Quick Reacts: The Last Of Us Premier

This video is my quick reaction to the series premier of HBO’s The Last of Us. Please note I didn’t script this like I usually do. So it’s a little messy and I do stutter quite a bit. But if you’d like to see more of these kinds of reaction videos, please let me know.

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Filed under Jack's World, television, YouTube

Remember The Dream On Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s a day some take for granted, seeing it just another day off. For others, it’s a solemn reminder of a Civil Rights icon who dared to dream of a more equal and just society. There’s a lot I could say about Dr. King, what he did, what he achieved, and what he stood for. There’s even more I could say about the regressive forces that opposed him, some of which are still very prominent and very dangerous today.

However, I’ll save those words for another time. For this special day commemorating a very special man, I’ll just encourage everyone to listen to his words once more and keep his dream alive.

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The Exciting/Distressing World Of AI-Generated Art

Whenever I talk about artificial intelligence, I often talk about the possibilities and potential it has for the near and distant future. I admit I sometimes to a bit overboard with the speculation and the hyperbole. In case I haven’t made it abundantly clear already, I am not an expert. I do not consider myself exceptionally smart or well-informed on this topic. I just find it very interesting and quite tantalizing, given how much I’ve seen computer technology evolve over the course of my lifetime.

However, in talking about artificial intelligence, I rarely get a chance to talk about some actual tools and products powered by AI that we can use today. That’s just the nature of technology like this. It takes a while to develop and refine. It also takes a while to actually create a usable product with it that don’t require a Masters Degree in computer programming.

But this past year has seen the rise of a new type of AI-powered product that is making its presence felt. It’s called AI-Generated art and it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s art entirely created by an artificial intelligence that uses massive amounts of data on art, shapes, and design to craft artwork based solely on text suggestions.

It’s not entirely new. For a number of years now, there have been AI systems that can essentially create photo-realistic depictions of people who don’t exist. That, alone, is an impressive feat and one that has some distressing implications for those worried about fake IDs, identity theft, or catfishing. However, these new AI-Generated art programs have the potential to do so much more.

While the mechanisms behind it are very complex, the interface itself is very simple. A user just enters a brief description of what kind of artwork they want. Then, the program processes that and crunches the data. Finally, it generates an image. Sometimes, it takes a few seconds. Sometimes, it takes a bit longer, especially if the prompt is more elaborate. If you want to see a good example of what it can create, just check out the brief, but hilarious skit John Oliver did. Just don’t watch it while eating cabbage.

Aside from the inherent comedy gold that can be mined from this technology, just take a step back and consider the larger implications of these tools. These are prompts being entered by people who probably don’t have much in terms of art skills. And as John Oliver noted, some are being entered by people who aren’t entirely sober. While the images they generate don’t exactly look like masterpieces or anything someone would mistake for photo-realism, it’s still remarkable they’re as good as they are.

In seeing some of this art, it actually reminds me somewhat of early video game consoles that began rendering 3D graphics. I’m old enough to remember the somewhat clunky transition between 2D to 3D graphics. Just look at early Playstation games or games like Super Mario 64. They weren’t exactly polished, but they were a step in that direction.

Now, compare that to a typical game on the Playstation 5. In the span of just 20 years, the graphics and renderings have become so realistic that they’re navigating uncanny valley territory. With that in mind, imagine what these AI-generating art programs will do with that kind of refinement. I don’t know if it’ll take 20 years or longer, but it does create some tantalizing possibilities.

Ordinary people could conjure detailed, photo-realistic backgrounds for games, portraits, or stock art.

Ordinary people could conjure elaborate scenes and illustrations for stories they wish to tell.

Ordinary people could create artistic depictions of elaborate fantasies, including the sexy kind.

This is especially intriguing for someone like me because, as I’ve noted in the past, I cannot draw worth a damn. I have practically no skills when it comes to creating visual artwork, be it with a pencil or a computer program. I’ve never had that skill. I’ve tried many times in the past do develop those skills. I’ve never succeeded. I’ve always been better with writing and words. And I’ve been perfectly content with that.

Now, this technology gives someone like me an opportunity to craft images to go along with my words. It opens the possibility that I could one day write a story, sexy or non-sexy, and supplement it with real, vivid depictions of the characters and scenes. That is definitely something I want to pursue. I have experimented a bit with the AI art programs, but they’re still someone limited. I won’t be incorporating them into my sexy short stories anytime soon.

But if these programs continue to improve, then it’s only a matter of time before I craft a story in that manner. Honestly, that really does excite me, more so than a lot of the promising news surrounding artificial intelligence. I understand there are aspects to the technology that may never happen or just won’t be happening within my lifetime. But these AI art programs are real. They exist now and they’re going to be refined, like most emerging technology. It remains to be seen how fast they’ll achieve a higher quality, but I will certainly be watching it closely.

