Jay's blog

Perhaps I Judged You Too Harshly

DALL-E 2 generated image, prompt was "Marvel's Thanos, graffiti street art". This image cost me $4.29.1

It's been a few days since my original, emotional, scathing review of large language models, specifically ChatGPT. I've had some moments to play with it a little further.

I think I set the bar too high. Who could blame me with all the breathless headlines in the tech press, business press, and academic papers? I knew it was too good to be true, but I started with a problem that isn't playing to ChatGPT's strong suits.

As I'm writing this, I know it's going to age poorly. In fact, I don't think my previous reaction is going to age as poorly as this will. The hype is still over the top and needs to be tempered quite a bit. But this post is going to read like the time Grandma sent her first email.2

Let me share some situations I've been in recently that were in ChatGPT's wheelhouse.

Basic Math That You Could Do By Hand, But It's Faster To Just Ask The Question

I used ChatGPT to figure out how much I spent to create the image for this blog post.

If 15buys115credits,andIspend4.17 worth of credits, how many credits do I have left?

We can start by finding the price per credit:

price per credit = total cost / total credits = 15/115credits=0.13 per credit.

Then we can find the number of credits you have left:

credits left = (total credits) - (credits spent) credits left = 115 credits - (4.17/0.13 per credit) credits left = 115 credits - 32.08 credits credits left = 82.92 credits

Therefore, you have 82.92 credits left. Since credits are usually a whole number, you may want to round this down to 82 credits.

At this exchange rate, how much are 33 credits worth?

If $15 buys 115 credits, we can calculate the price per credit as:

price per credit = $15 ÷ 115 credits price per credit = $0.13 per credit

To find the value of 33 credits at this exchange rate, we can multiply the number of credits by the price per credit:

value of 33 credits = 33 credits × $0.13 per credit value of 33 credits = $4.29

Therefore, 33 credits are worth $4.29 at this exchange rate.

I, of course, double-checked the math. But it checks out. ChatGPT solved a simple word problem. For all the shit they get, word problems tend to be most like real math problems you face in everyday life. Not complicated, per se. Usually solvable with a calculator, a pad and pencil, and a bit of a think.

It's On The Tip Of My Brain

There are more subreddits than you might think devoted to people volunteering to offer suggestions when people are thinking of a thing, almost anything, and they can't remember the name, or even enough search terms to find it on the web. With enough description, somebody is going to know what you're talking about. Unless maybe you just dreamed it.

Earlier today, I saw that a new sequel to the game Teslagrad was released. I enjoyed playing Teslagrad, although not quite as much as this other game that has a similar platforming physics puzzle mechanic. It had to do with manipulating fluids. It had a custom engine that required a considerable amount of CPU oomph at the time and made it hard to get running in Linux. It was in a Humble Bundle. What was it called!?

Spoiler alert, I actually knew the answer before I asked ChatGPT. But I had to scroll through my Steam library on my phone. And it ended up being pretty far down the list....

I can't think of the name of a game. It was in a Humble Bundle. It involved fluid physics as a central theme. What game is it?

There have been several games in Humble Bundle that have incorporated fluid physics as a central theme. Without more specific details, it's difficult to determine which game you're referring to. However, here are a few possibilities based on your description:

  1. Fluidity/Hydroventure - This game involves controlling a body of water through various environments using the Wii Remote. It was released in 2010 and has been included in Humble Bundles in the past.

  2. Puddle - In this game, players control a puddle of fluid through various levels, using physics-based mechanics to manipulate the environment. It was released in 2010 and has also been included in Humble Bundles.

  3. Vessel - Vessel is a physics-based puzzle-platformer that revolves around liquid physics. Players control a character who can create, manipulate, and destroy fluids in order to solve puzzles and progress through the game. It was released in 2012 and has been included in a Humble Bundle in the past.

I hope this helps! If none of these games are the one you're thinking of, feel free to provide more details and I'll try to assist you further.

Number three is correct. Great game! Would recommend to fans of the genre. A bit on the short side, but explored the puzzle space sufficiently enough for me.

I'd rather ask ChatGPT these types of questions than Reddit. 🤷

As A Connection Engine, To Complement The One Between My Ears

I saw a video this evening about a product from Sony called the Rolly. It's an extremely charming, endearing, extremely Japanese product. I'll let ChatGPT fill you in.

Are you familiar with the Sony Rolly?

Yes, I am familiar with the Sony Rolly. The Sony Rolly is a unique music player that was released by Sony in 2007. It is a small, egg-shaped device that can move and spin while playing music. The Rolly has built-in speakers and LED lights that can be programmed to synchronize with the music, creating a fun and unique audiovisual experience. It also has a wireless Bluetooth connection that allows it to be controlled by a smartphone or computer. While the Sony Rolly was not a commercial success and was discontinued shortly after its release, it remains a popular collector's item and a fascinating example of innovative design in consumer electronics.

