from russia with love

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Cake day: September 12th, 2023

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  • One another game suggestion: The Turing Test, reversed.

    Using LLM API, make people:

    1. Ask one thing and spot a human answering them;
    2. Answer one question and make another human believe they are an LLM.

    Only these two rounds (or a text box + checkbox) per a session with a set delay, from a random user or a robot. The goal is counter to the current discourse of noticing LLMs being not humans, but the opposite – people being rewarded for acting like machines and spotting real people in the web poisoned by generative models. I don’t know if scores are needed, just complimenting DMs maybe, because mastering tactics to break LLMs destroys the fun.

    Besides only English input for the simplicity and a stop-list of words, it needs a balancing system that mixes fake and real inputs to cause no LLM-only hours across all timezones. To make it more interesting, there should be some additional prompts to LLM, like ‘answer like an old lady’ or ‘answer like a nerd’ to make LLM seem more humane.

    Theming it after spies, zombies, whatever may help.
















  • I’m sceptical of the angle of that instance, so keep that in mind.

    Pre-revolutionary literature was created by people from elites who had an unchallenged access to education and could live off their property while taking writing as a full-time self-employment. Not many did so, and not all of them are remembered now, but still we had a handful of pretty prolific authors. Since these elites weren’t strangers to Western Europe, a lot of their works got traction and translations there too. Due to how Tsar’s administration were backwards (esp. under Nikolay I), articles and novels have been put through a special service and redacted before being published. Yet, the reputation sometimes allowed to print even the most blatant stuff, and those who couldn’t - like early socialists - printed their papers and books elsewhere and then imported it back.

    These big names is what’s taught in literature classes in Russia, divided by Golden and Silver ages of literature. Mostly because singling out a handful of them is easy to follow, I guess, and indocrinate some sort of easily-digested patriotism (Пушкин = наше всё!)? The only exclusion to that is Lomonosov (top tier university MSU named after him) that, by legend, was a serf who traveled to Moscow on his own, but that story is likely to have more blanks than proofs.

    The Silver age I mentioned before dies off with the authors who started or were born before the 1917 for how long we traced them in USSR or abroad, including Bulgakov, Scholohov, Gorkyy, Cvetaeva, Mayakovsky and others. Gorkyy and Mayakovsky weren’t anti-soviet, and later Scholokhov wasn’t too, but they are coupled by their generation with those who disliked the revolution for one reason or another as a part of the same ‘generation’.

    But what comes next under the soviet rule is kinda two-fold. For once, there’re a lot of literate people due to LikBez campaign educating everyone, and thus more potential writers. But at the same time there’re an idea of artists’ unions who served as both the first ideological barrier and the understanding that no one can become that big name by publishing one-two masterpieces and just living off from that. IIRC Bulgakov’s and Scholokhov’s writings were at some point sanctioned by Stalin himself and were printed in the USSR.

    That mostly kills of the idea of a famous writer and, although there were a lot of talented people, more than ever, they couldn’t catch the same level of a long-living INDIVIDUAL reputation that may sell them to both locals and the foreigners. Their constant creative output didn’t bring them the same status and leverage and only those who are old enough remember exact series they liked as teens. And these got only reprinted and translated in the USSR itself, so no reach outside from the soc-camp

    After that false vacuum new names start to appear only after the USSR eases some limits. For obvious reasons of red scare and curiosity about what’s happening in that biggest country, the most known name of late soviet era are those talking about the problems of the USSR, like edgy Soljh, or Shalamov who I prefer way more. And there were no rediscovery of that period by the mass reader even in Russia because contemporary art and unavailiable earlier foreign literature overwhelmed them by the sheer quantity of these.

    Thus, I suppose, most of the soviet era lit is probably a one big white spot mostly known by those who study it. Since a minority of these books have proper scans or e-books, reprints, that limits even a local reader to dig for them in the libraries and learning what were the big hits from the elderly.

    From the top of my head, I remember this teen book being mentioned a lot: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timur_and_His_Squad But I didn’t remember it’s author, just a name. There was a very cool thread on a local social network but I struggle to find it.

    ed: FOUND IT: https://www.yaplakal.com/forum2/topic2763685.html It’s a thread by ex-soviet boomers discussing their favorite soviet fantasy, sci-fi and historical books.