Oh Wondrous Art, Whose Mastery I Seek / the Art of Escapology, Wild and Free

I suppose I should have something positive to say about “AI” given some of the utopian ideas I’ve parped out in the past about full automation.

The thing is, I find the current conversation about AI utterly dull and boring. First of all, it’s not really AI. Robot chefs are just a variation on the teasmade. The chatbot things creating weird images and unconvincing conversational scripts are just algorithms. There is no artificial intelligence involved from what I can see. The chat bot things might give an illusion of artificial intelligence, but only inasmuch as a paper plate with a smiley face drawn on it gives the illusion of being your friend.

Secondly, the idea that it will “replace artists” is the sort of conversation that puts me to sleep. It’s like how people used to talk about music piracy or something. Computer “art” will replace some freelance gig work if magazine editors can be bothered to use it. Ultimately, though, it won’t “replace artists” because there’s no point. The point of art is to convey something human. The point of robot art, so far as I can see, is to cheat people out of make money.

The whole thing can get lost as far as I’m concerned. I don’t hate or fear these AI things. I’m bored by them. You’re unlikely to see AI artwork in forthcoming print editions of New Escapologist: it will be made by my illustrator and artist friends because that’s the whole point. Not to keep them in work but to communicate something from one human brain to another. Psychonautics does not concern itself with illusory AI.

Even so, friend Sukanya sent me two examples AI poetry about Escapology this morning. They’re quite funny.


Many years ago, when I was starting out as a comedian, I did a thing called computer poetry. I worked in a library by day and, bored, I would get the catalogue computer to “write poetry” by putting in a prompt to generate a list of books. I’d then read the results on stage at night.

The best poems were the ones with simply but oddly human prompts like “why” or “how”. Why do the heathens vainly rage? is a strange and evocative line that my wife and I still mention at home sometimes. Of course, it’s not really a line at all. It’s the title of a book. I believe this is how the new AI bots work too: by mashing up existing content, albeit it in a more sophisticated way.

All I’m saying is: I was ahead of the curve of this twaddle by about 15 years. And I didn’t do it because I thought it was clever; I did it because I was bored. Suck it, nerds. Your so-called genius is my thumb-twiddling.

Even so, here are Sukanya’s outputs.

Her first suggestion: Write an acrostic on Escapology.

AI response:

Eager to escape the mundane and the dull,
Clinging to the hope of adventure, oh so full,
Adept in the art of unlocking the impossible,
Prepared to face danger, with nerves of steel, unbreakable.
Soaring through the air, free as a bird,
Ascending to new heights, undeterred,
Longing for the thrill, to be absurd,
Overcoming obstacles, with movements, blurred.
Going beyond the limits, never to be confined,
Opening new horizons, leaving the old behind,
Living life on the edge, with a peace of mind,
Yearning for freedom, in escape to find.

Sukanya’s second suggestion: Please write a Shakespearean sonnet on Escapology.

(I like how she said “please” this time, like Ensign Sonya Gomez. Clearly she has already been convinced!)

AI response:

Oh wondrous art, whose mastery I seek,
The art of escapology, wild and free,
To break the chains that bind us, oh so meek,
And soar above the bonds of gravity.
With skillful hands and courage strong and true,
The Escapologist defies the laws of fate,
And like a bird takes flight, with naught to rue,
A master of the stage, so bold and great.
Yet still, within the heart of every man,
There lies a fear of being trapped and bound,
A fear that only freedom can withstand,
And in escapology, true freedom’s found.
So let us praise this art, this noble craft,
And let our spirits soar, unfettered, and laugh.

Yeah, okay, they’e quite good actually. I have changed my mind. We’re doomed. I for one welcome our new sonnet-writing computer overlords.


“Don’t let the robots get you down” say my friends at Analog Sea whose fourth Review, a beautifully-presented hardback “celebration of offline culture,” is available globally from indie bookshops now.

And why stop there? Get yourself a copy of The Good Life for Wage Slaves or I’m Out, both of which were written by a human called Me.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at wringham.co.uk

3 Responses to “Oh Wondrous Art, Whose Mastery I Seek / the Art of Escapology, Wild and Free”

  1. Also this:

    Rob Wringham, the master of escape,
    Whose words on the page take shape,
    In the blog New Escapologist, he creates
    A world where freedom and adventure await.
    With a pen and a pad, he crafts his tales,
    Of modern life and its mundane travails,
    And offers us a vision that never fails
    To inspire and encourage us to set sail.
    Through the pages of his blog, we see
    A world where we can break free,
    From the chains of routine and conformity,
    And explore new horizons with great glee.
    With wit and wisdom, Rob Wringham guides,
    And shows us that life can be a wild ride,
    If we have the courage to cast aside
    The things that hold us back and abide.
    So here’s to Rob Wringham, the writer of New Escapologist,
    Whose words inspire us to be adventurous,
    May his blog continue to be a catalyst
    For those seeking a life that’s truly blissful and marvelous.

  2. Radhika says:

    Dang… These are quite good. But there’s also a spiritual similarity between them that feels a bit like a remix. I’ve read a lot of futurism criticism on the topic and I think that’s what’s difficult to overcome. It’s a fun gimmick a couple of times but it’s a whole new art to prompt it to not all become a sea of vague sameness.

  3. Yes, that remix effect is something I’ve noticed too. Perhaps more chillingly, I’ve noticed it in big budget TV shows that are purportedly written by humans.

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