His view

After centuries of hiding in the dark corners of the world, and years of bleak existence bound to the will of others, she came. She leaked into the cracks of his hard exterior, melting his frozen soul, unaware of what she was doing. It happened quietly, without fanfare, but for him she was like the sun rising; painful and harsh after eons of cool darkness.

His eyes were attuned to the black cell he inhabited. He could make out the fine texture in the stone and concrete walls. The chains that held his wrists were cold and heavy, but they made no impression on his smooth skin. He hung against the wall, still as death.

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This Person Does Not Exist

She was created by an adversarial neural network.

The idea that this is possible is both amazing and terrifying.

I can see many positive applications for this. For my part, I’ve been thinking of using it as inspiration for character apperances. There is no need for me to ground my character’s appearence on a real person, when there are computers that can generate fictional people. My characters will be completely unique.

On the flip side, real looking people, stories, and evidence can be generated by a computer. If a computer can recreate faces with such impressive detail, what other visual elements can they fabricate on the fly? Photoshop and CG have been around for awhile. We already can’t trust what we see, but with AI able to generate original images instantly, the capacity for indecipherable realistic fake images will skyrocket. We truly wont be able to believe any sort of photographic evidence anymore.

I am still optimistic about what other things this sort of AI could be capable of. I looked up the possibility of AI writing novels, or at least synopses of novels, and came across Janelle Shane‘s pet neural network. She wanted to get her pet neural network to generate potential first lines for a novel by training it on famous first lines from novels. Her data set turned out to be a little small and the neural network basically just rearranged snippets of lines and spit them back out; so she asked for help and created a google form to which people could submit first lines.

She gathered over ten thousand potential first lines and the neural network began generating, if not good first lines, at least grammatically correct ones. It also created some doozies. Go ahead and have a look for yourself at her post about it.

I am still excited though. I think this technology could be very handy as a support tool for writers. I don’t actually want an AI to be able to write good novels. I want it to be able to write really terrible pieces of potentially good novels that writers can use as jumping off points. I want completely original ideas to come out of bots writing story synopses that a human might not have come up with because of our limited experience. I want a bot to be able to shake me of my writers’ block by completing my sentence, or suggesting the beginning of my next line when I can’t think of where to go next. I want a fiction autocomplete. I don’t think we’re far off. Even some of the first lines generated by Janelle’s neural network could inspire a good story.

I can’t wait to see what’s next.

For more on the This Person Does Not Exist project, watch this video:

I have been advised to write

Every article, listicle, or essay about writing I have read have one theme stands out. Write. Write every day. Write when you don’t want to. Write when you don’t feel like it. Write when you do. Write when you’re uninspired and write when the words just fall out onto the page. Just write.

The other critique I have seen is that you can’t call yourself a writer these days if you don’t have a blog…

I’ve had this one for some time, but it has gone unused. I’ve written an article here or there, but nothing consistent or regular. I used to write on LiveJournal, before the word “blog” even existed, but that fell to the wayside with MySpace and Facebook. Here I am, though, trying to revive my blogging habits in hopes of being able to call myself a writer.

The other advice I have seen is to admit that you are a writer. Just start believing you are one. Call yourself one. Tell other people that’s what you are. You don’t to be published to have writing in your soul. I never planned to “be a writer” growing up, but I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always been a story-teller, so I guess it’s time I started believing it and telling other people that’s what I am, even if I suck at it.

The other advice I have seen about writing, though it’s really true for literally anything you want to do in life, is that everyone sucks before they are good at something. I will suck at writing until I don’t. I sucked at chemistry until I didn’t. I will suck at cello, and singing, and sewing, and cooking, and blogging, until I don’t. The only thing that will make me not suck is doing it, and sucking a whole lot until I don’t. That’s just how it works.

I am so used to having things come easy, at least to the point of impressing some people, that as soon as I start feeling like I suck I feel like it isn’t worth it anymore. That is EXACTLY when you have to keep going. That is exactly when it’s time to put in the hard work.

Some of the best fiction advice I have seen so far goes right along with the “you have to just write” advice. For world building and character creation you don’t have to dive into writing your fiction. Write pieces of it you never intend anyone to see. Write character interactions that happen outside the timeline of your book. Write childhood memories. Get inside your characters’ heads. Write their dreams and their hopes. Write until you know each character inside and out, until they are individuals with their own histories and personalities.

So I will write. I will write every day, in one form or another, until I don’t suck; until I have a novel that is done; until I know my worlds and my characters like they are old friends.

I will write.

The great chicken move

The chickens are 5 weeks old today, and we are moving them outside. We cleared out all of the ivy from the area and cut the tree back. The ground wasn’t level so we dug out some more dirt and pushed it into the corners and around the edges to seal it. We brought the chicks out around mid day.

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LoO

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Gus was very interested in the Birdies’ new location

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We decided after realizing it would be near impossible to get the chicks back in their cage that they would probably be just fine out over night. We will need to put a tighter mesh over the run, but as long as the chicks are shut inside the coop they will be perfectly fine.

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School is Hard

So much for regular posts. 

There was an article I read not too long ago about how telling people about your goals can actually sap you of the will to complete them by prematurely giving your brain the feeling of accomplishment. Perhaps I shouldn’t have posted about trying to post every day in 2012. 

School has been rough lately. It has sapped my energy so completely. On Tuesday I had two exams, 7 hours apart. Neither of them felt good, but I wont really know how I did until I get them back. My physics teacher today said that it was overall much poorer than she expected (which seems to be how every teacher I have ever had in physics feels about every test… you would think they would be used to it by now). The two questions she went over in class though I did better on than I thought. It’s my calc exam I’m actually worried about. I thought I had it in the bag. I was able to do all of the homework, and vectors just aren’t hard for me, but all of the questions were curve balls and more complex than what we had studied in class and in homework. Since I’ve had him before I also know that he doesn’t give too much partial credit. He does give some… 

The internet in the lounge here at school is finally picking up. When I first got here it was so slow it took almost ten minutes to load a single page. 

Chemistry is going much better. Once again it is my easy class, even with the new information that was not covered in chem 22. It is all pretty straight forward compared to physics. I honestly can’t understand most of the difficulties other’s have with it. The math is relatively simple, and all of the concepts are straight forward. 

I find it interesting that my physics classes have always been taught as if the concepts and math should be easy, and my chem classes have been taught as if they are the hardest thing on the planet, but I have found the opposite to be true. What’s up with that?