Welcome to another weekly roundup, filled with three resource gems from the internet, two ideas from me, and one story lesson to pass on!
3 Gems of the Week
- Club Mom from r/wholesomegifs (1 min)About as wholesome as it gets. Parents during the pandemic deserve their own specific badge of honor for managing to keep up the well being in their own lives as well as the lives of their kids around them, where it’s harder to explain: there is an invisible enemy that is forcing us to stay indoors.Adults already are easily restless after so long after the pandemic, and that’s with understanding the nature and importance of world events. But younger kids, I can only begin to imagine how difficult it is to wrap their heads around why the world suddenly changed.
Peep this mom trying to make home life entertaining and stimulating for her kids. Looks like everyone (DJ Mom included) are having a fabulous time.
- Using an A.I. program to win the New Yorker cartoon caption contest (8 mins)
The fascinating experiment of a team using GPT-3, an AI program that imitates human-like writing in an attempt to create a winning caption for the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest.The article documents the process and logs the various caption results, as well as where they placed among the entries.This was an interesting observation: “We noticed that many of our entries were hitting the right themes from among the high-ranking captions, but just weren’t written in the clever, pithy style that’s appropriate for a cartoon.”
They eventually transitioned to the idea of a hybrid idea generation process: merging GPT-3 with feedback and tweaking from expert writers.
Why I found this interesting:
As automation continues to creep into every facet of daily life, industry professionals staunchly advocate that automation cannot replace creativity. This caption contest experiment however attempts to do just that.
- Famous Movie Quotes by Nathan Yau of Flowing Data (3 mins)I always enjoy visual sketch noting, and this felt like a fun twist on visualization of text.I haven’t watched all of these films, but love how instantly recognizable the graphic is for something I’ve seen already — kind of like the film’s story is encoded in this one visual.
How many of these can you identify by the image alone?
2 Thoughts of the Week
- On a personal brand. Thanks to technology opening the gates and bringing the rise of the solo creator, there is so much emphasis on building a personal brand.This can sometimes feel like performance art. Debuting a certain image of ourselves online for others to see. To behave in a certain manner that “aligns with our brand.”
What if sometimes we just “be,” and focus less on the constant performance art of being a brand?
- Time travel is real.Whenever I hear someone resurfacing their old notes or ideas, I get a mini jolt of happiness.
The same applies for me when I find old thoughts or ideas, and can feel my body react with the same excitement as when I first discovered that insight.
Because in these cases, it means we’ve successfully time traveled: leaving bread crumbs by our past self to re-discover for our future self.
1 Story Lesson
Today, I want to share one passage from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, and the myth behind the Windigo spirit:
The Windigo is the legendary monster of our Anishinaabe people, the villain of a tale told on freezing nights in the north woods.
You can feel it lurking behind you, a being in the shape of an outsized man, ten feet tall, with frost-white hair hanging from its shaking body. With arms like tree trunks, feet as big as snow-shoes, it travels easily through the blizzards of the hungry time, stalking us. The hideous stench of its carrion breath poisons the clean scent of snow as it pants behind us. Yellow fangs hang from its mouth that is raw where it has chewed off its lips from hunger. Most telling of all, its heart is made of ice….
This monster is no bear or howling wolf, no natural beast. Windigos are not born, they are made.
The Windigo is a human being who has become a cannibal monster. Its bite will transform victims into cannibals too….It is said that the Windigo will never enter the spirit world but will suffer the eternal pain of need, its essence a hunger that will never be sated. The more a Windigo eats, the more ravenous it becomes.
Consumed by consumption, it lays waste to humankind.”
“Traditional upbringing was designed to strengthen self-discipline, to build resistance against the insidious germ of taking too much. The old teachings recognized that Windigo nature is in each of us, so the monster was created in stories, that we might learn why we should recoil from the greedy part of ourselves. This is why Anishinaabe elders like Stewart King remind us always to acknowledge the two faces — the light and the dark side of life — in order to understand ourselves. See the dark, recognize its power, but do not feed it.
“The beast has been called an evil spirit that devours mankind. The very word, Windigo, according to Ojibwe scholar Basil Johnston. In Ojibwe ethics, Steve Pitt says, “any overindulgent habit is self-destructive, and self-destruction is Windigo.”
And so, on days when we are consumed with our own desires and self-wanting, remember: the Windigo spirit exists in each of us. It is our duty to understand the threat of its existence, and not to let it consume the human nature within us.
Hey Yina, thanks for the round-up.
The caption competition hybrid model I think mirrors a bit what’s happening in coding right now. GitHub recently released an addon for programming editors called co-pilot, which infers (using GPT-3 also, I believe) the code you’re trying to write uses coding samples from a huge database (at least pretty much every piece of code publicly available) to generate sample code. It’s spookily good. However, not perfect. What it does do though is save us a lot of typing and initial thinking, generating functional (or close to functional) code, that we can then tweak and modify to make fit in and work with the rest of our codebases.
It’s still in beta right now, but early signs are that it could be a massive timesaver, and rather than “take our jobs”, as the headline writers will happily proclaim – AI helps get boring work out of the way and allow us to put our minds to work on the harder, novel stuff. For me, it all comes back to resetting the point from which we have to work (rising tide floats all ships and all that).
Hi Simon, great to hear from you! How are you?
Thanks for the insight here — I think this is a great point. I’ve heard GPT-3 being used for copyright assistance to code to even product design instances! And in a lot of cases I do think it is meant to save a lot of typing and initial thinking, but I thought it was curious that this specific project was so focused on having a completed job? They were actually tracking how well the final GPT-3 draft compared against other submissions, which makes me feel like it’s asking for more than just assistance with drafting and actually replacing creative work?
Just my opinion, really enjoyed hearing your perspective!