Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Is it Real, or is it AI Photoshop?

Yes, OK, so I'm watching Nicole Kidman on this HBO series which is a fairly formulaic murder mystery, though fun and gorgeous to watch. As an older man myself, relating more to Hugh Grant than to Nicole, I would rather like to know what she actually looks like. I do remember how stunningly gorgeous she was when she appeared on the scene, and for sure she's still beautiful. But even beyond my looking for signs of age, there's something just off, and still more off-putting. 

But then there was a timely report, in the New York Times, I think, about real-looking generated faces. The "AI" behind them was obvious enough, but really, may I have a personality with my being? I'm following on where I left off last time, more in the direction of AI scripted poetry, which my friend in the bread-line was already doing with classical Chinese sometime in the 80's. Now it's touted as something new. That's innovation for you!

Of course the various click-feeds are full of yachts and life-style scenarios generated in exotic places, with well-known faces, all over the globe and one is drawn. We might be drawn to Mars, Elon (now number two on the planet), if you were to generate something attractive about it. Let us talk with seductively generated screen projected AI women, maybe? Those of us who remain gender-retro.

My friend Benjamin just Tweeted a question asking something about whether the complexity of the non-living substrate on a planet had to be related to the advent of life. He called it a planetarity question or something like that. And where, dear Benjamin, is the divide between life and non-life? At the fingernails? Rocks are as much a part of me as the rest of creation.

Computers are rocks, for all the dynamism you may stuff them with. But these digital omnipaths are more cut off from life than the rest of the cosmos. That is by very definition. They still have to reach out and touch the real to get random. As though random were meaningless.

And so, of course, I prefer to commune with alien life while sitting still, so long as I can tell a written narrative from one produced for TV, or by Dan Brown and his massive teams. If more people had read Melville's The Confidence Man, and fewer had been watching "reality" TV, we wouldn't be in this mess. 

Well, that's hardly true. Sure we would. Anyhow, it is very pleasant to witness Joe Biden plodding along with fairly revolutionary moves. Much though I might have preferred someone younger, and to his left, it now is clear that he is likely the only one who could have beaten Trump. And I will love him forever for that.

There is real and there is Memorex (remember that one? from the dark ages when the music industry informed most of what would become IT?). There is writing and there is the Codex. Or wait, maybe I have it backwards. Maybe highly scripted is the good stuff. I know that the disappearance of handwriting is making a massive difference.

Seduce us all off-planet to relieve the burden. Hyper-fertile wanderings in the void. Eternal merriment, attracted by whatever is constructed to please our choosing. I don't buy any of it.

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