You may have seen DALL·E mini posts appearing on social media for a little while now – it’s been viral for a couple of weeks, according to Know Your Meme. It’s an artificial intelligence model for producing images, operating as an open-source project mimicking the DALL·E system from company OpenAI but trained on a smaller dataset. Actually, since I had a play with this yesterday it’s renamed itself at the request of OpenAI and is now called craiyon. Since the requests all take between 1-3 mins to generate, I’m not going to re-generate all the images in this post using craiyon so that’s why they have the old ‘DALL·E mini’ branding.
AI image generation is a massively impressive technical achievement, of course. craiyon doesn’t create as stunning images as DALL·E 2, but still it can create some ‘wow’s.
What’s interesting, sometimes, is how it interprets a prompt. The data craiyon is trained on is “unfiltered data from the Internet, limited to pictures with English descriptions” according to the project’s statement on bias, and this can lead to problems including that the images may “reinforce or exacerbate societal biases”.
To see that in action, we can take a look at how the model manifests cultural expression around mathematics. When I gave it the simple prompt ‘mathematics’, it produced this.
Kit Yates has asked mathematicians to post a picture of themselves using the hashtag #realfaceofmath, in the hope of dispelling the incorrect stereotype that all mathematicians are geeky white guys with beards and glasses (hi!).
This year’s Oscars ceremony, which will take place on 22nd February, will honour those who’ve achieved greatness in film-making, performance, scoring, sound and production. You may not know that in addition to the main ceremony, the Academy also has an untelevised award ceremony taking place two weeks earlier, called the Academy Scientific and Technical Awards (nerd Oscars).
These awards recognise achievement in the field of scientific and technological advancements related to film-making, and have in the past been awarded to a variety of different advancements, including Dolby Surround Sound, the Xenon Arc lamp, IMAX and even Jim Henson’s animatronic muppet technology.
This year though, finally seeing sense, the Academy’s Technical Achievement award goes to a mathematician. Robert Bridson, who’s worked on CGI-heavy films including Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Adventures of Tin Tin, has been recognised for his work on “early conceptualization of sparse-tiled voxel data structures and their application to modelling and simulation.”
I recently got a new set of business cards printed. I wanted to keep them as simple as possible, and have them communicate only the important information – my name and contact details. But then came the question of what to put underneath my name. I don’t currently have a full time job anywhere, but I do spend pretty much all my time working freelance as a maths communicator, talking to people about maths and popularising the subject. I also do loads of maths related things in my spare time, including running a Maths Jam, and I’m still in the process of writing a paper based on the work I did in my PhD thesis, which I finished last summer. How do you sum that up? I recall recently our own Peter Rowlett struggled similarly when filling in the corresponding field on his census form.