Death rattle in the dream machine

· 3 min read
Death rattle in the dream machine

Content warning: This piece contains strong language and themes. Hide your children. Avert your eyes.

For the last 17 years, whenever the bell would ring, Pavlov would pick up his phone like a trained dog. The endless stream of social media sewage would flood his brain with the latest inane bullshit from his so-called friends, family, work, and whatever vapid celebrity or other candyass nonsense Pavlov would indulge during his bathroom breaks at his soul-sucking Home Depot job. Now, the bell tolls, Pavlov salivates, and his phone delivers an unending deluge of pure, unadulterated digital excrement.

This week, the internet is drowning in a cesspool of content vomited out by the latest Frankenstein from Luma Labs, the so-called Dream Machine. In case you were too busy jerking off to tentacle porn, Dream Machine is a text-to-video abomination that can take any still image, even your grandma's dusty photos from the Paleolithic era, and turn it into a high-quality, realistic video that will make you question your own damn existence. Since its release, the unwashed masses have been generating videos of everything from still photos of flappers from the Roaring Twenties, to single frames yanked from classic films, to their own cock-eyed portraits and duck-faced selfies.

Sure, AI may be coming for our jobs like a thief in the night, but first it's skull-fucking our minds. Between the relentless spam, the armies of bots, and the general din of six billion brains screaming into the void, the internet was already a cacophonous hellscape that made the seventh circle of Dante's Inferno look like a Sandals resort. As we guzzled from this toxic stream like junkies jonesing for a fix, our already fragmented attention spans shriveled up and died, making the average goldfish look like a Zen master by comparison. We are all Ten Second Tom, stumbling through life with the mental capacity of a brain-damaged squirrel. Actually, scratch that – Goldy the Goldfish supposedly has an attention span of nine seconds, so we're more like Eight Second Eric or Seven Second Steve, our brains dribbling out of our ears like rancid pudding.

But wait, there's more! The next thing AI is ripping away from us like a sadistic dentist is our very senses themselves. We used to talk about the "suspension of disbelief" when it came to fiction, the idea that we could willingly put aside our doubts and buy into the made-up world of a story. But now, with the rise of deepfakes, fake news, and other reality-bending fuckery, we're living in a "suspension of belief." We can't trust a goddamn thing our eyes see, our ears hear, or our smooth brains try to comprehend. That inspiring video of a handicapped puppy learning to walk again? Generated by an AI. That news story about a Florida man marrying an alligator? Probably true, but who the fuck knows anymore. We're all just floating in a sea of illusion and lies, grasping for something solid to cling to as the current drags us under.

But the ultimate mind-fuck, the coup de grâce that AI is gleefully delivering to our soon-to-be-obsolete species, is the hollowing out of our very souls. All the things that once made us human – our creativity, our ingenuity, our ability to transmute our suffering into art — are being strip-mined and commodified by the soulless machines. We used to marvel at a painting or a poem, not just for the end product, but for the blood, sweat and tears that some tortured artist poured into it. The act of creation was a defiant middle finger to the cold, uncaring universe that spawned us. But now, with AI shitting out paintings and stories and symphonies like a coked-up assembly line, the results feel like soulless pornography — all surface level titillation with no deeper meaning. We're becoming nothing more than empty meat sacks, swiping and scrolling our way to oblivion, oblivious to the yawning void where our humanity used to reside.

So here we are, fellow apes, staring down the barrel of our own obsolescence, masturbating to AI-generated waifus as the machines sharpen their knives and lick their digital lips. The future is here and it tastes like silicon and ashes.  Long live the new flesh, you dumb bastards. Hope you brought lube.