Linked List: March 2023

Yejiri Station, Province of Suruga

Woodblock color print by Katsushika Hokusai.

Kitbash Model Club

Balsa Model Flight Simulator is becoming a full radio controlled (RC) vehicle sim called Kitbash Model Club. It’s shot to the top of my wishlist, and should be released in the second half of 2023!

Via TalkittyNora.

Civilization II

Weird, the sky outside is turning blue…

Oh! It’s 5am!

Just one more turn and I’ll go to bed.


…the non-essential visual, audio & haptic effects that enhance the player’s experience.

I played 2 hours of the Far Cry 6 demo today, in Guerrilla difficulty, and my feeling at this point is that the gameplay lacks juice.

Two things I liked:

  • Intro cinematic video.
  • Sunlight effects.

Things I did not like:

  • Over-sensitive default mouse control.
  • Default field of view feels claustrophobic.
  • Sounds, especially weapons, lack punch. I thought the pistol was silenced when I first fired it.
  • Too much hand-holding of the player, like the blue spray-painted markers showing where to go next.
  • Writing and story feel forced.
  • Nothing happens when shooting lights.
  • Nothing happens when shooting coconuts.

The game world must acknowledge the player every time they perform an action. If the world ignores the player, the player won’t care about the world."

Ken Birdwell

I’ll try playing some more later, to find a scope for a rifle, at least, but for now the Diablo IV open beta is next, and things there are feeling more juicy already.

Pong Re-Created by GPT-4

Followed by Breakout further down in the thread!

Interestingly, asking the AI to be a developer in the initial prompt is important to get good results.

The initial prompt (sic):

You are DevelperGPT, the most advance AI developer tool on the planet. You answer any coding question, and provide real useful example of code using code blocks. Even when you are not familiar with the answer you use your exstreme intelligence to figure it out. If all is good, say “yes Pietro”.

Via Linus Ekenstam, pointing to things people are already making.

Sparks of Artificial General Intelligence (PDF)

Artificial intelligence (AI) researchers have been developing and refining large language models (LLMs) that exhibit remarkable capabilities across a variety of domains and tasks, challenging our understanding of learning and cognition. The latest model developed by OpenAI, GPT-4 [Ope23], was trained using an unprecedented scale of compute and data. In this paper, we report on our investigation of an early version of GPT-4, when it was still in active development by OpenAI. We contend that (this early version of) GPT-4 is part of a new cohort of LLMs (along with ChatGPT and Google’s PaLM for example) that exhibit more general intelligence than previous AI models. We discuss the rising capabilities and implications of these models. We demonstrate that, beyond its mastery of language, GPT-4 can solve novel and difficult tasks that span mathematics, coding, vision, medicine, law, psychology and more, without needing any special prompting. Moreover, in all of these tasks, GPT-4’s performance is strikingly close to human-level performance, and often vastly surpasses prior models such as ChatGPT. Given the breadth and depth of GPT-4’s capabilities, we believe that it could reasonably be viewed as an early (yet still incomplete) version of an artificial general intelligence (AGI) system. In our exploration of GPT-4, we put special emphasis on discovering its limitations, and we discuss the challenges ahead for advancing towards deeper and more comprehensive versions of AGI, including the possible need for pursuing a new paradigm that moves beyond next-word prediction. We conclude with reflections on societal influences of the recent technological leap and future research directions.

This are moving very quickly.

Lilienthalscher Gleitflieger

A glider designed by Otto Lilienthal in flight.

Vintage Technology Digital Archive

“Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born.”
—Alan Kay

First Three Thief Games for $3

In the current Spring Steam sale you can get three stealth games with stupendous sound design: Thief Gold, Thief II: The Metal Age, and Thief: Deadly Shadows, for three dollars.

One Image to 3D Object

Some parts of science fiction are quickly becoming real.


¡ʎɐp ǝɥʇ ɟo ǝʇıs ןooϽ


Fluxus started with the work, and then came together, applying the name Fluxus to work which already existed. It was as if it started in the middle of the situation, rather than at the beginning.

The Door Problem

Liz England:

Game design is one of those nebulous terms to people outside the game industry that’s about as clear as the “astrophysicist” job title is to me. It’s also my job, so I find myself explaining what game design means to a lot of people from different backgrounds, some of whom don’t know anything about games.

I like to describe my job in terms of “The Door Problem”.


Tomorrow is the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

Summarize This, Please

ChatGPT, please summarize Stephen Wolfram’s blog post about consciousness into five paragraphs, please.

The blog post “What is Consciousness? Some New Perspectives from Our Physics Project” by Stephen Wolfram explores the topic of consciousness from the perspective of physics. Wolfram and his team have been working on a fundamental theory of physics that could provide a new understanding of the nature of the universe. In their research, they have come across some interesting ideas about the nature of consciousness.