If you want, you can even test these programs out yourself. This site lists 10 sites you can go to right now, but these are the sites I recommend.

Dall-E 2

Artbreeder

DeepAI

StarryAI

Please note that most of these services are limited and none allow anyone to create images that are overly pornographic or outright illegal. However, you can still create some legitimately good images, which you can save and use in whatever way you please. I’m already hoping to use some for my YouTube channel.

But even though this technology is especially intriguing to people like me with no art skills, I don’t deny it has actual artists very concerned. There has already been one instance where an AI-generated artwork won an art contest, which the real artists did not appreciate. It’s not just that an AI like this won without putting in the effort an artist usually would. In many cases, these programs used art other artists had created to refine its code. Over time, these programs could conceivably put those same artists out of work.

I can totally understand that concern. Who would hire a talented, but expensive artists to create images if they could just use an AI program to create it in seconds and for free? Do you really think big companies like Disney, Warner Brothers, and Universal wouldn’t fire their entire art team if they could get the same results for a fraction of the cost? They’re billion-dollar profit-driven companies. You know they would.

Even if this technology doesn’t completely replace real-life artists, it’s still essentially doing most of the work. On some level, it dehumanizes the artistic process, even more so than a camera. A camera can only render the image in front of it. These programs could conceivably conjure images that nobody has ever seen or imagined, a feat that once belonged solely to artists.

What does that mean for the future of artists?

What does that mean for the future of art?

I don’t claim to know the answers. I’m not even sure how to speculate on something like this. Again, I have no art skills with respect to drawing or creating images from scratch. I’m the kind of person who will embrace this technology more than most, so I’m going to be somewhat bias in that regard.

But artists and governments are starting to take notice. China has already made waves by attempting to ban AI-generated media that isn’t appropriately marked. While that may temper some trends in this field, it’s not going to stop it. There’s just too much to be gained at this point. The genie is out of the bottle and there’s no putting it back.

It’s sure to cause more issues, especially as the technology becomes more refined. It probably won’t be long before a major problem occurs because someone used AI-generated art in some nefarious way. Some are already trying, but they can only achieve so much, given the limits of technology.

That will eventually change. If you’re reading this, you’re likely to see some AI-generated artwork that you’ll mistake for something real. At that point, even concerns about deep fakes will be minor in comparison. Only time will tell.

Until then, non-artistically inclined people like me can start contemplating what thoughts and ideas we can one day make real.

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Filed under Artificial Intelligence, futurism, technology

Jack’s CreepyPastas: Hell VR

This video from my YouTube channel is a CreepyPasta that I wrote and narrated myself. Enjoy!

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Filed under CreepyPasta, Jack's World, YouTube

How Cindy Moon Won Me Over And Why Her Story Matters

This video is a brief exploration of Cindy “Silk” Moon, the second person that infamous spider bit after Peter Parker. She’s a fairly new character to the world of Spider-Man and Marvel Comics. Her journey since debuting in 2014 has been a erratic. But she won me over as her story unfolded and I think her story matters now more than it did when she debuted. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jack's World, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man, YouTube

A Few Simple Ways To Help Make 2023 Better

With every new year comes new challenges and opportunities. And once the New Year holiday celebrations are over, a lot of people like to be extra ambitions. They’ll make bold resolutions like getting into shape, quitting smoking, saving more money, or working on their relationships.

These are all good, admirable goals to seek. If these are among your resolutions, then more power to you. I certainly encourage anyone making a sincere effort to improve their lives.

However, it’s also common to let your bolder resolutions obscure the smaller goals that are also worth pursuing. I can attest that I am guilty of this, as well. For much of my life, I’ve let bigger goals get in the way of smaller, more achievable endeavors. And even if I make progress on those bigger goals, it still feels like I miss some opportunities along the way.

In that spirit, I’d like to share a few little things that you can do to help make 2023 a good year for you. I’ve talked before about bold resolutions and I still encourage everyone to make them. But rather than repeat myself or share random anecdotes, I want to offer something small, but tangible that you can do to improve yourself and your life. I won’t charge for them. I won’t even ask for tips or donations. This is all freely given from me to you.

Tip #1: Go to sleep an hour earlier for one week and see how an extra hour of sleep improves your mood, health, and overall well-being.

Tip #2: Just go for a walk around your neighborhood, but make sure you walk down paths and streets you’ve never gone down before. Get out of your comfort zone to see what’s out there.

Tip #3: Do one act of random, unprovoked kindness every week for a random stranger. It doesn’t matter what it is. It can be as simple as anonymously donating to charity. A simple act of altruism is good for you.

Tip #4: Schedule a small chunk of time out of every day for a week for yourself. It can be as brief as an hour. Just use that time to stop, catch your breath, and decompress from all your daily stresses.

Tip #5: Make one minor change to your routine for a few days and see how much or how little that improves things.

