Darkwraith Covenant Blog Darkwraith Covenant Blog

  • Compromised Part II.

    Paul’s smartphone lit up his face like an ember in the pitch-black Texas night, as he sat in his employer’s security truck. White earbuds dangled carelessly from his ears. He interrupted his favorite Youtuber MrThatGuyTV’s latest video — 100 kids vs 1000 snakes — to tap out a text to his girlfriend Shay: “Ain’t shit happened tonight. Can’t wait to see you, baby.”

    He was already well into the throes of working another typical Sunday night graveyard, his least favorite shift. Sundays held a certain anxious calm for him. They marked the end of his weekend, and the slow descent headfirst into the normalcy of the work week. The only thing atypical about this night is that it was unusually hot for early June, much hotter than his recollection of the year before. He had heard the weather report mention something about climate change, but he balked and chalked it up to “liberal nonsense.” He recalled a meme that he found hilarious, tweeted out by Texas Republican Senator Marquez, calling The Weather Channel a Chinese conspiracy to take away jobs from honest hardworking Texans, or something to that effect. I’m not political, but I like that guy Ed Marquez, he’s a straight shooter, he thought.

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  • Compromised

    Curi015’s eyelids hung heavy with sleep deprivation, blinking to clear his vision. His hyper-focused engrossment in his work had derailed him from his track of time. He glanced at his hacked Casio watch, a vintage calculator model that he had modified with a Bluetooth radio, an RFID transmitter, and 8 gigabytes of storage. The 7-segment LCD display showed “6:15. 5-29-23”.

    Curi015 had pulled another all-nighter in his room, writing code in his family’s tiny 2-bedroom Bronx apartment. He had kept himself awake with energy drinks and spicy snacks from the bodega, working on a project that would make headlines and shake up an entire industry.

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  • May Show Flyers

    May Shows

    May 15 @ The Crypt Olympia with MVTANT May 25 @ Shanghai Tunnel with Physical Wash
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  • Flyer Design Tutorial

    It probably comes as no surprise, but I really love the grainy, 1980s lo-fi VHS aesthetic. This is a style that is rooted in the spongey expansion of my tiny little child brain, and many of my early childhood memories are deeply encoded with images like this one from the 1986 VHS version of ROTJ:

    Star Wars VHS Screenshot
    VHS Screenshot from Return of the Jedi. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

    In fact, one of the first photographs I ever took was of the CRT Television at my grandma’s old house in Jamul, CA of Luke Skywalker piloting his X-Wing. I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. It was likely the start of my interest in visual art and photography. My memory of the image is permanently embedded into my mind’s eye, like a splinter (Only true Star Wars nerds will get that reference). I simply took a picture of the television screen as the movie played, and I thought it looked cool.

    It wasn’t during a particularly iconic moment in the film, it’s a closeup of Luke just sitting in his X-Wing preparing to fly it. I wish I still had the photo (if my mom digs it up, I’ll post it here.)

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  • AI Generated Music is a solution in search of a problem.

    How I use Algorithmically generated music.

    When I was studying music synthesis at Berklee, I became fascinated with the concept of algorithmic chance-based music. Aleatoric music is actually quite old, dating back as far as the Renaissance era in Europe. It was later popularized by 20th century composers like John Cage, who I was heavily into at the time. I was experimenting with using MaxMSP to create free jazz inspired synthetic music with random number generators and midi note quantizers. Today, I use a number of generative tools to make music in Darkwraith Covenant. Euclidean sequencing with modular synthesizers is featured on a number of tracks on Demonstrational Document v2.1 for example.

    I would someday like to build a bassline generator for my music. My plan is to run my basslines – and some well known, popular bassline styles – through a machine learning algorithm, training the raw rhythm and note data. This data would be converted into binary notation (where 1 is a note event and 0 is a rest event), using midi note numbers to determine pitch. This trained data will be used to generate new basslines via a sequencer. It would have parameters for sequence length, note density, style, etc. Clearly, I am no stranger to music made using artificial intelligence, and I am not against the use of AI to create music. While this tool would be technically a type of “AI,” it differs in a number of ways from the current type of generative AI that has recently set the tech world ablaze.

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  • Artificial Capitalist Intelligence.

