Many years ago, I started writing a fantasy story. In the story, there was a culturally important game you could play with friends, which was usually mostly a bit like poker.
The thing was, every once in a while you would draw some totally weird extra card that had never been in the pack before. The Steward of Hearts. The King of Arrows. Both suits and ranks were open to change.
In the story, this was the work of prophetic spirits.
I never finished writing the story because I was really less interested in the plot than I was in the deck itself — the idea of a set of symbols that was mostly known and constrained and human-made, but had an occasional dose of the uncanny.
To me, that dose of the uncanny is also part of the appeal of working with AI — the way it can, at its best, introduce elements that feel both significant and unexpected.
Over the past year or so, I’ve worked on and off on making a text generator that describes fortune-telling cards; where the deck has its own definite imagery and set of meanings; where the generator usually stays approximately on form; but where you sometimes find a card you would not expect at all.
The rest of the article goes a little bit into what I’ve done, what it produces, and why I find this an interesting way to write with a machine.
If you’d like your own experimental output from it: through this weekend (until early July 19), I’m supporting this fundraiser by generating tarot card readings or new Parrigues-style towns with this generator. If you’d like your own, donate any amount, then ping to let me know what you’d like. (More about that offer on Twitter.)
Now, the article:Continue reading “The Uncanny Deck: Co-authoring with GPT-2”