Exquisite Corpus

An experiment using the Talk 2 Transformer neural network to collaborate on a short piece of writing, completing my prompts turn and turn about. Bold is me, regular the machine.

Images generated by cycling through This Person Does Not Exist looking for messianic grins and fleshy glitch artefacts

To create a new messiah. It was perfectly possible, insisted Avery. It had been done before, many times. The current challenge was the lead-time. A messiah was needed in the wild within twelve months. The job was to hew an individual from the raw clay of biography: documents, images, internet presence. Proof of success would be followers. There should be a literal trail: on the mantlepiece, a toothbrush, a razor blade, a pair of underwear with blood stains, a sample of their hair, a strand of their DNA. A constant feedback loop of interaction would be necessary to maintain credibility. Only the virtual would count. The messiah would not be allowed to speak to the public or take part in a traditional election. ‘The Messenger,’ the Times said on its front page. The Messenger. The Christ, as we would come to know it.

As did the anonymous administrators of the forum, some people objected to the call for an ancient, pre-Christian ‘messiah.’ Christ would not serve as the figurehead for the power elite. The Messiah would be, from the outside, an archetypal cult leader – charismatic, visionary, but controlling, also, because that was the key, was it not? Control. Always control. Those privileged few ‘made conscious’ of the inner working of the operation – the elite, apparently ignoring The Messiah – would know that he was spun from the most abstract materials, the swirling mesh of data about people and situations, essentially, without ever being alive – how then was he really manipulating their behaviour? In what way? We were all being preyed on – every person had to report his own actions to whoever was in charge in his particular way, or else – by what medium? – the silence and anonymity of an electronic blog would be questioned, the stridency of a personal Facebook post forced out into the light. He would control the internet, or she would. She was the ‘she’.

Proof of success would be followers, as he had said. They would grow this network in their online petri dish and watch the bacteria multiply, and they would tag all the bacteria and link their chats into surveillance nets.

From there, the watchful watched the bacteria grow to the point of infection. I told Avery that I was fascinated. I thought maybe he had some bugs that were smarter than the bacteria, but still infected by the same digital ecosystem. He said, “It’s not bugs. It’s a real intelligence agent. I would give that agent a sophisticated AI interface that would allow it to interface with the digital world. That would be the next version of the host.”

“Behold the parasites.”

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