There's been a lot of (perfectly valid!) debate lately about AI-generated artworks. But I have to oddly commend the new Infinite Odyssey venture for going all the way with it: a monthly full-length sci-fi prose and comic book magazine, created entirely by AI (based on human-inputted prompts and graphic design/page layouts, obviously):
Welcome to our sci-fi magazine! We are a team of passionate science fiction enthusiasts who have come together to create a publication dedicated to exploring the genre in all its forms.
What sets us apart is that our magazine is produced entirely with the help of artificial intelligence. From the initial concept and theme development, to the writing and editing of articles, our A.I. assistants play a crucial role in every aspect of our magazine's creation.
In a brief interview over Instagram, the editor of the magazine gave me a little more background on their approach:
We use Stable Diffusion for the images. And we use an algorithm that works on the openai gpt 3 davinci models API, the algorithm's name is Martin Alpha developed by the developer of our team we create our stories thanks to this algorithm. We give prompts like: "Write a unique 700-word story on the following topic, and the language will be mystical and engaging. Let the story end unexpectedly and tell the story from a 3rd person perspective.
"In 517 BC, a high-tech alien civilization sends a highly advanced robot to the world, this robot does its best to ensure that the people of the world can develop their civilizations safely and get rid of the so-called Great filter before the world is destroyed."
The first issue of the magazine is out now; it's $4 for a digital copy, or $30 for a physical hard copy. The editors sent me a free advanced PDF, and I have to admit, it's a fascinating experiment. The human-guided presentation and design is fantastic, but the stories themselves are … fine, I guess. The editors wisely compiled a wide range of sci-fi sub-genres to showcase the work of their algorithm. The prompt ideas are certainly neat. The execution, however, is exactly what you'd expect from AI-generated work.
Sure, the prose is functional. Arguably passable, even. But there's a distinct lack of humanity in the words — again, as should be expected. The editor cutely distinguishes between each algorithmic author, as if there are different writers contributing to the magazine; and while each story is certainly distinct in its style, they all feel very much written by computer. They're trope-y, full of summary and exposition, and distinctly lacking in any sort of emotion, let alone emotional arcs.
In a lot of ways, Infinite Odyssey reminded me of reading Robbe-Grillet in college — an interesting artistic experiment that I never want do again. But at least Robbe-Grillet was intentionally hollow, as a deliberate commentary on some sense of humanity. After reading this magazine, I felt elated that robots won't be taking my job any time soon. And yet I can't quite shake my morbid curious to keep reading anyway (if for no other reason than to encourage this sort of weird experimentation to continue).