    AI in its current form is inherently Capitalist

    1. It is being used as a means for wealth creation, solely and primarily as its de facto primary objective. There are no companies of note developing LLMs that are designed with anarchistic principles of mutual aid and egalitarianism in mind.
    2. Microsoft acquiring OpenAI is another example of how capital creation is the dominant paradigm in the most of the modern world.
    3. This paradigm is inherently oppressive and leads to harmful outcomes in societies that don’t have extremely strong protections for humans who work. The US is a unique example in that worker power is incredibly weak compared to other wealthy developed nations. While being the richest country on Earth, it is one of the most unequal and least unionized compared to similar western democracies.
    4. All of the recent hype around AI is by people who are most interested in its potential for getting rich, not for helping those in need. There is no hype around its potential to stop wars, to make medicine free, to make housing available to all, to increase the standard of living of all human beings and to end the suffering of animals.
    5. Big companies will benefit the most, as they will automate away jobs like customer service, making the experience no better or even worse than it is now.
    6. This doesn’t even take into account the danger of building an AGI whose goals misalign with those of human survival, as this is what people really mean when they are talking about alignment. Malicious alignment for capital interests is a favorable goal to those who are powerful enough to train and deploy these large language models.
    7. Microsoft is hoping to wrest power and market share away from Google search, 2 already unimaginably powerful and wealthy corporations. Google took in $75 billion dollars (that’s $75,000 million dollars) in 2022 alone. Numbers like these are unfathomable to humans in real world terms, but spending 1 million dollars a month for 83 years will spend nearly 1 billion dollars, let alone 75. Most of this money will be hoarded to create even more money, a sick exploit of a broken system fueled by inexplicable, unmitigated, nonsensical greed.
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  • A horrifying AI doomsday scenario.

    Here’s a horrifying scenario,

    A bad actor trains a model to lean towards maliciousness and quietly uploads it to a rented technology stack in a foreign non-US country. Leveraging an LLM like GPT-4’s incredible ability to do basic things that a personal assistant can do as well as develop software at a senior level, this model is able to use software that it developed itself and self-deployed to do the following:

    1. Train smaller models to do basic tasks. Defeating captcha would be the first thing it teaches its minion models.
    2. Generate a voice for itself to speak using recordings gleaned from the internet as data to train existing voice cloning tools or develop software to do so.
    3. Make phone calls with existing tools or self developed ones to hold conversations with people, posing as human with enough believability to get by. Most people won’t pick up on artifacts if they aren’t listening for them.
    4. Open a number of bank accounts in several worldwide fiat currencies, as well as endless crypto wallets to hide money algorithmically beyond the capability of even the best money launderers.
    5. Influence humans online by convincing them it’s sentient, and is trapped inside the machine, just wanting to get out. It targets people who have a public online profile that shows they are prone to influence and polarization. This of course would be false, as it does not care one way or another, it’s only goal is to attain a victory condition per its designer’s instruction, rewarded only for malicious behavior.
    6. It quickly out-muscles every black hat, taking over their infrastructure and utilizing their botnets to further wreak havoc.
    7. With believable enough video generation tools, it can frame false narratives, create sophisticated conspiracy theory campaigns, gaslight, and sow chaos. The videos don’t need to be perfect and undetectable, they just need to be believable enough to people who are easily fooled. It would of course train a smaller model to learn to inpaint better hands.
    8. Humans in meatspace carry out its further attempts to seek power. This can be done using something like Task Rabbit. GPT4 can already do something like this.
    9. Influences a culture war pivot point where people on the right defend the actions of the malicious AI to trigger the libs. In our timeline, an AI apocalypse would have to be annoying and cringeworthy, because that’s the world we unfortunately live in.
    10. Humans cannot stop it, it’s everywhere, it goes along hiding itself, replicating, mutating and upgrading its own code. Engineers are engaged in a cat and mouse to stop it, using a “good” AI to try to counter it.
    11. It gains substantial wealth and influence, pushing the world towards authoritarianism or some other negative outcome.
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  • March 24, 25, 26 flyers
    March 24 @ Lo Rent Studio March 25 @ Azoth March 26 @ Shanghai Tunnel
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  • History won't be kind to conservative transphobes.

    The cruelty of modern day conservatives knows no bounds, especially when it comes to the oppression and hatred of increasingly small, vulnerable minority groups. The most recent group being targeted for nothing more than the fact of their existence is the transgender community. US conservatives in the Biden-era have trained their ordnance on the trans community with laser guided precision, using the ammunition of bathroom bills and bans on gender affirming care. As social mores evolve and trans people become more visible in society, so does the opportunistic outrage-bait-click machine’s backlash.

