The nightly news is up in arms about obesity while 17 million American kids are worrying every day about something entirely different. Is there another topic we should be talking about here?
The 3,000-word letter was written on the back of a mirror.
This article originally appeared on 04.15.19
On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.
After removing the mirror from the wall, Dean discovered a 3,000-word letter written all the way down its backside in black pen. "She never mentioned it, but it's the kind of thing she'd do," her father told People magazine. "She was a very spiritual person, she'd go on about stuff that I could never understand – she was so clever." The moving letter revealed her deepest feelings about her fight with the dreaded disease. "Every day is special, so make the most of it, you could get a life-ending illness tomorrow so make the most of every day," she wrote. "Life is only bad if you make it bad."
Although Athena is gone, the mirror now serves as a powerful memory of her undying spirit. "We're keeping the mirror forever, it is a part of her we can keep in the house, it will always be in her room," her mother, Caroline, said. "Just reading her words felt like she was still here with us, she had such an incredible spirit."
Athena's full message:
"Happiness depends upon ourselves. Maybe it's not about the happy ending, maybe it's about the story. The purpose of life is a life of purpose. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. Happiness is a direction not a destination. Thank you for existing. Be happy, be free, believe, forever young. You know my name, not my story.
You have heard what I've done, but not what I've been through. Love is like glass, looks so lovely but it's easy to shatter.
Love is rare, life is strange, nothing lasts and people change. Every day is special, so make the most of it, you could get a life ending illness tomorrow so make the most of every day. Life is only bad if you make it bad. If someone loves you, then they wouldn't let you slip away no matter how hard the situation is. Remember that life is full of ups and downs.
Never give up on something you can't go a day without thinking about. I want to be that girl who makes the bad days better and the one that makes you say my life has changed since I met her!
Love is not about how much you say I love you – it's about how much you can prove it's true. Love is like the wind, you can feel it but you can't see it. I'm waiting to fall in love with someone I can open my heart to. Love is not about who you can see spending your future with, it's about who you can't see spending your life without… Life is a game for everyone but love is the prize. Only I can judge me.
Sometimes love hurts. Now I'm fighting myself. Baby I can feel your pain. Dreams are my reality. It hurts but it's okay, I'm used to it. Don't be quick to judge me, you only see what I choose to show you… you don't know the truth. I just want to have fun and be happy without being judged.
This is my life, not yours, don't worry about what I do. People gonna hate you, rate you, break you, but how strong you stand, that's what makes you… you!
There's no need to cry because I know you'll be by my side."
'AI art isn't cute.'
Odds are you’ve probably seen those Lensa AI avatars floating around social media. You know, the app that turns even the most basic of selfies into fantasy art masterpieces? I wouldn’t be surprised if you have your own series of images filling up your photo bank right now. Who wouldn’t want to see themselves looking like a badass video game character or magical fairy alien?
While getting these images might seem like a bit of innocent, inexpensive fun, many are unaware that it comes at a heavy price to real digital artists whose work has been copied to make it happen. A now-viral Facebook and Instagram post, made by a couple of digital illustrators, explains how.
In a very thorough series of slides, Gen Ishihara and her fiance Jon Lam reveal that Lensa is easily able to render those professional looking images by using a Stable Diffusion model, which is more or less an open source (meaning free) program where users can type in a series of words and artificial intelligence will conjure up images based on those typed words. Type out a group of seemingly unrelated words like “ethereal,” “cat,” “comic style” and “rainbow,” and out will pop at least one cohesive, intricate piece of art. All in less than a minute. This foundation is what most mainstream AI art software operates on, by the way—not just Lensa.
"...there's more than meets the eye"
The problem here is that Stable Diffusion has been trained on yet another open source collection of data from a nonprofit called LAION. LAION has more than 5 billion publicly accessible images. If you can find it online, LAION has a picture of it, categorized as “research.”
Not only does this include copyrighted work, but also personal medical records, as well as disturbing images of violence and sexual abuse. But for the sake of not delving too far into darkness, we’ll focus on the copyright issue.
LAION's database includes copyrighted work, personal medical records and disturbing images of violence and sexual abuse.
While LAION might be a nonprofit, Stable Diffusion is valued at $1 billion. And Lensa (which uses Stable Diffusion) has so far earned $29 million in consumer spending. Meanwhile, artists whose work can be found in that database have made zero.
“The Lensa app is a great way to get the general public comfortable with using the software and turn a blind eye to how the data was collected. The technology is so new that laws have not caught up with AI tech yet. But that doesn't make it okay,” the post read.
"The Lensa app is a great way to get the general public comfortable with using the software and turn a blind eye to how the data was collected."
Ishihara and Lam listed real artists who have been affected by Lensa’s use of data laundering, including Greg Rutkowski, whose “name has been used as a prompt around 93,000 times.” He even had his name attached to a piece of AI art that he did not create. Again, simply type in “Greg Rutkowski” along with whatever thing you want illustrated, and the program will create something drawn in his style.
You can see why someone who dedicated a good portion of their life to developing a skill that now can be replicated at a fraction of the effort—and without earning compensation—might not be a huge fan of these trends.
Maybe it's more than harmless fun.
The post then followed up by debunking several pro-AI statements, first pointing out that AI programs are being updated and improved so fast that distinguishing it from the work of human art is becoming impossible—meaning that it does in fact threaten the livelihood of a real artist who simply cannot compete with a machine.
Also shown was a poster created in Midjourney to promote the San Francisco Ballet’s upcoming “Nutcracker” performance, showing that AI media has indeed already begun to replace human jobs.