ChatGPT is not doing this thing justice. Besides just speakers and lights, it's got two wheels and two cups that Sony refers to as "hands" that can cup over each speaker to muffle the sound or redirect it outward. It is a delight.

How much did the Sony Rolly cost when it was released?

When the Sony Rolly was released in 2007, it was priced at around $399 USD. This was a relatively high price for a portable music player at the time, and it was one of the factors that contributed to the device's limited commercial success.

I said "when it was released" because I already checked and they stopped selling it in 2009. At $399, that's a hard sell. It's not four-hundred-dollars delightful.

Sony released a spiritually similar product with the eye-catching name BSP60 in 2015 that was more of a bluetooth speaker and virtual assistant. Of course I found a video of the two of them performing together! The most apt comparison is that the BSP60 is the Republic droid to the Rolly's Rebel Alliance droid.3

Can you name any similar products that are still being sold?

There are several similar products that are currently available on the market, including:

  1. Anki Cozmo: Cozmo is a small, interactive robot with a personality that can play games and perform tricks.

  2. Sphero Mini: The Sphero Mini is a small, programmable robot ball that can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet.

  3. WowWee MiP Robot: The MiP Robot is a self-balancing robot that can be controlled with hand gestures or a smartphone app.

  4. Star Wars BB-8 Droid: The BB-8 Droid is a remote-controlled robot toy that can move and make sounds like the beloved character from the Star Wars franchise.

  5. DJI Spark: The DJI Spark is a small, portable drone that can be controlled with hand gestures and can capture high-quality photos and videos.

These products all share some similarities with the Sony Rolly in terms of their unique designs and interactive features.

Make me a table. The first column is the 5 products you recommended. The second column is their prices.

Sure, here's a table with the five products I recommended and their estimated prices as of my knowledge cutoff date of September 2021:

Product Name Estimated Price
Anki Cozmo $179.99 USD
Sphero Mini $49.99 USD
WowWee MiP Robot $79.99 USD
Star Wars BB-8 Droid $99.99 USD
DJI Spark $499.00 USD

Please note that prices may vary depending on the region, currency, and retailer, and may have changed since my knowledge cutoff date.

Some caveats to this include that, as ChatGPT indicated, its data only goes up to September of 2021. New products like this may have been released since then. The prices have changed, as it warned. The Sphero Mini is $55 on Amazon now.

I could have gone searching for robots and drones, but this was a lot more convenient. I got the point across without having to generalize. I didn't need to engage the part of my brain that's been trained on how to use a search engine. I literally only asked for products "like Rolly" that are still being sold.

Also, bonus points because I asked ChatGPT to convert the table into Markdown for me. I should ask to sort the table in some way next time. ⭐

In this way, I'm reasonably convinced that ChatGPT is a level up on the previous "virtual assistant" experience, which was, except for special cases, mostly just a talking search engine with only "I'm Feeling Lucky" functionality. This has the potential to be "bicycle for the mind" fodder. I couldn't understand before why Microsoft and Google were so intent on bolting large language models on their search engines. I get it now. And that's huge! Search engines are the killer app of the internet. This might be an order of magnitude closer to the natural language search engines we forgot we were promised when the web was young.

That's pretty heady stuff. No wonder people are getting carried away.

But where are we right now?

DALL-E 2 is a bit of a disappointment. I've had very poor luck translating my ideas into prompts that result in anything close to what I envisioned. And I don't like paying 13¢ for each failure. I've even tried asking ChatGPT for advice in crafting DALL-E 2 prompts, but it hasn't helped. My experience with Stable Diffusion is that it's cheaper since I can run it locally, but the results seem lower-fidelity in comparison. I haven't had the opportunity to try Midjourney.

I've seen ChatGPT fail spectacularly at a creative task. However, I've seen it excel at tasks that revolve around querying the internet in a way that was previously unavailable, and formatting the returned data in arbitrary ways. I think it's safe to think of ChatGPT as a natural language query interface, with the big caveat that it should never be used as a primary source for anything.4

It also can be used to sort out real life word problems. It might work better for this than previous champion Wolfram Alpha! Although at least with Wolfram, I don't feel the need to check its math.

In other words, I wouldn't trust anything ChatGPT gives me that I can't verify independently, whether from lack of knowledge or skill.

Let this be my last of my ranting and raving on the subject. I've said my piece and the internet isn't hurting for hot takes and stupid ChatGPT tricks.


  1. DALL-E 2 generated image, prompt was "Marvel's Thanos, graffiti street art". This image cost me $4.29. I promise I'm not going to get into the habit of this.

  2. Given more time, maybe if the reader is generous enough, this could read like the time Great Grandma first talked to her friend from the opposite coast on a telephone. Kinda cool.

  3. The BSP60 is specifically Darth Vader's alarm clock. This is canon.

  4. Like Wikipedia! Kids, if you're reading this, the trick is to use Wikipedia as a research guide, but double-check and cite the primary sources of the Wiki articles directly. It's free and nobody can stop you.

#ai #game review? #rave?