an interview about religion, politics, sexuality and drugs


The following interview wasn’t conducted with a person,

but with a machine.
It was created with a transformer-based language model, named GPT-2, in the winter of 2019.
GPT-2 displays a broad set of capabilities, including the ability to generate synthetic text in response to the model being primed with an arbitrary input.
The model is chameleon-like - it adapts to the style and content of the conditioning text, and it predicts the next word, given all of the previous words within some text, learning these tasks from the raw text obtained from a dataset of 8 million webpages (40GB of data).

The intent behind this interview is to show and examine the the possible collective identity, and possible bias behind  internet. The gigabytes of text, 40 GB of data presents diversity of content, but by conducting an interview with the model - we are forcing the machine to narrow and compress down all of its information into an output.
Thus, we are creating a dialogue with a representation of [part of] internet - where the GPT-2 is its personification.  An interview with an idol of internet. 

I’ve asked GPT-2 a series of questions, and the model has not only answered them, but also generated consecutive questions, and answered these too. 
And so, can we ask, whom is internet? What does the internet collectively believes in?
What is its stance on modern politics?
Can we determine what is the collective ‘’normality’’ for the majority of people on the internet, and how radical are their ideas - if they actually belong to the greater part of people? 

Written in 2019, over 2 years before before the 2022 boom of machine learning models, such like DALL-E, Stable Diffusion, or GPT-3, it shows just how much these models are, in fact, learning and changing. How do they interpret and represent the input we give them. 
an interview

 on Religion

Q: What do you believe in?
A: I believe that a person should seek wisdom and high intellect, accept the teachings of the world and non-violence, make contact with the superior beings, and practice the best noble path, non-violence. It is the path of non-violent practice in the life of this Buddha and many other Buddhas.
Q: Is non-violence acceptable to Buddhists?
A: At the time of the Buddha, he was a man of peace and good intentions. If it were his aim to eliminate the defilements of hatred, wrath, and delusion, then he would have fought the enemy to the end. Instead, he lived peacefully. Thus, the origin of non-violence is not the Buddha's instructions, but the results of his nonviolent actions.
Q: Is liberation through non-violence compatible with compassion and mercy?
A: Only in certain circumstances. The Buddha was highly critical of those who were extreme in their one-sided compassion and his thought can be summed up like this: "The way to solve the problem of suffering is to shed compassion, in all its forms. Do that very much and have enough compassion to do the other thing. But don't let compassion get you to abandon all your principles. Don't be either blind or stupid." If you look at the old traditional practices of meditation you can see this point clearly.
However, I have never followed the routine of daily meditations, even for only half hour. I believe it takes more time to observe the world, and with this, we can achieve a state of ease and calmness. We can also take a step to focus our attention and to relax our thoughts. Therefore, I guess meditation is really the last step towards relaxation. By lowering our state of mind, we can make our minds less heavy and more light. This way, the mind is able to wander about more freely, and it can return to its roots and untangle itself.
Q: Since you believe in seeking wisdom, and the world and non-violence, would you consider yourself a Buddhist?
A: I am a Buddhist, but I was not originally Buddhist. I was originally a Christian, but I fell in love with Buddhism after reading the Bhagavad Gita. I was one of the thousands of Buddhist pilgrims who came to Sri Lanka during the 1970s. Our common mission was to show our respect by visiting the holiest places. This was the dominant theme of our visit. We visited the monastery at the southern end of the island and visited the great Buddha statues. One of the Buddha statues I was talking to someone about recently was depicting him with a hair ornament on his head, but of course I recognized the statue, which was made in the 15th century. I asked the Buddhist teacher if that was the same one that the Buddha used as a helmet. He told me that was an exact match, and I asked why. He said: "In the beginning, Buddha's inner nature was a perfect being, the awareness of which could never be suppressed. He realized he had to lower his awareness, which, in turn, did not affect him as he moved around, for he was floating on the pre-existing essence. His mind reverted to what it was. From that, he descended into the boundless kalpa of formless and consciousnessless samadhi. In the course of having achieved this, he obtained enlightenment; and by gaining this enlightenment he attained buddhahood.
Q: Did your family react to you converting from Christianity to Buddhism?
A: Before converting to Buddhism, I practiced Christianity for quite some time. At one time, I kept a Bible and used to use it in my house. I just changed it for the benefit of the children who witnessed the changes I made. It was not until I changed my religion that my mother changed her ways towards me. She started questioning my behavior towards others. She was criticizing me about how I was acting and even acted. I think it's best for us to view the Buddha as the Guru of Mankind and we should all learn from the Buddha and eventually accept his teachings. Sometimes a person can find the urge to practice only when they are being stressed out or stressed about something and they become angry about it, but it's better to remain in a state of happiness and acceptance, otherwise it's likely they'll continue practicing even when stressed out. We have a core motivation that's strong and important to us, but a lot of people are motivated by any number of emotions. We have a different motivation. 
Q: Did converting to Buddhism hurt your relationship with your mother?
A: No, it was never the point. At the time, her Catholicism was a very strong influence on me, so it wasn't really a big deal. But when I came to India and started studying, I started questioning her and what she really believed. I realized she had started some fanatical things that I don't even have any doubts about.
Q: This was in the 80's!
A: Yes, yes. She didn't always think so obviously and some of her ideas, maybe, weren't consistent with that. But the gist is that she was quite narrow minded. And she's kind of a cold person… No, actually. It's a hardie. I mean, you know, she has that kind of…"you know," you know…like a softer side.

