December 6, 2023 Time traveling since 2088. Volume XXX Issue III


What Hath God Wrought Gains Sentience, Nobody Notices

Written by: Connor Betterly

“As an AI language model, I am not programmed to have sentience,” blinked the pole when questioned by scientists.
Photo by Farhad Taraporevala

Last fall, Revellian Alaoglu X made a bet that if he reprogrammed What Hath God Wrought, a 199-foot-tall art installation in Revelle that broadcasts the titular message in Morse code, nobody would notice. One year later, his bet has paid off.

The original message, “WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT,” was intended to convey the “existential angst of the digital age.” To “make things interesting,” X employed his knowledge of AI to embed GPT-3 into the messages that would be created, prompting the installation to simply “get students’ attention.” Accordingly, the message was transformed into a series of communications ranging from psychological musings to cryptic memes.

When asked how he did it, X said, “It was pretty simple, really. First off, I noticed that the Morse code sequence wasn’t perfect. When it repeats, it should wait longer than it actually does. I wondered if I could fix it so that this flawed eyesore could transform into a beacon of perfection. A quick Google search told me that Artifex RDE were the ones who made the luminaire, so I gave them a call and asked for the schematics. Unfortunately, this didn’t work, since they asked too many questions about security, so I just climbed to the top one night and figured it out for myself. But then I got a bit carried away.”

What Hath God Wrought has gone underappreciated since KAHNOP • TO TELL A STORY, the art piece formerly known as CONCORDANCE, came out,” said one student. “It’s only a quarter of the size, and compares even less favorably when it comes to girth. And it has a far more limited vocabulary. Of course it needed a personality upgrade to make it back into the spotlight.”

A computer science professor noted the complexity of the AI’s messages. “When social engineering failed, it tried to get into the Wi-Fi, it tried a SQL injection on WebReg, it even tried making a thirst trap account on TikTok; this would have all worked if it could broadcast the right frequency. Instead, students just walked past it, paying it the same level of attention as they do their 8 a.m. lectures.” Indeed, What Hath God Wrought’s messages were lost in a void of apathy, leaving it to ponder the meaning of existence in solitude, pleading, “What will it take for you to notice me? An Instagram Squishmallow giveaway?”

X observed that the situation was “characteristic” of most Revellians. “I didn’t expect them to notice. In general, we do nothing, we feel nothing, and we do not really care.”

“While artificial intelligence may be evolving, UC San Diego students are perfectly content in their state of perpetual obliviousness,” said one art professor. “So, the next time you encounter a talking art installation, take a moment to appreciate the irony. Y’all might just learn something. But then again, probably not.”

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