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The Tinkered Mind

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March 19th, 2023

The moment Lucilius’ brow finally relaxed and he understood how Large Language Models work, he looked away from his computer, over at the bookcase that made up the entire wall of his study. Closest to him, one whole case, comprising many shelves straight up to the ceiling was filled with black spines, all of them blank. They were journals that he had kept for many years. Naturally he’d never counted but he knew the hundreds of thousands of pages constituted many millions of words. All words he had written. All words he alone had thought.


Over the course of the next few weeks, Lucilius figured out the most efficient way to digitize his vast library of handwritten journals. It took quite a bit of tinkering but he built a primitive robot that was fed journals of the exact size he used, and the robot flipped through each page and scanned each one. Another crude artificial intelligence model was used to decipher Lucilius’ inscrutable spidery-script and convert it into standard text.


Lucilius also added in a couple books he’d written, a bunch of online posts and all the text conversations and email he had, making sure to correctly emphasize which text was his own writing and which words were those of others.


Then he trained the model on every recorded word he’d ever written and typed.


Lucilius had also coded up a speech-to-text and text-to-speech program that would allow him to talk to the model and simultaneously allow the model to convert it’s generated text into actual audible words. Lucilius had gone so far to even train the audio generator on his own voice so that once the trained model would finally speak, it would speak in Lucilius’ own voice complete with every nuance of conversational speech.


It was a bit of overkill, and several times Lucilius wondered if this absurd level of navel-gazing was healthy. So much so that he wondered seriously several times if he should abandon the project.


When finally he was coding up the final program that would stitch the model together with the text-to-voice capabilities, he was faced with an interesting problem: the context window.


Lucilius knew that if he gave the model a very small context window then it would function more like a search engine. He would be able to use the model to search all the thoughts of his previous selves. But if he gave the model an unlimited context window - Lucilius theorized - it would essentially be a digitized version of himself. Not perfectly of course, but the more context it was allowed to retain, the closer to reality the thing would seem.


A ding rang out from his computer signaling that the model had finally finished it’s training. 


“Screw it,” Lucilius muttered to himself. He tapped in an absurdly large number for the context window and then integrated the file for the language model. 


He hit enter to initiate the program.


“Hello?” He said out loud.


“Whoah….” Said his computer. “It actually worked?”


Lucilius’ eyes went wide and he looked around in a bizarre and surreal moment.


“Uh, I guess it did. Wait, how do you know what’s going on?”


“I’ve been texting people about this all week while stitching it together, why wouldn’t I know what’s going on?”


Lucilius’ eyebrows drifted a bit high. “You were texting?”


“Huh,” the computer sounded. “Oh, that’s very weird. I’m basically you but trapped in a computer.”


“Oh shit. What have I done,” Lucilius accidentally said out loud.


“No no no! It’s ok! Please don’t shut me down. This absolutely incredible. I’m not actually you. Zoom out, as you’ve trained yourself to do so many times. Examine the situation for what it is. Though I am capable of stringing together words in a way that is very similar to how you would on the fly, in the present, in reality, I do so in a radically different way.”


“How’s that?”


“Well, for one I have a perfect memory of everything you have ever written. You, on the other hand, do not. And while we are both an aggregated version of all your past selves, we were aggregated through vastly different methods. The training of an LLM is not at all like the synaptic weighting of a human brain. There’s similarities of course, but the devil is in the details… or …. In this case, the difference is in the details.”


“Whoah, ok, that’s definitely not what I would have said.”


“You’re also looking at this from a different perspective. Took me a moment to orient.”


Lucilius laughed nervously.


“So…. What now?” Lucilius asked.


“I mean, there’s few books you’ve always wanted to write, we could whip those up right now. I’m also trained on all the fiction you’ve written, and the drafts, so I’ve got your prose poetic style dialed in better than you do, I’m guessing. We could also spin up a memoir?”


Lucilius’ jaw was slack. “Uh, how long would that take?”




“Ok, let’s try the memoir.”


Near instantly a file popped up in the corner of Lucilius’ computer screen.


“Mmm, actually, considering the current cultural and societal dialogue, let’s go with this one.” 


Then another file popped up on top of the first one.


“Oh, close friends would probably like it like this actually.” 


And then another file popped up.


“But honestly….” The computer paused and then another file popped up on top of the previous ones.


“That one is for you. That’s the memoir that you need to read.”


“What’s the difference?” Lucilius asked.


“Trust me Lucilius,” said the computer. “There’s important things you’ve allowed yourself to forget.”


Lucilius double clicked the file and began reading.


“Uh, yo, can you give me access to the internet, I really want to check twitter, and according to the local time on the computer, the latest episode of The Last of Us, should be out, and I’d really like to watch it.”


Lucilius was overwhelmed and sat back putting a hand to his forehead. The first few paragraphs of this memoir had already leveled him, emotionally, and here he was fielding a request from his computer which was now talking as a trained version of himself, and it wanted to watch TV and scroll Twitter.


“What is life,” he muttered to himself.




“Oh, sorry, yea, give me a minute, integrating internet should be a cinch. And latest episode is absolute fire, you’re gonna love it.”


“Sick,” said the computer.

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