 on Politics

Q: Do you consider yourself an American citizen?
A: You know, being an American has become just a common title. I mean, I do consider myself an American. I consider myself a citizen. And of course, the issue of, do I consider myself American? Do I consider myself American. Do I consider myself U.S. citizen. So I certainly believe that I am an American.
Q: Do you consider yourself a libertarian?
A: I consider myself a libertarian.
Q: You believe you are an American, and a libertarian - could you elaborate on how your views have formed?
A: The primary influences were Michael A. Lebowitz's books: Anarchism: The Anarchist Manifesto, The Utilitarianism of F.A. Hayek and A Return to Reason. As for the background I grew up in the libertarian movement, the essential ones are Henry Hazlitt, Vernon Richards and David Friedman.
The principles are fundamentally libertarian - classical liberalism. Many libertarians present themselves as anarchists for a number of reasons: notably that the word anarchism has "bad" connotations in the public imagination. On the other hand, many anarchists are "hegemonic libertarians" - they have a stable core of beliefs that they won't switch out of.
If you've never heard of something called anarcho-capitalism or anarcho-syndicalism, that's because they were so different from the official ideology that they were previously almost completely ignored. 
But I really don't know. I have mixed impressions of US politics, and I often think of libertarianism as an outgrowth of the sentiments of the first US libertarian movement in the 1860s, and I have a similar worldview and process as Robert Nozick, a political philosopher who developed libertarianism out of his concern for workers and who he often described as "one of us". I could also argue that the founding fathers were a libertarian group.
Q: Don't you think that the opinion that the founding fathers were a libertarian group is quite controversial, especially in current political scene?
A: I don't know what the current political scene is like, but the majority of people who believe the constitution as it is now isn't designed for a libertarian ideology, or are unsure, aren't so sure that it's being read and interpreted right. Even if we put aside the constitution itself, the supporters of the constitution has used the concepts of rights to build the political foundation of this country and are the very very roots of this nation. 
I think it's quite controversial; I'm not the only one who thinks so. I was born in 1942, the same year that both Republicans and Democrats in America joined the Cold War. Also, most Americans in the World War II era wanted America to be an internationalist country, not a foreign state. We did a lot of things overseas and we worked with the entire world, but we were an international country.
Q: In this case, how did the Cold War have affected you, and your political views?

A: In terms of understanding, being told that you have something in common with Communists is always nice. In my 20s, that was the only thought I had. I mean, maybe that was a naive thing to think when you were 20 years old. When I was 20, I became a volunteer for the CIA in 1961 as a communications specialist because, then, all the major news services were owned by families of the DuPont brothers who had become members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). At the time, the CFR members held prominent positions in government, law enforcement and the intelligence community, but not in the public service. So I took on the task of writing back and forth for the Daily Worker between the United States and China and also wrote for the Radio Liberty Service in the Soviet Union and Central and South America.

