Human genius lies in anticipating and proposing worlds before they are created. These are founded on the imagination. In the inexhaustible power that human creativity unleashes when it wants to exceed the limits of what is known. This is how progress is fertilized and humanity advances. Something that has made human beings irreplaceable until now. Not only because it has driven scientific and technical evolution, but because it has pushed our gaze with anticipations that dreamed of the unknown. That projected us beyond the borders of the possible.
That’s what Velázquez did in Las Meninas. It jumped forward three and a half centuries and offered us a preview of the possibilities that artificial intelligence (AI)-based technology is capable of providing us today through, for example, the metaverse. He did it through imagination, desire and the provocation that human nonconformity contains towards the experience of the immediate. Something that now, when AI struggles to take away from human beings the ability to create, even in the field of art and knowledge, gives us clues as to where to direct our steps as the essentially creative species that we are and must continue to be in the future. future.
If we want GPT-3, Dall-E or Mindjourney, to name some AIs that have caused a great social impact in recent times, not to replace human creativity within the process of generalized automation to which we are exposed and that transforms humanity In a technological civilization, human beings must give up competing with them. To do this, we have to raise our expectations and get out of the framework that AI will do faster and better, to claim and see ourselves as a creative species that has the exclusive task of continuing to imagine the future.
This is the way to put ourselves above the technique even if it surpasses us in capabilities, which is what will happen with the AI as time goes on. Let us recover Ortega and make our own the reflection that he made when he maintained that the meaning of technique is to put itself at the service of the human imagination, making it possible. The human being, thought our philosopher, has technical capacity because his intelligence is capable of creating vital projects that anchor in the future thanks to his ability to fantasize and thus overcome the essentially needy context that defines him. A power of figuration that the machine does not have and that leads the human being to emancipate himself from the present thanks, as Ortega said, to the technical act.
Hegemonizing this capacity for imaginative emancipation is what human beings must promote in the future in their relationship with machines. Especially since the AI won’t be able to do it until it becomes a general or strong AI. That is, an intelligence parallel to that of humans but with the capacity to understand its own contexts, attribute changing meaning markings to its performance in reality and, finally, reach a notion close to common sense. And even so, it is difficult to venture whether, based on this common sense, AI will be able to imagine worlds and anticipate them as Velázquez did.
Precisely, Las Meninas It is an example that shows us where the superiority of human intelligence lies and how we have a moral obligation to promote it if we want to continue leading the technological civilization that we are promoting with our automation. Among other things, because it is born from fantasy and the search for answers that satisfy our unlimited vocation for well-being in contexts in need of it.
Which is what happens with Velázquez when he offers us a look that upsets the very perspective of the Renaissance and takes it further than imagined by its promoters. What’s more, he places us before a potentially immersive experience despite the fact that the infosphere did not exist then nor was it expected. And he did it by fantasizing beyond what perspective was capable of showing, which was a lot, since he changed the view of the West by proposing a three-dimensional technique that facilitated a form of representation that emulated the experience of the world through a surface. two-dimensional.
The possibility of visualizing a three-dimensional reality on the surface of a painting not only laid the foundations of modernity, but, as we see through Velázquez’s fantasizing power, it led us on an itinerary that gave us the opportunity to jump inside the painting. of Las Meninas and be part of the same effect of three-dimensionality that he painted before our eyes. In doing so, she gave us the representation of an immersive experience before it happened thanks to the metaverse.
With this genius stroke of anticipation, our universal painter proposed a look that, as Foucault saw, seized the viewer with his eyes and forced him to enter the painting. In this way, he made possible with his imaginative proposal what three centuries later does, for example, artificial intelligence through the metaverse: giving us the opportunity to enter inside Las Meninas, cross the room and reflect ourselves in the mirror in the background that appears in the famous canvas to hide the image of the kings and advance towards that mysterious vanishing point that, in the upper corner of the canvas, opens a door for us to wander with our fantasy through the mythical Alcázar de los Austrias and, even, going out to Madrid in 1656, which was when the painting was painted.
Velázquez was ahead of our time by imagining something that is now possible. A feat that shows how technology does not have to be dystopian if the human being empowers himself over it and makes it possible for his intelligence to increase and not shrink. Hence, when AI begins to challenge our creative capacity, it is more necessary than ever to strengthen our confidence in human ingenuity, in its genius. For this, the superiority of human intelligence must be resignified qualitatively. Allocate it to complement the AI with anticipatory looks in which the creative genius of our species in front of the machines is filtered.
A company that does not admit delay. At least if we want to guide the machines and direct them towards jobs that human intelligence must stop performing if it wants to focus on those others that allow it to jump from specific knowledge, which must be reserved for AI, to locate itself in the most general and superiors that should lead us to restore the forgotten wisdom.
We fail not by dreaming, but by not doing it hard enough. Let’s harness AI to give us that strength and further advance our ability to imagine more and new worlds. Let us increase human intelligence with it and show Las Meninas to say that here, in Spain, virtual reality was thought of when nobody had it in mind. What a great icon from the hand of Velázquez and the Prado Museum for a city that could dream of itself as a capital that anticipates the humanist reasons that our technological civilization dreams of.
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