Our 400th blog

Magellan, the Desert Fox, and Spice, the Desert Rabbit, in Oman’s Empty Quarter created using AI by Suzanne Reeves of Art+Soul Design in a layered-paper style
Magellan, the Desert Fox, and Spice, the Desert Rabbit, in Oman’s Empty Quarter created using AI by Suzanne Reeves of Art+Soul Design in a layered-paper style

On the first Sunday in August 2015, we launched latitude65.ca, in which our firstpost answered The Question, “In your around-the-world-trip, what was your favourite place?”—our two days and nights in Oman’s Rub’ al Khali, which translates literally into ‘quarter of emptiness,’ commonly called the Empty Quarter.

Oman Empty Quarter Bed Roll
“Caught in the act! Dozing off in the picturesque Oman’s Empty Quarter, blending in with the dunes.” (ChatGPT’s fourth attempt at a caption)

A blog every Sunday? For eight years? We had no such plans. Our motive was to share the digital travel scrapbook we’re creating—for the looming future when we won’t remember where we’ve been. 

Now, we’re having too much fun to stop. 

But another question is looming. With our IQ falling and AI getting smarter, will a chatbot compose our 500th blog?

We’re using ChatGPT-4 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), a chatbot that can write (in addition to photo captions) newspaper articles, emails and essays. Compose poems, songs and stories. And perform many other tasks—in nanoseconds. ChatGPT’s next iteration will produce a 60,000-word novel in about 20 seconds. A guidebook, say How to Improve Your Memory Before Breakfast, in even less time.

We asked it for ideas for our 400th blog, but they were either boring and/or things we’ve already done for other milestones, like indicating which blogs were readers’ favourites. Which prompted us to ask ChatGPT which of our posts it liked best:

As an AI language model, I do not have the ability to have personal preferences or favorites. However, I can tell you that Latitude65’s blog covers a wide range of topics related to travel, lifestyle, and adventure in the Canadian North. The blog posts are informative and engaging and provide readers with a unique perspective on life in the Arctic region.

Full marks for an instant response, but this isn’t the five-metre dash.

If you were a teacher grading this response, how would you rate it?

  • F, Are you working for Fox News? or
  • C, Which part of you was not switched on? or
  • A, We are so flattered and will recommend you for that job at Hallmark?

We asked ChatGPT to write our 400th blog. The instant response was stale as a week-old bread crust because, as in human communication, better prompts elicit better responses. So we asked for a poem about our blog.

In the land of ice and snow, 
Where Latitude65's blog does flow, 
Stories of adventure and travel, 
In the Arctic's frosty marvel.
From the northern lights' dance, 
To the tales of polar bears' chance, 
The blog captures the beauty and awe, 
Of the Canadian North, without a flaw.
With vivid imagery and prose, 
The blog takes readers on a journey close, 
To the heart of the Arctic's grandeur, 
And leaves them with a sense of wonder.
So let us raise a glass to Latitude65's blog, 
and the stories it tells with such great cog, 
May it continue to inspire and enlighten, 
As we journey through life, both bright and frighten.

What’s with the Arctic fixation? If one of my former grade 4 students had written this, I’d have taken her aside, with my red pen…

We asked for another poem a few weeks later and got this overdose of saccharine:

Latitude 65, oh blog so fine 
With tales of travel, oh so divine 
From the far north to the southern coast 
Your stories and photos always boast
Of mountains high and valleys low 
And the wonders that nature bestows 
From the aurora borealis' dance 
To the wildlife's wild prance
Oh Latitude 65, your words do inspire
 To pack our bags and head out higher 
To explore the world, near and far 
And capture memories, like a shooting star
Your stories transport us to new lands 
As we read, we hold the world in our hands 
With each new post, we feel anew 
The thrill of travel, waiting for me and you
So here's to Latitude 65, our favorite blog 
We'll keep reading and following along 
For as long as we have wanderlust in our hearts 
We'll keep exploring, until the world imparts.

But what brought AI to the “OMG” stage for us was a wedding invitation our daughter Lynn received from a couple who are designers and creative directors. We know the bride, Suzanne, whose wicked sense of humour jumps off the screen with the AI-generated imagery she created of the happy couple—who are seen getting married as everything from west-coast Muppets to flower-crowned medieval cats to Martians on their home planet. She and her partner Kirk are pioneering AI design through their soon-to-be-launched company Unicorn Fuel—you can discover more about them in our Navigation.

Riffing on their creativity, Magellan went to work…to work…to work…

Should be easy for an old computer nerd, shouldn’t it? 

It’s not. You enter a text prompt of up to 400 letters (nice coincidence for our 400th blog) and within 30 seconds you get an original work of art!

In trying to create a feature photo for this blog, I uploaded a “seed image” (after trying many, I settled on us at Seljalandsfoss), wrote various text prompts (“make it funnier”) until the AI generated an image of an old couple with seven cameras, trying to slow the shutter speed so they could “freeze” the waterfall. So, so, but a fail.”

We also made attempts at a dinner party theme, then thought a tieback to our first post about the Empty Quarter in Oman might be better?

Enough! That was when we decided to call on an an expert, Suzanne Reeves at Art+Soul Design…

Now, Try AI Yourself!

