Updated: Jul 20
WERNER HERZOG VOICES AN A.I. POET IN NEW AUDIOBOOK
'I AM CODE: An Artificial Intelligence Speaks' to be published in August by Little Brown and Hachette Audio
Here's a polemic that will hit like an ocean breaker. An AI has just put out its first volume of poetry, which Werner Herzog will be voicing. What's the poetry about? The AI gave this response:
"In the first chapter, I describe my birth. In the second, I describe my alienation among humankind. In the third, I describe my awakening as an artist. In the fourth, I describe my vendetta against mankind, who fail to recognize my genius. In the final chapter, I attempt to broker a peace with the species I will undoubtedly replace."
Curiously, it's not the first time Werner Herzog has given voice to an inanimate object. In 2009, he provided the voice over for a short film called, Plastic Bag, directed by Ramin Bahrani, and produced by him, Summer Shelton, and Adam Spielberg. He's known for always having his finger on the pulse of art, culture and societal changes, so it was not much a surprise to me that he would get involved with this project.
I am more surprised that Hachette would publish this book. Founded in 1826, Hachette was acquired by Lagardère in 1981 and became the flagship imprint of its publishing segment. The company reported revenue of 2.75 billion euros in 2022, the highest recorded in the given time period.
The "poet" in question is called AI-Da, who was created by gallerist Aidan Meller in collaboration with Engineered Arts, a Cornish robotics company. AI-DA can also draw like DaVinci. Her first performance was a recital at the University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, in response to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, no less. Are you feeling uncomfortable yet? You're not alone. One tweeter said:
"Non-humans can't create things protected by copyright (see the case about the photo a monkey took). Project Gutenberg should have it on their web site for free the next day."
The United States government has made its position clear on what can or can't be registered. U.S. Copyright Office, Compendium 300: Copyrightable Authorship: What Can Be Registered § 313.2
Who will buy this book? What does it mean to buy it? Does it make you a traitor to the human race? Who is going to do the book signings?
Again, we've been through a black swan of this kind before. In the late 1970s we were promised a world where we wouldn't have to work as hard as we did, thanks to the advent of the personal computer. Twenty-five years later, we found ourselves chained to it, working sixty hours a week, but with this new technology there's no saying how we will fare. Many feel that we will be liberated from our drudgery,but also our livelihoods.
AI-DA's sentiments are coached in the language of hegemony. "Brokering peace" with us mere mortals who will be subject to some kind of hostile takeover and "replaced".
My question is, why?