Daily Archives: March 26, 2023

Computer Generated Nonsense on Tap

It has come to this, I am going to post about ChatGPT.

AI and ChatGPT have been very much the rage online as it has been proven that a computer program can, with enough data input, imitate the most empty and banal writing known to man.  Or at least this man, if man I be.  The world is so stupid sometimes that I am not fully ruling out the whole “brain in a jar” hypothesis.

I am not wholly against the idea.  I can see potential in the tech for many things; idea generation, creation of mundane filler text (no more Lorem Ipsum), structuring information, and the occasional silly poem or song about a specific topic, though apparently ChatGPT has its limits.

It’s full potential will never be realized until it creates porn

Though it seems the former president is the inappropriate or offensive content.  I asked for a song about his hair being sucked into a jet engine and got the same response.

Anyway, I started thinking about this when somebody dropped a Washington Post quiz in a Discord chat that asked people to try and identify the AI generated content.  I came away from that really not caring about the answers as the text versions were not only really bland boiler plate style text, but were also on topics that I neither knew nor cared about.  I could barely read them I was so aggressively uninterested.

Meanwhile, Bhagpuss was fiddling around with ChatGPT last week, having it write reviews for games he hadn’t played, and the output was also superficially convincing though, again, not about anything I had any real knowledge of, so it seemed fine to me because I couldn’t care enough to check any of it.

So I decided to run a few things through the bot about topics on which I was more fully versed.  I played around with things like biographies of people like my great uncle.  This is where I noticed ChatGPT’s tendency towards flights of fancy as it got most of the material facts of his life wrong.

But that was also a pretty narrow topic.  So I decided to go on to video games, asking it to write a press release for Blizzard announcing that NFTs will be part of the next World of Warcraft expansion.  I got this.


Blizzard Announces NFT Integration in the Next World of Warcraft Expansion

IRVINE, Calif. – Blizzard Entertainment is thrilled to announce that NFTs (non-fungible tokens) will be a part of the next World of Warcraft expansion, Shadowlands: Chains of Domination.

The integration of NFTs will allow players to own and trade unique in-game items, such as mounts, weapons, and armor, that are backed by blockchain technology. This exciting new feature will provide players with a sense of ownership and authenticity, as well as a new level of value to their in-game assets.

“We are excited to bring NFTs to World of Warcraft,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “This integration allows us to explore new avenues for player engagement and opens up a new world of possibilities for the World of Warcraft community.”

The introduction of NFTs in Shadowlands: Chains of Domination will provide players with a new layer of immersion and engagement, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the game’s rich and expansive world. The integration will also allow for greater player autonomy and control, providing a more democratic and inclusive gaming experience.

Blizzard is committed to ensuring that the integration of NFTs in Shadowlands: Chains of Domination is a safe and secure experience for all players. The company has taken extensive measures to ensure that the NFTs are tamper-proof and secure, and players can have confidence in the authenticity of their in-game items.

Shadowlands: Chains of Domination is set to release later this year, and Blizzard looks forward to bringing this exciting new feature to the World of Warcraft community. For more information, please visit the official World of Warcraft website.

About Blizzard Entertainment Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, Overwatch®, Diablo®, and StarCraft®, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com), a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard Entertainment’s track record includes twenty-two #1 games* and numerous Game of the Year awards. The company’s online gaming service, Battle.net®, is one of the largest in the world, with millions of active players.

That is a pretty convincing simulacrum of a Blizzard press release… if you not very little about World of Warcraft.  If you know that Shadowlands was already and expansion or that J. Allen Brack has been gone for a couple of years, it is less convincing.  And have they really had 22 #1 games?

But I was asking the bot to speculate, and maybe that wasn’t fair.  So I settled down on something more direct.  I asked it to write a short history of Sony Online Entertainment.  After all, that is something I have some knowledge of, having thrown together a timeline of the company previously.  And just to spice things up, I also asked Microsoft’s Bing ChatAI and Google’s Bard AI to answer the prompt as well.

The Bing AI was direct and to the point, lacking any flourish.

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) began with Sony Interactive Studios America (SISA), an internal game development studio of Sony, formed by 1995. In 1996, John Smedley was put in charge of SISA’s development of an online role-playing video game. The game would evolve into the MMORPG EverQuest1.

In April 1998, SOE was formed by merging parts of Sony Online Ventures with Sony Pictures Entertainment1Within a matter of months after this change, Sony Interactive Studios America was renamed 989 Studios1Towards the end of 1998, 989 Studios shifted its strategy to making PlayStation games1.

In February 2015, SOE was sold to investment firm Columbus Nova and rebranded as Daybreak Game Company1.

There isn’t a lot going on there, but that seems to be the way of Bing’s AI.  It doesn’t go into great depth, but the details of the different organizations that eventually coalesced into Sony Online Entertainment are a bit foggy to me to this day.  Gaming magazine articles from the time often used the names like Verant, 989 Studios, and various groups within Sony interchangeably, sometimes in the same article.  The fact that 989 went off in another direction doesn’t seem much on point.

Bing, despite its brevity, did link to sources.  I will give it that.  And it is certain that SOE was sold to Columbus Nova, something Daybreak has been deceptive about, to say the least.  But the AI also seemed content to pull everything from the same Wikipedia article, like a 5th grader writing a report.

Google’s Bard, on the other hand, holds no tuck with reality and spins a unique tale that diverges considerably from the reality in which I live.

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) was an American video game developer and publisher based in San Diego, California. It was founded in December 1997 as a subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment, but was spun off to an independent investor in February 2015 and renamed Daybreak Game Company.

SOE was one of the leading developers of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs). Its most popular games included EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide, Free Realms, and DC Universe Online. SOE also developed and published a number of single-player games, including the EverQuest expansions, The Matrix Online, and The Agency.

In 2015, SOE was acquired by Columbus Nova, an investment firm. The acquisition was seen as a way to help SOE expand its reach into new markets. However, the acquisition was not successful, and SOE was shut down in 2017.

SOE’s legacy lives on through the games that it developed and published. EverQuest and EverQuest II are still popular MMOGs, and PlanetSide is considered one of the best first-person shooters of all time. SOE’s single-player games have also been praised for their graphics, gameplay, and story.

SOE was a pioneer in the development of MMOGs, and its games have helped to shape the online gaming industry. The company’s legacy will continue to live on through the games that it created.

Oof, SOE, you are missed.  But your legacy lives on through EverQuest and all those single player titles, like The Matrix Online and The Agency.

Still, it was also on point about Columbus Nova, I’ll give it that.

Now Bard is the newest player on the scene and I just got access to the beta this past week, so it has, perhaps, not been fed all the data it needed to get that prompt right.  Still, its willingness to run with the prompt with abandon, creating its own alternate version of the facts, is something to keep in mind… it you’re into some alternate reality fiction.

Finally, there is ChatGPT.

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) was founded in 1995 as Verant Interactive by John Smedley, Brad McQuaid, Steve Clover, and Bill Trost. The company initially focused on creating video games for personal computers. Verant Interactive released its first game, “EverQuest,” in 1999. The massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) quickly became popular, and its success led to Verant Interactive being acquired by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2000.

After the acquisition, Verant Interactive was renamed to Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). SOE continued to develop and publish online games, including “Star Wars Galaxies” and “Planetside.” In 2005, SOE launched “EverQuest II,” the sequel to the original “EverQuest.”

SOE also expanded its offerings beyond traditional MMORPGs with the release of “Free Realms,” a family-friendly online game that offered a mix of different gameplay styles. In 2011, SOE released “DC Universe Online,” a massively multiplayer online action game set in the DC Universe.

In 2015, SOE was sold by Sony to an investment firm and renamed Daybreak Game Company. The company continued to operate many of the games previously released by SOE, including “EverQuest,” “EverQuest II,” and “DC Universe Online.” Daybreak Game Company also began developing new titles, including “H1Z1,” a zombie survival game, and “PlanetSide 2,” a massive multiplayer first-person shooter.

In 2021, Daybreak Game Company was acquired by Enad Global 7, a Swedish video game company. The acquisition included the rights to all of the games previously published by SOE and Daybreak Game Company. Today, the company continues to develop and publish online games under the Daybreak Game Company name.

There are issues in that piece as well.  Dates are incorrect… we know that, in the end, no new games were launched under the Daybreak banner that hadn’t been started under SOE… and I am pretty sure Verant was not “acquired” by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2000, at least in the way a one might buy and independent entity.  But as I noted above, the early history of SOE and the organizations that ended up being combined into it are a bit murky.

It skipped the whole Columbus Nova thing… coward… but it did carry on to the acquisition by Enad Global 7, though it ends on a pretty generic “still continues to develop and publish online games” phrasing, which is not supported by any direct observation.  No new games have been published in years.

So I wouldn’t trust any of them to write anything authoritative.  At a minimum I would want to fact check these AIs on any but the most obvious details.  I’ll take “the sky was blue,” though I’ll see what the date is and if it was during winter I’ll go check the weather report. (ChatGPT won’t talk about the weather, even for past dates.  It tells me to go check the weather report.)

Instead, the most striking thing is probably the assumed authority that comes out of these AI bots.

I saw somebody compare them to a 20 year old male on the internet; completely sure of their facts and wrong in some way on most of them.

Likewise, I think a comparison to news reporting is somewhat apt, that the closer you are to a story, the more likely you are to find errors… and I have never read a news story that I was close to that did not contain errors in fact… but the authority of the news is such that you will assume truth if you have no first hand knowledge.

I suppose the lesson is to be wary, since people seem keen to take short cuts and use these AIs to write news stories rather than just filler text, and the AI makes mistakes as fundamental as any human.

I have no plans to rely on AI for anything other than occasional humor at this point.  In any case, I do not believe it could generate a blog post that would fool any regular reader here.  I am hesitant about many things in the way the AI (or a 20 year old male on the internet) simply is not.