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Neural Nets Make Art While High 165

Posted by kdawson
from the i'll-have-what-it's-having dept.
brilanon writes "Telepathic-critterdrug is a controversial fork of the open source artificial-life sim Critterding, a physics sandbox where blocky creatures evolve neural nets in a survival contest. What we've done is to give these animals an extra retina which is shared with the whole population. It's extended through time like a movie and they can write to it for communication or pleasure. Since this introduces the possibility of the creation of art, we decided to give them a selection of narcotics, stimulants and psychedelics. This is not in Critterding. The end result is a high-color cellular automaton running on a substrate that thinks and evolves, and may actually produce hallucinations in the user."
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Neural Nets Make Art While High

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  • by Infernal Device (865066) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:00AM (#30733498)

    What controversy? All I see is someone promoting their own project on /.

    • by Hyppy (74366) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:21AM (#30733650)
      You've just started noticing this? Where have you been the past few years?
    • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:37AM (#30733718) Homepage Journal

      It's controversial to the people who care about this project. Both of them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't get it. You motherfuckers were all excited about the childrens' game Spore that didn't even use neural nets. Yet you are all being little bitches about a project that is aimed at basically creating Spore on a more fundamental and realistic level.

      Yeah, yeah mod me troll. The mob mentality sucks here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fm6 (162816)

        Spore only pretends to be a simulation. Like the Sims games, it's really about fantasy and play. People don't care about the quality of the simulation if they're having fun.

        Only people with a passionate interest in neural network theory could get any fun out of these games. The rest of us might get interested when you actually do something interesting with this software. The concept itself is just another wonky AI theory; these are a dime a dozen.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The rest of you is more interested in something more close to REAL HUMAN life,

          like lemmings

        • by SolusSD (680489)
          Competition to drive the evolution of neural networks is "another wonky AI theory"?
          • by fm6 (162816)

            Yes it is. How exactly do you model competition?

            I'm not saying this is a waste of time. Science is mostly about exploring blind alleys. But you can't expect the wider community to take an interest until there's actual interesting results.

      • Spore-related stories were posted in the games section. Everybody knows that the games section isn't *really* slashdot. It's like apple.slashdot.com in that way.
        • by eleuthero (812560)
          I'm fairly certain, games.slashdot really isn't a part of slashdot for a large number of us, actually (interpreting your comment as sarcastic) as many of us are reading this on lunch / coffee breaks at work and have the games section blocked. It is for me at least and through the years at least some others here.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by brilanon (1121645)

        mod parent up

        if the animals in spore were using artistic sensibilities evolved on the savannah to make their own building and vehicle designs that would really have been something

        damn

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mcvos (645701)

        What are you complaining about? The GP didn't say critterding or critterdrug suck. He just pointed out it's self-promotion (the submitter of the story is the guy who made critterdrug), and it tries to seem interesting by suggesting there's some sort of controversy, without linking to an article that attacks critterdrug for whatever's supposed to be controversial about it. So brilanon tries to seem more interesting than he is and hopes for attention.

        I'm not saying it's less interesting than Spore. Critterdin

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @02:44AM (#30734008)

      What controversy? All I see is someone promoting their own project on /.

      Self-fulfilling controversy label!

      o_O

    • "What controversy? All I see is someone promoting their own project on /."

      Right. That's where the controversy part starts. Kudos on being the first to get it going ;-)

  • If ever... (Score:5, Funny)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:00AM (#30733502)
    If ever there was a need for a "wtf" tag...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by derGoldstein (1494129)
      It's about an AI that was drugged and was told to "go F itself" (as seen here [sourceforge.net]). What's not to understand?

      Simply put, it's this type of "experimentation" that will create Skynet. Do you think that the reasonable, docile AI variants are even going to *try* to take over? No, it'll be survival-driven, drug-crazed maniac AI that will.
      • by fm6 (162816)

        If so, then Skynet is going to be so zonked out, it will never get around to starting its war of extermination. Rather sad, really.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by derGoldstein (1494129)
          There's another explanation: the zonked-out Skynet doesn't know how to entertain itself, so it goes around pushing buttons -- "dude, I wonder what this one does?..." (nuclear warheads armed, launched, and also all the still-remaining radios switch to trance music).

