Now that it looks like 2020 is finally truly over, I thought I’d follow up on a few of my favorite posts, especially the ones that have fun updates. Starting with:

Headlines of 2020

Hey, Curiosity Rover, Don't Go Chasing Shadow Bugs

Not only did none of the generated headlines manage to come through in the last weeks of 2020 (I did keep an eye out for the 20-foot giant penguin), but there’s now a quiz to see if you can tell the difference between real and fake headlines.

Sing a song of Rudolph

reindeer against the night sky, a halo behind its head. Caption reads Eeee-merry, eeee-merry Christmas!
Goodness, how downy is Rudolph’s hide
He has, oh his forehead, so plump and smooth and divine
He has a little black snout and tiny little hooves
Benevolence makes foolish young children go straight to sleep

I discovered that although I can use AI to generate new carols about Rudolph, they’re all pretty unsettling. After my blog post I tried an experimental model that’s supposed to respond to commands, not examples, and although I’m impressed it could write a completely new carol AND a pronunciation guide in the International Phonetic Alphabet, both its carol and its pronunciation are extremely cursed.

Write a completely new Christmas carol about Rudolph.

The rudolph, ˈrṓ.də.nəf,
their skin ˈsɪn, ˈsɪn
is full of holes, ˈhɔ.ləs 
and their nose ˈnōs
is really bright, ˈbrī.t 
they have a bright bright nose, ˈbɹi.t bɹi.t 
to help them find their way ˈhɪp tɪ ɪm fɪnd ɪr weɪ
through out the night. ˈθru ɪkɪt ɪθ ɪθ ðə nɪt ɪ]

One of my favorite things about running this blog is when talented humans engage earnestly with the weird outputs of neural nets. People made some amazing covers of the neural net carols:

An entire thread of amazing choral arrangements - I recommend starting with this one:

“Rudolph versus Mars”

O Come Rudolph, Come” (my cat was VERY confused when they got to the “joyful noise” in the chorus)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with its red belly - despite the title and thumbnail, this video is a really good explainer of how to use OpenAI’s Jukebox to compose new music.

The Wretched Flesh of Man” - an Extremely Cursed arrangement of this same Rudolph carol

And The Forever Now’s arrangement is so deceptively, chillingly calm:

I generated drawing prompts for October for the second time this year, and was once again blown away by the creativity of all the artists (and some microfic and poetry writers). Check out the #botober tag on instagram, tumblr, and twitter! (This is a screenshot of just a few of the drawings on instagram, featuring “coots of magic”, “mole delivering pizza to a tiny pterodactyl”, “queen squid waving as she rules a planet known for its fine linen”, and “an oddly specific book about spiders”):

One spider is reading "You have the Exact Right number of eyeballs", another is reading "suddenly single! a cookbook". There is a cat with tiny antennae (i forget why), and the coots of magic generally have wizard hats and giant feet.

I also went back to my blog’s roots and generated some truly horrible kitchen disasters.

Perhaps you’d like to see what happens when you train a neural net on vintage jello-centric recipes?

Or perhaps you’d like to see how very NOT comforting the Great British Bake-off can get when a GAN tries to generate screenshots?

Or both, encapsulated in Week 11 of this neural net-completed list of GBBO themes:

Great British Bakeoff themes:
1. Biscuit Week
2. Cake Week
3. Bread Week
4. Griddle Week
6. Grilled Chicken Week
7. Grill & Beggar Week
8. Hand Cut Bread week
9. Hand-made Pies Week
10. Heartless Week
11. Jello & Spaghetti squash week
12. Lentil Day
13. Nutella Cookie day
14. Nutella Cupcake week
15. Pudding week on a plate week!
16. Raspberry Day
17. Sour Cream Cookie Day 
18. Strawberry Cupcake Week

That’s enough delight, perhaps, for one year. I’m sure 2021 will be far less unsettling.

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