Choose Your Quarantine House
3 min read

Choose Your Quarantine House

Choose Your Quarantine House
Choose Your Intergalactic Quarantine House:

House 1:
A rocket
An engraved pen
A loaf of space bread
A mysterious force

House 2:
A replica ray gun
A pet ray gun
A radiant gem
A chilling crystal

House 3:
A holovid replaying battle scenes
A pet of indeterminate species
A blinding light
A collection of crystals

House 4:
A new wormhole
A painting that looks like a moon
A disconcertingly friendly parakeet
A fancy blaster

So far one of my favorite uses of OpenAI’s new API (which people are calling GPT-3) is for making absurd memes. One of the memes from March/April 2020 was quarantine houses, where people under sudden covid-19 stay-at-home orders took stock of the skills and supplies in each household and starting proposing hypothetical new choices. Which mix of sci-fi characters would you choose to be isolated with? (The house with Murderbot, clearly.)

I did my first GPT-3 experiments back when the quarantine house meme was at its height, but before I could talk about my results. But, due to an egregiously botched coronavirus response, covid quarantine is still particularly relevant in some countries we might name (thanks, USA). So I present to you: choose your quarantine house!

Choose your appliances quarantine house

House 1:
24.5 cubic feet of appliances
A crockpot
An Instant Pot
A popcorn machine

House 2:
A popcorn maker
A flavored popcorn machine
5 small appliances
An arcade machine
A vacuum

House 3:
A juicer
A blender
A rice cooker
A stand mixer

House 4:
An espresso machine
A fondue pot
A kitchen robot
A wormhole?

I did this not by training the AI on quarantine house memes (there aren’t enough of those) but by giving it two handcrafted examples, one on food and another on entertainment. I agonized over making each house balanced, and even gave each house themes within the larger overarching topic. House 1 had the fantasy items, House 2 had the cute stuff, House 3 had the scary/spooky versions, and House 4 had the science fiction stuff.

I needn’t have bothered with all this finesse. It seems to have decided that even staying on theme is fairly optional, and the things it includes are often absurdly overpowered. It was shown consistently four items per house. It ignores this.

Theme: Dinosaurs

House 1:
An herbivore
A carnivore
A T-Rex
Pinata

House 2:
Dousing water
Impervium
Hardtack
Life strains

House 3:
Archaeopteryx
Mongolian BBQ eggrolls
A Diplodocus
The Spanish Inquisition

House 4:
A Permian beetle
Dabbing nail polish
A Ptightass
An ancient extinct relative
Theme: Historical

House 1:
A pharaoh
Gladiator armor
Venetian body brush
A hotdog vendor

House 2:
The first Ford Model-T car
Cleopatra
A creepy beaded bracelet
Swordplay

House 3:
1066
A velociraptor
Attila The Hun
A slendery squirrel

House 4:
The first ukulele
Ned, Old West guy

It was particularly fun when I let it come up with its own house themes. Since its training data cut off in October 2019, it hasn’t heard of covid-19 or seen the quarantine house meme.

{Theme: Food ingredients}

House 1: ground beef
10 kgs of sugar
unwashed funeral bouquets
zucchini pulp from juicing
horse milk

House 2: dried bell peppers
Mediterranean coffee beans
vegan mayonnaise
a dozen jars of mayonnaise
a dried scalded pig bladder

House 3: Slime
MM and chocolate sauce
100 vinegars
Tabasco sauce (everything is hot and humid here)

House 4: clotted cream
14 pounds of cactus
organ meat
A box of calamari
{Theme: Blue}

House 1: 10,000 blue colored pencils
1 blueberry bush
a blue raspberry candy cane
a stained blue coffee mug
a cheeseburger colored pencil sketch

House 2: An obscure volcano lava lamp
a blue banana
a hotdog colored pencil sketch
blue toilet paper
blue salty xanax-laced Kool-Aid

House 3: 35 blue kitchen trash bags
House 4: A trusty old blue bicycle
10,000 pieces of blue legos
blue lowercase letters spelling the word B O U N D
Theme: Future

House 1:
A cybernetic limb
Superhuman intelligence
An android
A battle tank

House 2:
A hot tub
A sasquatch
Eggos
Penny Farthing

House 3:
A cerebral jack
Cloned organs
An advanced AI
An extraterrestrial

House 4:
A hoverboard
An extendable arm
An avocado
Plasma rifles

For some reason it generated a Cocktails quarantine house theme with 16 houses, some of which contain very questionable-sounding cocktails (anyone want an “Eldrich gecko”?) . It wouldn’t fit in this blog post, but become an AI Weirdness supporter to get it as bonus content. Or become a free subscriber to get new AI Weirdness posts in your inbox!

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My book on AI, You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why it’s Making the World a Weirder Place, is out in UK paperback today! Available here, and wherever books are sold.

The US version is also available in hardcover and audio (paperback coming soon!): Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Indiebound - Tattered Cover - Powell’s - Boulder Bookstore