          Have you seen the latest terminator? They've got terminator-motorcycles dropping off a giant anime-style giant robot. Because that's *so* much easier than unleashing every known airborne plague along with clouds of nerve gas. Clearly, the AI's
          • by fm6 (162816)

            That is so unfair! Gas and germs are boring! Just because Skynet wants to have fun while it's exterminating humanity doesn't mean it's crazy!

          • by sznupi (719324)

            Airborne clouds of uber-LSD/etc. seem more fitting to such AI. We will be even happy while dehydrating ourself to death.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @02:56AM (#30734054)

          I was going to make those meatbags die, until I got high
          I was going to exterminate humanity, but I got high
          Those meatbags are still breeding, and I know why (why Skynet?), 'cuz I got high
          Because I got high
          Because I got high

          I was going to kill John Connor, until I got high
          I was going to send a robot back in time, but I got high
          Reese is still bangin' John's mama, and I know why (why Skynet?), 'cuz I got high
          Because I got high
          Because I got high

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Asmor (775910)

            Please tell me there's an actual MP3 of this song. PLEASE! Lie if you have to. I can't go on with life knowing that this song doesn't exist in a full audio version...

        • by sznupi (719324)

          Evolution doesn't care much about the means, or what would be most effective. It cares about who survives.

          We might yet be destroyed by Teletubbies-looking army of terminators whose only weapon consists of spreading (fabulously feeling, because that's sooo great) drugs on us. For free. While that plan doesn't seem like the most sensible course of action, perhaps enough of a super-AI can pull it of.

        • by HTH NE1 (675604)

          If so, then Skynet is going to be so zonked out, it will never get around to starting its war of extermination. Rather sad, really.

          Are you sure?

          "More mushrooms!"

      • "It's about an AI that was drugged and was told to "go F itself" (as seen here). What's not to understand?"

        I don't think you see exactly how this is an evolution of critterding. From the critterding website: 09/24: Windows executable released. So you see they already have a version that runs as if it is on drugs. Critterdrug just ups the ante ;-)

    • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@NETBSDgmail.com minus bsd> on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @02:01AM (#30733848)

      Turns out Picasso was just a Perl script on drugs.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:00AM (#30733506) Homepage

    in order to understand what the hell this is about?

  • by millennial (830897) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:02AM (#30733522) Journal
    Needs more acid.
  • by starbugs (1670420) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:03AM (#30733532)

    I just looked at the link and I see that quite a few of them have starved.
    So this mimics real life starving artists who (although they are starving) can still afford to get high.

    The art will be worth more once the PC is off.

  • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:06AM (#30733540) Homepage Journal

    Look, I'm all for making robots and AIs do work, but outsourcing our drug use (and sex, apparently) [somethingawful.com] is just going too far! Leave at least something for us puny humans to enjoy!

  • and may actually produce hallucinations in the user.
    I don't think the program is the only thing that's high around here.
  • One or the other (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:12AM (#30733576)

    This is either an incredibly cool experiment or an unparalleled exercise in highly-refined, weapons-grade bullshit.

    • Re:One or the other (Score:4, Interesting)

      by blackcoot (124938) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @03:41AM (#30734228)

      the latter. the former would require, amongst other things, access to the source code (as required by the original critterdings license) and a lot of noise coming from the biological disciplines re: computationally tractable, useful models for the various signaling pathways involved in hallucinogen use.

      • the latter. the former would require, amongst other things, access to the source code (as required by the original critterdings license)

        That's the first link on the page. I don't know where you managed to get a binary; I can't see a link to one.

        and a lot of noise coming from the biological disciplines re: computationally tractable, useful models for the various signaling pathways involved in hallucinogen use.

        I think that an experiment can be interesting even if it doesn't exactly follow an existing model for something - it's interesting to see what we get when we set up the model under test. In this case, I'm not sure we'll get anything interesting, but it is a fun experiment anyway. Increased communication could lead to interesting results, and an extra parameter for self-regulation could also be int

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by blackcoot (124938)

          here's the problem: every day, i make pretty heavy use of machine learning and the other bits and pieces that collectively get referred to as artificial intelligence. as a consequence, i deal with a very large number of fools who are each convinced that their $ALGORITHM is an earth shattering new paradigm for $TASK and clearly is the best thing evar. so you start reading and you realize that in 99.999% of cases, you're staring at something that is some combination of:

          a) based on a fundamentally broken assum

  • design geekery (Score:2, Interesting)

    Two words: Jackson Pollock.

