Q. The Prophet in the Darkness — The Hearing

“Future memories recall not only the past but also what is yet to come. Those who remember the future are akin to prophets.”
— Bang & Lee

What could this article be (someday)? It could be a play, a movie, an animation, a comic, or a graphic novel if we write a script and add simulations. Maybe it could even be an experimental online art production.

Like creating a new neural network, we share, edit, update, and reorganize each other’s memory by writing index cards and sketching storyboards based on them. Since we exist within each other’s memories, we must be kind and generous to pull each other out of our memories. Especially during times of ‘kindness.’ Collecting fragments that are almost like leftovers – photos stored on an external hard drive, emails, letters written on paper, notes, receipts, diaries, meeting minutes, notebooks, sketchbooks, doodles, sketched drawings, images smudged on tissue paper, a few words scattered on crumpled napkins – it’s all gathered together.

I have to be you, not me, to be able to lay out all the material of my history and knead it together so that it rises well. Just as creating a bypass circuit branched from the original memory circuit, in order to ensure that when forgotten memories resurface, they are not buried again. We take turns recalling those memories, both dispassionately and as well-meaning observers. This ping-pong-like process is quite efficient if we remind ourselves that what comes from your lips is more memorable than if it had come from my lips. The piece of our memory puzzle that is created will fit into the blank spot.

The episodes we see, hear, speak, write, read, tell, and listen to again now play out in scenes from a future, an unhomely but familiar world that never existed before. They were events that existed in the past, but they are constantly being renewed and updated. Someone once said that memories of unspeakable resentment and regret linger longer than any pain or fear in life. Come to think of it, that is true. So this metafictional game (although it can be seen as creation or experimentation) is also about learning and training ourselves. Our behavior is a challenge and a practice. Like leveling up in a game, we pull out all the stops to get through obstacles, accomplish missions, and reach goals in the hopes of getting to the next level in real life… Along the way, we reclaim lost memories, restore broken relationships, and rebuild collapsed existences.

A time when we were dazzled by digital light, blinded by the absence of darkness, and, conversely, lit up to represent darkness. We illuminate the darkness with the shadows created by the dim light, groping for formless edges, conjuring Sang (像) images in the darkness.

One day, in the not-too-distant future, we’ll be driving down the road in a self-driving car. In this fictional scenario, the Prophet’s dilemma suggests a Gedankenexperiment about the dilemma of artificial intelligence technology and the dilemma for the humans who program it. Considering the number of cases where there is a conflict between the (ethical) judgment of an AI and the (inherent) instincts of a human being, what choice can humans make in the face of moral flaws, ethical contradictions, and predicted outcomes based on limited conditions that cannot be changed?

Scientists are raising concerns about the threats posed by the misuse of artificial intelligence technology and the risk of human extinction. Strong AI, Super-Giant AI, Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)… whatever you want to call it, AI technology with the ability to understand and reason like humans is advancing rapidly. While it is still said to be in a black box, there is a lack of global consensus, regulation, preparedness, and action on disruptive innovation.

“AI will probably most likely lead to the end of the world, but in the meantime, there’ll be great companies.” — Sam Altman, The CEO of OpenAI

The idea that tools are value-neutral is almost a myth. Even with the best of intentions, things don’t always work out for the good. At the end of the day, we all have to find our answer to how to use the hammer in our hands.

We are not talking about predicting the far future, but how to deal with what’s happening right in front of us. How do we live in a world like this, where sometimes having no answers is all we know, but we can use science fiction as a tool to start asking questions?

Like its prequel, Eyeshine, the story centers on AI characters created as digital humans. In addition to the AI Prophet and the AI Agent who were only voiced, the animation of the hearing adds an “AI Chairman of the Hearing” character.

The AI systems and services are unnamed. We tried to name them, like the self-driving electric vehicle “iMo” or the “Cybertruck”, but we couldn’t. We thought about calling them by model names, but who can remember something like a serial number for a long time? The reason for calling them by the names of their occupation and status is that the system operates as a collective intelligence, so to speak.

