Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fake, Naturally

Someone mentioned the words 'Artificial Intelligence' the other day. It sounded like a pretty interesting thing to be part of but in essence meant nothing more than 'borrowed intellect' I thought. There was something about the word 'Artificial' that has always made me associate it with something untrue. Something fictitious.

Regardless AI is a blazing theory today and is breaking ground in more places than one. In the fields of science and technology there are folks who swear by this concept. 'Borrowed Intellect' sure sounds brilliant as far as AI is concerned.

But unfortunately this revolutionary concept of modified truth ends its trail right there. Since everything else that is artificial in this world is anything but intelligent. When I moved to Venezuela I was introduced to the fairy-tale concept of ‘beauty’. It was like I was living in some Utopian society where everyone was too perfect to be true. Creatures that seemed to be popping out of Greek mythologies with the perfect smiles and the clear skin. How was it possible that I was living in a city filled with such timeless beauties?

My childish wondering came to a rather abrupt halt when I realized all that it took to become one of them was a little ‘Nip/Tuck’. Cosmetic surgery has revolutionized the concept of ‘self-esteem’. In countries like Venezuela the charges of this is so low that people fly in from all over the world for this purpose. What a place it should be where people come to become beautiful. Shallow? Maybe. Interesting? Definitely. What’s more is this is not limited only to women either. Men too, in smaller proportions, are going in for lifts and fix to start looking like the naked statues outside secretariats in Washington.

The biggest word for me back home was ‘Plastic Surgery’. When I saw faces magically transformed from hideous to gorgeous in Indian movies I would sit dumbfounded at the miracle this kind of science was. Face value, as it seemed, had indeed increased.

American shows like ‘Extreme Makeover’, ‘The Swan’ and ‘Dr. 90210’ only added more fuel to this already bubbling beauty pot. Looking good was automatically associated with brilliance, confidence and success. I wonder what Mr. Einstein or Mr. R K Narayan would say had they been around. It has now come to a point where every time I meet someone I wonder what part of their body might be ‘artificial’. It is like my own little guessing game.

The best came when I was passing the hallway and one of my colleagues was dropping something into her eyes. I asked her what it was to which she responded ‘Oh this? Artificial tears.’


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