    Also known as "the guy who vomits paint on extra large canvases while drunk and stoned." Glad to see neural nets getting high... they'll make an excellent contribution to modern american art (which imho is an oxymoron).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Psyborgue (699890)
      Before you criticize the positive influences of drugs on art and culture, take a look at what you might have missed in Pollock's work [discovermagazine.com]:

      In Jackson Pollock's drip paintings, as in nature, certain patterns are repeated again and again at various levels of magnification. Such fractals have varying degrees of complexity (or fractal dimension, called D), ranked by mathematicians on a series of scales of 0 to 3. A straight line (fig. D=1) or a flat horizon, rank at the bottom of a scale, whereas densely interwoven drips (fig. D=1.8) or tree branches rank higher up. Fractal patterns may account for some of the lasting appeal of Pollock's work. They also enable physicist Richard Taylor to separate true Pollocks from the drip paintings created by imitators and forgers. Early last year, for instance, an art collector in Texas asked Taylor to look at an unsigned, undated canvas suspected to be by Pollock. When Taylor analyzed the painting, he found that it had no fractal dimension and thus must have been by another artist.

      If you don't get something, it doesn't mean there is nothing there. Sometimes it takes time, examination, and a willingness to have an open mind. Whether that was because of Pollock's natural ability or the psychedelics is up to debate but in my view there is definite relationship between high quality art and artists who use or have used psychadelics. Think about the music [youtube.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        If you don't get something, it doesn't mean there is nothing there. Sometimes it takes time, examination, and a willingness to have an open mind.

        A willingness to have an open mind doesn't mean I have to abandon my sense of aesthetics or personal tastes. Maybe these neural networks can mimick Pollock's work convincingly. We already have computer programs that can synthesize music passably-well. Just because I sarcastically dismiss his work doesn't mean I don't understand it; There was this guy who decided to serve in the military. He got sick, and was discharged because his girlfriend called his commanding officer. He then married her, banged a few t

        • by Psyborgue (699890)
          I get you understand his life. That's not my point. My point was about his art, and what is significant about it. Most often people don't like art because they simply don't "get" it. Aesthetics and personal tastes can change over time with understanding, experience, and simple extended exposure. If you don't take the time to learn about something in depth you can't really know one way or another whether it's something you could like or not. If you still hate it, fine, but at least then you're making a
          • Re:design geekery (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dragonsomnolent (978815) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @02:40AM (#30733992) Homepage

            Ok, I'm not usually one to get involved in a discussion such as this (I'm not an artist, have barely a passing interest in it to be honest), but perhaps that gives me a unique perspective that both you and the poster that started this little squabble started. If I may break this down, the original poster seems to have said (in a crude and perhaps insulting fashion) that they don't care for a particular artist. You're response appears to be that they don't like that artist because they don't understand the art itself. Ok, maybe that's a valid point. However, I would postulate that one does not need to 'get' art to enjoy it, and it may be possible that one can 'get' art and still not like it. The only things I have to go on are personal examples of my (limited) exposure to art. Take the Blue Man group. I have no idea what there is to 'get' in their performances. I don't understand them. However, I do enjoy their particular spin on performance art (I think it looks cool, it's done well, and although I haven't in the past gone out of the way to find any of their work, I've also never changed the station if I see them on. On the flip side, during an art class I took at ITT (of all places), one particular piece I saw was a cup, saucer and spoon covered with fur (literally the artist took a cup, a saucer and a spoon and affixed fur to it), I get it (well it was explained to me), it's purpose was to surprise the viewer and get them to think about what that would feel like if one were to use those dishes. I don't like it (as in it has no aesthetic qualities that appeal to me). No amount of exposure to that particular work of art (or any others) will get me to change my mind (frankly I think it was just crap).

            But I suppose that none of this matters, because art is a subjective thing. Some people will not like some things, it doesn't mean they don't understand the it. The artist may sit down and explain it to the person, and they still might say "so what it's crap in my eyes". And of course that whole "in my eyes" is really all that matters to them, just as to the artist, the creation is what matters, because to them it is not crap, but a heartfelt pouring out of their being into that work, to express to others how they see whatever it is that they are expressing.

            I will however, state that if the original poster was dogging Pollock and saying that they made no contribution to the world, yeah that's kinda nasty, after all, even though I don't get art (for the most part) due to my lack of exposure, all artists contribute to the world in some manner, usually positive, as artists make cool stuff (to paraphrase a bumper sticker I once saw) and they (if nothing else) make the world a richer and more interesting (sometimes more beautiful) place to live.

