M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

ChatGPT: Is this really the “death of the essay”?

December 17, 2022
MThomas

I’ve been testing ChatGPT over the last couple of days. (If you don’t know what this chatbot is, here’s a good NYT article about ChatGPT and others currently in development.)

The avowed purpose of ChatGPT is to create an AI that can create believable dialogues. It does this by scouring the web for data it uses to respond to simple prompts.

By “simple,” I mean sometimes “horribly complicated,” of course. And sometimes a little ridiculous.

Somehow, I doubt that people in the US said “livin’ the dream” in the ’50s…

As has been pointed out, chatbots only generate texts based on what they have been fed, i.e., “garbage in / garbage out.” So if you push the programs hard enough, they will generate racist, sexist, homophobic etc awful stuff — because unfortunately that kind of sick and twisted garbage is still out there, somewhere online in a troll’s paradise.

So far, I have asked the program to:

  1. Write a haiku about winter without using the word “winter”
  2. Write a limerick about an Irish baseball player
  3. Write a dialogue between God and Nietzsche (I just had to…)
  4. Imagine what Jean-Paul Sartre and Immanuel Kant would say to each other (see above) but using US ’50 slang
  5. Have Thomas Aquinas and John Locke argue about the existence of God (that one was fun)
  6. Write a 300 word cause-effect essay about climate change
  7. Write a 300 word compare and contrast essay about the US and Japan
  8. Write a 1000 word short science fiction story based on Mars
  9. Write a 1500 word short science fiction about robots in the style of Philip K Dick

OK, and the verdict is:

Continue Reading

Smashwords End of the Year Sale from 12/15 to 1/1!

December 15, 2022
MThomas

“Find my ebooks and a wide collection of great indie titles as part of the Smashwords 2022 End of Year Sale! Check out https://smashwords.com/shelves/promos before the end of the month and follow @smashwords for more promos like this! #SmashwordsEOYSale #ebook #sale #books2read #indiebooks”

(I swiped this from the Smashwords promo site as a “generic blurb.” But what else, really, do I need to write?

All my ebooks on Smashwords are “50%” off! That means the books that are listed as $0.99 are actually free, since they don’t do $0.49.

And don’t forget that all proceeds from Destiny in the Future are donated to fight cancer.

Gift an ebook to friends and family!

Goodbye, Musk, and good riddance.

November 21, 2022
MThomas

If you’ve been reading this blog, you probably noticed the “has over 1,200 followers” tag suddenly dropped to just over 200.

That’s because I deactivated my Twitter account.

I debated for a couple of weeks.

And then saw how its Chief Twit (seriously, this is how this psychopath called himself) treated his workers.

100+ hour work weeks? Haphazardly firing pregnant single moms? Reinstating Der DrumpfenFührer?

Enough.

Twitter is run by a narcissistic, megalomaniacal bully with delusions of grandeur, and I will have nothing to do with any company that supports him or is run by him.

“But…” the plaintiff cry “where will we get our news??”

Um.

Try an actual news organization.

An aggregator works just fine.

Here’s a primer:

https://www.lifewire.com/best-news-aggregators-4584410

(FWIW, Flipboard is my current fav, but my friends often rely on Google News and Apple News (if you have Apple devices, of course. And for the standard no-nonsense and no-frills approach, AP).

Anyway, I’m happy to be followed by 200+ WordPress fans.

Don’t worry. Science is still science. And naturally there is science fiction on the way.

I just need time to write it!

Upcoming future events (according to a time traveler)

October 10, 2022
MThomas

Remember, it’s a video on TikTok, so it must be real. (link below to The Independent, a completely trustworthy sources of snarkiness).

https://www.indy100.com/viral/time-traveller-meteor-earth-tiktok-2658417934

FB censorship, here we go again…

May 8, 2022
MThomas

Right. So I quit Facebrat a couple years ago after I got fed up with the self-righteous, arrogant attitude of its founder Mark Zuckerberg and its blatant stealing and selling of personal information of its users.

And also because I was wasting hours and hours each week reading meaningless Facebark posts on my smartphone (so I deleted the app, which I strongly recommend you all do to prevent the company from tracking your location, then selling that info to the spam industry…although you’re probably going to be tracked via BlueTooth anyway if you keep it on).

But after my mother passed away, and while I was still away from family, friends, and colleagues and living in Montréal, I couldn’t take the isolation.

And also a teacher’s group based at the McGill University (William Shatner’s alma mater!) named BILD asked me to join a FB Group.

So I rejoined and vowed to avoid posting anything about religion and politics, and to focus on the things that matter – food, family, and occasional humorous events.

Until I foolishly wrote a casual comment on my brother’s post:

Continue Reading

Thank you to my new followers – drop me a line!

October 29, 2020
MThomas

Use a human language, preferably…

Dropping a shoutout to all my followers, old and new. Thanks for reading!

I’m preparing this week’s installment of Bringer of Light (Chapter 3, Part 2), all the while scouring the web for science and tech news to share.

Anything you want to see shared (or want to share)? Comments on the story so far? Something you want to rant about? (No politics please! Waaay too much of that at home right now. I’d rather keep my head in the stars when possible…)


Bringer of Light: Chapter 3, Part 2 – dropping at 7 p.m. EDT October 31st. No Halloween theme, sorry (that’s a separate post 🎃).

SF/F Magazines Wait Out The Great Pause—Part 1

July 1, 2020
MThomas

So how are things over at major SF/F mags?

Part 1 of 2 (I guess).

From Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (so “major mags” means basically “only in ‘Merca,” I suppose 🤷‍♂️).

SF/F Magazines Wait Out The Great Pause—Part 1: Submissions & Supplies – SFWA
— Read on www.sfwa.org/2020/06/30/sf-f-magazines-wait-out-the-great-pause-part-1-submissions-supplies/

Authors Give Back Initiative = FREE ebooks for Self-Isolation

March 22, 2020
MThomas

Both my books on Smashwords (Adam’s Stepsons and Destiny in the Future – actually my mother’s book published posthumously as a tribute) are FREE downloads from now to April 20 as part of the Smashwords Authors Give Back initiative:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/931869

Formats include .ePub, .mobi, PDF, .txt, and online reader (browser-based).

Take it easy. Deep breaths. No panicking. Let’s get through this thing.

(See https://blog.smashwords.com/…/smashwords-launches-initiativ… for more information and links to other free ebooks as well.)

Just in time for COVID-19 self-isolation and quarantine: A whole lot of online books for (15th to 19th century) kids

March 15, 2020
MThomas

PickeNotteThyNose

Includes such favorites as “pyke notte thyne errys nothyr thy nostrellys” and “spette not ovyr thy tabylle.”

Oh, and there’s some stuff by Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, i.e., Alice in Wonderland) and Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo), among many others.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/feb/21/pyke-notte-thy-nostrellys-15th-century-guide-on-childrens-manners-digitised-for-first-time

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