Author of Linghun returns with a novelette set in the far future, when artificial intelligence. hasn’t just taken over art and writing, but also every aspect of what was known to make us human. I Am AI follows our main lead named AI. AI is a human-turned-cyborg, who works under the guise of an artificial intelligence-powered writing program. Saddled with debt from her deceased parents, AI struggles to make a living in a dystopian world where everything is controlled by artificial intelligence. To keep up with the ever-all-consuming technology, humans are now resorting to replacing their brains and hearts with artificial intelligence. The reasons? To work in a wholly capitalistic world where corporations only care about your extreme dedication to work. The longer and faster you can work without eating or sleeping, the better!
I Am AI offers timely social commentary on the current use of artificial intelligence to generate creative work. One argument against AI-generated art is the lack of emotional depth and personal touches that traditional art features. However, corporations want fast results, which AI can readily deliver, and they are now pushing for AI-generated art to replace commissioning human artists for their needs. Some might argue that AI can take over repetitive tasks and make jobs more efficient, but where does it stop? Do we allow it to completely take over the imaginative minds of creators and artists? If so, how do we continue to live with these changes?
Jiang explores the extent of what humans will do to live with this technology and how there are things that artificial intelligence will never replace. In this world, humans spend large sums of money to become more technological to compete with AI to serve corporations, but they fall into debt, and the cycle never ends. This future sees humans as worker bees in a hive where the queen is a monopoly that either works their workers to death or their workers become immortal cyborgs, devoid of emotion and feeling.
I Am AI also examines the effects of toxic work and hustle culture. It’s considered a rare luxury to have a job that values workers as humans and not just bodies to produce output. There are also those who must work as independent contractors for multiple companies to financially support themselves. Instead of joining a major company for work, AI works out of an internet cafe to charge herself and make ends meet. However, despite working her own hours, she’s still working endlessly: she needs to be cheaper than her competitors, but she also needs to take on more clients to make a profit.
With everything at odds with our protagonist, why is AI working so hard? In this novelette, Jiang takes readers through AI’s existential journey from working with no meaning to discovering that she’s doing all this to not just survive in this world, but to also realize that she is enough. She doesn’t need to change herself, and she can embrace her moments of fragility: it’s what makes us human. It’s better to have emotions and feel than to completely erase them. Because without feelings, are you really human?