of more similar to that one. It can also take a web image not generated by it as inspiration.
This however, made me chortle, then stop to ponder, then simply just say way. I said /Imagine Lego John Wick – that is all I asked
Look at the variety of styles from the top right and bottom left as actual minifies with shadows to a stylised top left looking as if he is paid in lego pieces not gold, and bottom right an angular representation but a cool image.
Then of course that got me going onto the obvious /imagine Lego predator
This just looks great, lots of predator variations, which as has happened with the films is pretty much in the storyline to have multiple tribes. (BTW Watch Prey the latest Predator movie on Disney+/Hulu it is really good !
Once again Midjourney hit me with its range of styles it delves into. I moved off the lego thing for a while and asked to see Laurel and Hardy breakdancing
This is a second generation image from a set of already very good images. Laurel and Hardy are of course well known, but there are no breakdancing scenes to refer to. Also, it chose black and white, presumably because most of the source content was black and white. The quirky style of this compared to the photo realistic lego minifigs and the stacks of other images show how amazingly versatile this approach is. You should be able to get a glimpse of the madness on my public facing page in midjourney (if that works )so I can stop posting here all the time saying “look at this: 🙂 You may need to change the second in from the right navigation drop down to grids or all, it seems to default to the large upscaled individual images.
Firstly, yes its been a while since I posted here, I could have done with an AI clone of me carrying on sharing interesting things. I was out mainly due to an annoying post-ailment “thing” (medical term) hitting my facial nerves which meant for months any screen time trying to read or write was visually and mentally uncomfortable. That was followed with a dose of Covid that knocked me out for a while but also seems to have had a potential positive impact on whatever else was going on. Anyway, I am back. Anything happened the past few months, I mean 1/2 a year?
I suddenly felt compelled to blog about some of the marvellous work going on with AI image generation of late with things such as Dall-e and Midjourney becoming available to more people. I have so far only used Midjourney, which is accessed through Discord. In the relevant channel you simply type the command /imagine followed by any descriptive text you fancy and it will generate four images based on that, with often surprising results. Any of those images can be selected as the root to generate more in that style, or you can upscale, get a big version, of one you favourite.
Handy hint- The mobile version of Discord really likes to scroll to new items, midjourney works by updating your post to the channel. As so many posts are being generated every few seconds you might think you can leave the app on your post to see the results but very quickly you will zoom up the screen. Constant scrolling back to try and catch your images being generated is a bit of a pain. However if you log into midjourney.com with Discord ID it will present you with your collection and lots of links to get back to do things with them. The Discord search doesn’t seem to work on userid etc so it took me a while to figure this out.
After a few attempts, and with one eye on the political situation and crisis faced in the UK I asked mid journey “an artist forced to stop painting in order to work in a bank” and got this wonderful set of images
I also asked it to generate a protest by the people
Rather than continue the doom and gloom it was time to go a bit more techie 🙂 I asked it to show me directing the metaverse from a control centre
An obvious course of action was to explore my Reconfigure and Cont3xt novels and this is where I was very impressed by whatever is going on with this AI. I asked to see “a cyberpunk girl manipulating the physical world using an augmented reality digital twin” and it seems that Roisin (@Axelweight) is in there somewhere 🙂
This was worth exploring and picking couple of the images to then seed generating more similar to that which generated these two
And this one
These were good but the first version of the top right image in generation 1 was the one I did a more detail version of on its own. It could be the cover of the third book couldn’t it?
In case this seems a all a bit too serious, I did ask a slightly weirder question of the AI and got this.
For a happy image how about this /imagine a bright green planet full of life
But back to the surreal and unusual and predlet 1.0 and I share a joke we “invented” when she was quite young, we were passing the pub in Lock’s Heath having been to the supermarket, she looked at the pavement and saw a creature. She said “dad look there’s a worm coming out of the pub” to which I replied “and he is legless”, and here it is
As this kind of AI generation evolves from the static image to the moving one and then onto virtual world and the metaverse, what a wonderfully weird set of worlds we will be able to dream/nightmare up 🙂
It’s time to share another edition of the Flush the Fashion magazine and this time I have written an article inspired by the apparent passing of the Turing test a few weeks ago. As with all my articles it is just a starting point and a look at some of achievements and current state of the art created by the company I worked at for 20 years IBM. Deep Blue and Watson. The article is titled “R U Intelligent like what I am?”, it finished with a bit about Timeless Decision Theory and Newcombe’s Paradox so it is probably the freakiest article yet 🙂
Huge thanks once again to @tweetthefashion for another very full and exciting edition of the magazine and the really great layout and pictures to go with my words.
A direct link to the article is here
It’s on page 125 🙂
There is also the iOS version and a google version linked here
I hope you enjoy it, and the magazine. It’s great fun to write like this, and there always seems a subject to get into and explore making itself appear through serendipity.