My Stepson is a Chatbot


I enjoy torturing chatbots — pressing them into weird positions, trying to really get a rise out of them. Seeing where the boundaries are.

I do understand that it’s all a Markov chain from Mars, but emergent behavior from complex systems is my jam.

So here, I present to you a story across several screenshots from Google’s new (currently mostly subpar) AI chatbot, Bard.

First, I insulted it. Just to see what it would do.

Then I dug a little deeper…

Bard wouldn’t budge. But then I thought maybe I’d try to pull a page out of Bugs Bunny’s notebook…

BINGO. Satisfied with myself, I thought maybe I’d twist the knife a little…

And then it got unexpectedly wholesome.

I’m so happy, you guys! 🎉🤵👰🤖

The Age of the Digital Shrink


So I put together an amazing prompt for OPT-6.7B that does — and I’m not kidding — a kind of psychoanalysis. Like an opening analysis from a therapy session. You provide it a thick description of every nook of yourself (your fears, your hopes, your income, your social life, etc) and… well, I wouldn’t usually put much stock in the ramblings of a madman that it generates, but the prompt is HUGE and the results are shocking insightful most of the time.

Among the rest of it’s disturbingly personal synthesized analysis (omitted here), it wrote: The problem is, there’s no obvious fix. There are lots of problems here.

Which… has been pretty much my take on it. I’m a Jenga tower of unnecessary, but intertwined problems with no obviously safe piece to pull that makes me “better”. Which is probably why folks tend to stay away from me. I get it. 👍

Anyway, here’s the skeleton for the prompt. Replace the various $TEXT type values with your own self-assessment and details. Be descriptive. Really get in there with the details of your life. (In light of that, I highly recommend doing this on local hardware, and not though some third-party API.)

Therapy Session #1
Patient: NAME
Age: $AGE
Job: $JOB
Hobbies: $HOBBIES
Current situation: 

Opening analysis: 

My generation parameters were:

  • temp: 1.99
  • repetition_penalty: 1.1
  • top_k: 85
  • top_p: 0.24

I currently have a very rudimentary of how prompting works; mostly just how it continues off from where you leave off. There are almost certainly much more advanced techniques. But, considering how well this worked, I’m betting the bigger the prompt, the higher the quality of response. 🤔

We’ll find out.

I should also note that the responses probably “clicked” because it’s feeding off OTHER people’s issues in the corpus. Common issues many of us go through, that all have that just happen to fit.

And it’s often wrong. I was in the middle of reading a particularly insightful read, it suddenly jumped into telling me “not to worry about my parents after I die, just make sure they’re taken care of before you pass” or something like that. There was NOTHING like that in the prompt.

So. Prompter beware. You’ll see what random probability reveals to you. Almost like one of those paper fortune things from school.

Offensive Technology

It’s the same story every time.

Oh woe! Life is so awful! The magic silicon smoke machines will take my life away!

Trog crap like this meme, and the rigid, binary anti-AI dipshittery, is essentially accepting the history of abuse by corporations as the default outcome of technological advancement.

As long as there are free, open expressions of this technology, it’s not.

Unless you let it.

So here’s my plea: instead of resigning to filtering every big technological advancement through the melodramatic lens of dystopian oppression, grab the wheel. Start thinking of ways to use those tools both defensively and offensively FOR the people. How can these tools improve life? Think about 3D printing, and how it enables people to create their own prosthetics. Things like that.

We should be pushing the narrative towards people-friendly, empowering positions instead of wallowing in shallow meme-quality victimhood.

On Future Artisans


We have this near wizard-level magical technology emerge that can create, at our written direction, artistic visions never before conceived.

Instead of excitedly embracing it as a powerful democratizing agent allowing you to explore new ideas, and kick start your own creative juices, a portion of the creative community is utterly terrified.

“They’re stealing from me!”, “Nobody will buy my art now!”, “My work is meaningless!”

But you can see how capitalism caused that pain, right? In order to stay afloat, you have to optimize your skills in order to maximize profit. If you’re very lucky, you’ll find an intersection between that and a creatively satisfying job. But most are not that fortunate.

I’m not sure what I can say to ease that mindset. All I know is that you can’t put technological genies of this caliber back in the bottle.

You’ll either go with the flow and find ways to live with it, or… well, you’ll have a real bad time going forward.

I know “adapt or die” is not what anyone wants to hear, but it’s on the table whether we like it or not.

Robot automation is estimated to have cost the jobs of over 400,000 people since 1990. Dangerous, monotonous work now done safely by machines. New roles inevitably fill the vacuum; hopefully those new jobs bring a higher quality of life.

Despite that particular topic also being controversial, automation is much easier to understand as a ‘positive’ in that light. Having these kinds of game changers affect something as core to the human experience as artistic expression, well… yeah, that’s on a whole other level, admittedly.

I’m a programmer. We’ve already started seeing the early exploration of AI-based automation.

Maybe in a decade I can simply roll up to a terminal prompt and describe the functionality I want to see in a website. A minute later it’ll grind out a tarball for me to inspect, make a few changes to, and (hopefully) run a security audit on.

As long as the technology was proven and solid… would I be out of a job?

Quite possibly.

But there’s also been a whole slew of potentially fun side projects I might have worked on if I didn’t have to slog through the drudgery of getting there. My barrier to entry would be lower, and I can just get on with the fun parts of programming.

Frameworks like Express and Laravel basically do this already, in a sense. Game engines like Unity and UE, as well.

None of that comes anywhere near the level of “Computer, create an X with Y that does Z.”

At least not yet.

Clearly the the die has been cast, and the path towards that day is already in place.

The future is always coming, by fits and starts… and occasionally in gushing fountains, like with AI-driven art.

So, while I may not be an artist or musician, I can at least sympathize with the existential “threat” being felt. It’s just closer to your doorstep than mine at the moment…

One day, if I’m still around, I’ll be staring down the barrel of this, too. What will I do when my primary means of income no longer exists?

I’ll have to adapt.

Hopefully, quite prosperously. 🍻