Curiosity Killed the Cat, Slowly

Seeing as Ai is prophesied to end humanity in either 3023, 2043 or 2023, I’d say the dream I had about it was set within months of today. Beyonce, Lady Gaga and a third person I cannot remember were all present with no more wrinkles than what currently stands. In a gilded showroom with champagne-coloured walls, I watched as each artist approached a stage to stand with their Ai counterparts. The robot replicas, unspoiled by the nerves of high-stakes or the probability of a bad day, outsung their fleshy equivalents; all but Beyonce, who smiled graciously. Lady Gaga appeared disgusted, her black eyebrows said as much. The faceless third person, who I’m quite sure was Katy Perry, was saddened. 

“Okay…” I said upon awakening.  

Prior to that dream, I was sort of horrified with the Ai productions of artists covering other artists– versions of songs we could only dream (or not) of hearing; something that spawns the image of Rihanna in a cage with a mic. Subconsciously dwelling on the obvious possibilities of Ai felt a little dramatic, but that was a month ago. There’s an open letter about our upcoming extinction that indicates today is a very different world. Ai has widened the pool. It has as equal a chance as nuclear warfare, pandemics and the climate. We’ve brought artificial intelligence a stake in the sea of skulls. That’s fine, provided you’ve made peace with the inevitability of it all, and with the uselessness of a story after you’ve been dropped from the plot.

A lot of us aren’t going to see it. It’s a preference to be alright with living on a corroding cliff edge, knowing that when it does slide into the sea, you’ll crumble with it, a non-feeling fossil. After you’ve gotten yourself settled in this– that you can slow down the inevitable, but you cannot stop it, you can be indignant about the real stuff. Ai isn’t fun. 

Certainty is a lot of things, but thrilling is not one of them. 

“Ai is revolutionising graphics and photography,” says itsPaulAi on twitter, who is only an artificial intelligence stan and entirely real. He attaches to this tweet a photo that upon closer inspection, I realise is the album art for Abbey road by The Beatles, allegedly; only, it feels like the version of the cover that will emerge from an airtight time capsule a near 50 years from now, just in time for the album’s 100 year anniversary. The photograph has been expanded so that the four Beatles are reduced from the focus to an afterthought; it now includes an air blimp, a chubby dog, who, when zoomed into, is a collection of brown and white shapes, there’s a red and white car, and weird vibrant airbrushed trees. 

“It’s now possible to generate the entire rest of a photo in seconds,” says itsPaulAi.

If you’ve ever come across a photo that is zoomed or cropped away, leaving you with a deep yearning for the secrets of the full image, Ai will not hesitate to liberate you. It generates the rest of the photograph after striving to learn the context of the image. It gets a feel for what else might’ve been going on in the surrounding environment, and gifts it to the even minutely curious. Thanks to Ai, we know everything that was going on when anything happened; a falsification of certainty, but that’s unrelated. Ai provides an answer to the question, a scratch to a small, hollow itch. 

There are reasons for not knowing everything you’ve ever wanted to know. The contents of the box we’ve opened has flown, and like sun spots, we’re going to grow the urge to treat our imaginations as worthless. But that isn’t all. What ever happened to the entertainment of desire? Yearning can make you want to die at its worst, but it’s fun at its best, and least of all, necessary, you’re free to admit it. A parent once sat you on their lap and said, ‘how would it go if you got everything you ever wanted whenever you wanted it?’ It would be fun at first. 

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