"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

When All News Is Fake News - Artificial Intelligence And The Happy Demise Of 'The Truth'

Donald Trump was on to something when he branded everything coming out of CNN and MSNBC 'fake news'.  Of course their news was pure and utter fakery, nothing more than a cherry-picked show-and-tell, hammering this one and sanctifying that one, rants and screeds, selling misfortune and happenstance  really only storybook tales of baby foxes and rabbits, dungeons and dragons, or the bald, invented, hilarious fiction of 'the truth'. 

CNN presenters were hucksters, snake oil salesmen, carny barkers and Borscht Belt tummlers with not a whit of serious investigative journalism because numbers not only lie, they are bo-ring. The business of television news is not to tell the truth, but to sell fiction and peanut butter, Toyotas, and beer. 

The shoe could have just as easily been on the other foot.  No one has ever claimed that Fox News or Breitbart were anything less than vaudeville, facts removed to make room for the jugglers and comedians; but the nature of this two-sided coin is irrelevant.  The public doesn't want anything resembling the truth, only what seems to them to be the truth.  

Why should anyone assume that a population weaned on Hollywood, Las Vegas, soap operas, carnivals, and revivals wants anything but showmanship and a good ride?  When have politicians offered anything other than Christmas lists? 

Evangelists are the best tooth fairies ever.  They work with the most lucrative product imaginable and the most saleable fiction ever devised - an unprovable god and his unlikely promise of salvation.  "Faith", they shout.  "Have faith and God's light will shine on you. Take Jesus Christ as your personal savior, and his kingdom will be yours".  A shell game, a pyramid scheme of fantastic proportions, and this fake news of all possible fake news is a big time moneymaker. 


So it isn't hard to jump to conclusions about anything else. If millions can take the Bible as the actual word of God and believe that every word, in every translation in every language is His and his alone, then believing in any lesser assumption is child's play.  

Secularists suffer from the same delusion but do not have any Child's Garden Book of Verse to cite. They believe in what they say is 'the obvious', oxymorons and tautologies all, illogical deceptive fictions based on air.  'The science', that absolutely confirmed, ineluctable truth which must be believed despite Ptolemy, homunculi, mal aria, the Heisenberg Principle, and Quantum Physics, the latter two disciplines which suggest that there is no certainty but uncertainty. 

'Science is evolving', said Dr Fauci, better safe than sorry, and to be sure schools were shuttered, businesses closed, social patterns interrupted, the entire flux of life dammed.  'AIDS is everyone's disease', said the gay men's coalition in San Francisco in the world's greatest self-serving fiction and contributor to the spread of the disease.  Neither COVID nor AIDS were treated as epidemics - find the vector and isolate it.  The science? Where?


Now comes Artificial Intelligence, that powerful cybernetic tool which can transform reality.  Anyone with a PC can create likenesses of presidents and movie stars, weave fabulist stories about them, create a series of alternate realities and send them virally across the ether.  Was that really Joe Biden, a swishy gay man pitching Bud Light?  Sure could have been, the way Joe looks and smiles and talks; and was that Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez at a Trump rally? Could have been, a Latino looker with a good voice. And Greta Thunberg asking women to give up their battery-powered vibrators to save energy and the planet?

The examples are endless and the promise limitless.  For the first time in human history, reality is on the fast way out.  Only the virtual, fake, artificial world will remain.  And no one really cares. Virtual reality - a world created subjectively, a personalized dream world where history is rewritten, reshot, and reconfigured to be one's on version of the way things happen - will always be preferable to bricks and mortar, the cold, hard ground of the steppes, hectoring wives, mothers-in-law, and jury duty. 

The point is that no one cares except those in Washington with time on their hands and money to be made for doing something, anything to show they are serious about governance and reform.  Stop it! Shut it down! Cancel it! they shout worried silly about their avatars showing up, thanks to AI, in the most unsavory places.  If Joe Biden can look convincingly like a swishy South Beach gay man, then God knows what they will become; so get rid of it!

Of course they can do nothing of the kind.  Not only is the genie out of the bottle, but the people love him.  He is an American icon, the very image of A Thousand and One Nights in cracker and bass boat country.  Already we have become dependent on AI, use it at will, creating, re-creating, coloring, and inventing.  How fun is that!?

The truth pales in comparison with the ingenuity, balletic moves, and pure theatricality of invention, fantasy, and clever deceit. Ivan’s Devil in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov is a vaudevillian who tells Ivan that the world would be a very dull place without him. Goodness, truth, and morality are very overrated, and if we had to hew to the righteous road every day, we would be bored stiff. “Loosen up”, he admonishes Ivan. There is a time and place for moral rectitude and principle, but Lord knows, not always.

Image result for images ivan's devil
Imagine a world where every statement was true; if  “I’m just going to pop out to get a quart of milk” was always exactly what the speaker intended? A world where ‘working late at the office’ meant just that?.  A world of absolute face value?

A man I know only dated ‘theatrical’ women – women for whom face value did not matter. Embellishing the truth was no different than eye shadow, makeup, or a sequined dress.  For them music always had to be playing, for atmosphere, mood, and ambiance were all part of staging.  His women were all scrim, orchestra lighting, grand entrances, and death scenes.

“Who cares?”, he said. “Who needs to know? It’s what they say, not what they do that counts”.  For him a woman’s personality was a function of her reconfiguring of reality, not her truthful account of it.  A woman was alluring in direct proportion to the ingenuity of her inventions.

A number of years ago an aged aunt had sunk into dementia. Fortunately she did not see demons as many demented people do, but simply altered the world to her own pleasant imaginings.  She told friends and family that the Pope had visited her convalescent home; that the manager had arranged a male strip show; and that she had been invited to the Copa by Tony Bennett.  Where she got these and other ideas was beyond anyone, but in any case she made no sense whatsoever.  

Yet the woman had not changed one bit.  She was the same irreverent, funny, ironic, and playful woman she had always been.  Her personality had not changed in this new invented world. Once in her fabulist, listeners could enjoy being with her in Europe, at the Vatican, or in Pink Flamingos.

In many ways her demented world was a far happier one than she actually led; which is why virtual reality has such promise.  Why be anchored to what is when you can travel in unlimited fantastical virtual worlds of your own choosing?  The aged aunt gave us all a glimpse of what that world might be like.  It wasn’t frightening at all.

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