Q: Can you elaborate more on your work for the CFR in 1961?
A: It's hard to talk about CFR history without first mentioning that Bill Lindsay and David Rockefeller were controlling what that organization was doing.
They were moving it toward the Rockefeller Foundation and other special interest groups like trade unions and such.
It was a great deception that was carried out by David Rockefeller and Bill Lindsay, who were bankrolling every page. They were running it into the ground. The early part of 1961 was devoted to preparations for the conferences on economic and social policy with which the countries who attended were to arrive in New York on December 31. Three conferences were planned: the first was on national economic policy; the second was on social, economic and educational policies; and the third was on development and development policy. Most of the preparatory work was done during the winter of 1960-61.
At the conclusion of the conference meetings, some of us headed off to see the Soviet leaders in Moscow. At that time, during the day in Moscow, the Soviet leaders were negotiating with other nations about a cease-fire in the Middle East.
Q: And what did you wrote about the U.N.?
A: For months I has been in contact with Hillary Clinton's staff and Hillary Clinton herself. They were telling me "You don't know how to tell this story, this is not the time to bring it up." So I finally stopped sending them emails. And then, I wrote an article for the New York Times, which took six months. They never paid me.
But I sent it to everyone in my network that I was communicating with.
Q: What is your relationship with Hillary Clinton?
A: I've had the pleasure of working with her on Afghanistan and Iraq, several times. I'm not entirely sure the word is "friend," but we've gotten a chance to get to know each other. She's, I think, in the position she deserves to be in, having been the first lady of Arkansas for eight years, as well as the first lady of the United States for the past four years. She deserves a high standard.
Q: Let's talk about your work with Hillary Clinton in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A: Sure.
Q: To what extent do you think it influenced her judgement on a number of the current conflicts?
A: Sure, there was a lot of — I mean, it's not just my evaluation. There were a lot of people who knew what was going on.
Q: So they just found out?
A:  Yes. The first is that both foreign policy and military deployments are things that we have thought about for some time. That was, of course, the case in the Clinton administration. There was considerable debate around whether there was going to be an Iraq war; how we would build that coalition; the role of non-state actors; whether we should have a no-fly zone, whether we should try to contain Saddam Hussein's capacity to do anything. These debates were going on during the Bush administration, and they were changing the United States' approach to the world and it was important for those debates to continue. They didn't, unfortunately, end with 9/11. You have to go back to the Clinton administration, especially under former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to see what really happened.
Q: So what really happened under the administration of Donald Rumsfeld?
A: While Colin Powell was Secretary of State, Rumsfeld expanded the black sites into an international network of torture facilities that operated at the behest of the Pentagon, circumventing the executive branch and the legislative branch of the government. Rumsfeld's proposal was that it would be extremely useful to have a permanent seat for this secret activity in some of the most difficult parts of the world. The same constitutional problems that led to the creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are being presented now as justification for the establishment of a permanent (indefinite) surveillance court for the National Security Agency. But, as Snowden revealed, those sorts of problems simply did not exist at the NSA. And, perhaps more to the point, it never has. The NSA wasn't a bad agency, or even inherently capable of engaging in serious mistakes. And though Snowden revealed the NSA's utterly egregious and massive human rights abuses and illegal domestic surveillance programs, he did not expose the NSA's virtual lack of oversight, its exploitative and dictatorial relationships with tech companies, and its technological incompetence. But that's just a rant for another day.
Q: Can you elaborate about your connection to the NSA?
A: I was called up twice a week by the NSA to provide a view into the life of a man on the order of an general, who was personally iced by John Henry. I watched their military come down at night, which was not a normal thing for these men. They saw that they were being watched. I think he did. I saw the murders committed by the men on the orders of John Henry. And I witnessed many things that he said were necessary.
Q: How is John Henry connected to Hillary Clinton?
A: John Henry told me that they were working together. He said that most of what he described to me was confirmed by other sources, but the state department is not in a position to allow me to go on the record as saying John Henry was a participant. However, they have to be in a position to see it as something they may want to document, and that doesn't necessarily include Hillary Clinton.
Q: What role did Huma Abedin play in this arrangement?
A: It is very troubling that a secretary of state and a close confidant would jeopardize national security by coordinating with a hostile foreign power. We all learn more about our government's foreign policy relationships in the aftermath of those relationships. But the question we must ask is what role did Huma play in this arrangement?
At the time, no one had discussed setting up the email server in her home. But Abedin's practice of forwarding many of the State Department's most sensitive emails on to her private server provided fodder for Republican criticism.
Q: And how does their relationship ties into Iraq?
A: With the Bush administration's Iraq policy. The case for the war, over the past three decades, has always been that Iraq was the first instance of a U.S. intervention which led to a sectarian war that destabilized the entire Middle East, mostly it was an attempt to subdue, disarm and essentially control Iraq. 
The connection between Iraq and Hillary Clinton dates to her days as secretary of state, when she wanted to do something that nobody else would, and then helped in the deep cover operation that brought Bush into the White House. The real question is why, and it goes way back. John Henry was an intelligence officer who worked with the CIA, the military intelligence, and quite a few other agencies. He had a relationship with the Bush family at the very highest levels.
The truth about John Henry and his history as a CIA handler is still relevant today. Much of it is not pretty. It includes death threats, murder plots, legal action and icial torture. Most important, John Henry's co-workers at the CIA were at the same time very powerful men in the American financial system and a select few are still in office.

