unburdening me of the troubling thoughts
Wednesday, March 22 2023
Overnight I had trouble sleeping as I considered the horror of the imminent ascendance of artificial intelligence (AI). Interestingly, one of the things that demoralizes me so much about it is how it trivializes anything I might hope to accomplish in my life. If a brilliant AI is about to come along that makes my intelligence antlike in comparison, what is the point in creation at all? Any paintings I might paint or text I might type is an embarrassment compared to what is coming. It's been a long time since ruminating over something left me in such a funk. The last time I felt anything like this was back in 2006 as I pondered the arrival of peak oil, which, ironically, had it arrived and done what I'd expected it to, would've already forestalled the arrival of the technological singularity.
When I got up this morning, my highest priority was to write my thoughts about this down while they were fresh in my brain. I was rather proud of the result and even suggested it to an online site I frequent as an opinion piece (but, unsurprisingly, they never got back to me). Producing that document had the hoped-for effect of unburdening me of the troubling thoughts. That's one of the many virtues of writing things down.
Today was another beautiful springlike day and I heard the first phoebe of the year monotonously pronouncing the English word for that kind of bird. They always arrive on this day every year, plus or minus only one (or at most two) days.
I took a recreational percocet in the late morning, hoping it would further quell my anxiety about the robot takevoer. It felt good for no more than about five minutes once it kicked in. Soon thereafter, I felt unsettled and mildly ill. I thought maybe alcohol would help.
Under my drinking rules, I can't just drink alcohol. I have to fulfill one of several rules, such as I've gone to a party or a restaurant, I am spending the night in some place other than Hurley, someone is spending the night in our house, or I have created something. My article about the inevitable AI takeover definitely qualified under that final criterion. Lacking anything to mix with my gin, I drove down to Stewarts hopefully to get some tonic water. But the only kind they sold was in a six pack of small bottles for $6, which to me seemed wasteful of both money and plastic. So I bought a single bottle of lemon-lime soda instead, along with a bag of Fritos and two cans of Stewarts-branded energy drink (all containing real sugar, as sugarless drinks taste off to me).
But I was unable to drink much alcohol. I drank a little and it just made me feel worse. By the mid afternoon I was also having to eat a lot of antacids, as the opioid had apparently relaxed the sphincter at the base of my esophagus.
At the end of the day, I went on a nice walk in the forest south of the house, starting up on the bluff there that is covered with a thick bed of reindeer moss. For the first time in years, I'd just been adding pinecones to the pinecone mound that serves as the headstone of Sally the Dog. Diane the Cat was intrigued by all this and followed me down the bluff, though I don't think she ever made it down to the Stick Trail. And I didn't end up going much beyond the stone wall, where I spent some time filling in a notch that had resulted from a minor rockslide.
There was lots of pad thai leftover from yesterday, so I didn't bother making dinner. But Gretchen wasn't much in the mood for that, so she heated a series of different frozen dinners, deciding she didn't like each one. She wrapped one of these in tortillas and tried to get me to eat it, but I had no appetite at all. After we watched two episodes of Jeopardy! together, I went off to take a nice hot solar-heated bath while listening to Noble Xenon read Reddit posts by and about "neckbeards," "nice guys," and incels. I also researched a hilarious (and sad) phenomenon I'd recently learned about: men not cleaning (or in some cases even washing) their assholes because of fears that doing anything to it would make them instantly gay.
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