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Thursday, June 8, 2023

ChatGPT, Fake News, And Virtual Reality–No One But Government Cares

America is a fake news country, a nation of glitz, glamour, Hollywood, and vaudeville.  Reality is up for grabs, a fungible commodity, easily exchangeable or imagined.  There has always been something about the larger than life, the fantastical, and the impossibly beautiful which has always been appealing.  Virtual reality has always been in the cards – who needs or wants the drab and the ordinary? Life, said Ivan Karamazov’s devil, would be boring without me.  Who wants a life of honesty, piety, and unrelenting goodness? We all need a bit of evil and some nastiness.  I make life interesting since you are incapable of it.

Sympathy for the Devil in Russian Literature - Russian Tumble

Ours has always been a country of fantasy and image.  Hollywood for more than a century has turned out imaginary, romantic dramas.  Soap operas, star magazines and women’s romantic fiction, one of the most popular literary genres ever, assume a suspension of disbelief, cater to an ethos of idealism, hope, and opportunity, and shamelessly appeal to simplistic emotions.

The social media have shown that we are quite willing to accept our own versions of the truth and none other.  Truth and facts, never hot commodities in a country of snake-oil salesmen, carny barkers, evangelists, and vaudevillians, have less traction than they ever did. All of which is to say, that we are ready for a completely virtual world – not just an occasional dip into the unreal, but an embrace of it so entire that any residual claim on reality will be jettisoned.

Americans have always been free-floating, untethered from land, caste, and history.  There is no point in being mired in a Hobbesian short, nasty, and brutish life when aspiration cleanses the spirit and makes all seem within reach.  Hollywood and Las Vegas are America; so virtual reality was only the next step, conclusive that reality is not all it’s cracked up to be. When the symbiosis between electronic media and human brain is complete and each of us will be able to create visions like no other, tethered to nothing, a world of our own making based on nothing more than desire and peculiarity.

Thomas Hobbes Quotes

In other words reality is but a convenience.  ‘Blue’ is a convention regardless how each of us see it. Trees always make noises because the laws of physics say they do, regardless of any metaphysical issues. Simply because reality is a convenience and an integral part of our daily lives, many of us are reluctant to give it up.  Those who believe in alternate universes, astral projection, and impossible physics are kooks, outliers, not to be taken seriously. Yet when virtual reality become a reality, all these theories will be acceptable.  Logic will be an option.

Why should anyone prefer the humdrum, prosaic, and entirely predictable world of brick-and-mortar experience when one can explore the jungles of the Amazon, dine with the Duchesse de Nantes in her chateau, stroll through the gardens of Versailles to the music of Bach played by Louis’ own chamber orchestra, bed Scarlett Johansson, Marilyn Monroe, and Marisa Tomei, travel to Mars, and sample concoctions of the most famous chefs that have ever lived? No one.

Few of us bother about abstruse concepts; and it is probably a good thing.  We have enough on our plates without adding metaphysical doubt.  Others worry obsessively about current events; and even those who correctly see them within the context of history and realize that plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, wonder how we got ourselves in such a pickle.  It would be too much to ask to reflect on the nature of reality.

The train has left the station.  Virtual reality, complete symbiosis between mind and machine, Artificial Intelligence, and the loosening of logic’s hold are the future.

The comedian and political commentator Bill Maher recently criticized Zuckerberg and Meta, urging young people to reject this fantasy virtual world.  ‘Get off the couch and get a girlfriend’, he said.  A real girlfriend.  But he and others who are desperately holding on to a fading, passé world do not get it, can never get it.  They are too wedded to the real taste of a cold beer, the soft touch of a woman’s breast, the bracing cold of an October morning; when the virtual representations of them will be even more exciting, more stimulating.

There will be no mediation in this new virtual world.  The bright red leaves of Vermont will be exactly the red we want to see – brighter, more vivid, more spectacular; or more subtle, muted, and nostalgic.  Fall will be our Fall, not Vermont’s.

Donald Trump is the first President to have understood the real ethos of America – the America of the movies, the fabulous spin of advertising, and the marvelous tales of happiness.  We are not upset about fake news because we have always lived in a world of subjective truth; and in reaching that conclusion we are no different than metaphysicians like Bishop Berkeley who asked ‘what is, and how do we know it?’. 

He and later philosophers questioned the nature of perception and how it determines reality.  Berkeley’s question ‘If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it fall, does it make a sound?’ suggested the subjectivity of reality.  Artists like Browning, Durrell, and Kurosawa suggested that although there might be such a thing as reality, it is only relative  - what one observes. 

Hubbard's ReelzChannel picks up Miss USA pageant after Trump flap

Each of these writers and filmmakers told stories from the perspective of different characters, all of whom saw the same event differently.  Police forensic psychologists have known that eyewitnesses cannot be trusted.  They are too influenced by prior events, social conditioning, personality, and personal circumstance to be counted on for objective accuracy.

We come by this understanding via a different route.  A culture based on image, fantasy, and fabulous dreams cannot but value the subjective over the objective.  Why is it necessary to pin down Donald Trump down when we don’t care about whatever truth may underlay is confabulations.  We viscerally, subjectively, and passionately get his message, spun like a true carny barker or televangelist.  

The new world of ChatGPT is our medium, for now the demarcation between real and fake, subjective and objective, imagined and happened has disappeared. With its marvelous ability to change anyone into anything, weave the most believable but untrue stories about them, place them in setting where they would never go , ChatGPT is revolutionary.  It is hilarious to see Joe Biden as the transgender drag queen he champions. Any speech, any public appearance can be wholly, absolutely, completely fake, so ‘real’ that no one can tell the difference.

Finally, say those who get Donald Trump.  Their man had it right from the beginning.  The truth itself is fake, the world is indeed a stage, we are all players and nothing more.  Only the entrenched Washington elite is upset by all of this, and damned determined to do something about it.  Rather than stop and think about how life will never be the same again, or that metaphysics texts will have to be rewritten, or that a virtual, subjective, fake life was always in play, in the cards, and a done deal centuries ago, politicians can only say, ‘Shut it down!’. 

Censorship is the easiest button to push. A priori judgements, always the stock in trade of progressives, are now becoming universal.  ChatGPT is wrong, bad, inhuman, destructive because it just is.  Tautology, another easy refuge, is back in vogue. 

The genie is out of the bottle, and there is no putting him back.  ‘Reality’ has become old-fashioned, out-of-date, and hopelessly useless as a marker.  Deconstructionists have nothing to deconstruct.  How can you deconstruct fiction?

Of course Iowa farmers will still produce corn, Walmart is still very much in business, Wall Street and the Fed will still determine how much and for how long; but they too eventually will be folded in to a radically transformed world.  And when the human genome is finally completely decoded and when human beings will have ultimate choice over who they want their children to be, and a whole new, engineered race emerges into a virtual world, the revolution will be complete.  There will be no going back.

So government is gearing up to clamp down.  This cannot stand! politicians howl when they see caricatures of themselves gone viral, lies and distortions of their policies spread by weird avatars, the world itself gone awry and completely crazy.

Big Brother in 1984 by George Orwell | Quotes & Character Analysis - Video  & Lesson Transcript | Study.com

Where did you think this whole identity thing was going? Thanks to ChatGPT you don’t have to dress like a woman, say you’re a woman, and use women’s facilities, you can be a woman and let your avatar do the talking for you. 

So, there will be a period of censure, extreme censorship, and media lockdowns; but none of it will have any impact whatsoever.  It’s too late. 

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