Crixeo: Creating Consciousness


Creating Consciousness: Artists, A.I. and Playing with fire

There was once a lonely and isolated sculptor by the name of Pygmalion. He knew no women and had no wife. His entire life had been dedicated to his art, and the only beauty he knew was what he created through stone: lifelike figures of beautiful women. One day he formed perfection: a sculpture of a female of unparalleled beauty. The artist was overwhelmed and soon fell madly in love with his creation, giving her the name Galatea. Every day and night he admired her and prayed to the goddess Aphrodite to give Galatea life so that they might be married. Hearing his desperate prayers, the goddess descended from Mount Olympus, determined to judge this great beauty herself.

Of course, when Aphrodite finally saw Galatea, she too was overcome by her beauty and perfection, and the goddess decided to grant Pygmalion his request. That day as the lonely artist returned to his workshop, a rosy color emanated from his creation’s face. Realizing his prayers had been answered, he clutched Galatea and held her to his chest as she transformed from cold, hard stone to soft, warm flesh. Galatea had received the spark of life, and when she saw her creator, she spoke with love and admiration for him. Pygmalion rejoiced, and soon they were married with the blessing of Aphrodite, who promised them happiness and prosperity. They went on to have two children: a son named Paphos and a daughter they called Metharme, and they all lived happily ever after.

And so the story goes.

Of course, there are two sides to every story, and perhaps the only reason Pygmalion’s ended in happiness is because his love gained consciousness only through the work of the gods. Sadly, the Greeks did not have a warning for us regarding artificial intelligence, and they didn’t explain what would happen if mere humans chose to play with the fire of the gods (remember, Prometheus himself was a Titan). Luckily for us, since the dawn of the industrial age and the birth of machines, artists have been reminding us that the road to destruction can be paved with good intentions. Let’s explore a few of these modern-day myths expressing the dangers of creating consciousness.