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Ali Blank (Olena Sibiriakova): My vision of AI hasn’t changed much since I started working on the book. AI – is a high-functioning computer machine capable of automatically recognizing various kinds of information (for example, images, words and algorithms), processing and analyzing it. Over the past two years, the problem of ethical and practical aspects of implementing AI into everyday life became more relevant and pressing. This is why the first edition of the book included excerpts from  Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Professor Nick Bostrom (2014. Audible Inc.),  where he considered the progress of AI as a threat to the current social world order. Can artificial intelligence minimize aggression and violence in humans and reduce the need for warfare was one of the key questions I had as the author of the book. In the second edition I expanded the AI’s (which is female in the book) capacity scope by including modeling various threats that the program identifies (recognizes) and warns by all possible means. Terrorism, dictatorship, violence and even climate change were among those threats.    

Ali Blank: Rilke was addressing poets, capable of an artistic action and creation of texts-metaphors. Feelings and reactions to the current events are exactly what is missing in the software world, which is winning over masses’ sympathy. For recent generations these tragic events are best expressed through film dramas or computer games. A text (of the book) as an instrument of influence on the mass consciousness has now transformed into something rudimentary. Modern society has become a society of autism, literature has become an appendage to the video-entertainment industry, and reading books has become an eccentricity. Creative authorities of the modern world have to appeal not to poets, but to innovators who construct new realities and have mastered digital and media technologies: designers, engineers, politicians, finance experts and architects.

If I had to answer the question about a German-speaking poet who inspired me, I would name Erich Maria Remarque, and not Rilke. During the First World War, he spent only 50 days on the front, and during the Second he created only two novels: All Quiet on the Western Front and Borrowed Life. But it turned out to be more than enough to describe the poetics of War.  

Ali Blank: We all are curious about the premise of God and the concept of ultimate power. I think Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, which served as a base for Kubrick’s film, was more of an influence for me. It was American science fiction humanists: Simak, Hunline and Bradbury, who worked with notions of “divine principle” and “machine world”, and had always stayed on the side of Humanity that influenced my “God turned AI” vision. Most of them (except Ursula Leguin) were men, which is probably why it didn’t occur to them to explore a female essence, endowed with super-power and super-intelligence, solving a task of keeping the peace and balance on Earth with the speed of a quantum computer. Having worked on the second edition of “Transition Keeper: Monologies of the New Babylon”, I invite you to encourage discourse on world events like the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic. They are the reason why “Transition Keeper: Monologies of the New Babylon” now has got a new niche to recomprehend and rethink modern reality, which contains only threats, according to the German philosopher Gumbrecht. As an author, if I were to summarize the Transition Keeper: Monologies of the New Babylonin a single line, I would choose: “What would mankind be like if GOD, that was a Woman, decided to turn into a machine?” In the end, I want to ask you: what would happen if, one day, God turns into AI? Will we accept the change and alter our beliefs or rebel against it?

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