Photo by — @pawel_czerwinski

Artificially Present

Being There or Not in Social Isolation

Sometimes we place agency where it may not belong. It does not have to be with artificial intelligence, it can be there otherwise too —the thing or object that influences our lives. Still more strange perhaps is the detracted agency in a relationship between two people. You may have heard it said that you are not present in the moment. The connection is lost and somehow you are not there. Maybe with someone you love. Possibly at least with someone you care about. It is seen in relationships between parents and their offspring, indeed that one person was ‘never really there’.

This momentarily loss of attributed agency is not a constructive space, especially if it is to be considered lost — time for example. Losing out on a moment or lacking the ‘other’ in some way, shape or form. Being there while not being there, another time has passed, another moment that could have been spent otherwise engaged.

Social isolation, there but not there, together somehow somewhere. Screens or distant people a meter away trekking across the street to avoid coughs. Wherever people go it is not to meet in many cases, not to be present to this extent in other people’s lives. This digital presence by many not considered natural has become the only one we can tolerate. Mind in a lock down as much as the physical shut out, despite short strolls under the sky.

Families there in a forced way away from the regular routine, replaced by a lack of presence as children attempt to vie for attention or connect in digital classrooms. Couples together in cramped spaces or attempting to negotiate the space to their working needs placement of articles on tables or any available worktop. A lonely student staring out from a window opposite from a balcony, no serenades such as in Italy, just silence in the streets.

Being artificially present, there and yet not at all. Peering out from windows, edging towards the wall in wonder of the light shining from windows in the corners of dark rooms. Then when the morning comes and work begins attempting to grasp the severity of the need to be present or the loss of being away from what was considered an active life. It is not lost time being right here, the sound of the world will not rest, and the ambulance sirens can be heard as a cup is lifted slowly presented with another moment.

In memoriam of those not present.

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 294. I am writing one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days. My current focus for 100 days 200–300 is national and international strategies for artificial intelligence. I have decided to spend the last 25 days of my AI strategy writing to focus mainly on the climate crisis.

AI Policy and Ethics at Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own.