Does This Evoke Empathy?

  • Posted on: 4 June 2019
  • By: C.J.
image from BoingBoing.net showing article headline and teaser

BoingBoing shows a video glitching and like a carnival barker, shouts: "Watch an AI-generated human face become monstrous as its neural network decays!"

Okay, I added the exclamation point. The sideshow-attraction style is from the original. Here's the link: https://boingboing.net/2019/06/04/watch-an-ai-generated-human-fa.html

Does this inspire empathy or fear? Via the magic of RSS readers I was reading the text before I saw any images. The video itself is from a different site: https://vimeo.com/337909277

Reading the text, I felt sorry for the AI, losing its memory like that. Possibly like the person who loses those kinds of mental functions, the AI is not even aware of the degradation. My own experience with the losses of my relatives suggest that there is little distinction, but a great deal of deserved respect, between a person losing memories and abilities. Then, I saw the graphic.

And that's quite the different evocation, right there! Of course, along with body horror was the threat of mortality--my own, that is. Watching the video, I could feel the revulsion, but with it, a sense that I was the one bringing the horror. I was still aggregating distinctions that were lost to the AI. "What I saw before the darkness" is an apt title, for me. My own experience with persistence of vision mixed with a greedy pre-visual cortex meant that I have seen many horrible and delightful visions right before 'darkness' overtakes them.

My relatives were still there, because I was holding on to them, as little-by-little, their personalities and memories slipped away. What slipped away was on me.