Clear skies in the Middle West. The sun goes down at 8:25pm, and the moon is in its last quarter. This morning I fed a robot a few sentences from the novel I’m writing, and it generated some startlingly accurate pictures. It also generated a complex headrush of emotions.

On a visceral level, it was unsettling to suddenly glimpse a fictional world I’d spent years imagining—and struggling to build with words. This uneasiness mingled with an undeniable wow factor, and I briefly imagined using this technology to create stunning mood boards and bleeding-edge pitch decks. But most of all, I felt a little dirty, as if sneaking a peek at someone else’s private dream.

There are knotty ethical issues to untangle, such as Charlie Warzel‘s observation that these systems are “trained on the creative work of countless artists, and so there’s a legitimate argument to be made that it is essentially laundering human creativity in some way for a commercial product.” And while this doesn’t sound much different from the advertising industry since the beginning of time, it’s another reminder that we’ll only have a worthwhile internet once we’re paid for our data.

But I’m more interested in how quickly I grew bored with this technology. I spent ten minutes conjuring fanciful scenes that my mind’s eye thought it would never see. Then I drifted back to editing my manuscript and organizing my mp3 collection. If you had told me twenty years ago that I could instantly illustrate anything that popped into my head, I would have burst with excitement at such a far-out future. Now that it’s here, I meet it with a shrug. I don’t know if this speaks more to my age, my character, or the world we’ve created.

Meanwhile, China is firing rods into the sky to make it rain.

Arpanet – Wireframe Images

Wireless Internet | Record Makers, 2002 | Bandcamp