Simon Willison’s Weblog


Friday, 26th January 2024

LLM 0.13: The annotated release notes

I just released LLM 0.13, the latest version of my LLM command-line tool for working with Large Language Models—both via APIs and running models locally using plugins.

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Exploring codespaces as temporary dev containers (via) DJ Adams shows how to use GitHub Codespaces without interacting with their web UI at all: you can run “gh codespace create --repo ...” to create a new instance, then SSH directly into it using “gh codespace ssh --codespace codespacename”.

This turns Codespaces into an extremely convenient way to spin up a scratch on-demand Linux container where you pay for just the time that the machine spends running. # 6:46 pm

Did an AI write that hour-long “George Carlin” special? I’m not convinced. Two weeks ago “Dudesy”, a comedy podcast which claims to be controlled and written by an AI, released an extremely poor taste hour long YouTube video called “George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead”. They used voice cloning to produce a stand-up comedy set featuring the late George Carlin, claiming to also use AI to write all of the content after training it on everything in the Carlin back catalog.

Unsurprisingly this has resulted in a massive amount of angry coverage, including from Carlin’s own daughter (the Carlin estate have filed a lawsuit). Resurrecting people without their permission is clearly abhorrent.

But... did AI even write this? The author of this piece, Kyle Orland, started digging in.

It turns out the Dudesy podcast has been running with this premise since it launched in early 2022—long before any LLM was capable of producing a well-crafted joke. The structure of the Carlin set goes way beyond anything I’ve seen from even GPT-4. And in a follow-up podcast episode, Dudesy co-star Chad Kultgen gave an O. J. Simpson-style “if I did it” semi-confession that described a much more likely authorship process.

I think this is a case of a human-pretending-to-be-an-AI—an interesting twist, given that the story started out being about an-AI-imitating-a-human.

I consulted with Kyle on this piece, and got a couple of neat quotes in there:

“Either they have genuinely trained a custom model that can generate jokes better than any model produced by any other AI researcher in the world... or they’re still doing the same bit they started back in 2022”

“The real story here is… everyone is ready to believe that AI can do things, even if it can’t. In this case, it’s pretty clear what’s going on if you look at the wider context of the show in question. But anyone without that context, [a viewer] is much more likely to believe that the whole thing was AI-generated… thanks to the massive ramp up in the quality of AI output we have seen in the past 12 months.”

Update 27th January 2024: The NY Times confirmed via a spokesperson for the podcast that the entire special had been written by Chad Kultgen, not by an AI. # 4:52 am