Wizard Wednesday Recap, 2023-05-31

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In this episode of Wizard Wednesday, AI takes over (the conversation).

Back-Of-the-Napkin Ideas

Kevin Rose Twitter Space

Battle For Goblin Town
Battle For Goblin Town

Elf kicks off the meeting by asking if anyone in the community attended the Kevin Rose Twitter Space. Dotta says that he listened to some of it, but mentions that he has a very sensitive constitution and that it was very abrasive and he couldn't take it. He asks how it went. Bearsnake says that he would describe it as a "public stoning."

Elf says his biggest takeaway was, "I feel ya, buddy." Elf paraphrases, but speaks on the topic of "back-of-the-napkin" ideas that become publicly misconstrued as part of a plan or future roadmap. He says sometimes this is a tricky situation where a back-of-the-napkin idea feels like a real idea that is going to happen, but as time progresses, you realize it's not actually going to happen. The team mentions that staking might fall into this category for Forgotten Runes.

Elf says maybe it will happen, maybe it won't, but these kinds of ideas might eventually turn into something else — a better idea that has the same effect. He says he believes these are natural pitfalls that come with hosting a weekly show.

Development Cycles & Timelines

Shadow Hat Ordinals
Shadow Hat Ordinals

Bear says he's learned a lot about product development from Dotta and notes how quickly the crypto/NFT space moves.

"Development, if you're doing it right and paying attention to the details and making something great, it just takes a ton of time...it's a tough balance."

Dotta speaks about being a creator in crypto versus working for a larger company where established timelines take years. He uses Battle For Goblin Town as an example and how resources need to be balanced as timelines shift when new tech (ChatGPT, Ordinals, etc.) emerges.

Elf says, "It takes 3-5 years to build a real tech company, and I think everybody in Twitter thinks a company gets built in 6 months and immediately goes to the moon. Man, that just doesn't happen."

Dotta also mentions Kevin Rose's history of success and how that doesn't necessarily translate to success in other areas, but it may lead to unattainable and inflated expectations of a person or project.

Elf says he's more optimistic about than ever about the future, but hypothesizes that if Magic Machine has more ideas in the works, he doesn't think they will be announced prematurely or even until the product is totally done and ready to launch. Bear agrees and says that he loves this but thinks the space needs to be retrained to be patient and not make moves purely on speculation.

Dotta says, "People want pure speculation, and I think everyone has to calibrate their expectation of what NFTs actually are."

Bear notes a conversation he had with his brother-in-law regarding volatility and how it's easier to enter crypto or NFTs when things are less volatile.

"You should be able to come and play in the space without getting completely ruined. That's not fun for anyone."

TV Show Updates & the Writers' Strike

Still Image from the Forgotten Runes TV Show Trailer
Still Image From the Forgotten Runes TV Trailer

Elf uses the conversation of timelines to segue into a question for Bear about an update on the Forgotten Runes TV show. Bear speaks to previous thoughts on the Writer's Strike regarding distribution for the show and how he thought it could be advantageous for Forgotten Runes. He says that writers are communicating that if other industry unions stand with them, even without striking themselves, it could put pressure on studios to make a deal. Bear says the result is that, "We have to wait a little bit to see how the situation changes."

AI As a Topic For the Strike

Dotta jumps in to note that aside from streaming services, AI is a big topic for other unions applying informal pressure on studios because AI is becoming a potential threat for actors and VFX teams along with writers. Bear says that this is 100% right. Elf notes that a world where the show was already in full production when the strike started would almost be worse than the current scenario. Bear agrees and says, "The show would have been shut down, and it would have been terrible...That is way worse than where we are now."

Artificial Intelligence

AI Chip From the Forgotten Runes Athenaeum

Gray Voice

On the subject of AI, Elf comments on a post from Magus Wazir about the "samey" and "bland" voice of GPT-4's fiction. Elf says he has been feeling that way for weeks now.

"I am seeing a trend — a very flat, homogonous voice that is coming out of it. I can see the machine now."

Elf mentions a conversation with community member O and paraphrases:

"ChatGPT or an AI cannot hitchhike through South America, break its leg, and come home to tell us the story, but humans can...You don't need to write like Ernest Hemingway to tell us that story."

He says that AI has no style or experience behind a style.

"It has no unique perspective...Don't come at me with, 'It can be trained on Hemingway's style.' My reply is, 'Yes, exactly. It's just a rote copy of a style that already exists and not as compelling as the original."

Elf says that even if an AI is able to develop an original style, it will be a brief trend and then die, because it has no lived experience behind it. "It's not saying anything because it's not alive. We can revisit this conversation when the machine gains actual consciousness."

He says the value comes from the combination of a human's lived experience and the authentic manner in which that is communicated.

"That's the beauty of being alive. It's the unique perspectives and the voices to tell that experience. This is what I love about Forgotten Runes. I'm not looking for talent. I'm not looking for skill. I'm looking for a unique experience expressed through a unique voice — however crude that voice may be."

