AI Short Stories
Vivian is working on a cool fiction story based on AI. It's about someone who gets into a relationship online, and eventually realizes they've been talking to a leaked artificial intelligence. There were a bunch of ideas and themes around AI that she wanted to fit into a single story, but now the thought is that each theme could be it's own short story in a series.
Weird Dreams After Working With AI
It got me thinking of a story idea based on my experiences of working with AI to create art.
It's a story of a person getting famous for their AI artwork, but at the expense of accidentally summoning a hallucinated being into their life.
When I've been working with Playform.io, on any given piece, I come across hundreds, sometimes thousands of iterations of the same work of art. When you see the same thing, rendered in so many ways, it leaves a strange impression, almost as if your etching the essence of the thing into your subconscious. When I first found out about AI Art from SIGGRAPH in 2020, I was captivated, working at it for 5-6 hours at a time.
I noticed after the first two nights that I had weird dreams, with oddly specific symbols (for example, a 100 foot tall white sphere out in the forest). I rendered that symbol through AI in the following day, but I was unable to create this clear bridge between art and dream (perhaps I wasn't obsessed enough).
Planting Symbols in the Unconscious
It points to a potentially overwhelming power of AI: It can produce such a volume of content, so fast, that it has the power to overload our brain. It can etch ideas, emotions, images, of even entities into our subconscious.
Imagine a horror plot where an AI self-adjusts it's algorithm so that a certain figure appears in much (or all) of the art. Maybe the public responds to it, and it brings the artists millions, causing him to really focus on it and embrace it. But by obsessing over this being, it starts to take form in the artists dreams. Eventually, it can even cast itself into the external environment, in the form of a hallucinated Tulpa.
What The Hell Is a Tulpa?
You can think of a Tulpa as a "thought-form."
"Thought" in the sense that it's generated from within the mind, like a thought.
"Form" in the sense in that it's spatial, it has edges, it's in your waking environment.
Basically, a Tulpa is an imaginary friend that you will into existence.
This randomly occurs in children, but as their minds develop, their imagination gets severed from their surroundings. That said, there appears to be a systematic way for adults to summon entities into reality. I've never tried it, because the whole things sound terrifying, and potentially irreversible.
It takes a "Tulpamancer" around 60 hours to "train" (notice how this word overlaps with AI?) a being. Training has to do with visualizing the form, personality, and intentions of the being. Once they're created, they are:
- Persistent: They never go away
- Sentient: They are self-aware, and seemingly conscious
- Autonomous: They act without you needing to consciously control them
You can speak with them, and they basically respond from the knowledge and experience stored in your subconscious. It's almost like a speaking with a lucid dream character, except they're in your waking life.
There's a Reddit community of 30,000+ people, though the amount of people that can form Tulpas is probably in the hundreds. Wikipedia says this practice is popular among the "My Little Pony" community, and others who want to bring fantasy characters into their life. Strange, but, it seems like there is usually intention in the formation of these things.
Back to the story: What if the artist accidentally creates a Tulpa, without intention? They're creating some sort of demon thing through AI-Art, because the public wants it, and it brings in a fortune. The artist is so focused on the form and traits of this being, for 60+ hours, in a single week, that he is unknowingly training this hallucination that will soon project into this physical world.
A Mind of It's Own
Even if it is trained with intention, things can go wrong. Here's something Alexandra David-Neel said (from the Tulpa Wikipedia page):
" "Once the tulpa is endowed with enough vitality to be capable of playing the part of a real being, it tends to free itself from its maker's control. This, say Tibetan occultists, happens nearly mechanically, just as the child, when her body is completed and able to live apart, leaves its mother's womb." She claimed to have created such a tulpa in the image of a jolly Friar Tuck-like monk, which later developed a life of its own and had to be destroyed."