VOL 1, NO 4

Artificial inelegance. / Do androids dream of a sociology final about to begin even though you haven’t been to class all year (and, in fact, graduated nearly 25 years ago)?

Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen host a podcast called “Dudesy” with an “AI” also called “Dudesy” because branding is important. That’s about all I know about that (although I was a big Mad TV fan back in the day). The Dudesy dudes then pointed the Dudesy dudebot at George Carlin, creating an hour-long special [Link comes and goes.] in his style and voice, and thus a fresh can of worms was opened upon this world.

I did not listen to the whole thing, but just enough to be made uncomfortable in the uncanny valley of humour, where you innocently look at the ethereal shape of a familiar(ish) joke and only lifeless doll-eyes stare back.

And that was the general consensus: this is a bad imitation of a comedy legend. So the lawsuit claiming damage to the Carlin’s legacy seems a little specious. ❝It is a piece of computer-generated click-bait which detracts from the value of Carlin’s comedic works and harms his reputation.❞ If anything, Dudesy has highlighted intangible qualities, some unique to humans, some specific to George Carlin. Call it consciousness, call it genius, call it the soul, there is a void in Dudesy’s impression that is simultaneously difficult to define, but also generally agreed upon. Neat trick, but we listened to George Carlin and you, sir, are no George Carlin.

Legally, this lives in the same grey copyright area as everything else in AI right now. These things are trained on human-created content — dare I say it, “Art” — and then they regurgitate the average of what they learned. As an atheist, I guess I believe every person is the sum total of the things put into them and a person’s ideas are just a manifestation of that, and AI is doing more or less the same thing. I’m not sure I’m quite there yet, though. But still, interesting stuff. All this existential dread over machines that can’t quite understand context or fingers makes for good discourse.

Unfortunately, it’s mostly moot. Under the bright lights of The Legal Process©️, Dudesy the show has conceded that Dudesy the bot is actually just Dudesy the fictional character and the Carlin routine was entirely written by one of the Dudesy dudes. Weirdly, writing a bunch of jokes that sound like a robot doing an impression of George Carlin is a more artistic endeavour than making a robot do an impression of George Carlin, and they totally nailed it!

All of that said, I would probably not be okay if someone I loved was brought back from the dead in the most Black Mirror of ways. Kind of a dick move.

More adventures in AI. / Someone finished Keith Haring’s finished unfinished work, Unfinished Painting, which also raises fun questions about humanity and art, but mostly people just got really mad about it. / A profile of Lucian Grainge, which looks at the music industry’s approach to AI. ❝Universal’s stock fell by roughly twenty per cent between February and mid-May, over concerns about generative A.I. eroding the value of its copyrights. (The stock has since recovered, and is near an all-time high.)❞ So everyone is clearly being reasonable. / The Taylor Swift Machine is mobilizing.

Tyler Hellard @poploser