Minecraft Secret Tower From Merlin's Forgotten Worlds

Dotta Speaks About Embodiment

Dotta takes the helm and says this is what AI researches refer to as "embodiment." Dotta notes that there is a philosophical discussion around whether or not it's possible to learn without embodiment. He says he answer might be 'no'.

Dotta says that he has a lot of his fears around AI quelled as language models will "top out" around human intelligence. While he says that is still more that the average person, he doesn't think an unembodied AI could outpace human intelligence. He speaks to a recent paper concerning a simulated embodiment of ChatGPT in a Minecraft agent that was able to solve the complex task of building a diamond ax faster than any other previous algorithm.

"People are working on it, I suppose is what I'm saying."

ZayLaSoul's Lauryn Hill Anecdote

Community member ZayLaSoul briefly takes the stage to tell an anecdote of Lauryn Hill being pressured to make music in the studio, which she said had no source or no substance at the time until she actually got out into the world and lived life to fuel her creative passion. Elf agrees and says there are countless versions of that same story told by artists throughout history.

Dotta's Large Lore Machine Dataset
Dotta's Large Lore Machine Dataset

Artificial Learning Means Artificial Living

Then, listener JEFFJAG.eth steps onstage to speak on the subject of AI and says he believes Elf has slightly misinterpreted how the AI works behind the scenes. He says that AIs learn in real ways, though different from human learning, by sourcing information from a dataset and that AIs experience reality through aggregation of human expression of experienced reality and make connections between similarities to form new information. He says, "When an artist creates with AI tools, they are making new work, and that is defined by the technology as it currently is."

Elf says that AI training in art and writing is an amalgamation of countless perspectives, but the end-voice is homogonous, gray, and static.

Dotta speaks up for a third perspective and says:

"It doesn't have a soul. It has limitations, but as a practitioner dealing with it day-to-day, I wouldn't underestimate it, and I wouldn't believe that we have explored what it is possible of doing, because with better tools, we could get better outputs, even with the same models that we have today."

Elf rebuttals, "But still, there is no lived experience under those. Yes, it's being trained on lived experience, but that is not an authentic lived experience."

AI Generated Character by Jitcy
AI Generated Character by Jitcy

Bladerunning the Runiverse & Elf's Dog Photo Hypothesis

JEFFJAG agrees AI doesn't have a lived experience but posits that the value might be its ability to pass for having lived by way of its convincing descriptions.

Elf says, "We're all going to be Bladerunners in the very near future." Elf says he's starting to realize that our "Bladerunning abilities" are very advanced, whether we know it or not.

"We already sense the uncanny valley in so-called 'realistic CG filmmaking,' and I think that's going to apply to all other forms of AI content."

O approaches the stage to speak about relating to personality-driven content and wonders if there is always the absence of a human personality delivering the work that will alienate a certain subgroup of people.

AI Generated Character by Jitcy
AI Generated Character by Jitcy

Dotta says he isn't bothered by AI-generated art, because he believes the purest form of art is Taste.

"If I send Elf a piece of art that I generated with AI, I've probably filtered out a thousand that I didn't think were worth looking at." He says we're on the cusp of infinite content.

"It's very, very easy for me to imagine Jitcy in 5 years from now being like, 'Hey Dotta, type in this prompt into 'Midjourney Video' and here's the seed. It's like 30 minutes long, and you're going to love it...Would we say that Jitcy made the art? Probably not, but it doesn't bother me because it was vetted by another human that says it's actually good."

Elf says that art history has shown that the most compelling pieces of art have given us new commentary on the human experience. He says he doesn't see the Machine giving an insightful commentary on the human experience. He sees it more like a fun gimmick in the same way that people use camera to take pictures of their dog or their lunch to post online:

"I can't tell my neighbor's dog photo from my aunt's dog photo. They both look the same, but I know an Ansel Adams photo when I see it."

Jitcy says, "I want a prompt-off."

Dotta says, "I think that Jitcy's prompts are better than my neighbor's dog photos." Dotta says that he doesn't think the tools make that big of a difference. Elf is confident that a Jitcy piece of AI art would be indistinguishable from a Bearsnake piece of AI art. Jitcy and Dotta don't seem to be convinced.

JEFFJAG says he strongly disagrees that a person could tell AI art from non-AI art. Elf retorts that his Bladerunning abilities are pretty sharp. Bear agrees that it's a broad statement and that he thinks it depends on the medium.

The Halls of Art History

Dotta says that he might be able to detect that something came from Midjourney but still find it moving.

Elf says, "I use use AI as well, but it's not revolutionary and groundbreaking. You're not going to be enshrined in the halls of art history with just Midjourney prompts."

Ball-Joint Magus Devon Doll by Madotsuki + AI
Ball-Joint Magus Devon Doll by Madotsuki + AI

Dotta asks how Elf feels about what Madotsuki is doing with Stable Diffusion.

"It's great, and I think there's going to be a lot of artists who train very unique models and use it in a very unique way, and I'm sure one of them will be put in to the halls of art history. Here's what I like better than this: Yes, there's great AI art, but what I like better, what I like way better, is somebody doing a shitty drawing in MS Paint or somebody who doesn't know how to use watercolors just, like, splash some watercolor on a paper..."That, to me, is a much more unique piece of human-created artwork."

