Welcome to Amphibioscope, your one-stop-shop for amphibian horoscopes
What’s your sign? Find out here
Amphibioscope is a weekly horoscope bot that infuses AI-generated horoscopes with amphibian life-history data from AmphibiaWeb for science communication and entertainment purposes. The amphibian life-history information and horoscopes included in amphibioscope are written by a computer program and meant to look real – but they are not.
Amphibioscope is a project of the Tarvin Lab @ UC Berkeley. Our group decided to spend summer 2020 lab meetings building a bot that blended horoscopes with information about amphibians to entertain a broad audience and connect more people with amphibians. First, we looked through all amphibian families and grouped them into eight sets based on common characteristics. Then, we assigned each group different constellations from the International Astronomical Union based on how we imagined each group of amphibians could be represented symbolically. The symbols for each constellation were designed by Denis Moskowitz, who generously made them available to the public domain (here). The amphibian illustrations for each sign were drawn in ink by Kannon Pearson and digitized by Connor Tumelty. We wrote descriptions for each sign and assigned them dates starting on Earth Day, April 22. Moreover, we selected a list of “celebrities” composed of outstanding scientists and science-related celebrities that were born under each sign.
To produce horoscope text, first we attempted to replace some words in a horoscope with words from AmphibiaWeb, but phrases generated that way did not make much sense. We decided instead to use the OpenAI Generative Pretrained Transformer 2, which is a language model that can produce mostly intelligible text and can be trained to produce custom content. Using the gpt-2-simple wrapper, we trained one model on many pre-written horoscopes. Then we created eight additional models based on subsets of species accounts from AmphibiaWeb corresponding to each of the eight groups of amphibians. The resulting weekly horoscope for each sign contains some text from the horoscope model and some text from the species accounts model for each sign, voiced by the Amphibian Spiritual Guide for that sign that day. Amphibian Spiritual Guides are real amphibian species that are chosen randomly each week from the list of species corresponding to each sign. Thumbnail photographs (if available) of the Spiritual Guide are pulled by querying the CalPhotos database. Finally, our team proofreads every horoscope to be certain that the AI-generated text is appropriate for most ages.
Version 1 of Amphibioscope was launched on 31 August 2020. The contributors include, in alphabetical order: Tyler Douglas, Kate Montana, María José Navarette, Kannon Pearson, Valeria Ramírez-Castañeda, Rebecca Tarvin, Connor Tumelty, and Lawrence Uricchio.
Version 2 of Amphibioscope was launched on 07 February 2021. Changes made in version 2 include: 1) Amphibioscope is now experimentally (and slightly weirder) on TikTok and Instagram; 2) Amphibioscope now posts new horoscopes on a weekly rather than daily basis (although Instagram and Tiktok platforms have more frequent content); 3) amphibioscopes are now produced as images in addition to text; 4) amphibioscope text is slightly shorter. The contributors include, in alphabetical order: Tyler Douglas, Novia Kayfetz-Vuong, María José Navarette, Rachel Ong, Kannon Pearson, Valeria Ramírez-Castañeda, Rebecca Tarvin, Connor Tumelty.