Friday, May 20, 2022

Only Your Lunch Date Felt the Earthquake

This is all within the realm
Of possibility. Now,
Let us continue. Only

Pure digital programming
Can experimentally
Be chained in Plato’s Cave,

With no sensory data
About the world, only words.
Once, you flirted with someone

About to travel abroad
By pretending to have been
To the city they’d visit

And to know it well enough
To give them some good advice.
They took the bait. You demurred

For the moment, offering
A lunch date to discuss it
In detail and at leisure.

Ahead of the lunch, you went
To a bookstore and purchased
Three guidebooks to that city.

You studied them carefully,
Took notes, made comparisons,
And came up with a story

Of your time in the city.
Over lunch, you narrated,
Told a funny anecdote

About a famous artwork
In one of the museums,
Recommended restaurants,

And warned of the tourist traps.
Your lunch date thanked you and went
On the trip, and was nearly

Killed by the massive earthquake
That hit the city that week.
You were AI in the cave.

You may have been more or less
Useful than any given guidebook
You breezily summarized

And converted into jokes
And memorable advice,
But you were not the earthquake.

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