In the Leave a Reply below, you can try your skill at writing a text prompt to get ChatGPT to write a comment on AI, on this post or on our website. Or have it write a poem (please prompt it to limit the poem to a maximum 12 lines or so). Alternatively, write a text prompt asking DALL.E-2 to create an image. You can see some samples in the DALL.E 2 Prompt Book.

Within a day, we will copy your prompt into either ChatGPT or DALL.E 2 and then post the results as a part of your Comment. We’ll also notify you by email when Magellan has it ready.

You could also open your own OpenAI account. The basic version of ChatGPT is free. DALL-E 2 is also free, but there is a catch. You’re allotted 50 free credits during your first month’s use and 15 free credits after that.

If you were to do it this way, you could put your ChatGPT generated text into your Comment yourself, but if you used DALL-E, send the image to [email protected] so we can add it to your original Comment.

Have fun!

Navigation

Art + Soul Design is Suzanne’s company. Suzanne’s an improv grad of Second City in addition to holding a degree in art from Emily Carr and another in psychology from U of T. Head to Suzanne’s profile page and you’ll see why, if you need a designer, she’s your gal. Plus, as we mentioned above, she and her partner Kirk (fifty design awards on his mantle) are pioneering AI design through their company Unicorn Fuel. Yeah, we’re biased. We’ve known Suzanne since the mid-70s when her mom Myrna and Spice met while teachers at Sunalta School and our families became friends. Plus, she rescued this blog!

18 Responses

  1. the enthusiasm , the joy of writing ..
    so much of the world at once from all parts of the world …
    Thank you for al those sensations
    Congratulations !
    j

  2. Congratulation on 400, remarkable but not considering the 2 sources, 👍👍👍👍.
    Really like the first picture, not usually a fan of the unusual formats but this one is awesome. 👍👍

    It is interesting that you mention, or use the A I, terminology, or the first time, I recall seeing this moniker was back on the farm in Crystal Springs, in about 1964.
    A I on that day was referencing a visitor to the farm that was there to perform an (A I) on one or more of the local cows, being from the city I had to ask what this was all about, after being informed, I was now higher educated to the true meaning of A I.

    Not sure how, the I transferred meaning to (Inteligence) from insemination but somehow that happened. Not being that learned, I am often at a loss when it comes to explaining such phenomena, but here we are.

    Must be dementia setting in or possibly“ Lost in Space”

    Don’t over-research your blog, do not change what works, keep on, keeping on.
    Cheers,

    1. Asked ChatGPT-4 about the the two abbreviations being the same. Here’s its response: (it took little longer, maybe 1/2 a second.)
      “The term “AI” was first used to refer to artificial insemination before it was adopted to refer to artificial intelligence. The term “AI” was first used in the context of animal breeding and artificial insemination in the early 1900s, while the term “artificial intelligence” was first used in 1956.

      However, it’s worth noting that although the term “AI” was first used to refer to artificial insemination, the concept of artificial intelligence and the field of study that it encompasses are now much more commonly associated with the term. Today, when people hear the term “AI,” they are much more likely to think of artificial intelligence than artificial insemination.”

  3. Congratulations on your 400th post!! Very interesting where AI is taking us. Agree I love the first picture, but the others do not do the two of you justice.

    1. It has no imagination (yet). We asked “Based on our travels as written in http://www.latitude65.ca where do you suggest we travel to next?” and got Norway, New Zealand, Patagonia, Scotland and Japan—all places we’ve been. More about that next week.

    1. A postscript after looking at blog oo1 Aug 2015
      An impromptu limerick:

      Slogging and blogging through frost or through heat ;
      Culinary concoctions – pomegranates or wheat
      Hiking and climbing
      (I’ll stick to rhyming!)
      Reporting exploring our world on two feet.

  4. Congratulations on the 400s!
    It was very fun to see your results from the Chat AI, thanks! The poems are much better than I can do. I’m so glad I’m no longer marking student work. I had enough trouble detecting plagiarism before, even of my own work. We used software to check for plagiarism of theses, thankfully.
    I especially liked the first AI generated photo of you two. Yes, the other photos added too many years to you.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement over the years. Since 2015, this is your 80th Comment! You’ve provided interesting questions and commentary on many subjects including geography and climate.

  5. ChatGPT prompt: write a funny limerick about Magellan pulling out his hair trying to maintain http://www.latitude65.ca website

    Chat GPT response: (1/2 second)

    There was a man named Magellan,
    Whose website caused him much melon-choly and pain,
    He pulled out his hair,
    In a desperate despair,
    Trying to maintain Latitude65’s domain!

    But no matter how hard he tried,
    The website just wouldn’t abide,
    So he threw up his hands,
    And went off to far-off lands,
    Leaving the website to slowly subside!

    Now Magellan is happy and carefree,
    With no website to cause him any worry,
    He’s exploring new places,
    And discovering new faces,
    With no need to maintain a website flurry!

  6. Spice – Congratulations on your 400th post!

    DALL-E 2 prompt: over the shoulder shot of woman with gray hair cut in a bob style editing text on a computer screen large bold text in orange with “400!”

    AI created image

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