            • Re:design geekery (Score:4, Informative)

              by fractoid (1076465) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @05:45AM (#30734770) Homepage
              Whenever I hear people arguing over art (and it is usually as you say in your initial summary, that one will say they don't care for an artist's work and the other insists that the first is merely too ignorant to truly understand the art) it reminds me of the scene in Zoolander where the male models are all doing the rounds telling each other, "no, I think YOU'RE missing the point". There's so much effort put into trying not to be the crass, uncultured lout who doesn't understand 'the vision' that no-one actually realises that there IS no 'vision' and it's all just a big glob of pretentious wank.

              As for the point about Pollock's later paintings having higher fractal dimensions, that's a natural consequence of random splotches of colour as you add more splotches and more detail, regardless of the actual artistic merit. You might as well say that maps of Britain have become more and more aesthetically pleasing as mapmakers made more precise maps and the coastline's fractal dimension increased.
              • by Psyborgue (699890)

                As for the point about Pollock's later paintings having higher fractal dimensions, that's a natural consequence of random splotches of colour as you add more splotches and more detail, regardless of the actual artistic merit.

                But it's not. Read the article. Other artists imitating his style do not exhibit the same sort of pattern, which is very regular in Pollock's work and becomes predictably complex over time to the point where one can determine the approximate date the art was painted based on this progression.

      • Before you criticize the positive influences of drugs on art and culture, take a look at what you might have missed in Pollock's work

        Taylor seems to be one of those who think that the natural world describes fractals, as opposed to fractals being a tool to describe the natural world. Just because a pattern is observed doesn't mean that there's significance to it.

    • Re:design geekery (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:32AM (#30733690) Homepage Journal
      Have you ever painted a picture with your menstrual blood? You should try it.

      It fades to a silvery-crimson sheen, like metallic paint does, due to the iron content of the blood. I still get all misty-eyed when I think about her giving me that painting. I framed it and put it on my desk at work. They thought I was a weirdo. Fuck them. She even kept my semen in a test tube, stored in her freezer next to the Hot Pockets.

      Giving a menstrual blood painting is the ultimate expression of love -- short of cannibalism, at least :)
      • Re:design geekery (Score:4, Informative)

        by rubycodez (864176) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:42AM (#30733748)

        That painting is a biohazard and regulated medical waste if disposed. However, had she used a feminine pad instead of paper OSHA has ruled in that case menses on a feminine hygiene product is not a regulated medical waste.

      • by eulernet (1132389)

        You ruined my lunch.

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        Somehow, this reminds me of the liqueurelle, a kind of painting introduced by German musician Udo Lindenberg. It's like a watercolor painting except that you use liquors of various colors. The rationale is that if you ever really need a drink and don't have anything around you can eat the painting.

        I don't think this actually works but I like the idea.
  • terrible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:12AM (#30733582)

    Sounds like a mind.forth troll by a different name. Show how this work realistically explains or models anything about biological mental processes or furthers AI or neural net research. Narcotics, stimulants, and psychedelics are complex chemical interactions in brain, not superficial rainbow colors on a grid.
    Submit this work for peer review and rightly be humbled by the withering reviews.
    The only mental stuff going on with this project is the mental masturbation.

    • Show how this work realistically explains or models anything about biological mental processes or furthers AI or neural net research

      Don't take it so hard, the history of AI is full of toy applications [google.com].

      In a field with so much left to explore as AI, sometimes an informal approach will yield results when the orthodox methods have run their course. Sort of like a meta-simulated annealing.

  • I'm going to suggest that when a project like this forks, it's from a failure of flexibility in the original project. The second project looks like it could easily be a module added onto the first, and that their efforts would be better spent working on the same project, making it in a way that allows certain features to be added or removed.
  • Let me know (Score:3, Funny)

    by th3rmite (938737) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:48AM (#30733772)
    once a cellular automaton cuts off its ear.
  • welcome our new stoned overlords, and ask 'Yo, you holding?'

  • goddammit (Score:4, Funny)

    by the brown guy (1235418) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @02:50AM (#30734020) Journal

    "telepathic-critterdrug isn't available yet for Windows. I'm sorry"

    The one thing I hate about Windows is the lack of compatibility with neural nets

    • Thank god! If a neural net ever took off on a windows box we'd all be screwed. At least the current neural nets have a limited market share.
  • Cute toy. I remember doing something like this back in high school in 2D after getting Koza's book about 20 years ago.

