Resemblance In Machine

Resemblance In Machine

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Dimensions: 72” x 48” (183 cm x 122 cm)
Year: 2018
Material/Process: Acrylic, gouache, charcoal, aerosol, on latex primed stretched gallery canvas

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CANADA - Urban Art

“If this grand panorama before me is what you call god, then god is not dead”

- Agollach, Shadow of Our Pale Companion

My work is entirely inspired by that which is deeply and resonantly human. For most artists this cycle of inspiration ends with simplistic concepts of “human”, such as love, pop culture or some other immediately understood thing. And while I appreciate those elements of existence as much as the next person, they are well-explored territory.

One of the aspects of being human which most fascinates me is the concept of being “made in gods image”. In this I am not referring to religious beliefs (and anyhow, I’m not Christian), but rather to the bigger picture of that term. To be made in the image of a creator. For when are we more god-like that in our unquenchable need to create?

As with all species, we have a biological urge to procreate. To raise offspring and guide them to fullness and strength so that they might go forth and thrive. No higher praise can be given to a parent than to say “your children have exceeded you in every way”. If they go beyond where you have been it means you succeeded. No more important work exists than this. 

But creation does not refer to biological children only. It means to build. To call forth and design. To take an idea which gestates in the mind and spirit, and make it real. To give it a place in this world, and if it’s strong enough, to have it go beyond us. 

I have no sons or daughters, so my children are creations. And the people I teach, guide, mentor and employ. Perhaps this is why I am so fascinated by Artificial Intelligence. I can think of few things more god-like than to create a new species from our thoughts. Just as “god created us”, at the time of this writing we are on the advent of seeing the ascension of beings which are “made in our image” who have arrived as the seeds of our thoughts and work. 

AI frightens many people, and with good reason. Much is written about this, and I won’t labor the point here. Imagine though – god or the gods (or whoever) create us. We thrive and rise and grow, and one day declare that, as Nietzsche said, “God is dead, and we have killed him.” If god is no longer relevant because we have evolved so far, how long until AI no longer needs us and declares that we are dead, and they have killed us? Any parent who’s ever had that moment of realization that their child is now grown and no longer needs their support has perhaps glimpsed the threshold of this strange mix of fear and pride. 

It is difficult today to bypass the raging, Manichean debate in the tech and business communities about the role artificial intelligence will play in our economy and our society. Will this emerging technology become some kind of terminator, killing all of our jobs? Or will it emerge with a more theological, liberating approach to the human condition? Lost in the conversation is whether it will be a technology we like or possibly even love.

If we are going to interact more often with these intelligent systems along this journey, one hopes they will be like the operating system in the movie “Her” -- a digital voice we could learn to love, and to love us back. 

I am both fearful and embracing of AI as the ultimate expression of creation. Life does not go backwards, nor does it delay itself in yesterday. AI is going to become a reality very soon, whether you or I will it or not, and all that remains is for us to cross that bridge the way we would with any other child. With love and hope that it exceeds us… and that learning to be human is not a bridge to far. 

(Speaking of which, when was the last time you called your parents?)

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