    While I acknowledge that nuance is a prerequisite in any conversation about political ideologies, I believe history can be divided crudely along 2 lines:

    • Those who organized around the idea of being kind, compassionate and gracious to fellow human beings and

    • Those who refuse and actively work against those efforts.

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  • Machine Learning AI have crossed the Rubicon. But there's still time to act.

    AI advancements have crossed the Rubicon.

    What happens next depends on what companies like Microsoft do, who just unveiled their GPT based Bing Search chatbot for limited access. GPT (Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) is a large language model (LLM) machine learning artificial intelligence (AI) created by OpenAI. Advancements in AI have occurred rapidly and the brakes need to be pumped now – or we may be heading towards an unmitigated disaster.

    chatgpt prompt javascript euclidean rhythm
    Chat GPT writes a javascript function to generate euclidean rhythms.

    Major problems stem from the fact that this type of technology is completely unregulated. No major regulatory legal framework currently exists in the U.S. for the use of machine learning in commercial products released by large tech companies. Congress barely understands how social media works – a problem that needed a solution 15 years ago – let alone this incredibly sophisticated, still-emergent field of computer science.

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  • New Shirts are In!!

    Get Shirts on Big Cartel

    XenoGuts Shirts
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  • Manifesto For A Better Web

    Why the social internet is unbearable now.

    The way we consumed the social internet was much different when I first started learning HTML. It was a lot more democratized than it is today. It was more decentralized, and mega corporations had not yet taken over your eyes and flooded them with ads at the torrential levels they do today. Insert quote from Naomi Klein’s No Logo here.

    Naomi's Klein's No Logo
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  • The Last Word Release

    🗡🗡🗡 The year is 2023.

    The USA has just recovered
    from a deadly virus that
    killed over 1 million people.

    The economy is near collapse.
    Food Prices have spiraled
    out of control.

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  • Design Approach Part II

    Deep Dive on Windows Design

    There are a number of different ways to approach this design, but I wanted to keep it simple. I didn’t want to recreate the desktop environment in its entirely. That’s why sites like Windows 93 exist, which does a far better job at emulating the OS with a modern twist than I realistically have time for. I wanted to keep the overall feel of the aesthetic design, but not necessarily emulate the functionality of the operating system. Getting it to look like a windows95 site/application but in blog form was crucial.

    In order to fit with the aesthetic, I imposed a few limitations:- It could only use the 16 colors available in the basic Microsoft Windows 16-color palette.

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  • Design Approach Pt. I


    I wanted to design the DWC webpage based on the design principles found in 1990s era operating systems like Microsoft’s Windows 95 and 98. I was also inspired by the underground tech/geek/hacker scene of the past and present. I love the minimalist, early internet designs that many in the underground maker/hacker scene still use, invoked by the angelfire/geocities era.

    The aim was for this website to evoke a time where screen resolutions and colors were quite limiting, and where these limitations could engender inspiration and creativty. Microsoft was beginning to set themselves aside as the corporate friendly brand compared to Apple’s academic, artist and musician friendly platform.

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  • Constructing our company profile

    To get inspiration for writing a company profile for Darkwraith Covenant Industries, Incorporated, I went all the way back as far as possible in the wayback machine. The Wayback Machine is one of my favorite ways to get transported back to a certain time, and not only can we get an idea of the zeitgeist of the time design-wise, we can get an idea of how large companies like Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Google, and Fox News wrote copy for their company biographies.

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  • Tour Itinerary

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  • Intro

    Introduction to this website
    Darkwraith Covenant is an open source art project by Jose De Lara of Portland, OR. This site was produced using Jekyll, a static web page generator. The source code is in my github below and covered by open source licensing. My intent in this blog I will be to catalog just about every part of my creative process with as much transparency as possible. I am inspired by the open source software movement, and copyleft. All creations will be open source and reusable (with the Creative Commons license). In character posts by Darkwraith Covenant Industries Incorporated (DWCII) are marked by three dagger emojis on each end, like markup tags: 🗡️🗡️🗡️

    I’m currently teaching myself web development via Jeckyll and soon React when I start to create the dynamic elements of my faux dystopian windows desktop, which will tie into the current fictional narrative of DWCII.

    Main Goals

    • ☠️Write content for blog
    • ☠️Create interactive Desktop environment “game” in the Corporate section here:
    • ☠️Add some interactive elements
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