Author Archives: skooter500

About skooter500

I am a lecturer in the School of Computer Science, TU Dublin teaching courses on games, VR and creative coding. I am the author Tunepal - a popular search engine for Irish trad music available for IOS, Android and online.

Ice Baths for Babies

Recently, I posted a link to an article discussing the best way to give an ice bath to a baby on my Facebook page. Many people got upset and offended. People berated me for promoting the practice. People told me I should take the page down as a baby might get killed. The truth is – I have no idea if giving an ice bath to a new born baby is a good idea or not. I doubt it! That wasn’t the point of the article.

The page in question was generated by AI. I used chatgpt3 to generate the articles from prompts like “Write an article for a women’s magazine about whether to lower babies into ice baths by the head or by the feet” and “Write testimonials from parents about the benefits of giving daily ice baths to babies”. The resulting articles were creepy, hilarious and brilliant. I used Stable Diffusion to generate various pictures of smiling babies in baths of ice and put the whole lot into a Facebook page. I shared the article and it was interesting to observe how many people accepted it as real without noticing that all the babies have extra fingers and limbs, and the text doesn’t make sense in some of the articles.

I was inspired to create Ice Baths for Babies by these cool projects:

The Leeds 13

In 1998 a group of art students faked a trip to Malaga and leaked to the press that they had spent their grant money on the holiday. The group kept the pretence up for a week and revealed the truth a week later on a radio program they were invited onto to answer accusations from a hostile panel of commentators. Here is a great Vice documentary about the project:

A Modest Proposal

“A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick is a satirical essay published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729.

The essay suggests that impoverished Irish families might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food to the rich. The essay includes various suggestions for ways that children might be cooked. For example:

“A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout”.

Mmmm delicious!

The fact is – there are amazing things happening in the field of Computer Science right now. chatgpt3 and Stable Diffusion are statistical models trained on billions of examples of text, question and answers, images and videos. The are the non-conscious intelligences, that Yuval Noah Harari wrote about in his book Homo Deus.

The are not people or animals. The do not have a soul, nor are they alive. But they are not search engines either. They are something totally different and nobody – not even the computer scientists knows quite what they are and what to do with them yet. I am thinking or all the ways this technology will make tedious tasks like writing exam papers, grant applications and code examples less time consuming and will improve my productivity. They amazing tools for creative thinking, though of course they make creating and spreading fake news really easy too which is all the more reason for people to question.

Hopefully this project got you thinking about Computer Science, Ethics, Fake News, Cognitive Biases Art, etc. etc.

As Oscar Wilde wrote:

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.”

Nematodes

I recently read a fascinating thesis about nematodes. Nematodes are the most abundant multicellular organisms on the planet and there are around 40 quintillion of them. Inspired by the humble nematode, I wrote two programming lab tests.

This one is for fourth year Games Engines students and it uses C# and Unity to create a simulation of a school of nematodes swimming and wriggling and avoiding each other:

https://github.com/skooter500/GE2-Test-2022-Starter

This one for second year OOP students and it uses java and the processing libraries to visualise a fictitious dataset of nematodes: 

https://github.com/skooter500/OOP-Test-2022-Starter

Here are the solutions:

https://github.com/skooter500/GE2-Test-2022

https://github.com/skooter500/OOP-Test-2022