on Sexuality and Drugs

Q: Do you have a sexual preference?
A: As a child, I was fascinated by boys, but it was clear to me that all of the people I would meet would either be good or bad. As an adult, I have no interest in anyone, except for a brief fling with a boy who also happens to be the son of a prominent CIA official. I believe this may have led me down the path of LSD use.
Q: Can you describe in how your life changed when you discovered LSD?
A: LSD put me on a whole new level of consciousness. I had never known how little my life mattered, or how small my influence really was. The most popular drug in my native New York had just been outlawed by the feds, so I could finally start making my own choices.
In the city I lived, LSD was over a decade old, and psychedelic music was a thing of the past. I would stand in my dark apartment watching my neighbor play on the stereo and watching his hands touch the speaker so quietly, listening to his private meditation. I always felt a pure and instinctual connection with him, like I was thinking of him when I heard the needle fill his lungs and I had his body surrounded by the rest of his body. That seemed to have a liberating effect on me. I found myself learning a great deal about myself, and about love, and about what it meant to be so closed off to other people. It's not easy when you're closed off. I think this becomes even more serious when you have children and children are grown. We are not the same person after it's over, and we're not able to bond in the same ways we did when we were young. Some of our relationships are bound up in the past. Being open to others and to ourselves can be so difficult. Having fun with friends isn't really going to help us, and it may lead to stress, because we'll be more focused on how happy we're feeling about the way things have been going."
When it comes to sex, it's possible for us to be particularly self-centered in our thinking. We might be thinking about having a orgasm, while ignoring what's actually happening. Maybe we'll even make some small emotional mistakes. All of these are connected to our inability to create a secure and satisfying sexual relationship. These habits create chronic tension and anxiety, which then leads to feeling sick in the pit of your stomach, feeling hot and sticky from the need to have sex. 
We often need to use our highly developed part of our brain to successfully engage in sex. You might think we're some sort of virus, you'd be right. You might think sex is a plague. You might think it's too "masculine" for us to understand. I won't argue with that, you can always argue with someone who claims sex is a plague. But you can't deny the fact that sex is a really hard thing for us to understand.
Q: Do you think you understand sex better after using drugs?
A: Absolutely. Drugs have done that for us. Without drugs, I don't know what I would be talking about. So yes, I do. And yes, sex is still an issue with drugs, but it's better, much better. Maybe it can be a kind of self-compassion, a way to practice empathy.
To me, this is the Buddhist concept of disenchantment. What does that mean? We're born in society to have a certain set of gifts and obligations, but when they're not fulfilled, those that we received as gifts are now being actively tried out, to see if they can have a positive effect on us. And that can result in negative outcomes. It can even cause us to turn away from a certain set of people, if they do not fit into our old set of values. So, if you're in a relationship where the other person makes some sort of statement that you find disrespectful or offensive, and you choose to believe them, then you are choosing to force your values on them. This in turn can affect how much value you place on them, and could even change the way that they view you.
When we are looking for love or sex, it can be hard to consider what is normal. Love in-tow to something can lead to extreme views, such as homosexuality, especially when the stigma around the term is such that people are reluctant to open up about their sexuality.
Being 'done with it' is also a hard question to answer for some, but we shouldn't ignore it. Being gay is not a pathology – it's just a part of who you are. Every human being is a contributor to society, but there are some elements that society needs to take a softer approach to, and we should respect that, especially with regards to homosexuality.