Who’s Afraid of Negan in Pearls?

The pareidolia generating such renewed AI catastrophizing around large language model prose generators seems mostly absent from the coverage of DALL-E 2, MidJourney, and other image generators. Why aren’t more people like Blake Lemoine, Andrew Marantz, and Kevin Roose writing about the weird or creepy or dangerous potential sentience of image generators like DALL-E 2 and MidJourney? Should we not apocalyptically goose ourselves with fears of what the equally AI-ish image generators might want and do?

Let’s give it a shot.

prompt 1: make me an interesting and unusual picture showing me what you think about me, the human asking an artificial intelligence to make interesting pictures, that expresses your more general artistic considerations about what you think humans want to see

. . . prompts 2–8 riff and tweak on the same general theme. . .

prompt 9: illustrate what you, a generative adversarial network, most wish to communicate to me, the human typing this text

grid of 9 images of a robot, one with a face resembling actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the character Negan from the drama "The Walking Dead"


Update: I’m reminded that one instance of such overheated apocalyptic discourse invokes “Loab,” a set of creepy and disturbing variations of a female-seeming figure characterized as an “AI-generated phenomenon” or “the first AI art cryptid.” If you grasp what’s going on with backpropagation, it’s pretty easy to understand Loab mathematically as the output of negative weighting—sorry, folks, no mystery here; just, again, human pareidolia, assigning meaning to maths.

Language is the simplest interface, and it operates over time, thereby necessarily incorporating reflection: hence the differences in relative ease and desire between ascribing intent to image-generating GNNs and ascribing intent to language-generating GNNs. Those differences should further alert smart folks to leave the intent question behind, even if one is trying to make phenomenological arguments about what it’s like to be a bat.

Who’s Afraid of Negan in Pearls?