Paul looked in the mirror, and said out loud, “You handsome devil you.”
Paul Decker had just turned 91 years old, which he didn’t exactly feel was that much of an accomplishment. He knew that if he did not get struck by a bolt of lightning or some other life-threatening incident, he was probably good for another 60 years. As the day went on he started to do a little reminiscing the year he was born was 1993. He grew up in a small town in Kansas, he thought to himself, “What an innocent time that was.” It wasn’t long before he started to think about his parents, both deceased. Paul remembered when he was 27 years old in the year 2020 there was a pandemic and unfortunately his father passed away due to a virus that nobody seemed to clearly understand what it was all about.
It wasn’t too many years later that his mother passed on. He often thought if they both could have lived a little bit longer there would’ve been a treatment for all diseases and their life expectancy would’ve doubled.
Paul went outside and sat down in his favorite porch chair. It was one of those that should’ve been thrown away. He thought to himself, “This chair certainly wasn’t designed for any kind of comfort.” The antique chair with its synthetic seat probably was made around 2030; it did have some interesting conveniences though, a built-in cooling and heating unit that controlled its temperature, dictated by the weather and the desires of the person seated. Paul looked around at his surroundings. He was quite comfortable with the way he was living, as was the case for most everyone. Ever since artificial intelligence started taking everything over the typical idea of going to work no longer existed.
“So much has changed over the past 50 years.” he thought to himself. The one thing that bothered him most was how people lost the ability to be creative with their hands. He remembered his mother was a very good painter, he used to daydream while looking at her artworks. “It’s almost impossible to find anything that even resembles a handmade painting, anymore.” he thought as the sorrowful emotions welled up inside.
The idea of handmade art was virtually nonexistent. Just like the technology in medical science that will keep Paul alive well into the 2130s. Everything that man historically had done creatively with his hands had been replaced. Art was all digital and could be brought up to view by just simply thinking about it. Music was no longer composed by man. Intelligent machines could out create and outperform any musician or orchestra. The entertainment industry was all run by bots, even the actors and actresses were flesh on the outside but filled with amazing amounts of components that were built by other bots.
With a lot of anguish in his thoughts, Paul believed that a lot of this started when man started creating human organs using 3D printing. It wasn’t too long after that just about everything was being done by machines. The cultivating and distribution of food, apparel and even entertainment was all being managed by computers. Artificial intelligence by Paul’s way of thinking sucked the energy out of everyone’s mind. He knew he benefited from 3D printing early on, because by this time, at age 91 he was practically bionic. His liver, that wasn’t healthy even when he was in his 30’s and was starting to deteriorate. He had it replaced along with other organs, joints, and vital parts during different stages of his life. Paul loved to say, to anyone who would listen, “Anything that a man can conceive, a machine can achieve, only a hell of a lot better!”
“I’m thankful, I managed to maintain some of my creative inheritance from my mother’s genes,” he thought as he went back inside his home, which was located in a somewhat rural part of New Mexico. Very few people lived in cities anymore the population of the United States all lived in small communities spread throughout the country. Most people who actually worked, could work from wherever they happen to be, as a society everyone was connected through various forms of wave technologies. Most household needs, if not all were delivered by drones or by vehicles that were powered by the sun and had no operators.
Paul thought to himself, “I should be happy, and yes I’ve been married three times and have several children, none of which I see except on various devices that project images, seen in, on and around me.” “Some life! No one has the opportunity to create anything, especially with their hands, everything is provided. This is no way to live.”
As Paul walked through his living room and went to a small hidden chamber he kept below his house, he decided all this complaining really wasn’t getting him anywhere. “You couldn’t even depend on a significant other in your life. People were changing partners almost as often as they changed their stain resistant fiber clothing.” He blamed that on the ease of communicating with people that had no allegiance to anything but themselves and their bizarre proclivities. Most everyone seemed to live principally for any gratification they could get, to relieve the boredom of not being productive.
Paul went into his subterranean hideout, that virtually no one knew about. There he had a hidden treasure trove of art supplies. There he painted mostly scenes he remembered from childhood. He experienced a private joy that somehow grounded him in a reality that no longer existed in the contemporary world outside. Paul often repeated to himself, “This is art for art’s sake.” He remembered his mother saying that to him, when she wasn’t particularly pleased with the outcome of the painting she had been working on for days.
The next morning was Saturday, not that it really meant anything to people. Weekends that people used to recover from their week of labor, didn’t really matter anymore. Over the years, various governments from around the world developed programs to provide all the basic needs people require to exist. Of course certain people were more privileged than others, they were better connected to the political ruling class. The people in charge lived extremely well. Now ruled by group think, which wasn’t the logic that Paul remembered back in the 20’s. It was essentially, legislatively gone. Ironically, when Paul compared those days to how people live now, he thought “No one really seems to care now. Maybe because no one has to be innovative or creative anymore, they just exist for temporal pleasures.”
