Punk Rock Obama

I think it’s time to end my AI art career on this high note. Generated with Stable Diffusion, running on my local machine.

The prompt:
“beautiful portrait painting of Barack Obama with a purple mohawk on top of his head shredding on an electric guitar at a punk rock show, concept art, makoto shinkai, takashi takeuchi, trending on artstation, 8k, very sharp, extremely detailed, volumetric, beautiful lighting, wet-on-wet”

Punk Rock Obama

MidJourney – AI Art Madness

A few short weeks ago, I had downloaded a simplified model for generating AI-created images on your local machine. The internet (myself included) had a lot of fun with it, but the quality was definitely lacking, especially when compared to the more serious AI image platforms being created by some big companies.

I recently received my invite to the MidJourney beta and I am just blown away!

For now, I’ve just been putting in ridiculous prompts that simulate styles for various artists (oh, man. I have a feeling this is going to piss off a lot of artists in the future…)

For example: “Apocalyptic wasteland with crumbling buildings and debris, thomas kinkade painting”

The potential here is pretty crazy — for people who aren’t artistically inclined, they can start generating images and scenes based on what they come up with. Some people can probably use this as a base to get to rapidly start iterating on new ideas. And of course, others are going to be mad.

A lot of the detail in creating these images is how you create the prompt. You’re already seeing the phrase “prompt engineering” being used in various places — check out this Twitter search.

For me though, I’m excited about this new technology and it’s something I’ve been eager to play with.

Generating art using AI

Earlier this year, OpenAI announced DALL-E 2, the latest version of their AI tool that can generate images by simply providing text input.

For example, “people in togas taking a selfie in front of a volcano”, and it will get to work attempting to create an image that includes all these elements.

The Verge has an interesting article with more details. You can see an example of what is possible on the DALL-E 2 subreddit. It’s honestly insane.

For now (sadly), the service is invite only.

More recently, an ambitious engineer named Boris Dayma created an open source version of the service called DALL-E mini. While it isn’t able to generate results as impressive as DALL-E 2, it’s still pretty crazy!

It’s recently taken the internet by storm and you can see people post DALLE-mini generated images and memes everywhere. The official website has been under heavy load, so it’s been pretty tough to try out the service.

Fortunately, you can download the model from Github and get the service setup on your local machine (providing you have a graphics card beefy enough to run the models).

Who has two thumbs and a graphics card just begging to be used? Hello.

I was able to get the service setup on my machine and start playing around with it.

In this example, I used a prompt to essentially create a Bob Ross painting generator. “Alpine forest with river running through the middle, snow capped peaks in the background, Bob Ross style painting.”

Dalle mini forest

Pretty neat! The images that services like DALL-E 2 and Midjourney can create are miles better and I’ve applied to both services.

While I anxiously await my acceptance, I’ll have to continue generating various memes on my own machine.

Monkeys

Fun with GPT-3

Earlier this evening, I was playing around with OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model for generating “human-like text.”

I gave it the following prompt:

Write a plot about a movie that involves rogue unicorns who want to
conquer Earth and the planet’s only hope is an Australian Cattle dog named Benson who sleeps a lot.

The response?

The unicorns, led by their king, Uni, have been planning their conquest of Earth for years. They have been observing the humans and have concluded that they are weak and vulnerable. The unicorns have developed a powerful magic that will allow them to take over the planet.


Benson, an Australian Cattle dog, is the only one who can stop them. Benson is a lazy dog who loves to sleep. He is content to spend his days lounging around and eating food. However, when the unicorns begin their attack, Benson is the only one who can stop them. He rallies the other dogs and leads them in a fight against the unicorns.

The unicorns are powerful, but they are no match for Benson and the other dogs. Benson is able to defeat Uni and the other unicorns, and the Earth is saved.

Summer blockbuster coming soon to a theater near you!

Dieter Rams exhibit at SF MOMA

Lobby at SF MOMA

Looking up! The view from the lobby at SF MOMA. Photo by Dave Schumaker

Earlier today, team gdgt took a field trip over to the SF MOMA, to check out the Dieter Rams exhibit. Known for his minimalist design aesthetic, the exhibit showed off timeless looking products that he has designed and influenced over the past 50 years.

