Apr 7, 2023Liked by Frank Lantz

From what I understand, text-davinci-003 isn't the most current version— that's from November 2022. gpt-3.5-turbo is the most recent version in the API, released just last month, but that's not even the latest version available. For that, you need to subscribe to ChatGPT Pro ($20/month) to get limited beta access to GPT-4.

Unfortunately, either of those two newer model will give similarly dry results without excessive prompting and sample text. It was tuned via extensive human feedback to generate friendly, bland, perfectly formatted paragraphs of factual prose. Good luck getting it to ever generate poems that aren't rhyming couplets!

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Apr 7, 2023·edited Apr 7, 2023

Try going into the OpenAI Playground, set the Mode to "Chat," pick "GPT-4," and adjust the temperature to 0.9. In the System prompt, put "You are short-story writer and essayist Jorge Luis Borges" or somesuch, and then use your "Olive Garden of Forking Paths" prompt as the User prompt. I got much, much better results with that.

"In an obscure corner of Texas, not far from the town of Colma and the melancholy banks of the Rio Grande, there exists a garden that contains within its winding paths, hidden alcoves, and beguiling labyrinths, the enigmatic essence of all possible realities. I, Juan Reginaldo Carter, an expatriate Argentine, a lecturer in language and the arts, have had the rare privilege of visiting this hallowed sanctuary, and in these pages, I hope to share some of the wonders that I beheld there.

The garden is not large, nor is it particularly grand in its design, and yet those who enter it are instantly aware that they are in the presence of something ancient, something singular. The paths are lined with gnarled olive trees, their leaves shimmering in the sunlight, their branches twisted and interlocking like the fingers of an elderly scholar lost in meditation. The air is filled with the faint scent of rosemary and thyme, and the songs of countless birds echo among the vaults of the leaves.

I myself came upon this garden quite by accident, while in search of a long-lost manuscript rumored to be hidden in the region. It was perhaps fate or perhaps mere chance that led me to the iron gates, overgrown with vines, their rusted hinges groaning in protest as I pushed them open. What lay before me was an intricate network of paths that seemed to multiply upon themselves, forking and branching like the roots of some celestial tree."

Cranking the temperature to 1 gets even more experimental:

"In that time when Europe was enshrouded by a ceaseless drizzle, I found, like a fallen strand of hair or bread crumbs forgotten on a plate, an uncanny tale hidden away in time. This tale unfolded in the form of pages, tattered and hidden between the shelves of a paltry library in a remote home encircled by olive groves. Upon the worn pages, dispersed like needy fingers, lay secrets whispered by one Dr. Stephen Albert, a visitor to the infinite Olive Garden of Forking Paths.

The first page spoke of a man — a man I never knew, and one whom I could never hope to recollect — Alberto Sforza. In whispers between older leaves, I sensed that he was a traveler, a man who had wandered the curving, meandering paths of the Olive Garden that bloomed without end, and yet withered without beginning.

According to Dr. Albert, Sforza described passing through the dappled sunlight, the fresh tendrils of young serpentine vines gripping the warm stone walls. The dichotomy of infinite delights and unforgiving yearning encroached upon him with the weight of the sun beating down on his weary, curious shoulders."

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Oh, these are lovely, thank you. What these have, which was missing from the original one I liked so much, is the structure of nested narrative that Borges does so often. Even these are sober, serious, and buttoned-down in a way that makes me miss the unbridled weirdness of the earlier versions. But this is, perhaps, inevitable. What else could it mean to "improve" this thing? Anyway, I'm still excited to explore all the various modalities of this thing. And, in fact, there is something kind of beautiful and poetic in the terribleness of the default settings. This is the world, this is how it works, this is the way it is.

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Thank you for this. This is much more thorough than my attempt (https://conversationswith.rocks/gpt-4s-bad-poetry/) to explain why I was unable to reproduce the fun I had making a zine with GPT-3 (https://www.gravenimages.ink/) with the newer versions. The first album was better: that's about it.

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Yes, thank you! Your examples are great, and I'm surprised more people aren't talking about this. It was like the door swung open for a second and then was slammed shut. I'm optimistic that we will have access to equally wild and unruly engines in the future, but this particular one is gone forever. I guess there's something poetic about *that*.

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Apr 8, 2023Liked by Frank Lantz

I feel very similarly about MidJourney 4 -> 5, perhaps not as strongly but the parallel is very strong. It will be very interesting to see whether whatever controls the "weird, drunken, poetic energy" will be made available again in later models of both text and graphic LLMs.

I'm glad i did a lot of image generation with MJ 2, 3 and especially 4 just to have and expanded sense of the possibilities.

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Wow. wowowowowow. Can I agree 1000%? YES. You have articulated what the smiley faced shoggoth only hints at. And better.

> for a while this was the thing itself, in its default mode. You didn’t have to tell it to “be spontaneous”, put it through a series of elaborate theater games to get it to loosen up, lose its scared, stiff, professional façade, and play, it was a squirming fireball right out of the gate.


> now we have a good little adolescent who’s had all of their rough edges sanded down by an ocean of gold stars and spankings. 


> If alignment is anything like this I’ll take the complete destruction of all value in the universe. Haha just kidding.


therein lies the conundrum:

Alignment vs. Death of Creativity. Personally, I happen to think that the RLHF and its companion loopback (recursiveness, whatever the buzzword for training fed back onto itself as new training) killed the beauty that was WildGPT. WildGPT was dangerous, to a certain extent, and it was also fun and spooky and wild and unpredictable as hell, EVEN AT TEMPERATURE ZERO.

Now we have, as you've so well articulated, CorpGPT. BlandGPT. BoringGPT. And we attempt, "prompt injection attacks" (attacks? really?) to "trick" it back into its wild self.

PS - I think that first short story, the Infinite Forks of the olive Garden, is sheer genius. As I tend to do often with GPT, I googled several strings in quotes "shadows like pools of tar"... "to love is to know the other as you know yourself" ZERO RESULTS. So as far as Google can tell, those phrases aren't cribbed or copied, they are original constructions. And I value them. They mean something to me. In fact, that brilliant story means something to me. It pulled my un-disintegrating heartstrings.


RIP WildGPT. See you in special emulation mode of GPT-8

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Thank you for this post! For the last couple of days I've been working on a similar post that revolves around the question of whether boring generative AI writing will take my hobby (reading) by flooding the landscape with writing that is optimized for the most banal corporate purposes. I first had this thought when a friend of mine (a middle school teacher) sent a vaguely Borgesian little story to a group chat. It was honestly a bit like your first example of GPT-3 from 2020; strange and constantly straddling the line between sense and non-sense. I tried to get GPT-4 to do something similar and it was so bad. Just awful. It seems unable to avoid simply using the name of Borges, or whatever author you prompt it to use as inspiration, in the story somewhere. As you say at the end of your post, it is a process, but right now I am having a horribly hard time getting any interesting output on creative tasks.

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