Sanding down the edges until we fit.
There should be a lot to say. The sun peeped out, peering through the clouds. Birds are chattering – I think it is because I see the squirrel is acrobatically dangling from the tree branch and blocking all other access to bird seed. It’s a very cute squirrel, and when I reloaded the feeder, it sat on a branch and squawked at me in a strange squirrel language through the window. I am not sure if it was thanks, or a request for a different brand of seeds.
I’m doing a course on translation, and animal to human communication doesn’t come up, unless Walter Benjamin wrote something on it, which he might have done, despite his obsession with the changing urban landscape. But it is something interesting to think of – aside from Dr. Doolittle, there isn’t a lot (that I know of at least) about humans and animals communicating. Yes – there is that stupid show about how to be an alpha to your tyrannical Pug dog but that’s not really the same. Translation is functional now – Google can do it. And getting a message across in any language seems to be about making sure that hierarchical structures hold true, so that there are no mixed messages about who is on top. That would be terrible.
Algorithms and AI are both forms of translation – they both learn a language, then feed it back to us. Masticado as in Spanish – our own ideas, but regurgitated and fed back to us so that we recognize them. Which things to buy or now with AI, how to convince people that the ideas are authentic and worthy of a grade, or a purchase.
I suppose we get what we deserve. Not wanting individuality, or what passes for surprise, we put small stores out of business. Now uniformity comes around to get us. Colleges scrambling to figure out how to tell if a student wrote a paper or a computer did. As long as it spits out what you expected, do you care? Maybe if the idea was to look for original thought, it wouldn’t be such a problem. But in trying to assess, the rubrics sand down the edges – and here we are. Beauty is no longer a consideration unless it affords pleasure, social rank. Aesthetics – designed to show that the language is the same. Translation – or a simplified version of communication used for trade? That was the case long ago, and here we are back at it. Except that now it is not transaction that is being homogenized, but thought itself.
Thought is now subject to whether it will be appealing.
It was brought up to me that the length of a book could be shortened by using smaller type face, thereby not frightening off consumers, who might be daunted by something that had too many pages. However many that is.
I could just do a “Book-Tok” and save everyone a lot of work.
So which language do we translate ourselves into? Isn’t that the work of life?
Or just the most easily readable? The most frightening? A sexualized cipher, for sale to the highest bidder? The latest trend, whatever that is this year?
If a bird or a squirrel likes a particular type of seed, it makes sense.
If the well-meaning or merely bossy are attempting to chip away at the whole, thinking it will fit into the square more easily, that’s a different matter. The town square. Be another Starbucks. Then you’ll be happy. And make sure it’s less than 500 pages, because you know what they say.
Wait for the AI to tell you.