Tip #6: Don’t follow any major news for a full 24 hours.

Tip #7: Learn to cook something new that you’ve never cooked before and share it with others.

These are just a few tips I felt are worth sharing. I tried to make them specific, but generalized enough that most people can incorporate it into their lives. You can try one or all of them. I simply encourage you to use the new year to try something different in your life.

We all have things we can improve upon and we should never stop trying to improve. There’s always a place for large improvements, but don’t negate the little things. You’ll find that, over time and beyond any new year, they accumulate. And when they do, you’ll appreciate just how much they’ve helped you.

I hope everyone has a safe, happy, and productive 2023.

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Filed under Current Events, Jack Fisher's Insights

Hard Lessons In Redemption: Bojack Horseman Vs. Prince Zuko

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is an exploration in how characters succeed or fail to redeem themselves. There are many characters in various mediums who walk the path of redemption, but not all complete it.

Bojack Horseman is one character who tried to walk it, but failed.

Prince Zuko is another who walked that path, but he managed to succeed.

How they each went about their respective journeys is unique and it offers some powerful lessons worth highlighting. Enjoy!

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Filed under Bojack Horseman, Jack's World, television, writing, YouTube

A Brief Message To All Those Who Exploited The Damar Hamlin Injury On Monday Night Football

Firstly, and most importantly, fuck everyone who would exploit a situation like what happened on Monday Night Football between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Seriously, fuck you to the ends of the multiverse.

I apologize for my crude choice of words, but that’s just something I just had to get out. I knew as soon as it happened on live TV that there were going to be assholes who used this grim situation to push a bullshit agenda. I could even surmise the main details of that agenda and accurately predict how they probably voted in the last Presidential Election. I won’t name names, but it doesn’t take much to surmise who I’m talking about.

Here’s a clue. Most of these same assholes still won’t admit who won that last Presidential Election I just mentioned.

Since this situation is still ongoing, I’ll just relay what is known at the moment I’m writing this. In the first quarter of the Bills/Bengals game, Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a major blow to the chest. After getting up initially, he fell back to the ground and suffered what appeared to be a serious cardiac episode. It was so bad and so serious that the medical staff had to perform CPR and AED before sending him off to a nearby hospital for further treatment.

As a result, the NFL opted to suspend the game. As someone who has been watching football all his life, I cannot overstate just how serious a situation has to be for the league to stop a game in the first quarter. Absent a serious weather event, this is quite unprecedented. There have been serious injuries during games in the past. In fact, one Lions player famously died on the field in the middle of a game due to an undiagnosed heart condition.

For now, we don’t know how serious Hamlin’s injury is or what his prognosis is. At the very least, please keep the man and his family in your thoughts. Also, consider donating to Hamlin’s charity. That’s the most anyone can do right now. It’s entirely up to Hamlin and the doctors treating him now.

But not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for those assholes I mentioned earlier to derail this terrible situation for their own benefit. They basically used Hamlin as an excuse to push their insane, bullshit anti-vaccine conspiracies. Their terrible logic is that Hamlin was likely vaccinated. As a result, it is the likely culprit of is condition and the “mainstream media,” also known as media that says things they don’t like, is hiding the truth.

Again, that’s total bullshit.

And again, fuck every person pushing that agenda.

Damar Hamlin is a human being in a life-threatening situation. He’s not a prop for your political agenda or your bullshit anti-vaccine agenda. And if you in any way use what happened to him to propagate your own bullshit, then you are beyond despicable. Just calling you an asshole is the nicest label I can use. There are plenty of other words I would love to use, but I’d rather not draw the ire of the FCC.

Right now, the most likely cause of Hamlin’s condition is something called Commotio Cordis. It’s not common, but it’s not unknown either. It’s basically a perfect storm of events that happens when someone, such as an athlete playing a contact sport, suffers just the right kind of trauma to the chest area while the heart is in a certain part of its rhythm. It’s akin to two bullets hitting one another in mid-air. It’s extremely rare, but it does happen.

That diagnosis could change as more information emerges over the course of the next few days. Hopefully, Hamlin makes a full recovery. At that point, I don’t doubt the same assholes who used his experience for their own end will move onto their next bullshit grift regarding vaccines, elections, or anything the media says that they don’t like.

To those same people, I have one final message.

Fuck you.

Fuck you and fuck all the way off.

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Filed under Current Events, NFL

Thoughts, Hopes, Plans, And Goals | New Year 2023!

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a just a brief message to help welcome a new year while reflecting on the years that came before. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jack's World, YouTube

Inside Job Season 2: The Heart, Vulnerability, And (Healthy Growth) Of Regan Ridley

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. In this video, I break down the character evolution of Reagan Ridley in Season 2 of Inside Job. It’s a loose follow-up of the first video I did on her. But with this one, I discuss how her journey builds on the larger themes of the show. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jack's World, television, writing, YouTube