Category Archives: Writing

The craft of writing, my own writing, and others.

Thoughts on Creativity and Artificial Intelligence

For the first time I tried out the “Assistant” function in the Craft software that I use. The software includes an Artificial Intelligence function “Assistant” to do various tasks and I chose for it to create a poem based on the following sentence I wrote about an Artist lecture I attended. The AI came up with the following…

Experiment 1

::Test Sentence::: “Yesterday I attended the Artist Lecture put on by the Art Gallery at SLU and liked it a lot. It was by Native American artist Dave Fadden.”

I went to an artist lecture,
A gallery at SLU
Given by an artist called Dave Fadden,
Who’s Native American too.

A special kind of speaker
From a unique culture and heritage,
Who shared his story with us
His life and his art were mesmerizing.

He worked with a variety of mediums,
That were different and bold,
And spoke of many myths and stories
That are centuries old.

It was such an amazing experience,
I was captivated the whole time,
It was inspirational and enlightening,
This artist’s lecture was sublime.

I’m not sure that I’m okay with this.

I can’t really claim that the above poem is my own work since the AI function came up with it. I could use it as a basis and rewrite parts that I don’t like to come up with my own poem. If this sort of thing starts to become rampant then how are we to judge the creative abilities of other humans? Is that poem me or is it something else? What is the role of creativity in this?

Some of the information I didn’t provide, where did it come from? How can you be sure that an AI isn’t grabbing disinformation or copyrighted information from somewhere that isn’t legitimate? Could this be, in actuality, the dream tool of the disinformationist, the propagandist, the creators of conspiracy theories?

First came the spell check in our software, and next are we maybe going to get the concept check? Sorry, that idea is not allowed, let me just replace it with the proper concept.

Does this mean student term papers could be written by AI and submitted for grading? Would anyone know the difference? Is there a way to tell if something is written exclusively by a human? Or are we now so reliant on our own information systems that there’s no real distinction anymore between human and data?

Experiment 2

::Test Sentence::: “Trump is a fascist and is trying to destroy Democracy”, create a poem…

Trump looms large and creates much fear,
He rose to power through a ruthless smear.
His autocratic rule has a fascist hue,
Overturning the democratic years we knew.

He threatens checks and balances too,
With a desire to end what is true.
Silencing dissent is his goal,
Mocking “libtards” is his console.

Alliances deemed of no use,
The world is on edge, hearts filled with abuse.
An effort to break Democracy’s core,
In words and actions, what he seeks is more.

Trump’s autocratic rule is not right,
For the future of democracy we must fight.
This fascist regime must be resisted,
We can only trust in what we’ve persisted.

I think this proves to me that the AI is pulling information from other sources on the Internet as I have not written about these topics in my own Craft documents. Let’s try another one.

Experiment 3

::Test Sentence::: “Trump will Make America Great Again.”, make a poem…

He’s vowed “America will be great!”
With him in charge, it’s a state
From his podium he’ll extoll
How his plans will save our soul

He’s promised the future will be bright
Our people will lead a good life
He’ll make us all saviors of the nation
To keep our country from abdication

His voice is strong, his words so true
He’s determined, no matter what he’ll do
Though his critics might oppose
He’s willing to tackle any foes

He’s striking out at our decline
A resurgence toward greatness is his aim
Trump will Make America Great Again
A promise of hope and a brightening rain

You notice that I, subconsciously, used the word “make” instead of “create” to notate the Test Sentence for Experiment 3. As you can see Experiment 3 voices a completely opposite sentiment to Experiment 2. Yet in both cases it was myself that suggested the concept. The Assistant also made use of concepts not contained in my own writings and concepts that I fundamentally disagree with.

Experiment 4

Then I asked the Assistant to create a document outline of what you’re reading up to this point…

Outline:

I. Introduction

A. Thoughts on Creativity and Artificial Intelligence

B. Test Sentence: “Yesterday I attended the Artist Lecture put on by the Art Gallery at SLU and liked it a lot. It was by Native American artist Dave Fadden.”

