The Eternal Fishnu and I had fun playing with OpenAI’s DALL-E-2 this weekend. It’s very fascinating to see what he looked like during his manifestation as the ith Buddha during the Devonian.
For the one person who hasn’t heard of DALL-E or ChatGPT, DALL-E is an A.I. that generates images of whatever you describe and in whatever style you can imagine. For example, the image just below is in response to: “a powerful happy buddha as a blue fish during the Devonian with a yellow cap and red backpack in the style of Renoir”
DALL-E is one type of “Generative A.I.” That is, it can generate what is normally created by humans. For example, its art shown in this blog, articles, poems, and even software code. For the case of artists, this can be pretty scary since the images DALL-E produces is quite “imaginative”. While the poems are witty, they are formulaic. The writing is often wrong.
For software developers (like me), I don’t know if it’s yet a threat to my livelihood. On the contrary, it’s quite helpful in generating concise bits of Python code I request. It’s the tedious sort that doesn’t require much creativity, but can be a pain to search for and filter through on StackOverflow.
At least at the time of this writing, it’s very easy to play with DALL-E, and free:
- Navigate to: https://openai.com/dall-e-2/
- Create a Log In (click in “Sign Up”).
- After creating your login, you’ll be taken to the “lab”.
- Type some sort of description of what you’d like.
Below are a few more of the Eternal Fishnu’s favorites, along with the description I used.
Be sure to read past the following photos to where I discuss the place of an artist in this new world of A.I.
As impressive as the images created by DALL-E are, it doesn’t matter in terms of your sentience. No matter what A.I. might appear, with whatever superior quality, you are still a sentient being. You are still a sentient being, “a piece of the Universe made alive” (Robertson Davies), with your path to follow. Your sapience is still a fountain of creativity.
- We still teach children mathematics, even with all the data centers and phone apps.
- Many people still practice martial arts even though there is no Shogun who will chop your head off for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- With all the A.I. chess programs beating grand masters, people still enjoy playing chess, even checkers.
- With all the ways to write electronically, we still learn to write with a pen and paper.
- With all the mass produced, surprisingly good frozen dinners, people still cook homemade meals.
- Despite the ability to grow unbelievable quantities of food through pesticides, genetic engineering, and fertilizers, there is still a massive market for non-GMO, organic, free-range food.
- With all the electronics to generate music, we still learn to play musical instruments.
All that we humans do should be treated as a Zen Art that clears our minds of obstructions between what we see and the reality of the Universe (or at least Life on Earth). Our Zen Arts train our minds towards genuine creation – not what is merely algorithmic emulation across humanity’s collective body of knowledge. Our paintings, live renditions of a song, and ippon seoi nages are projections of unique instants of our minds that the Universe will see only once.
The purpose of a Zen Art is to train your brain, with full consciousness, to reflect the Zen Art. Then subsequently test your Zen model with a worthy uke. Eventually, your Zen Art becomes second nature, consciousness no longer required, and you are that Zen Art.
The phenomenon of ChatGPT and DALL-E are emergent properties of a very brittle system of computers and networks of cable. Life on Earth is based on a supremely adaptable and malleable platform – evolution. Evolution is self-healing, self-correcting. The collective highly-distributed and highly-diverse creativity of all people will surpass the creativity of the likes of ChatGPT and DALL-E for quite a while.
We can stay ahead of it forever if we each continue to be mindful in a Zen way of our sentience and sapience. We are the creators of these A.I.s. It’s built in our intellectual image. The Eternal Fishnu says that sometimes something comes along to give us the kick in the ass that we need to free us from our complacency – which is a form of clinging.
It doesn’t take much for any of our human-made machines to thoroughly collapse. But that’s not so for the amazingly resilient Life on Earth. Every satellite will fall from the sky, every CPU and bit of data will corrode, every power plant will disintegrate well before Life on Earth can be snuffed out.
ChatGPT and DALL-E will shake up life for a while – it will pass. Think of it as the Zen Art of humanity in its entirety. Marvel at it as you would a Renoir. Use it to drive you further in creativity and your human potential.
Lastly, as someone originally from Hawaii, this DALL-E image of the Hawaii State fish is wonderful. It’s actually quite amazing.
Faith and Patience,
Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku