a long while ago I applied for the private beta of openai, and was recently granted access. the openai API is a way of making use of GPT3, a deep learning model trained on a large corpus of text. the user of GPT3 provides a prompt, which a chunk of text, and the model returns a completion, which is based on the prompt. a simple example from the docs goes like this:
As Descartes said, I think therefore
As Descartes said, I think therefore I am
my first experiment was to provide it with the text of “ozymandias” by percy shelley. the story below was produced entirely by the API. I am still unable to fully process the significance of this. I have picked out various phrases from the output and googled them, looking for the source material. I kept expecting to find whole paragraphs or sentences, but did not. some examples:
- “The empires of the past now lie buried beneath great mounds of sand, and the ancient cities of the desert are guarded by machines whose gears have ground to a halt.”
- “They are the nightmare of every child, the warped visions of madmen, and the dark legends of a hundred thousand campfires.”
- “The Knights Radiant were betrayed, and the betrayal brought about their end. For a thousand years, they have slept in their tombs, waiting for the time when they will be needed again.”
if you recognize the source of any the text in the story below, please let me know on twitter @plantimals.
the only change I’ve made is to add a title, which is still a phrase that was produced by the model.
Welcome to the Apocalypse
Where have all the people gone? The old world is a strange, empty place. The world is more than a hundred years old now, and most nations that ever existed have passed away. The empires of the past now lie buried beneath great mounds of sand, and the ancient cities of the desert are guarded by machines whose gears have ground to a halt. The deserts are littered with the ruined remnants of a decaying world. Here and there, the sun beats down on bronze statues that have long since rusted into desolation.
The cities are empty, but they are not dead. They are places of wonder and terror, for they are filled with all of the things that people created and left behind. There are airships and bridges, factories and signs, all left to crumble beneath the sun and the dust. Walking through these ruins is like walking through a graveyard, and the only living things you will find are the scavengers that feed upon the bones of the old world.
And yet, the old world is not dead. There are still things moving through its deserts. There are the savage raiders and the evil cults, the treasure hunters and the Mad Scientists. And there are the Horrors, too. They are the nightmare of every child, the warped visions of madmen, and the dark legends of a hundred thousand campfires.
The Horrors are ancient, alien beings that have come to this world from the Outside. They are beings of pure spirit that have no physical bodies, and they can only travel through our world by taking possession of our minds. The Horrors are few in number, and they do not often appear in the world, but they can do terrible, unknowable things.
The Horrors are not the only strange things that have come to our world. There are those who can walk between the stars, and those who can turn the tides of time. There are those who can bind the universe in chains, and those who can raise the dead. There are things that have come from the Outside to do terrible things, and there are things that have come to save us from the Horrors.
One of these is the Order of the Knights Radiant. They are the ancient and noble defenders of mankind, those who fight the Horrors in all of their terrible forms. They are the angels and demons of myth, the champions who appear in our darkest hours and our greatest need.
It is not known who or what the Knights Radiant were, but they have existed since the beginning of time, engaging the Horrors in a secret war for the fate of the universe. They fought the Horrors on the fields of war, in the palaces of the kings, and in the dark places of the Earth. The Horrors fought back with their inhuman sorcery, and the Knights fought with the aid of the holy magic of the Shardblades.
The Knights Radiant were a force for good. They protected the people, brought justice to the wicked, and fought against the forces of evil. They are the heroes of a thousand thousand songs, and they were loved by all men.
The Knights Radiant were betrayed, and the betrayal brought about their end. For a thousand years, they have slept in their tombs, waiting for the time when they will be needed again. They have been betrayed by one of their own, and their souls have been trapped in a place beyond death.
It is known that they are still asleep, and that they will be needed again. The signs are there, if you know how to read them. There are whispers of the Knights, and there are rumors of strange things on the horizon. The forgotten gods stir, and the Horrors return from beyond death.
The old world is dead.
The new world is coming.
Welcome to the Apocalypse.