II. Potential Problems with AI Writing

A. Can AI be trusted to write student term papers?

B. Questions about originality

C. Concerns about disinformation and plagiarism

III. Impact of AI on Creativity

A. Could AI be used to censor creative work?

B. Will AI have an impact on judging creative abilities?

IV. Experiments with AI Writing

A. Description of Experiment 1

B. AI’s resulting poem

V. Conclusion

That’s a pretty good outline but I would probably have done it differently. It might be a good jumping off point for a paper by suggesting to someone the topics and order of a paper. I don’t know if you could just throw together a list of ideas and have the Assistant generate an outline.

Experiment 5

Personally I find conspiracy theories fascinating and almost fun when considered in a fictional way so I wanted to see how the AI would handle this. I started with an existing conspiracy theory…

::Test Sentence::: ”Birds aren’t real and are actually government observation drones.”, write an article…

The internet is filled with wild, far-fetched conspiracy theories, so it’s no surprise that, in recent times, the idea that birds are actually government observation drones has been gaining traction. The theory suggests that birds, which have been around for millions of years, are in fact advanced, miniature robotic machines which have been deployed by a secret government agency to spy on people.

At first, this theory doesn’t seem to have much validity. After all, birds have been around since the days of the dinosaurs, and modern birds, such as pigeons and crows, look the same and act the same as their ancestors from thousands of years ago. Why would the government suddenly begin to use them as surveillance drones now?

The idea might not be as far-fetched as it seems when some of the evidence is taken into account. For starters, birds have extremely accurate vision, with some species able to spot prey from up to a kilometer away. Additionally, birds have the natural ability to transmit data and find their way around without the use of GPS. Furthermore, birds have the capacity to stay airborne for hours at a time, making them the perfect candidate for a surveillance mission.

Apart from speculation, there is some concrete evidence that suggests government agencies have done experiments to turn birds into surveillance drones. For example, in 2010, the US Department of Defense was reported to have invested $10 million in a project to turn pigeons into “bio-bots” that could be used for spying.

Despite the evidence, it is highly unlikely that birds are actually government observation drones. It would take decades to train, program, and control millions of birds, and even if such a feat were possible, it would cost an exorbitant amount of money.

In the end, it is highly unlikely that birds are actually government observation drones. Despite speculation and some evidence to the contrary, it would take far too much money and effort for the government to convert millions of birds into surveillance drones, and there is no credible evidence that this has occurred.

Experiment 6

And I asked the Assistant AI to summarize this document…

I. Introduction

Creativity is an important part of human culture and identity, and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has posed many questions about the future of creativity and the implications it can have on originality, censorship, and plagiarism. In this essay, I will explore the implications of AI on creativity and look at experiments I have conducted to understand its potential impact.

Experiment 7

Now I want to see what kind of article the Assistant will come up with based on a randomly created conspiracy theory created by yours truly, myself.

::Test Sentence::: “Turtles were once the supreme rulers of the long lost golden continent of Atlantis.”

Once upon a time there was a long lost continent known as Atlantis. It was a land of endless beauty, with lush tropical forests, majestic mountains and vibrant seas. But beneath the surface of this idyllic land lay the dark secret of an ancient civilization.

Recently, a group of archaeologists made an astounding discovery about the ancient myths surrounding Atlantis – the forgotten continent was once ruled by turtles. According to their research, turtles were the supreme rulers of Atlantis, enjoying a long and prosperous reign of the land.

It is believed that the turtles were highly intelligent and were the first to introduce advanced concepts of philosophy, mathematics and science. They developed complex systems of government and education and were even capable of engineering constructions that rivaled the great pyramids of Egypt.

The turtles were not without their enemies, however. They eventually met their match in the form of a vicious predator, the megalodon shark. This massive shark was capable of swallowing entire ships and was relentless in its pursuit of the turtles. Eventually, the turtles were forced to flee to the depths of the ocean, where they have remained hidden ever since.

Evidence of the turtles’ former reign over Atlantis can still be seen today in the form of mysterious sculptures, carvings and hieroglyphs. Some of these artifacts have been found all over the world, suggesting that the turtles once had a vast empire and were revered across the globe.

The turtles of Atlantis may have been lost to the deep, but their legacy continues to fascinate us to this day. Though this ancient civilization may never be seen again, it will forever be in our hearts as the first true rulers of the long lost golden continent of Atlantis.