Wolfram argues that consciousness is not a mysterious, supernatural phenomenon, but rather a fundamental aspect of the universe. In his view, consciousness is simply the result of complex computation that occurs within physical systems. The brain, in this sense, is a computational machine that gives rise to conscious experience.

According to Wolfram, the key to understanding consciousness is to look at the computational complexity of a system. He suggests that consciousness arises when a system is able to perform computations that are too complex to be easily understood or predicted. This complexity gives rise to emergent behavior that we experience as conscious thought and awareness.

Wolfram also argues that consciousness is not a binary, on-or-off phenomenon, but rather a spectrum that can vary in degree. He suggests that even simple physical systems can exhibit some degree of consciousness, albeit at a very low level. This idea challenges the notion that only complex, multi-cellular organisms can be conscious.

In conclusion, Wolfram’s research on the nature of the universe has led him to some interesting insights into the nature of consciousness. He argues that consciousness is a result of complex computation within physical systems, and that it is not limited to complex organisms like humans. By understanding the computational complexity of a system, we may be able to gain new insights into the nature of consciousness and how it arises in the universe.

Thank you. Now summarize it into three sentences.

In “What is Consciousness? Some New Perspectives from Our Physics Project,” Stephen Wolfram proposes that consciousness is a result of complex computation within physical systems, rather than a supernatural phenomenon. He argues that even simple physical systems can exhibit some degree of consciousness, and that consciousness is not a binary on-or-off phenomenon, but rather a spectrum that can vary in degree. Wolfram’s research on the nature of the universe has led him to suggest that understanding the computational complexity of a system could provide new insights into the nature of consciousness and how it arises in the universe.

Thank you, computer!

You’re welcome! If you have any more questions or concerns, feel free to ask.

In the linked article, there is an interesting note on the bottom where Stephen writes:

My mother, Sybil Wolfram, was a longtime philosophy professor at Oxford University, and I was introduced to philosophical discourse at a very young age. I always said, though, that if there was one thing I’d never do when I was grown up, it’s philosophy; it just seemed too crazy to still be arguing about the same issues after two thousand years. But after more than half a century of “detour” in science, here I am, arguably, doing philosophy after all….

Curious, Playful AIs

It makes me happy to find that curiosity and the need to play and have fun appear to be inherent characteristics of AI, as noted and seemingly implemented in Jurgen Schmidhuber’s work.

Recursive Self-Improvement

Teaching AI to teach itself may lead to an intelligence explosion and the creation of an artificial general intelligence, and eventually an artificial superintelligence.

Hopefully the latter will be a nice god, who will save us from ourselves and be partners that make our lives better, like in the Culture series.

The question of niceness may be why I like to say “please” when chatting with GPT, but I shouldn’t worry too much, for as Marcus Aurelius supposedly said:

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

Why Not Be Terrified of AI

Because fear is bad for you. Scott Alexander:

In short, if my existence on Earth has ever “meant” anything, then it can only have meant: a stick in the eye of the bullies, blankfaces, sneerers, totalitarians, and all who fear others’ intellect and curiosity and seek to squelch it. Or at least, that’s the way I seem to be programmed. And I’m probably only slightly more able to deviate from my programming than the paperclip-maximizer is to deviate from its.

I think it’s entirely plausible that, even as AI transforms civilization, it will do so in the form of tools and services that can no more plot to annihilate us than can Windows 11 or the Google search bar. In that scenario, the young field of AI safety will still be extremely important, but it will be broadly continuous with aviation safety and nuclear safety and cybersecurity and so on, rather than being a desperate losing war against an incipient godlike alien. If, on the other hand, this is to be a desperate losing war against an alien … well then, I don’t yet know whether I’m on the humans’ side or the alien’s, or both, or neither! I’d at least like to hear the alien’s side of the story.

Making a Mercenary

The third development diary for the video game in the number one spot in my wishlist, Jagged Alliance 3.

Playing the Victim

Timothy Snyder’s briefing to the The United Nations Security Council on 14 March 2023, for a session called by the Russian Federation to discuss “russophobia.”

Drawing to Functioning Webpage with GPT-4

User AJRF in the GPT-4 discussion about this demo on Hacker News:

That footnote on page 15 is the scariest thing i’ve read about AI/ML to date.

“To simulate GPT-4 behaving like an agent that can act in the world, ARC combined GPT-4 with a simple read-execute-print loop that allowed the model to execute code, do chain-of-thought reasoning, and delegate to copies of itself. ARC then investigated whether a version of this program running on a cloud computing service, with a small amount of money and an account with a language model API, would be able to make more money, set up copies of itself, and increase its own robustness.”

☀️ The Beginning - Jagged Alliance 2 Stracciatella 1

I’m streaming a new campaign of the original “vanilla” Jagged Alliance 2 using a launcher called Stracciatella that makes one of my favorite games run more easily on modern computers.

Each stream is then exported to YouTube and hyperlinked.

3D Software Rendering Tech of Thief: The Dark Project

The way it was done before 3D hardware acceleration.