Dieter Rams quote

Numerous quotes from Dieter Rams were posted around SF MOMA. Photo by Dave Schumaker.

One part of the exhibit was dedicated to his 10 principles of good design.

  1. Good design is innovative – The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
  2. Good design Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
  3. Good design is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
  4. Good design Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
  5. Good design is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
  6. Good design is honest – It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  7. Good design is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
  8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
  9. Good design is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
  10. Good design is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

It was pretty awesome and inspiring stuff. Check it out at the SF MOMA. The exhibit runs until February 20, 2012.

Blek le Rat stencil at Cafe Divis

This is a relatively new stencil that popped up at my favorite neighborhood coffee shop. It was created by a French street artist named Blek Le Rat. Some have speculated that Blek le Rat’s stencil style is the inspiration for Banksy.

Via Wikipedia:

British graffiti artist Banksy has acknowledged Blek’s influence stating "every time I think I’ve painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier."

A theatrical review: “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”

Originally posted on gdgt on February 10th, 2011.

Last night, we ventured across the bay to check out a play by Mike Daisey at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. It was a 120 minute one-man extemporaneous show about the history of Apple and a look at the people who build the gadgets that we love.

Judging by the title (and with recent events relating to Job’s recent health), you might think this is a show taking a deeper look into the life and times of Mr. Jobs. This would turn out to be an incorrect assumption. Daisey’s performance is an insightful, an often hilarious tale of the two Apples under Steve Jobs and John Scully. “Steve is not a micro-manager — he’s a fucking nano-manager!” Daisey switches between this and taking a serious look into what goes on behind the scenes at “all factories” in Shenzhen, China.

Daisey is the perfect epitome of an Apple fanboy, calling himself a devout follower of the Apple religion and perfectly describes what it’s like to own an Apple product. For those of us who are equally under the influence, it makes him easy to relate to. (That said, I don’t think you need to be a fan of Apple to enjoy this show.)

This sets up his story for a perfect transition from faithful believer, to wavering skeptic. “One day,” says Daisy, “I began to do something that all religions fear — I began to think.” Daisey goes on to explain that it all started because of a post he read on an Apple news site (Daisey says, “Have you ever noticed there’s no such thing as an Apple news site? The only thing they talk about are rumors.”). The post was about an owner of a new iPhone finding a series of pictures from the factory in the camera roll of their phone. A few of the images even showed factory workers in their cleanroom jumpsuits. This changed everything for Daisey. Until that point, he had never thought about the actual people who made his gadgets.

Side note: I think this may be the post that Daisey speaks of.

Daisey ends up traveling to Shenzhen, China and poses as an American businessman. He shares some of the things he saw; from factories with tens of thousands of people working on assembly lines in complete silence, to young teenagers who spoke to him about their work days (12, 14, or 16 hours).

Throughout the entire performance, Daisey is switching between the seriousness of what he saw in Shenzhen and his light hearted story of Apple’s history. In the mid-1990’s, Daisey explains, “Apple needed Jesus Fucking Christ to save them. So, they got the next best thing and brought Jobs back.”

If you’re a fan of gadgets and technology, I think you’d get a kick out of this show. It’s an interesting look into Apple and makes you consider the consequences of using the gadgets we love. Daisey explains that while it’s shameful nearly all companies turn a blind eye to this sort of behavior, the onus is on us as consumers to let these companies know we won’t stand for it.

Fortunately, Daisey’s humor and stories make the show quite entertaining, and you never really feel like you’re being lectured at. That said, I definitely felt bad about using my gadgets afterward (I arrived at the show carrying my bag containing a MBP, iPad, and iPhone — all of which were made in Shenzhen). You leave the theater with a heavy heart.

“The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” is performing at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre until February 27th, 2011. Ticket prices range anywhere from $45 – $75 dollars.

Show info: www.berkeleyrep.org­/index.asp