Technology is amazing. And its possibilities are boundless.
Which is a source of hope and trepidation.
As we marvel at where AI is going, as ChatGPT wakes us up to a new horizon of possibility, we so
I remember the initially exciting, then disturbing feeling a while back with the unerring accuracy of Amazon to tell me the books that I wanted (btw – please use bookshop.org and keep the spirit of bookselling alive).
Until I saw that it could never tell me about my interest in architecture, because all it knew was my interest in business and human rights.
And it certainly wasn’t able to introduce me to the mix of Americana, environmentalism and revolution that was reading Edward Abbey’s novels, which came to me from a friend, and which I enjoyed for both implausible and blatant pasticheness backed by a hard message.
It’s the difference between the serendipity of going around an independent bookstore and finding a gem you’d have never thought to look for, and getting a list of books that feeds my same slice of ignorance and bias on Amazon.
Hello Theatre Bookshop in the Cut near Waterloo.
And Spotify, which I love for so many reasons, can’t replace a radio station where I might actually hear something that couldn’t be predicted by my previous listening, and which might provoke something in me.
Because good radio does something different.
It challenges you.
It stretches you.
It surprises you.
It provokes you.
It taunts you.
It sends you into bliss, laughter, mirth and tears.
It stops you…
… in your tracks.
Because that’s what human music does. Music, which to quote Nick Cave, is “predicated upon the complex, internal human struggle of creation”.
And, as he continues, “Algorithms don’t feel. Data doesn’t suffer.”
AI has so much potential for good. But let’s not race to the bottom and depend on its coded creativity to give us exactly what we expect in the arts, within which I include this, the written word.
Digitisation has created untold wealth for a handful, and human benefits for many.
But the best leadership, wisdom and creativity come from ever-deepening experiences of love and suffering.
And we need to pause and think hard before we try to digitise love and suffering and deceive generations that follow that these superficially convincing digital copies are all there is.
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