It’s day 5 of the rewrites. I remember writing this one. It was pure stream of consciousness with very little editing involved. It’s funny how when one writes I think and the editor says, “Be bold, don’t hedge.” It’s like, come on, why you gotta make this personal, Hemingway app?

I’m in what I call reverse withdrawal stage. It’s when one is looking for excuses to not continue doing what one is doing. Meaning, while writing this entry, I was thinking about how writing is obsolete now. Algorithms that can generate text like GPT-2 exist and are only getting better. I fed some prompt to the algorithm here. A lot of times it spits out better gibberish than I ever could. For the moment it seems I found the perfect reason to not write.

But doing this led to several other thoughts. Those thoughts then provided an opposite excuse to continue writing. Why did the algorithm need a prompt? Would it be able to write something unprompted? What would it write? Of course it could and it would pick something random from its training data.

My initial reaction was to compare what the algorithm was doing to how people think. Aren’t humans also responding to prompts most of the time? In the physiological sense, at least? Thoughts pop up in random from the synthesis of our training data, i.e. our experience, all the time. And when that happens, it appears as if we come up with something original. Down this path, isn’t GPT-2 also sort of thinking? Or it could be the opposite. We assume we are thinking but like GPT-2 we are not.

But that’s a repulsive thought. GPT-2 writes for the sake of having written something. Humans write as self-reflection. Or do they? Also, how sure am I GPT-2 doesn’t have a self? Or that I do? Pretty soon this whole train of thought devolves into asking what a self is.

At this point, I have to confess I wrote the following yesterday: “One’s writing reveals one’s depth. I know this is self-serving to write, but thoughts are not thoughts unless written.”

I have no intention to even try to answer what a self is or what a thought is. I will be sure to be out of my depth pretty quick. Instead, my question is meta. Did I write all that so I could quote myself? Not in the beginning. The proof is that the first two paragraphs in this entry contradict what I wrote.

But after realizing I would like to use those two sentences, I started to think about how I’m thinking. I noticed that in the context of admitting that, the quote would become relevant. Now I’m writing about how I thought of that, so this entry could land on something.

That’s what separates humans from GPT-2. We don’t limit ourselves to thinking about stuff, we also think about our thoughts. We even think about how we come up with them. This includes instances when we propose writing as a way to think better. When we write our thoughts down, we reach some semblance of clarity. But then is it not possible to transfer all these to an algorithm?

This post has gotten too long. So much for beginning with coming up for an excuse not to write. Enough for today.

In the spirit of amusement, I fed the first two of the last three paragraphs above to GPT-2. It wrote, “At this point, I realize I need to learn about the program I am about to propose.” What’s proposing what now? GTFOOH.

Some things I noticed 01/29/2020:
  1. Educate people. Or find meaning.
  2. Drama. Or truth.
  3. That moment when you realize that the very magnificent sounding name Cyrus the Great was a guy named Kuresh.
  4. Traffic claims lives.

Metaturnal Shift

Day 4 of the rewrites. Knowing what happened is less important than knowing how it did or did not change oneself. That is, of course, if one places the utmost value to knowing oneself.

If I were to continue yesterday’s thoughts, here’s how it would go. Knowing that one would leave a record of one’s activities changes one’s behavior. Ephemerality is like a safe space where one could entertain a wider array of ideas, even “wrong” ones. Otherwise, one might restrict oneself to comfortable patterns of thought.

But if I wrote at this very moment that I’d like to walk back on that, I could. If I write something one day, the fact that I’m recording it does not stop me from denying the thought the day after. One can always admit to a change of mind, even in this paragraph. Doing that here highlights how hypocritical it is to say ephemerality is decreasing. Even records can be overwritten.

To scale back a bit, in the context of differing timescales, both could be right. For example, compared to a mosquito I could swat in a heartbeat, I’m rather not ephemeral at the moment. But then this version of me today would be as good as dead once I sleep later. After merging the changes from today, it might be by a little bit, but I would be different tomorrow. Enough of that will happen, and though I wish not in the same manner, I will definitely expire like the mosquito.

I could say more, but this entry is getting too long, so I better reserve some for tomorrow.

Enough for today.

This entry was all over the place. It took a shortcut. It wanted to say that the supposed bad effects of the seeming lack of ephemerality weren’t so bad. But then midway it conflated the freedom to change one’s thoughts with ephemerality. That’s why it’s confusing.

At least, if the point was to itself be a proof of ephemerality, it succeeded. I definitely won’t be back reading this again.

Some things I noticed 01/28/2020:
  1. Ha! Joke’s on you CGPGrey. (And no, that one date due to metaturnal shift doesn’t count. Also, knock on wood, finger’s crossed, bite lips, lick elbow.)
  2. Engineer all the food.
  3. All meaning is ascribed.
  4. We stand up here confused and grateful.” – Mr. F. O’Connell
  5. Well-played.
  6. Termites vs Ants standoff
  7. Language of Thought Hypothesis