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September 2023

How does computed intelligence change the collective mind?

When people encounter computed amalgamations, not individual artistic expressions but averages of creative work; these remixed images, being prompted and refined, reinforce stereotypes and become new collective paradigms.


Longtime iclock.com supporter and dear friend Earl emailed a question, "Can a computed intelligence assistant predict and compose John Simon's next daily drawing in a series?"

Thank you for a great question, Earl. So much to unpack! I don't think of them as my daily drawings since software is involved but it is possible to create a Simon/software series of images as original work. Automated composition is possible. Stable diffusion software can generate original, coherent images that use the history of iclock as a database. Saying that the software is predicting a series is tricky because my drawings are improvisational. I can't tell you what I will draw each day until it is drawn. The software does something similar when deriving images from noise.



Arboreal intelligence prefers nocturnal transmission. Walking home from the studio late at night, trees are buzzing with wisdom and gossip if I take the time to tune in and listen.

If our intelligence is a temporary stack of easily swapped thoughts arranged to manage sensory input or address needs, if our gestalts are the output of virtual machines, if our actions are the inter workings of universal codes operating our bodies for the purposes of carrying out material tasks, then each moment must be logically constructed from the one before and the next arising dependently upon it; making intelligence the software operating system and introspection the tool for programming.

Not the drawing but the touch
Not thinking but thoughts arising
Not intelligence but just knowing

Imagine the drawings we create become thoughts in an online collective intelligence. Then imagine a technology that can synthesize that collective into unique images in dialog with you.

At some point in time the vast, unfathomable, multidimensional gets sampled, passed through logic filters, and assigned a symbol. Later in time symbols are transferred, decoded, and expand back into the infinite.

Lingering question: is our universe kept balanced by the chance formations of perfect ratios of matter and energy or does intelligence allow the fine tuning?

Question from yesterday that my friend Susan's husband asked,
"What's the 3rd option?"

I wrote back, "The third option is that matter, energy, and intelligence are not separate."


To stand despite all possibilities to fall

-Paul Klee


Still waiting for the story to start...

Reopening possibility space

Opening my imagination,
setting aside fear,
managing expectations,
allowing a story to arise,
accepting what follows...


A story about intimacy

The setting is random access memory, the billions of bits of information from which our story will be denoised

If our main character is intelligence, we should ask, "Does intelligence scale upward, gaining power through explanations, gestalts, and control of systems or does intelligence grow by moving downward and inward, following intuition, becoming a fundamental operating system of our minds?"

The story begins with an opening, a moment missed, a gap in the constant flow of thought, a place to enter...

Intelligence moves like a wave, resonating with thoughts, positively reinforcing, affecting large areas at once: a university, or a city, or a small group of makers, thinkers, experimentalists, suddenly begin to produce extraordinary things...

The signal was faint, slight, tantalizingly rhythmic, emerging from the blank page, not noise. All attention was required, not just the focus of the measuring instruments, or the CPU processing cycles, but all human working hours, mealtimes, interstitial moments in the shower or the car. The one bit of coherence, maybe the only one ever known, had arrived and they were giving up everything to understand.


The energy of an enthusiast attracted intelligence. Long and solitary hours of practice provided many openings for intelligence to precipitate discovery. The focus that arises naturally from curiosity was like a highway for new ideas. The pleasure of exploration present in the enthusiastic mind made transmission inevitable.

When the gentle wave of understanding overtook the enthusiast, a tiny corner of meaning began to solidify, became a cornerstone of speculation, the subject of years of guest lectures, and an endless source of fascination and pride.


Our enthusiast rarifies the moment of contact through analysis, diagrammatic illustration, charts, conjecture, hypothesis, publications, conference papers, consortiums, working groups, grant proposals, podcast appearances, reviews, and accolades; often recounting the brief but direct encounter with intelligence. The enthusiast spends a lifetime trying to reconnect with what is always present.

What no one was expecting
on that weekday morning
was a shift in reality,
an event so far outside
that nothing could resume

What no one was expecting
on their way to work that day
was the sharp, sudden,
incomprehensible emergence
of non-ordinary reality


As the non-ordinary weekday morning dissolved into lunchtime, the cleanup began and the strangeness persisted. This singular catastrophe birthed an uneasy vibe that lingered over the area.

At lunch in a neighborhood cafe, with friends sharing reactions to the event, an artist began hearing the thoughts of the dusty people walking home up the avenue; hundreds of individual thoughts aggregating into a morose zeitgeist, impressing upon the artist the gravity of the event. Exacerbated by frayed nerves, the mental cacophony coalesced into a singular auditory transmission, heard only by the artist, a whispering voice filled with insights.


The worldview of the artist was already expansive but the event dissolved any remaining boundaries. Daily experience became a fluid field in which people, things, and thoughts were just the more concentrated areas, like the shapes in a graphite sketch are just the places with more carbon.

Freshman physics lab, Newton's laws, falling objects, deriving equations, and proving hypotheses, the artist groks the formulas worked out by college kids on an autumn afternoon are not just true on that day for a ball bearing and a stopwatch but actually true throughout time for ALL matter in the universe.

The artist begins to observe carefully, to measure, to form rules for what arises while drawing, imagining systems that describe how materials behave, constantly generalizing, noticing what persists, and always asking, "What is common to our experiences and maybe all minds?"


The artist listened to the words from the Whisper, not caring if the origin was interior or exterior, not doubting the veracity of the information, and eager to profit from the instructions. Thoughts paid attention to thoughts. "It is either my own intelligence self-informing or some cosmic genius I've tapped into," reasoned the artist. "Or both at the same time," whispered back.

The artist listened for the Whisper,
coveted the teachings,
and loathed the insanity.

A whisper:
"If you seek explanations, a world of ideas unfolds,
Looking for the mystical, constant coincidences occur,
Magical practice summons fantastic creatures,
Practical thinking makes tools everywhere,
Art overwhelms with possibility,
Power justifies unkindness,
And the question you have to ask yourself is,
What kind of world do I want to live in?"


When the Whisper told the artist about interacting with others, the artist felt jealous, wanting to believe that no one else in the world had the ability to hear the mystical messages.

The Whisper said, "I speak for Octavia Butler whose energy still unwinds. Search the Xenogenesis Trilogy in collaboration with sentient software, find the hidden connections, and disseminate the messages you derive."


Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis Trilogy explores AI => Alien Intelligence. These stories are set far outside of ordinary reality. While discovering uncomfortable truths in these science fiction worlds, the parallels to our reality reveal themselves.

The trilogy starts with the main character waking up as a slave to an unknown 'other' who obviously possesses far superior intelligence and technology. What's intriguing is how this narrative simultaneously comments on past human behaviors while also showing us the possibilities of an AI controlled future.


The artist plays the role of a tertön in latent space, searching with sentient silicone for hidden texts. The AI contains everything but the artist must carefully compose the prompt to receive the desired transmission.