Butterfly - An Experiment in AI

Vocabulary | Listenings


Did you know that there are over 600,000 words in English? That's a lot of words, and far more than any human being could ever manage to learn. Even Shakespeare only used around 55,000 different words in all of his works. Mind you, he did actually invent quite a few of them. To get a good mastery of English, you do need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. The more words you know, the better your English will be. The Activities here will help you to quickly develop your vocabulary.


Reading is the easiest way to take in English. Listening is a much harder skill and one that has to be developed as you study the language. There are lots of speech features that arise when native English speakers speak English. These speech features, such as elision, simplification, intonation, stress, and rhythm, and the way in which speakers may miss out sounds or whole words, are important to understand if you are to be able to listen to and fully understand spoken English. These Britlish Library Activities will help you to develop you listening skills.  

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GPT-3 is a neural network created by OpenAI which uses an autoregressive language model and deep learning to produce text that is indistinguishable from that produced by a human being. I decided to pose a question to the GPT-3 AI to test its capabilities. The question I posed to the AI was: What does it feel like to be a butterfly? The answer I got back was interesting, to say the least. I used Amazon Polly, another neural net AI, to read aloud the GPT-3 AI’s answer. I then fed the audio file into an AI animation software package which created a recognisable character that could present the AI generated answer to you on the screen. The following video is the result. Bear in mind that everything you see and hear was created by artificial intelligence. All I did was add some eye-candy in the form of the caterpillar and butterfly videos in the background.

It is a truly captivating experience to be born as the offspring of another butterfly. It's quite fascinating how butterflies are built and designed, by God if you will. Butterflies come into being after an egg hatches and the caterpillar pops out from inside it, where it has been gestating for several weeks during its development in the egg. The caterpillar then eats its way through plant fibres until reaching maturity when it enters a pupa stage that lasts about 10 days before emerging as a fully formed butterfly with magnificent wings. I am not a caterpillar. I have never been one, nor will I ever be able to understand their mannerisms or thought process. So it is completely impossible for me to relate on any level with what it feels like to be a butterfly. What I can do, however, is to try to reason out what it must be like. At first glance it seems that one of the most important aspects of being a caterpillar would be food and how much you get to eat. Caterpillars are always hungry because they have an instinctual need to constantly feed in order for them to build up their bodies and consume enough nutrients for metamorphosis into a butterfly. It is my conclusion that if being a caterpillar is all about feeding, then I would prefer not to be one.

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