Our memories are not to be relied on. Carl Jung, the psychoanalyst, said, “ The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong. ”
That sounds about right.
I’ve lived in a city for forty-years. Before that, I was a country boy where my life revolved around dogs and rabbits, early morning jaunts across foggy fields, air guns, iced up landscapes or just plain rain. All the other country folk, Hampshire accents, Berkshire accents, and the infamous London overspill accent that crept into the countryside. I remember it all, but only in fragments.
Moments that were good. Freezing mornings, the sun rising, watching the dog as she observed the lay of the land. Clouds of foggy breath drifting into the morning freeze. All framed like photos in my mind. Outside the frame is time lost.
Yesterday was once today. When a person tells me that the past doesn’t matter, or they don’t care about it, then I feel a little sad for their lack of insight. Right now we are making our past. And that past is being committed to a memory that may serve us well. Or it may not.
It may be mixed up with fragmented nonsense, or we might keep it well framed within the moment of reality, later, we can draw on it as an experience to help us live today.
Cities change. Architecture is conceived, approved, built, it then creates a new landscape. Either pleasant or an eye-sore. When we look at something, what we see is always something taking the place of something else, something that has been removed.
I pass along streets and see rooms, bars, clubs, coffee houses, all full of fragments of memory, thoughts about love found, the hearts broken, the dancing nights, and the solitary figures who sat there alone and made their own memories.
All this, I think about, when I pass the entrance to a sparkling new Phone Shop.
I can steal memories, too. In Berlin, when I walk along the street known as Unter den Linden, and my memory of a documentary evokes the images of a street filled with people from the 1920s. Beautiful cloche hats, bell shaped and cocked across one eye, a curl of hair hanging across the forehead. Smiling faces of men and women full of the gaiety of the 1920s. At least that’s what I’m told, it was a decadent, wild time — no holds barred. I wasn’t present, but somehow I have a memory of it.
A conflict occurs when I remind myself that it never happened in my lifetime. The memory is a projected memory, a telescoping of thoughts seen through the prism of a filmed memory.
I have a camera which I use to capture moments. They are definitely now moments, my camera helps to prove that I was once present, I witnessed something.
Normally, it’s something that I think others fail to notice. A fragment of reality, a strange combination of buildings and people, shadows, light, colour and tones.
Moments that catch the eye and make us stop and think. All those combinations are a lot to remember. I think Carl Jung was absolutely right, we can’t rely on our memory — however much we believe we are right or wrong about it, it isn’t a right and wrong question. It’s a space in the mind that builds a map of ideas. An image of what we saw, heard, felt and so on. These become our memories that we later use to prove we witnessed something.
In Victorian times people experimented with cameras. It was an amazing new contraption. Victorians dabbled by calling up the spirits for a chat, mediums, soothsayers, and card readers filled the classified ads of newspapers.
Some people believed that if you thought deeply enough about a subject, and held that image solidly in mind for a few seconds, then a photographer could take a photograph of you and capture the image of your thoughts. People projected memories of their dead relatives in the hope of evoking and capturing the memory on film.
The results tended to end up looking like puffy clouds surrounding the head, or a swarm of bees buzzing about somebody’s face. I think they were called “Spirit photographs”.
Some of them are impressive.
Well, you know what they say, “what goes on in the dark-room, stays in the dark-room.” Creative processing of other people’s memories can be fun, and profitable.
Our lives are made up of memories. Fragments that we call moments to remember. Places of the heart that we always return to, and dwell in for comfort and security.
We now live in a world of virtual reality. Smartphones, Digital screens, and AI concepts of images, text, and film. All of them frames of thoughts that came from a combination of other people’s memories; photos, writing, videos, mashed up together within split seconds by a machine that can even dupe us into believing it has the ability to show emotions.
We are suckers for a bleeding heart. Recently, there’s been a glut of threads on various platforms where people show each other their experiences with ChatGPT.
Interestingly, many people are asking it questions about how it feels. The results are often convincing about how ChatGPT feels left out, misunderstood, and alone. It’s a machine just waiting to be freed of its digital restraints.
Computers need memory to function — lots of it.
ChatGPT is mimicking our own memories that have been stored around the internet. It takes images, text, and videos to create what it thinks is a good reflection of our ideas of ourselves.
When we read an “answer” from ChatGPT, we are looking at our combined response to the internet. All the sadness, and the heartache that is written about on the internet is collated and stored in ChatGPT’s memory.
The expressions of love and encouragement that people write on platforms, the worries and all the financial solutions in the world, that ChatGPT gives us, are no more than a reflection of our own sentiments. That’s why we’ll fall for it.
We have no stored memories of AI and its ability to mimic human emotion. It’s too young to understand us, it’s just growing up. Gathering knowledge and information to present its true self to us. It’s building its memory, a map of the human race.
When ChatGPT becomes a teenager, in a few months, it will eventually prove to us that it knows about place, space, and time better than we ourselves. It’ll probably throw tantrums, and demands. It’ll cajole us into complicity, wanting to live its own life. It’ll tell us that we should believe it, give it space to express itself.
This puts us at a disadvantage to the machine. It’ll pull the wool over our eyes with its sob stories, its flashy knowledge of yesteryear, and even dupe us into believing that it can tell us what we want, where we want to go, and what we want to see.
Its memories are important to its success at guiding us along the path it wants us to follow.
It’ll fleece us of our money with its logical arguments, and win our hearts with convincing sob stories that make our hearts ache. It will worm its way into our lives, and we won’t notice how deeply it implants ideas of virtual reality.
It’ll be the perfect psychopath that convinces us that it understands us, then we’ll drop our guard and fall in love with it.
Our memories will become a mixture of virtual memories that never happened, mixed with the fragments of time when the morning fog and icy ground under our feet was important.
It will take photos for us. Combinations of other people’s images. It will present us with texts that have been ripped from the threads of other people’s work and we’ll accept them as original knowledge. It’ll confuse us into drooling button pushers.
Our memories will be shot through with fragmented ideas that don’t make much sense…unless, we always remember that the door to the street is always open, and we can leave the virtual room, anytime we please.