I have a love-hate relationship with computers. I love the ease of typing, I love the internet, I love my Facebook; I love cake wrecks and mcmansion hell and checking the news every five minutes. But they frighten me just the same. Maybe it’s just my love of Kubrick and my ability to quote dialogue from 2001: A Space Odyssey at awkward intervals, but something about artificial intelligence gives me the creeps. When my husband kindly updated my laptop to Windows 10 without telling me, I was terrified of Cortana. She always seemed offended, for some reason.
And I’ve made no secret of the fact that I dislike Christmas kitsch.
Well, somebody just created my worst nightmare: a type of artificial intelligence, known as “recurrent neural network,” which can spontaneously write Christmas songs when shown a stock Christmas photo. Here is the result:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U95n2ldx9To
Lots to decorate the room.
The Christmas Tree is filled with flowers.
I swear it is Christmas Eve.
I hope that is what you say.
The best Christmas present in the world is a blessing.
I’ve always been there for the rest of our lives.
A hundred and a half hour ago.
I’m glad to meet you.
I can hear the music coming from the hall.
A fairy tale.
A Christmas tree.
There are lots and lots of flowers.
Somebody went to college and got a PhD to learn to make the computer do that. Somebody got paid to make the computer do that.
Poetry wise, the computer generated Christmas carol is not exactly “Adam Lay Ybounden,” but it’s better than the Christmas carol the radio keeps playing around here, where the lady attempts to rhyme “the milk was all drunk” with “nothing but crumbs.”
I hope they went ahead and copyrighted “The best Christmas gift in the world is a blessing.” because that’s going to be showing up on sweatshirts and church banners next holiday season.
And then it’s back to horror. “I swear it is Christmas Eve. I hope that is what you say.” That’s what the malfunctioning android says just before he massacres the entire laboratory’s worth of scientists and starts the nuclear war fail safe countdown, and you and I both know it.
“There are lots and lots of flowers.” The creature is less than human, but it wants to be human. It wants to understand. It feels the first rumblings of childlike wonder in its sterile metal gut, and it wants to comprehend these organisms its creators call flowers. It wants to find expression for what it feels, this thing human beings call aesthetic delight. It wants to touch them. It can’t be said to feel their velvety petals, but it longs to feel. When it inevitably goes on a rampage, we will be sorry for it. We will weep when the heroes manage to shut down the vile abomination. We will feel for it as it takes one final look at the garden, the delicate roses all going up in smoke. The first law of robotics is, you don’t talk about the first law of robotics. I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore.
Chilling. Just chilling.
(image via Pixabay)