After the Singularity, the Programmer Goes for a Walk


Stephanie Yue Duhem

After the Singularity, the Programmer Goes for a Walk

 

A hedge of hawthorn
scythed by moonlight.
Mute fronds palm the sky
like penitents.

 

        A yellow plastic bat
        in the white snow.
        I see the glow of his cheek,
        the boy who threw
        he bat at his feet
        and flew.

 

Streetlights gild my way.
Sentinel swans
swerve toward asphalt,
chemical- and salt-dashed
for the last of us.

 

        I totter like a doe
        before the pond.

 

Yes, I know
the will
to die.

 

        Childhoods end,
        and men. Our minds.

 

So I stand
and fold
my hands.

______________

Author’s Comments: With the release of GPT-3 (an AI language prediction model eerily capable of generating original texts, from news articles to poetry), I’ve been thinking about how it’s only a matter of time before us writers are all out of a job. This poem reflects my questioning of the role left to humanity once we’re outclassed by AI across every domain of skill and activity. This poem also wonders at the emotional landscapes of the people working on this tech–if they’re ever struck, even momentarily, by ambivalence or despair.

 

Stephanie Yue Duhem is a 1.5-generation Chinese-American poet and educator currently studying in the New Writers Project MFA at UT Austin. She was a winner of Red Wheelbarrow’s 2018 contest (judged by Naomi Shihab Nye), a Radar nominee for Best of the Net 2020, and a finalist in the Glass and Frontier 2020 chapbook contests. She can be found online at www.sydpoetry.com or @nameandnoun.

 

Editor’s Notes: Abstract image of a singularity (The Wallpaper)

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