Dotta says, "Eh. Like, Magus Wazir's 'Will Smith Eating Spaghetti' video might end up in someone's art book. And you could say that's because it's funny or because of how bad it is. I don't know."

Elf says the best thing he's heard in the past two years is "non-artists" suddenly becoming inspired to create and making things in rough styles. He asks to imagine that the camera was just invented and these same people start taking photos and putting those in the Book of Lore.

Elf says, "We have lost something if that happens." Dotta says he agrees with that, as most "photographers" come across as kitsch to him, and it doesn't resonate with him at all.

Qualities Of a Work

JEFFJAG notes that he would like to see more artists in the world rather than not and mentions the "technological explosion of quality." He says this ability to create something that passes for work of someone with years of experience will take a person on a path of learning. Elf says he always wants people to use the tools that they feel expresses them the most, but notes that Forgotten Runes has pulled that desire of expression from "non-artists" who have made amazing things without AI. Elf says, "I just don't want to lose that."

Madotsuki speaks about the characters Pepe and Wojak and how they have a very low barrier of entry for making content. He says that right now people just want to make something pretty, and that's where Midjourney excels, but at the expense of creative flexibility. He says, "It's exciting for a lot of people to be like, 'I can express myself now, visually, in a way that I couldn't before.'"

Elf says that's true, but his point is that people can express themselves and they have been doing so without a camera, without AI.

"We've been saying this all along. Create in earnest. Speak your truth. Put your Rune on the door. We've done this for two years, and it's been amazing. Please. Use AI tools. I use AI tools. Do it! But, I encourage you: Don't lose your voice in those tools."

Dotta then talks about the role of the viewer in the meaning of art and references Elf's comment that nothing generated in Midjourney will be in the halls of art history. Dotta says it's important to be purposeful with any tool.

"The tool is a tool, and you are your voice."

Magic Machine's Grand Meta-Narrative

Quantum Ouroboros
Quantum Ouroboros

Elf agrees and then transitions into conversation about the story thread shared on the Forgotten Runes account earlier in the week. He said he thinks a lot of people are mistaking it for Magic Machine's response to publishing more unique stories. "This is not that."

He says that all he can say right now is that "it's something totally different."

Bear notes, "That is all you can say right now!"

Dotta says, "Let's hear about the Ouroboros."

The Foundation & The Dragon

The Ouroboros Constellation
The Ouroboros Constellation

Elf speaks to the discussion about community members wanting more of a "main story." He said he wants to comment on the grand meta-narrative in Forgotten Runes and speaks about the collective unconsciousness and shared lore of human experience. He said this base-layer has a thousand expressions and this lore-under-the-lore that is the grand meta-narrative. Over time, this lore gets erased and forgotten because the marks we used to record it were very fragile and ephemeral.

"Now in these uncertain times, we've been given this gift of certainty, ironically, through blockchain. Blockchain presents this mechanism for a permanent mark on history. It's a mark that will not be forgotten. You couple that with artificial intelligence, which is the collective unconsciousness in machine-form...it's like a dragon of the end times which poses this simultaneous threat to destroy humanity while also preserving its voice forever...In that, it's eating its own tail...waiting for humanity to give it shape. Our Book of Lore knows these shapes. These pages in the Book of Lore are scales in the Dragon, and the Loracle is chaining them all together. She intuits the grand narrative that's been there from the beginning and presents them back to us. We don't know how many of these scales the Dragon will eat until the next epoch. I don't know if the artificial collective unconscious will eclipse the organic one. Like shadows on the cave wall, we will see a glimpse to a world on the other side. The shadow is a Quantum Shadow. It is simultaneously an unknown mystery and yet the only indication we have of this great rupture."

He says that is the grand narrative as far as he can see it. "This is not a novel. This is not a film. This is decentralized creation, and I think that's the kind of base-layer you have to start with."

He notes that Magic Machine will give more traditional storylines which will be expressed in the comic and the show. He says that he is working on the story thread for the official Forgotten Runes account that will be released at some point.

This leads the conversation into the responsibilities of Machine Machine to tell stories about Characters without making community members feels as though they aren't able to contribute to the overarching narrative of the Runiverse.

Hedge Wizard Dotta of the Carnival
Hedge Wizard Dotta of the Carnival

Dotta's Character Goals For 2023

Dotta says that he feels like the community has done a good job of this and thinks the Loracle helps people who want to stay on a given path.

He said he wants to develop three things over the rest of the year.

1. Individual Characters

2. Locations

3. Event chronology

Dotta says that development in these areas will help people write their lore because they won't have to invent so much on their own.

Cult Content & Closing Remarks

Then, the team reviews the Cult Content from Tania Del Rio's Cult Content Chronicle.

The 100th Episode Approaches

As the meeting closes, Dotta notes that this was week 98 of Wizard Wednesday and hints that you might want to be in attendance of the 100th episode in two weeks.