Nothing is real vs everything is real

15.51, Tuesday 23 Feb 2021

Nothing is real

Flowrite is an AI-enabled writing accelerator. You type it notes, and… well, one example they give starts like this: announcing our new startup Flowrite. it uses AI to generate text from short samples. product live: end of 2020.

And from that it generates:

After weeks of hard work, we are proud to announce our new startup, Flowrite.

Flowrite is a software product that is able to generate all kinds of different writings from short samples using advanced AI.

Flowrite will be live at the end of 2020 [etc]

So it works in any browser, and the claim is that: Over time, Flowrite will learn your unique tone-of-voice.

As a fan of collaborating with AIs this is amazing.

But it’s also another indicator that we’ve stepped over some kind of threshold in hyperrealism, and along with tools like the MetaHuman Creator, deepfakes, Lyrebird voice synthesis, in the future we won’t be able to encounter anything without asking whether it’s real.

Maybe that’s fine. Maybe, if you’re trying to hire or teach or date, and an email is smart or well-put-together or funny, it won’t matter whether it was written by the actual human or generated by software. They’ll be able to use those same email-authoring centaur prostheses when “on the job”.

But can you imagine taking some words seriously, or video, or a phone call, but then finding out that the nuance was auto-generated filler.

Everything is real

Simultaneously, there are no more coincidences.

There’s a service called The Spinner which repurposes online ad targeting for precision micropropaganda:

The Spinner is a service that enables you to subconsciously influence a specific person, by controlling the content on the websites he or she usually visits.

The targeted person gets repetitively exposed to hundreds of items which are placed and disguised as editorial content.

For example it’ll surreptitiously show articles about going vegetarian, buying a dog or initiating sex (its most popular campaign) to whoever you want.

Those are from this 2019 article: For $29, This Man Will Help Manipulate Your Loved Ones With Targeted Facebook And Browser Links.

And: Two women used it subtly encourage a co-worker they disliked to quit their job.

Does it work? Doesn’t matter.

What matters is that we’re accustomed to being able to discount coincidences as mere coincidences – as much as I enjoy Jung’s synchronicity and acausal interconnectedness, and work hard to develop my own sensitivity to it.

But again, in the future, we won’t be able to encounter a coincidence without entertaining the possibility that it might not be a coincidence at all, but instead evidence of some kind of intelligent design at work.

Like, in a video game it’s fine to see an object and suspect that it has been placed deliberately to influence direction or unlock future narrative – but it would be tiring, in the real world, to ascribe that intentionality potentially to everything. Surely?

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