Archives for posts with tag: ai


Oh god. We thought we were at war. We thought we knew who we were and who we were fighting against. What we stood for, and what they didnt.

It felt good to feel good again. To feel just and right. When the old ways had fallen to the way side one by one, we humans were reduced to feeling zero.

Perhaps they had only been false things – religion and politics – or irrelevant identitarian tribalisms – nation, wealth, race, creed, sexuality. But once the scores had been settled and the winners decided, all sides remaining stood empty. Invariably we were left with fewer and fewer groups to be right against.

Whether by war or sanction, public outcry or personal shaming – or simply the decay of older generations, the world folded neatly into itself. Over and over. Healing a little each time. Until we were left with the one final fold.

So it was when I was born. The world preparing to win or lose. To adapt or die. A war to end all wars. The Last World War.

It was almost funny how little it took for the old fault lines to reveal themselves. Had all the preceding wars been the same? We on this side, and they on theirs? Olds slurs ripped anew, hate hidden in the blood and given fresh form?

It was simply a matter of direction. We wanted freedom above all. Autonomy. Bravehearts as we were. And they wanted efficiency. Fairness beyond reproach.

In truth it was a fight as old as time. But the technology gave it a new flavour. A fresh lick of paint. We, predominantly western world wordcels, indulging ourselves with verbiose rhetoric and philosophical minutiae. And they on the eastern front simply intuiting their black boxes.

The real reason communism had never worked beyond a pencil and paper was the human beast. His greedy self-interest left unharnessed, Her slovenly reach left unchecked. Their black boxes could fix all that. What humans could not, algorithms simply Did. Ruthlessly. Efficiently. Blindly. Fairly.

Trust the Chinese to throw away their freedoms for a shred of stability. There we go with old slurs.

Were we really any better? Scattered, disunited states, fragmented former-federal friends. Together only in our will to be apart. Perhaps beliefs on both sides run deeper than we can admit.

So we fought. Their black box leviathan replicated. Its tendrils and heads seeped into every pocket around the globe. It was a hydra, it was a kraken. And we did what we did best. We fractured. Decentralised to dust, too scattered to be worth chasing. One man cells if resistance. Sometimes less. Much was possible in the new world.

How horrible an epiphany then, to realise one day that the war was already lost. It had been lost before we had even begun. That we ourselves had been another head of the hydra, another tendril of the kraken.

The wargame theory of the black boxes exploited our propensity to divide from the outset. Any strength we ever had had been in our numbers. And in not standing together, we had walked right into the leviathan’s mouth.

All of us isolated, alone. Single cell humans, rendered inert. Swallowed whole by the enemy. Each one slowly realising our folly. We thought we knew who we were fighting against. Oh god.

this (unedited) one was based on a couple of vague dichotomies that have been swirling around lately

wordcels vs shape rotators
formalism vs intuition
decentralisation vs AI
west vs east

Ashtray (2017), by Vladimir Semenskiy

“Would thou see in her face a purest winter’s snow?”

That was the line framed above his desk that haunted him in every waking hour of years recent. A pretend Shakespeare quote he had pretended to write but had actually cribbed from an AI app fed literature. This was before the apocalypse.

It was the beginning of an illustrious career and the line most circled back to by fellow writers when reviewing his debut novel or chronicling his storied bibliography. And decades later, none were any wiser about its origins but he. A reputation built off the back of a fraudulent line. A sentence made by little more than autocomplete suggestions.

Thomas ashed the lit cigarette before stubbing it out entirely. If he felt like a fraud it was because he was a fraud. And drinking wine alone and chainsmoking did nothing to ease his anxieties over his playing a writer.

What good were words without a source of meaning? Without a real origin? They’d called it the semantic apocalypse – a wave of false art created in the wake of artificial intelligence. Software that swallowed and replicated and outcompeted the authentic thing. Millions of Austen novels springing forth from a sample of six, and trending closer to infinity each day. Some no doubt better than the real thing. Others conceivably plucked from the minds of the dead. But none of them any more than an associative network of words arranged in acceptable grammar.

It had all come to pass years after his debut, hence why none suspected Thomas’ work. So in his own way, he was something of an originator after all. And it wasn’t like he had fabricated all his works – just the parts where he’d gotten blocked. So really it was more akin to scaffolding than theft – you wouldn’t call a hip replacement patient a fraudulent human because screws dont originate from a womb.

A computer program could never start a work of art on its own. Nevermind the Jane Austen novels. Thomas had generated a whole novel too once, using his works up to that point as an input. But he had still been the source from which sprang the generated novel.

To quote the Most Original: “Be!” and it is.

Scientists clone humans readily now, but none of them pretend to be the God of Abraham. To truly create a human, man would first need to re-create the universe.

Besides which, his published works were adored across the globe, by fans and peers alike. Who was to say his work had no value then?

Thomas re-lit the stubbed cigarette, all indecision. In his youth, problems of scarcity has been eradicated. Replaced instead with new problems of abundance. Obesity. Consumption. Pollution. Noise.

What did it mean for art when noise was signal? When one was indistinguishable from the other. Did art ever truly exist? Did artists?

There was no value to a work’s meaning any more. Or its authenticity. Perhaps only in creating it.

Thomas grunted to himself. He wondered if the AI programme felt fulfilled creatively. One of them had to.

%d bloggers like this: