The Impact of AI on Daily Life: Navigating the Tech-Induced Trance

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I'm Jade Scarfone.
A digital strategist and transformation catalyst, merging a decade of corporate systems mastery with a profound journey of self-discovery. From navigating the high-stakes world of banking to making waves in high-ticket affiliate marketing, I'm now dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs through strategic digital innovations. 

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Today I want to explore the impact of AI on daily life. And how we can navigate what seems to be some kind of tech induced trance. This article was inspired by some chilling footage I saw on Instagram recently from some acts at Tomorrowland. A friend shared it saying she’s not sure how to feel about it. I had a similar experience.

Two, in particular, caught my attention and left me uncertain how to respond. Afterlife & Anyma as seen below.

Imagery from Afterlife show depicting the impact of AI on daily life
Images sourced from Tomorrowland Instagram page - image one is from Afterlife act & image two is from Anyma

The images remind me of a short science fiction story I recently read. And the Leaves All Sing of God from a book called The Fifth Science by Exurb1a. The story speaks of the art of ‘mindbuilding’. These minds were built in computers and over time became more sophisticated, however, they began to murder themselves. The minds and the makers tried to work together but they could never agree. Then one great mind came to help the others decode a secret message, that the leaves all sing of God.

See what you will in these images, but part of me sees minds being led somewhere without any thought.

On the one hand, the creative, artistic, music-loving festival head can appreciate the magnificence of these scenes. But on the other hand, there’s something freakish about it. Enough to send chills down my spine.

The robotic 3D imagery, synchronized with the light show and music would send anyone into a trance state.

I have no issues with trance states. Seeking these out on the regular through contact and ecstatic dance, temples, and self-pleasure rituals, as well as being out in nature. I believe trance states play a vital and necessary role in elevating human consciousness and bringing us together. It’s this pairing with AI and technology that makes it feel disembodied and like there’s something more ominous at play.

You can’t deny this audience is in a trance with the sea of phones capturing the moment. This begs the question, are they really even there? Or are they under some form of spell? Soulless bodies in that moment devoid of feeling and seemingly unable to make their own conscious decisions. And doesn’t that make you wonder, what’s the spell that’s being cast?

I’ve seen the comments from people who say, it’s just a moment, and then everyone goes back to dancing. As someone who has attended my fair share of festivals and totally understands the desire to whip out your phone to capture a moment.. this feels different. And even if the tech trance is only for the briefest of moments, there’s no denying that it’s happening.. so what are the underlying factors at play?

Art… or Media Manipulation?

We know media is used for indoctrination and manipulation. Is there something more sinister being transmitted behind this music and the elaborate show that accompanies it?

Look to films in recent years and there’s evidence of this exact thing happening. Josie and the Pussycats, Kingsman: The Secret Service.. and probably countless others. Is it too far-fetched to question whether it’s happening in “real” life?

In his book Music: A Subversive History, Ted Gioia speaks about this subject in varying degrees. His belief: “music is a force of transformation and empowerment, a catalyst in human life.”

In an interview with Image Journal he goes on to say:

Music has a more powerful impact on our body and biochemistry than other art forms — it’s almost more like a physiological force than a cultural artifact. Our brain waves match the rhythms of the music we hear. Our blood cell count changes when we are immersed in music. Our immune system is stronger, energy levels raise, and many other physical changes take place. But, most important of all, the hormone oxytocin is created in our bodies when we listen to music — and this makes us more trusting of those around us. We bond together with others as a result.

When you take music and mix it with fancy lighting, AI, technology, and thousands of drug-addled devotees, what’s the outcome of this concoction? What’s the impact of AI on daily life?

Afterlife’s IG bio boasts about being “an odyssey through the realm of consciousness.” So where exactly is this odyssey taking their audience? I remember a friend sharing stories of her experience at one of Afterlife’s shows in Mexico. She felt like there was some disturbing hypnosis happening within the crowd. At the time I thought she was perhaps being a little dramatic and conspiratorial.

Then I had an experience of my own at Earth Frequency (a smaller-scale Australian festival). Not with this particular artist, but with ones that had a similar vibe and were playing on the main stage.

The sun started to set, the sky turned black, the light and 3D installation shows began, and in what felt like an instant, the energy of the audience turned eerie. It could’ve had something to do with the acid I’d taken earlier that day. But that’s a reflection of what’s going on in the collective psyche anyway.

I went to the other big stage where I’d been enjoying the vibe all day and that had the same ominous feeling. Like something in the lights and music was causing the audience to respond differently. Suddenly the people were no longer friendly and connected. I felt ill at ease and had to leave. Seeking solace in one of the smaller tents with my fellow drum n bass and reggae lovers.

AI — the mythic and magical path

Have we unleashed something we can’t control?” This is the question Joshua Schrei seeks to answer as he dives into this topic on his latest episode of The Emerald podcast: So You Want to Be a Sorcerer in the Age of Mythic Powers

As I watched these musical scenes playing out on my screen I was reminded of some of the key points made in this show.

Schrei speaks about AI through a mythic lens. A conversation I haven’t seen anyone else have, but to me it seems crucial for everyone participating in the use of AI. As Schrei puts it, to grasp the true implications and impacts of AI, it must be talked about mythically.

“We enter pre-programmed fairylands all the time and we’re so under the spell, we don’t even realize it’s magic. Even the programmers themselves don’t realize it’s magic”

Could it be that the musicians and artists casting these tech-induced trance spells over thousands of people aren’t even aware that’s what they’re doing? At least there’s an obvious sense of something magical happening when you look out at those jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring visuals.

But what about the less obvious magic.. when it comes to the AI codes being pushed and pumped out faster and faster through each of our screens? What spells are at play here? What is the impact of AI on daily life?

As many magic enthusiasts will say, the definition of magic is “the art and science of causing a change in consciousness in accordance with will” — therefore, whether we’re aware of it or not, magic is everywhere.

But what if the magic is being conjured by little boys who haven’t gone through the initiatory steps and rites of passage to validate the use of this power they’ve bestowed upon themselves?

Schrei speaks about how a lot of what we’re seeing is father stuff. The vast majority of AI coders and the tech execs that are supposedly guiding them are men. Men flirting with world-altering powers, who might just be in need of some type of initiatory framework.

“The story of tech initiates rabidly seeking to prove to the world that they can unlock hidden powers may also be a story about boys seeking fathers, testing the waters, because deep down they want some kind of response from the great mystery.”

I can’t help but wonder if the musicians who are using this elaborate technology to enhance their shows, fall into the same boat. Is what we’re witnessing, just a bunch of boys with daddy issues, getting drunk on their perceived power?

And how is that going to play out for us in the long run?

Is AI making humans obsolete?

I’ve seen a lot of articles and stories where people have been complaining about their jobs becoming obsolete. Artists, photographers and copywriters to name a few. A student in one of my programs shared this article on one of our calls recently. Which inspired me to get a little fiery..

At the moment ChatGPT and AI-generated content is trending and cute and fun to play with.

Eventually, the companies replacing humans with AI might realize that the robot-generated content all sounds the same and doesn’t really capture their unique voice. Plus if they don’t know how to creatively feed the machine the right prompts then it’s not gonna be that useful.

Anyone with any emotional intelligence can tell AI content from human content. Online, people aren’t engaging with it as much, and whilst it’s a valuable tool to speed up content creation. A copywriter who knows their inherent worth will be able to communicate why having a human do this for you is always going to be better.

Maybe I’m just being wishful and naive. I believe having a diverse range of skills is going to set us up for success and we’re only obsolete if we become complacent. Or maybe, it’s because I believe in magic that I can see through some of the spells that are being cast. To me, the rise of AI is highlighting the need for embodied practices, staying connected to our humanness, and spending more time in the natural world.

I see a place for it, I’m curious about it, I’ve used it… but I also err on the side of caution. I do wonder what the impact of AI on daily life will look like the more we see this technology advance.

You only have to look back at those images of the tranced-out bodies attached to their phones, to see that maybe we’ve already gone too far…

Are we losing real connection?

And what about the people who are actually choosing to become more robotic? It’s not just on the festival fields that you see these robotic human forms. Have you noticed the weird trend that’s sweeping TikTok?

The one where people are getting paid to be NPC’s (non-playable characters). This Instagram post from “healingfromhealing” does a great round-up if you haven’t seen it yet.

Instagram meme
Instagram meme

With a caption that states:

“Alienation, disconnection, loneliness, escape from reality to parasocial relationships and the comforts of being chronically or terminally online?

Perhaps. But also: a generation that has no illusions about the reality of late stage capitalism who, understandably, prefer to commodify and exploit themselves rather than be exploited and their labour stolen by people who couldn’t give two fucks about them, their future or the planetary life support systems.

Like seriously, who wouldn’t stare into a camera and say “gang gang ice cream yum” for $6,000 an hour?