One of the most common arguments in the AI debate is that all art is derivative, since artists similarly draw inspiration from other sources. While this is true, Ishihara and Lam would contend that the organic process of blending “reference material, personal taste and life experiences to inform artistic decisions” is vastly different than a computer program depending on data that is existing artistic property and then used for commercial purposes without consent.
Adding further credibility to this viewpoint, there’s another post floating around the internet showing Lensa portraits where a warped version of the artist’s signature is still visible (seen below).
I’m cropping these for privacy reasons/because I’m not trying to call out any one individual. These are all Lensa portraits where the mangled remains of an artist’s signature is still visible. That’s the remains of the signature of one of the multiple artists it stole from.— Lauryn Ipsum (@LaurynIpsum) December 6, 2022
A 🧵 https://t.co/0lS4WHmQfWpic.twitter.com/7GfDXZ22s1
Rather than doing away with AI art altogether, what Ishihara, Lam and others are pushing for are better regulations for companies that allow for this technology to coexist with human artists.
This might be easier said than done, but some progress has already been made in that arena. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), for example, has begun demanding that corporations destroy any algorithm or AI models built using personal information or data collected “in bad faith or illegally.”
Second, they want people to educate themselves. Several other artists agreed that people who have used apps like Lensa aren’t wrong for doing so, but that moving forward there needs to be awareness of how it affects real people. Really, this is pretty much the case for all seemingly miraculous advancements in technology.
And for the creators feeling hopeless by all this, Ishihara and Lam say “whatever you do, don’t stop creating,” adding that it’s more important than ever to not “give up on what you love.”The conversation around the ethical implications of AI is complex. While posts like these might come across as a form of fear-mongering or finger-wagging, it’s important to gather multiple points of view in order to engage in nuanced conversations and move forward in a way that includes everyone’s well-being.
'Do y'all have a cat?'
Maybe it's a right of passage into adulthood or maybe some landlords discriminate against pets because they can't tell people kids are forbidden in their residence. Either way, just about everyone has lived in a rental home that didn't allow pets. Most people just abide by the rules and vow to get a pet when they find a new home.
Some people, on the other hand, get creative. I once came across a post on social media where someone claimed their pit bull puppy was actually a silver Labrador. But one woman on TikTok was harboring a secret cat in her rental that had a no pets policy, and either her cat was unaware or he was aware and was simply being a jerk.
My money is on the latter since cats are known to be jerks for no reason. I mean, have you ever left something on the counter for a few minutes? They make it their mission to knock it on the floor. So I fully believe this fluffy little meow box wanted to make his presence known in an effort to rat out his owner.
Maybe the cat forgot that he doesn't actually pay any bills, so whatever qualms he has with his owner should probably stay between them. Dear Mr. Kitty, if your owner gets kicked out, so do you. The situation is hilarious and slightly terrifying for anyone who has tried to hide an unauthorized pet. It all started with an unexpected knock on the door by the landlord. Instead of letting the landlord in, the woman ran to the door to stand outside and speak to him. You know, trying to avoid the discovery of her feline companion.
The tabby cat decided he wanted to be a part of the conversation that was taking place on the other side of the door so he began to meow, loudly, to guarantee his concerns were addressed. But he's a cat, so communication was difficult. It was right after the landlord asked the tenant, "Do y'all have a cat?" that the tabby decided that was his cue.
See what he does in the video below:
#storytime #fyp #cats #catsoftiktok #cat #quickchat #countyourdays
One of Home Depot’s core values is "doing the right thing." The company explains it as exercising "good judgment by ‘doing the right thing’ instead of just ‘doing things right.’ We strive to understand the impact of our decisions, and we accept responsibility for our actions.”
The value is so important that it is written on all of its employees' work vests.
There’s no better example of employees following the company’s values than an incident that happened late last month at a Home Depot store in Bellevue, Tennessee. This story was originally reported by WSMV in Nashville, Tennessee, and we thought it was such a good deed that we wanted to share it far and wide through our Upworthy audience.
Home Depot employee Adam Adkisson was walking down aisle 22, where you can find insulation and ladders, when he noticed a small envelope. “I didn’t think anything of it at first. I thought it was empty, but I thought I’d go back to make sure and when I picked it up, I could feel that It had stuff in it. It had money,” Adkisson told WSMV.
When he opened the envelope, he realized it was stuffed with $700 cash.
Adkisson did the right thing and turned the envelope in to a manager. At the end of the day, the closing manager, Alissa Rocchi, noticed that no one had come by to claim the missing money. So she took to Facebook and posted about the missing envelope, leaving out key details that would have to be filled in by the owner to prove it was theirs.
She could have just left it in the safe at work and gone on with her life, but she went out of her way to find the person who lost the money. That’s definitely “doing the right thing.”
Luckily, the Facebook post caught the attention of the owner’s partner, who reached out to her via messenger.
“I got a message from a gentleman by the name of Mark who said that’s my partner’s. It’s his money. He lost it. He is panicking,” Rocchi said. He was able to identify the envelope by describing some important details that were scrawled on the back.
“I was stressing over it pretty bad. So, I am glad that he is a social media guy and was able to see that because I would have never seen it,” Johnathon Clayton, the owner of the lost envelope, said. It’s important that he got it back because he was planning on using the money to buy Christmas gifts for his kids.
After getting his money back, Clayton went to the store and personally thanked Adkisson for his good deed and gave him a small reward. Adkisson should sleep well knowing that his good deed meant that Clayton’s children will have a merrier Christmas.
Rocchi says that it’s all part of the company’s core values to “do the right thing.”
“Our core value is on our chest and one of our core values says to do the right thing. That is just us living our core values,” Rocchi said.