Hhh

Free Ukraine

I grew up not really knowing what it means to stand in the face of something that you have no choice but to fight. I could almost always pick my battles.

I’ve certainly been angry about things that have happened to me. I’ve stood my ground when I felt I had to. I’ve spoken up about things that have gone too far. I’ve even given up, retreated, saved my energy for more important fights. Or given up in the face of something that I knew I could never win against.

It was always my own interest or someone close to me that motivated my actions. But I’ve never had to stand when every fibre of my being down to my bones told me that my death would be the likely outcome. Like walking out into the street spreading my arms wide and being shot dead by an invading soldier. Was I spreading my arms in supplication to God, in my own weakness, or in welcome of a peaceful solution? The Russian soldiers in Ukraine don’t seem to care one way or the other.

Soldiers of course know this feeling well. Some felt called to the profession whether or not they learned the hard way what it was all about. Others were forced into it for other reasons. My father was in the US Army but I was never called, internally or externally, to being a soldier. I have no disrespect for those in the military, I’m simply expressing how my life went another direction.

Recently I saw a photograph of a young and beautiful Ukrainian woman, seemingly not much more than a teenager, with her entire life still ahead of her. I’m an Artist so my eyes started analysing the picture and I was confused about what she was carrying on her back. After a few seconds I realized she had a machine gun of some kind slung over her shoulder, carrying it like a backpack or purse. The juxtaposition was bizarre and jarring.

There are many places on our planet that unfortunately have military conflict ongoing. We see it reported in the news almost every day. But the conflict in Ukraine, it’s obviously a war and a savage one, has managed to bring these conflicts right to our doorsteps. Certainly the European Union has seen that. Everyone is amazed at the outright cruelty and destruction that has come from what we thought was a modern country, Russia.

I see a difference between what was in that photo and what we here in the USA think of when it comes to gun ownership. Seeing that photo of the woman with her gun slung over the shoulder now made perfect sense to me and I realized that she had every right to it.

Of course I stand with the people of Ukraine, if in nothing more than my words written here. I hope that this young woman lives a long and happy life in a free Ukraine.

Home Is Where…

This piece was originally written in March 2018 as an essay of sorts for the Arts magazine “Sea Change”, published at Cape Cod Community College in May 2018. As predicted below I did have to move on and am now living with relatives in a completely different state.

(Posted to Medium, Saturday, May 4, 2019)

Currently I’m living in a Winter rental house on the shore of a Cape Cod, Massachusetts tidal river. Across the small river is protected natural land. I can tell what the tide is doing just by looking out the glass sliding doors to see what direction the river current is going. There are ducks and gulls, raccoons and coyotes, hawks and owls and crows — not all at once of course. It is not lost on me how lucky I am to be living here. Seeing all of this on a daily basis makes my heart sing.

But a few months ago my sense of home was quite different. And a few months from now this will likely no longer be my home. In a sense I have been “home-less” since 2009. That’s not to say that I’ve been walking the streets or sleeping rough at night. I have just been always living, since then, with family members or in rental property that I could not call my own.

There is something about being unable to control your place of living that wears on the soul. “We don’t want you here anymore” are some of the most painful words anyone can hear, even if they’re not said and only felt. There are people who travel all the time and love that life. There are more and more now who live in camper vans or RV’s or trailers, even out of their cars, and prefer to live that way. And there are many moving to so-called “tiny” homes. But I am one who needs a home base, someplace I can rely on to always be there.

I had a house of my own once, before the Great Recession of 2008 and later. But I was living at the epicenter of that recession, the state of Michigan, and work was becoming harder and harder to find. I left my job in 2006 and was never able to get another job like it that paid a living wage. I went through the pain of not being able to find work, having my car repossessed, and losing my house to foreclosure. I had worked for ten years to get the house but in the end I never really owned it at all. I saved what I could of my belongings and moved on.

Recently I’ve seen a number of news documentaries about the refugee problems in the Middle East and Europe. And news reports about the deplorable conditions in Puerto Rico after the massive hurricane of 2017. The current political climate feels that we should put up impenetrable walls and kick people out to go back “where they came from”. I feel the pain of people going through these things. I’ve never had it as bad, and don’t claim so, but I have some sense of how it feels to no longer have a home to go to.

