The American Poetry Review

OF UNBECOMING (The future of AI)

If in time the book-boxes in the cellar liftedout of your mind and garnished mine, what I would seemost is the meshing of the universe, not even,as tradition from Sappho to Euclid calls it, lovebut another sprite more broken up as if mathematical—one part concept, one part computation,powered by a relationship with a pencilinside the knuckles of a person learningto believe and to unknot belief into ratios,fractions, atomic ways of seeing,each grand time of lost purpose in cul-de-sacsis symmetrydepending on the hypothesis—something, not a feeling butprobably untestable, uncontestable maybe-truth—a character in a story that half-exists in the mind, you’d think(there, where you think (you think)) oh, this is not whatlove was supposed to be at all, it is breathing.Age catches up. Telescoped through boxed-up memorieswe think about stories: broken spirits, half-righted or lostto interior demons, murders folded up and shelved in cellarslike ours, letters acrobatic in mind-twist yearningsof the quietly brilliant on the edge of truer lives.One day, when the creature-artificial who createsequal intelligence and it, too, believes: it thinks.Maybe it will write letters and notice something is missing.Then and only then when human history fruitions itself(or so the AI thinks) past biological speciesinto means-end shared intelligence(but the computer is on scroll, all zeros and ones)your synapses firing into mine, from book-boxes cut open,pages flung open, typeset words from some old analog printing presswhich in 1440 defined and changed the way we understood timeflewPandora’s box-likeinto geographies of air.Once history was out of wisdom-keeping mindsand clearly stated on paper, recorded, distributed, archived,in offices, seminaries, schools, prayer-houses, libraries,it exploded knowledge. Wisdom-keepersand poet-historians decided they, too, would write on paper,bringing us back to this typewriter of the mind we will shareone day, approximately one and a half generations from nowbut you see the problem? Who will be contrarian fire-eyeddragoness and who will be the coal-eyed people of certitudeif structured, coded-in intelligence unpacks its suitcase in our mindsand moves in? Where will antiquity be, if not in our eyes?I don’t want blue eyes any more than freedom-skin that nevergrows old or micromotor pills fixing every toxin that everlived in my body with slow-release perfection taken twice dailyforever. Which reminds me of the time I ate orangeson top of Hadley Mountain, upstate, when you carried mehalfway up in your arms like a box when my muscles,losing autonomy, felt like skin and I sensed my skeletonmore profoundly than ever, as if it were telling me:you are not forever,not even in your sometimes-mind,and the accumulated years win. It was steep, like all learning.You cannot plug a hike in. So by now I am wonderingif sentient computers will ever learn to think or believe they thinkbecause with the right foot-treads it would be easy to climbover mud, rocks, water, branches, grasses, and gravel,and it wouldn’t matter if a thousand gnats were biting.No blood will come.A bloodless universe can’t redeem the world.Have we considered the coup of crimson sundown in leaveslashed with rainshowers when we wander, surprisedat how Eden it all is, to wander among old-oak reassuranceson brambly paths where all the information is biological.The together-mind people, even us, would not experience bliss.AI climbers, even if they climbed up five stories with meinto the steel firetower, I doubt they’d scream out,climbing on all fours against the hurricane of ordinary windso death won’t throw them off the ladder,it wouldn’t matter. I shook in alpine laughterunabated, and I tossed vowels into crazy wind becauseafter all it is a hyper-being feeling to see the countrysidecascading downward and upward at once, to measure lovein green that seems to go on forever, even if those colors are onlywavelengths aren’t they real if they produce feeling?I am inventing the end of myself in the collective futureof what history is, biological and shape-shiftinglike people themselves: quantum wave functions with valueswe think we know. Realities converge. This multiversein your book-boxes are the you of conversations,your love of reading and philosophy of landscapesaugmenting my love of reading and my philosophy of landscapesin unbearably solid, soon to be out of service, blood-pump reality.

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