apnews.com
"After leading the world in new cases and deaths over much of the last year, the rapid vaccination program in the U.S. now positions it among the leaders of the global recovery. Nearly 64% of adults in the U.S. have received at least one vaccine dose and the average numbers of new positive cases and deaths in the U.S. are lower now than at any point since the earliest days of the pandemic."
Thanks Biden.
An osoberry with a red stem hanging from a branch
osoberry
Close-up of a bunch of strawberries
Strawberry season is go

VQGAN + CLIP + Unreal Engine + Surrealism

I enjoyed Rusty's explanation of the VQGAN + CLIP Unreal Engine trick in Today in Tabs yesterday (subscribers only, sorry). The gist is that people have found a way to improve images created with machine learning by including the phrase "unreal engine" (yes, the Mandalorian-powering video game technology) with their prompt when they ask a GAN to generate an image of that prompt.

Rusty included a link to a colab notebook that could run this particular GAN—VQGAN+CLIP—so I started playing around with it. I know next to nothing about AI or Machine Learning, but I can run code! I tried out the unreal engine trick and the results reminded me of Yves Tanguy paintings.

My next thought was, "why not feed it some lines from surrealist poetry"? (Or their English translations anyway.) So here are a few of those:

VQGAN+CLIP generated image using a surrealist poem phrase, vague castle in a blurry landscape "a meaningless castle rolled along the surface of the earth."
– André Breton, Soluble Fish

VQGAN+CLIP generated image using a surrealist poem phrase, vague night scene with various lights "it is the star struck under my heel in the night."
– Robert Desnos, The Landscape

"The river I have under my tongue"
– Paul Eluard, The River

VQGAN+CLIP generated image using a surrealist poem phrase, a vague flower and vague clock; some fire "where we live the flowers of the clocks catch fire"
– Tristan Tzara, The Great Lament of my Obscurity Three

The other day I linked to Nick Cave saying that AI lacks the nerve to create great music. How about visual art? Seeing machines struggle to make what humans make is interesting, but I don't think the results are inspired. Again, I have no idea how to tune these tools to get more interesting results and maybe further tuning or more attempts would create better images. Right now I think we haven't progressed beyond Hayao Miyazaki's thoughts on art by artificial intelligence. (spoiler alert: "I strongly feel that this is an insult to life itself.")
vinylsleeves.tumblr.com
Fun gallery of vintage record sleeves. [via webcurios]
STAT
"If the global pool of flu viruses has truly shrunk to this degree, it would be a welcome outcome, flu experts say, making the twice-a-year selection of viruses to be included in flu vaccines for the Northern and Southern hemispheres much easier work."
Our work to keep COVID-19 from spreading may have killed some strains of the flu. [via mefi]
NPR
"The incentive structure that has been created is one in which so far we've seen zero accountability for lying and pushing these narratives," Masterson, the former DHS official, said. "We don't see anyone really, truly being held accountable."
With no accountability why would they stop? This looks like a pilot program or practice for invalidating future valid elections.
twitter.com
"One thing you see a lot on here is people pointing out the contradictions in the putative views of Trump’s GOP. COVID is a Chinese plot but also a hoax. The insurrection was antifa but also a tour of patriots."
Twitter thread explaining why the contradictory beliefs of Trumpism are a feature not a bug.
Galaxy Brain
"The social internet promised us deep human connections — the sort that requires nuance and patience for messiness — but instead, it’s just turned us all into brands."
Insightful analysis of The Discourse.
New America
"In future elections, these laws politicizing the administration and certification of elections could enable some state legislatures or partisan election officials to do what they failed to do in 2020: reverse the outcome of a free and fair election. Further, these laws could entrench extended minority rule, violating the basic and longstanding democratic principle that parties that get the most votes should win elections."
This statement signed by dozens of political science professors is an excellent summary of the current threat to voting rights.
spectator.co.uk
"A sense of awe is almost exclusively predicated on our limitations as human beings. It is entirely to do with our audacity as humans to reach beyond our potential."
AI lacks nerve is a fantastic way to put it. [via om]
umami.is
I'm trying out umami for visitor stats on my site and so far it's easy to install (yay, Docker all the things!) and looks great.
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