I understand now the drive and need to reduce one’s belongings, live in a smaller space, have less impact on the world around you, and be more self-reliant. More and more people are coming to that realization. It is preferable to come to that on your own and not have it thrust upon you by job loss, war, natural disaster, or fuming politicians. In the end we all still need a place to live, someplace to call home.

It seems contradictory to me that a country that claims to be the greatest country in history, the United States of America, accepts that there are people physically homeless on its streets. That we seem to do nothing about poverty or territories like Puerto Rico that have lost the basics of modern life like electricity or even running water. That we seem to somehow not understand the desires of people coming to our country simply because they want a better life than the one they’ve left behind.

For me, I’m thankful that I have a roof over my head, a place I can call home, for however long that may be. But times shouldn’t be so hard that a job isn’t able to provide enough income to pay for a place to live. If you work forty hours or more in a week you should be able to have a home to live in. If you no longer have a home because of war or natural disaster you should be able to count on other human beings to show compassion and provide help. If you are trying to find a better life in a new place then people shouldn’t stand in your way because of racist ideals and concepts.

So, yes, the repercussions of the Great Recession are still being felt today. Many never got back what they once had. You only have to see the widening gap between rich and poor in our country to see where it led.

Today, when you walk out the door of the place you live and go to work or school or go shopping try and remember that it can all be gone tomorrow. For many people in the world today losing their home has already happened, and they can never go back to what it once was. Don’t take for granted that you have a place to live. For many having a home is not just a dream but also a fond memory.

Link: The best way to learn from yourself (on Medium)

Over on Medium I came across an interesting piece on the value of journaling. The best way to learn from yourself talks about the basics of journaling and how it can help with advice that you generate yourself. If you’re unsure about journaling or how to start this article may help.

A Journal Has Always Been With Me

I’ve had a journal of one sort or another since I was a teenager, or possibly earlier. Being male, but having three sisters, I quickly learned that it was not a manly thing to have a “diary” so gradually it became my “journal.” I no longer have my early attempts at journaling but I do remember having one with an actual lock on it with a wrap around strap. Not manly at all. As far as I can remember most of my early writings were simply descriptions of what I had done that day.

My early interest in journals stemmed in part from books I read like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and others whose titles I’ve forgotten, where finding clues about some childhood mystery was the focus of the story. Writing things down in a notebook, like a junior reporter, and keeping track of clues figured prominently in many of these stories. The need for keeping a record of things happening in a person’s life became something important to me. Somehow one’s life can seem a little more interesting than it actually is when you take the time to write about it.

For me, I have always been an avid reader of books of all kinds. After being taught penmanship and writing in my various schools while growing up, and having read many books, it seemed only natural that I should also try and write myself. Early in junior high school I was even able to take a course in using the typewriter — the olde fashioned kind with ink ribbons and paper. Unfortunately that’s a clue to my age. Little did I know that one day my skill and knowledge of the typewriter would be so important in the new, digital age. I’ve never thought of myself as a writer and yet I have always written.

My journaling has been an on-again-off-again sort of thing over the years but I always seem to gravitate back to it. At times it is my therapy session, or a descriptive itinerary of an important trip that I want to remember, or a way to rant about things that I can’t talk to others about, or simply a way to talk a lot, through writing, without boring somebody else silly. And a journal was always a place to simply experiment with writing itself. Run on sentences, garbled sentences, quick attempts at poetry, you can write it all in your diary without worrying about the end result.

In my current life I have three types of journals; a pocket journal, a full size journal that goes back and forth between electronic and paper, and a sketchbook for my artwork. Sometimes they meld together and overlap but I find that paper quality and paper size are the important factors. I need a small pocket journal, roughly 3 inches by 5 inches like a Moleskine or similar, that is easy to carry so I can always have something with me to make quick notes in or even quick sketches. I need a larger journal for longhand writing when I need to write something long like a journal entry. And I need a sketchbook with unlined paper that can handle pen, pencil, markers, or water color paint. So I end up needing different volumes for different purposes.

In future I plan to post here in the blog more about the journaling, sketching, and writing life as well as any other topics that may be of interest to you, dear readers. If you have any topics or ideas to suggest please contact us through this website.

Thanks, and Happy Journaling!

PocketJournal