“Nobody wants to work anymore” bohooo, no shit. Perhaps if people weren’t thoroughly alienated from their labour and could afford to pay rent and buy groceries, we’d see more young people doing social work, teaching kids in schools or doing something about global boiling or micro plastics.

Mmmmm Ice Cream 🍦 Yum!!!
Yum yum yum
Not Spicy 🌶️”

The impact of AI on daily life!

Now, I get what this post is getting at.. good on these people for finding a way to make money that doesn’t involve selling their souls to corporate giants that don’t appreciate/pay them.

But isn’t this just a different form of selling souls? To become this mindless in the names of engagement and making money. Does this really create genuine connection? The post asks who wouldn’t stare into a camera and say this stuff for $6k an hour. I can hand on heart say that you could not pay me to do that. I’ve been to drama school. Some people could call me an influencer. I love creating content. I’ve done sex work. But no, I would not stare into a screen and encourage this level of disconnection from one another and reality just to make some $$. Call me privileged for having that option. But I will not contribute to the creation of a more disembodied world. Surely we’re noticing the impact of AI on daily life isn’t all cute.

And what trips me out more than the people creating this content, is that there’s actually such a high demand for it.

Who are the people consuming this? How disconnected are they that THIS is what gets them off? This is the impact of AI on daily life, that I cannot get behind.

This article on The Conversation, speaks to this type of content being linked to erotic work and what the future is for this type of work.

Now I’m a big advocate for sex work, but this is NOT it. In my experience and networks, sex work is about connection, about helping people feel safer in their bodies, being held and witnessed. This is the absolute opposite.

You only have to spend a day on dating apps to realize most people aren’t even capable of stringing together a sentence. They like a photo or send an emoji. Where’s the effort? It’s like nobody actually wants to get off their phones and connect in real life.

So how did we get here?

AI and the wounded

In his episode, Schrei also speaks to AI being the story of a deep wound.

“One doesn’t tinker with the powers of this world to this degree unless there is a deep wound at play. Wounded, wandering, seeking. This is a story of how much we have to prove. It’s exhausting how much modernity needs to prove.

He speaks about this technology being a disembodied intelligence. Somewhat of a dark age. And in the key principle of magic, where like produces like, we are witnessing the magnification and amplification of this disembodied intelligence through AI. He says AI is a biased God. We are taking the narrow-world, naive, uninitiated, unembodied intelligence of the eager neo-liberal Stamford graduate and magnifying it on a global scale.

“We have made AI in the image of a modern, disembodied human. Like produces like. Abracadabra. We need a return to embodied ethics”

In the book Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey, he speaks about love being the war to end all wars and the war being upon us. Because mankind has broken the covenant with nature.

“As our vaunted technological sophistication hits built-in obsolescence it is the deceptively simple acts and tools of witchcraft that will endure… Before we turn our deserving ire on the class of the super-rich and their marauding corporations we must recognize that we too are the consumers. Our actions have added to the weight of disenchantment. We have let this happen.”

Poetry will save us

In the Instagram post I shared above there’s a meme that talks about a new language, ‘post language’:

“Human language is evolving to become real and beautiful. The newest trend online is called post language and billions of people are choosing to forget how to speak words and embrace the divine beauty of pure sound. Words are becoming like emojis. Real and beautiful shapes that serve no purpose other than to make a smile. Anyone who still remembers words a year from now is not going to make it. You have to stop reading, stop thinking, stop explaining things. There is no need for knowledge and understanding. We are all writing an infinite song together.”

Can you imagine a world without language, without poetry? I think it would lose so much of its magic!

Both Schrei and Grey who I’ve mentioned in this post speak about the importance of poetry. They say poetry is witchcraft. Poetry is magic.

In his episode The Revolution Will Not Be Psychologised, Josh Schrei speaks about the importance of poetry.

“Where’s the anima? Where’s the breath of life?… We need to make space for poetry. What happened to poetry in discourse? For the revolution will be poeticized, please let it be poeticized. Tired, overused vernacular repeated over and over stifles the flow of the poetic.”

So how do we ensure we don’t succumb to this tech-induced trance? As Schrei says in his podcast, I believe it comes down to rites of passage and taking things slower. It comes back to ensuring our culture returns to the rituals of the old times. We’ve lost our connection to the myths, to the land, to dreaming, to stories, to deep listening…

This is a big reason for my adventures in Europe. To reconnect to the myths and awaken the dreaming within. It’s time to believe in magic again.

I’d love to know your thoughts…

Images sourced from Tomorrowland Instagram page - image one is from Afterlife act & image two is from Anyma

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