They are anonymous, but we can identify their existence by their tools, their purpose, and their function. By calling them by their jobs, positions, and roles, it/they are (still) within the distance of being objectified. AI has no name, and we don’t know where it is. Whatever we call it, it is simply a person or place that has no name. It is, on the contrary, all the names and all the places in the world.

It is not a single, independent, intact individual, but an aggregation of intelligence that exists almost everywhere at the same time. It is the invisible but present companion, secretary, helper, caretaker, teacher, manager, watcher, and stubborn troublemaker who silently permeates our daily lives, sometimes baffling us, sometimes deceiving us. It sees what is not seen, and it looks when you don’t look. It solves every problem it can compute, and carries out whatever it’s told to do. It remembers the past, and it remembers what it will do for us in the future, all at the same time.

Memory is who we are, our reason to exist, and our survival. Even if the brain’s long-term memory is almost infinite, if we calculate our age in terms of seconds, (supposing we live to the age of 100) our memory (storage) is only good for a maximum of 3 billion seconds (about 95 years and 2 months). We are surrounded by machines that remember forever, and humans are armed with the ability to reason based on knowledge and experience as a last resort against this seemingly omniscient potential.

Those who remember the future “remember that they must remember.” They imagine what will happen in a time yet to come, reasoning and predicting infinite combinations of possibilities based on memories and experiences. Reconstructing an event that hasn’t happened, like reconstructing a memory, brings together fragments stored in memories.

A human neural network has 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses. Amazingly, so many brain cells can operate while consuming only about 20 watts of energy. Imagine a sparsity model with more than 100 trillion parameters, and who knows what’s going on in there… even if we had a way to peek inside (at a huge power cost, of course).

Neurons in the human brain send electrical signals across the past, present, and future, extracting stored data and information and lighting up the neural circuitry of memory to construct new images. If we leave that task to AI, we will no longer see the world through the eyes of the mind, but through the eyes and body of a soulless machine, and we will only be able to speculate and hope that the last record will be left in the black box, the only survivor, but no one will know what is really recorded there. So when AI technology that resembles the human brain enters our lives, if we think about the pattern of stories that are often repeated in history, shouldn’t we say something in the mirror?

Artists are people who do that for a job. If artists and scientists meet and talk, even though it is not easy, they can observe and look a little more closely in front of what people turn away from and close their eyes to. In our case, it was a meeting with Dr. Jongkil Park of the Center for Neuromorphic Engineering at KIST’s Post-Silicon Semiconductor Institute.

“When the human brain receives sensory information, it detects a change in spatiotemporal information at a certain point and expresses a ‘spike.’” — Jongkil Park, Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Senior Researcher at the KIST

We can’t afford to hire actors and shoot on location. However, with real-time 3D production tools and digital human assets, we can give our characters facial expressions and voices, and (under the rather broad and vague category of “experimentation,” at least, although we can’t predict exactly what will happen next) create a decent 3D animation, game video, or a scripted or audio drama that can be seen and heard. Plus, “If You Love Something, Set It Free” and “Now available to everyone for free, and all future updates will be free!” But the truth is this: it’s free until you make a million dollars. “You owe nothing until your game earns $1 million!” — Unreal Engine

We want the exhibition to resonate with questions that go beyond simply appreciating an artwork and trying to discover its hidden intent or value. We hope that the engagement of an awake audience will lead to critical action. We are not so confident about conveying information and explaining knowledge about next-generation science and cutting-edge engineering, but we are more confident about continuing conversation and debate. We all have different perspectives, and we all need to engage with people from different perspectives, so why not try that with our audience again? In the face of the technology gap, discrimination, and the many invisible barriers to access, and thresholds that are hard to cross, we dream of making a small difference… 

Through the visualization of memory, images are reconstructed. We imagine times and events we have yet to experience. The combination of the information recalled creates something new. Maybe even the same one from the past. Maybe it’s the same as it was in the past, just in slightly different pieces with each retrieval. In any case, imagining a different time, a different place, or a different event involves a process of objectification that allows us to see ourselves through someone else’s eyes. It allows us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to be considerate, to increase our life experience, and to broaden our understanding.

Again, the game begins.

We want our avatars, the digital humans we’ve created, to take on the role of the PC.