Author : John Collins

I remember when they used to tell you that you can do anything. Now they say that machines can do anything. That is, except for one thing. There have been countless debates about the nature of intelligence, but one of the best, in my mind, is the argument that machines can’t be truly creative, that that is our talent and domain, and the sign of our intelligence over theirs.

Machines gave us a so-called post-scarcity world. One where whatever you need can be made and gotten out of a printer, a vending machine, or an online purchase. People work to provide needed services or for something to do, though even then there’s probably some robot or computer or gadget helping them. There’s no need for money anymore, though everything isn’t precisely free for everyone. That’s where my rant about creativity comes in.

In 320 N.C.E. (Neo-Colonial Era, or ‘Spacer’ era, probably around 3000 by the old Terran calendar), there’s one thing that keeps us around. We create. Really create, not just copy, imitate, or parody. The new economy, the new currency, is all about what you can create. And believe me, in some ways, it makes the old number-based trades look simple. It’s still a cutthroat world out there, though now they kill you with words, and bury you with poor reviews. If you’re putting some derivative, cliché-ridden rubbish out there, you’ll be caught instantly and castigated in the court of public opinion. Even the good ones have it hard trying to remain fresh and interesting.

Not that I’m complaining. Everything we dreamed of when we were stuck on one tiny planet has pretty much come to pass. Artificial intelligence has more than caught up with us in most respects, and if you want to see your friend from a colony out there, you just think it, and something will ID you by your brainwaves, ask you for a virtual setting, and you and your buddy will be together on an adventure in moments. Most personal vehicles fly themselves and draw on a kind of omnipresent energy known as ‘zero point’. No one starves, and we rarely get taken out by any diseases unless they’re some weird strain on another planet we didn’t account for. But if you want to be rich now, you want to be popular and influential, then write, paint, make holos or music or video games. But don’t perform the mortal sin of doing what’s been done before.

Unless, like me, you specialize in doing what’s been done. I’m a Mnemonic, someone who keeps our past alive by archiving and adapting and recreating, old media, new media, dream-captures, you name it. I’m a loophole in our system, and I love it. Whenever there are debates about history, a longing for long-gone art, they come to me. One day some machine’s going to take my job, but I’m going to hang on as long as I can. I’m the only one who can get away with being uncreative.

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