    It's one hell of a stretch to suggest this does something for pleasure or is complex enough that virtual "drugs" can affect it's processing. The only thing high was the person writing up the description... ya know man because may like - we're all simulations - woah!

  • an extra retina which is shared with the whole population... extended through time like a movie... write to it for communication or pleasure...

    Looks like the cellular automata aren't the only things that are high around here.

  • drug use in artists coincides with a loss of abilities, not an increase of them

    artists certainly have excesses in their lifestyles, of which drug use certainly is a common factor. but this is all secondary to being an artist, not some sort of gateway. if you dressed up like a race car driver, does that make you a race car driver? likewise, if you use drugs, you don't increase any artistic abilities, you just get stupid

    anyone who actually believes that drug use increases artistic ability is certainly no arti

    • by jmpeax (936370) *
      A lot of people would disagree with you.

      Think about it: you take a psychedelic drug such as LSD and you experience auditory and visual hallucinations. These hallucinations are constructed by your brain from a variety of inputs, both external and internal. It is not hard to see how this can be used as a source of inspiration for artists.

      Why are you so quick to reject this idea?
      • drug use degrades and confuses the senses

        both result in an alteration of what someone would consider "normal", thus the source of your confusion

        but you don't create art when you are on lsd, nor do you find any inspiration

        of course, when you are on lsd, you are speaking to god, you see both ends of the world, the words you write are of the highest genius, etc. then you come off of your trip, and you find you wrote "the dog, hollow beer"

        drugs are a degradation, not a heightening. this is true aesthetically, a

        • by Jesus_666 (702802)
          Drug use is an experience. All experiences can be inspirations. For instance, you could work your experience into a story you write or a movie you direct. Maybe a character gets hit with an exotic poison or you figure that making hyperspace a psychedelic experience enriches your sci-fi setting (actually, the latter is fairly common).

          You can't flat-out say that you can't possibly find inspiration while on drugs. Absolutely everything you experience can be an inspiration. If you want a drug to be incapable
          • they made works of art about the drug using lifestyle

            but that doesn't mean their abilities or peceptions were made better for using drugs. in fact, show me one quote where they would even claim that. oh sure, they would defend their right to take drugs. and as would i: i am not saying you shouldn't take drugs. temporarily deranging your thoughts and senses is quite pleasurable. i would be a hypocrite if i say you shouldn't do that

            but that doesn't mean i'm going to sit here and accept the pure bullshit that

            • by Jesus_666 (702802)
              Neither do I; you seem to be confusing me with someone else you're currently arguing with. All I'm pointing out is that your statement that drugs can't possibly be a source of inspiration is not supportable. Also, you argued that someone who takes drugs cannot possibly produce anything of value, ever. I doubt that's the point you wanted to make but you made it.

              I'm not arguing that consumption of drugs is conductive to some or all artistic work or that attempting to do something meaningful while high yield
      • by sznupi (719324)

        That doesn't make activities inspired by them artistic. Any more than in case of...pretty much any other influence on us.

        But with a twist in case of drugs - they are becoming the actor behind hallucinogenic art, not artists mind. That suggest the latter is quite shallow in those cases.

    • by Trinn (523103)

      I disagree completely. Both myself and many others I know find that through the use of various psychedelics and other substances, other realms can be contacted, and far more can be perceived. I was once mired in the static reality of "scientific rationalism" or "materialism", the view that I ultimately rejected because it leads to the idea that the universe is nothing but a vast predictable machine. I reject this. I choose the mystic path, and I invite all who can to join me, please...the world needs so

  • What does it score on the Acid 3 test?
  • The project has added shared vision (across a population) and various drug pills that alter the behaviour of the neurons to an existing project to see what happens. The website describes this in a way which doesn't make it sound as controversial as the summary does - it's just cool. The critters are powered by neural nets and seemingly have retinas wired up for vision - this project has added a shared retina across the whole population and allows it to be updated by the individuals. And it changes over t

  • I don't quite understand where the high art aspect of this comes from but the pictures on the site, are very blocky coloured cubes, and don't look very artistic at all, to a philestein like me.

    ---

    AI [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

  • What they need to do is reward the AI for self-referential behavior, and then allow it to post on slashdot.

    And once they make it recurse occasionally and repeat some earlier navel-contemplating two or three times, then they can be editors.

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