Digital Dopplgangers

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, How They Met Themselves, watercolor, 1864 domain

Here we go, with another ‘leap’ in the A.I. revolution, digital copies being made of products, factories, towns, villages, animals and, ambitiously, of ourselves, our organs, even the entire universe:

A Digital Twin Might Just Save Your Life

I’m not sure about digital dopplegangers ‘saving my life’, but it is disconcerting to have a replica of all and sundry in a computer-simulated world. After all, art imitates life, but life also imitates art – and artificial intelligence. If it – and they who control the it – knows what you have done, and are doing, it also knows what you might do, or are likely to do. You can be prompted in various directions, in subtle and insidious ways, which algorithms on YouTube and other platforms already do. They know what presses your buttons, and what buttons you will press. And what of crimes that you ‘might’ commit?

It’s also a bit creepy that the current super-computer making models of these ‘digital twins’ is housed in what was a beautiful Catholic chapel, which, as an effect of Spain’s wholesale loss of the Faith, was left unused and eventually deconsecrated. Maybe the church would have been left to rack and ruin, but its nave now filled with a gleaming, glowing digital mind, humming away, its arterial-like cables throbbing with quasi-life. Deus ex machina becomes Deus est machina.

But A.I. is not God, nor life, nor is it real. Perhaps there are benefits to digital hearts and lungs and even persons – I’m intrigued by models of animal, drug and surgical trials, without having to perform them in ‘real life’ – but, as the article itself warns, we should beware of the liabilities and dangers, before life becomes art, and we cannot tell the difference. There’s already conspiracy theories that Princess Kate’s video confessing her cancer diagnosis was in reality – pardon the irony – a digital double. Alas. The genie may be out of the bottle, and it’s going to tough to stuff him back in. It may be time for all of us to unplug, drop out, soak in some sunshine and breathe in some fresh air. They can’t simulate that…yet.

(And, yes, it is truly I writing this – believe it, or not)