AI Art + Baseline Outrage in Unfair Societies

in #art2 years ago


Above is a piece of art from my new NFT collection Small Gods of Time Travel. It was generated by artificial intelligence from the words 'you are the one percent,' which is the 20th chapter of the book connected to the collection. The NFT can be found here on objkt for 5xtz.

Chapter 1

There was a tassel bouncing back and forth on the teacher's hat. Kell fixated on that tassel until the day's lesson was over. Afterwards, falling into step with his friend Xera, Kell couldn't remember anything about the lesson. "I didn't understand the teacher," he said. "What was the message again?"

"Kell!" said Xera. "Did you even watch the scene he projected?"

"We watched it before," said Kell. "It was the one they use to talk about baseline outrage in unfair societies. I just didn't hear what he said about it."

"That indulging our outrage from time to time was healthy, but carrying it like a weight primes us to make bad choices," said Xera. "For example, I'm outraged that I had to tell you that. It was your responsibility to pay attention and you didn't. But I'll get over it by the time I get home. So it's okay."

Their houses were across the main path from one another. Xera lived with eight family members and had household responsibilities to see to. Kell was the last child to remain at home. His parents were older, and they ate together only once a week. Dropping his school supplies at home, Kell hopped on a neighborhood trolley, then boarded a fast trolley to the city center, headed for an edgy projection house called Thirst.

Thirst didn't have the nicest projection stage. Its bar had ups and downs and oro sap, but none of the fancier drinks. Known disreputable persons frequented the establishment. And yet, the place was always crowded, because the scenes projected on its stage were unlike anything being shown anywhere else.

Fetching a helping of oro sap from the bar, Kell found a seat and quickly became absorbed in the scene that was playing. It was a montage of scenes from different times and places strung together by software to tell a story. As the story's characters spoke, their words were translated and transmitted by radio for audience members like Kell to receive.

There was a man, beloved by many, who was killed. One of the killers was caught and punished while the other escaped, aided by influential men that were secretly involved. This killing was just a small piece of a big picture that protected the interests of a select few at the expense of everyone else. The final clip was the murder of students by soldiers.

"I've seen you here before," said an older woman sitting next to Kell. "What did you think of the show?"

"I like the ones that focus on a single person living their lives," said Kell.

"But don't you find their political intrigue fascinating?" asked the woman.

"A little," said Kell. "But I'm more interested in imagining myself in their shoes. They say our biology is just like theirs. Our planets are similar. We're just a tiny bit more advanced than they are. But our worlds are so different."

"I can give you the coordinates of some truly fascinating lives," said the woman. "You're young. Do you like the sexy ones? The funny ones?"

"My favorite right now is about a guy my age who doesn't have a house," said Kell. "He sleeps in unused properties and is sent to jail many times for it. Do you have anything like that?"

"I have a young man swimming with delightful marine mammals called dolphins," said the woman. "And a young woman forced to work at a fish preservation factory."

"That could be interesting," said Kell. "Trade you a montage of a failed revolution?"

"Great," said the woman, finding the coordinates on her handset. "Here you go."

They traded data and the next show began. This one opened with a rural tribe. The tribe was living peacefully until outsiders introduced a new easy food source. This disrupted the tribe's power relationships and provoked great hostility. Kell was bored.

During the intermission, Kell saw his friend Horner across the room. Horner always had the best coordinates. Kell smiled as he approached. "How's life with the archivists?" he asked.

"You should join and find out," said Horner.

"Maybe I will," said Kell. "But I'm worried doing it for a job would take the fun out of it. And why shouldn't I spend a few more years in school? That's what my parents want."

"We both know you're bored by school," said Horner. "You should've left already, but you're in love with your friend Xera."

Kell flushed, knowing that arguing would only deepen his embarrassment. "How hard is archivist training, really?" he asked. "It can't be that hard if you're doing it."

"The general training isn't bad," said Horner. "That's what I'm doing. We learn how to use the scene capture devices and calculate probable past and future states from an origin. Engineers have a more intense program. So do teachers, and entertainers. But all of that comes after the first year lessons, which even I am managing with little trouble."

"What about realtime capture?" asked Kell. "Have you learned that yet?"

Horner grinned. "I'm studying the theory," he said. "Learning it alongside interventionist theory. Did you know there's an intervention event scheduled for today? It's probably happening right now. I can bring you to an archivist stage if you want to see it."

"What are they doing?" asked Kell. "If it's just flashing lights into the Earthling's skies like they always do, I'll pass."

"They're projecting a triangle shape, to be seen by earthling aircraft," said Horner. "There won't be any solid matter transfer. Only light. But it might be cool."

"Maybe next time," said Kell. "To be honest, the whole interventionist plan makes me a little nervous. I mean, what happens if the plan works, and the Earthlings realize that we watch them and know everything about them?"

"An interventionist would say that this knowledge will encourage them to behave more ethically," said Horner.

"But what do you say?" asked Kell.

"I say our society needs them," said Horner. "We rely on their stories and need these stories to continue unfolding. When they started building nuclear weapons, they threatened us as well as themselves. I'm not sure that the interventionist plan is the best way, but we did have to take some action."

Read my novels:

See my NFTs

  • Small Gods of Time Travel is a 41 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt that goes with my book by the same name.
  • History and the Machine is a 20 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on my series of oil paintings of interesting people from history.
  • Artifacts of Mind Control is a 15 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on declassified CIA documents from the MKULTRA program.