That Saturday afternoon, Paul decided to visit the small town that was near his home. Even though it was several miles away, he could take one of the trams that zigzagged all over the country. Within an hour he was walking around the little community. There were restaurants that provided food through automation there were no servers. You simply sat down, looked at a screen, selected the food you wanted to eat and within minutes an uncommunicative bot politely set it down in front of you. When he did go into town, he always ate by himself. He took great joy in watching others around him, he derived great pleasure in trying to decipher their mannerisms and what may be going on inside their heads and lives. While smirking he thought to himself, “Vacuous… vacuousness.” Of course he also had the feeling that a certain percentage of the people he saw were androids; they were so perfectly made it was difficult to separate them from the human population.
Paul got up from the table, and went for a walk. A short distance away from the restaurant was a little store that provided take away beverages, both with government regulated stimulants that were designed not to harm anyone, but it would allow them to become more passive and less bored. They were designed to allow you to take a fantasy trip to just about any destination you could conjure up. Most people took these calming beverages home where they could indulge in a chemical induced fantasy that led them into a more peaceful state.
As he looked around the store he spotted a very attractive woman, guessing she was probably in her 80s, but like most women, she had the benefit of maintaining the beauty of her youth; thanks to invasive and noninvasive procedures. He went up to her and politely asked her name. Past experiences caused him to be cautious and to analyse her response. There were always androids mixed in with the population; most people consider them an annoyance but they also knew they were there to maintain public safety. The woman looked back at Paul and said in a very charming manner “My name is Carissa Montgomery, what is yours… and are you real?”
Paul replied with a smile that rapidly turned into a full on grin. “Yes, I’m real, and I am not loaded with wires and circuits.” Then he jokingly said. “Well that’s not exactly true, I do have some hardware in me keeping me going from various operations I have had along the way. I’m 91 years old and my name is Paul Decker.
Paul looked at Carissa from head to toe, and spotted something that he was sure virtually no one else would recognize. She had a small dot of paint, that he was sure was artist’s oil paint. Something you would never see in a spotless society especially when people were out and about. He thought to himself, “I’m hoping what I’m seeing is real oil paint, the kind artist used to use decades ago.” He did not want to confront her with his observation. He asked her if she would like to go for a walk and she quickly agreed.
Paul stopped her when they reached a relatively quiet spot where no one else was around. He looked her dead in the eye, and asked, “Do you own paintbrushes that were used many years ago?”
She very straightforwardly answered, “Yes, I just happen to. Why do you ask? Am I breaking some sort of rule or law?”
“No…not that I’m aware of.” Paul became very confident in what he knew and discovered. He proceeded to ask her a few more questions before he revealed to her what he was doing in his underground art studio. “I thought you were an artist.”
“I am, how could you know that?” Carissa asked. “I spotted a small dot of paint on your clothing and I did pick up a very faint odor of mineral spirits.” Carissa replied to Paul. “You’ve gotta be kidding me as far as I know I don’t have any paint on me I make sure that before I ever leave my home. How could you see such a small dot from a distance?”
Paul, with a sheepish grin replied. “Well I have 2010 vision and I suspect you probably have at least 2020 vision these days.”
It wasn’t long before Paul and Carissa got into a deep discussion about the disappearance of traditional creativity and why they decided to make a covert practice of making art. Carissa told Paul, “I actually belong to a group of very creative and talented people, each of us practices various forms of art. Some are sculptors, others compose music, some are writers. We even have poets and people that create movies.”
Paul, standing there with his mouth wide open could not believe what he was hearing, he suspected there were other people out there creating art, but they were in hiding. Paul asked Carissa, “Do you think that I could join this cadre?
Carissa replied, “Well, there is no bizarre initiation to join in with us. You just have to promise not to reveal what we’re doing to non creative people. They don’t understand we think these are the kind of people that can look through a keyhole with both eyes, you know very narrow minded.”
What you’re reading has a reasonable chance of becoming true; and there are many young people that are alive today that will live to see the year 2084. I can only hope and pray that Ai-technology, androids, and bots won’t become the creative force they potentially are capable of becoming. I believe the spirit of man will know when to differentiate human originality from that put forth by machines. The future will ensure long life spans for almost everyone with many years to create. It will be up to future generations to make sure that man and woman always maintain the stewardship of human creativity. 2084 may be closer than you think!
I would love to hear your thoughts on the future of creativity.
Rod Jones artist-writer
Copyright 2020 © Rod Jones artist-writer