By K Allado-McDowell
Introduced by Irenosen Okojie
Cover by Refik Anadol
During the first summer of the coronavirus pandemic, a diary entry by K Allado-McDowell initiates an experimental conversation with the AI language model GPT-3. Over the course of a fortnight, the exchange rapidly unfolds into a labyrinthine exploration of memory, language and cosmology.
The first book to be co-created with the emergent AI, Pharmako-AI is a hallucinatory journey into selfhood, ecology and intelligence via cyberpunk, ancestry and biosemiotics. Through a writing process akin to musical improvisation, Allado-McDowell and GPT-3 together offer a fractal poetics of AI and a glimpse into the future of literature.
Pharmako-AI reimagines cybernetics for a world facing multiple crises, with profound implications for how we see ourselves, nature and technology in the 21st century.
Praise for Pharmako-AI
‘The GPT-3 neural net is powerful, and when it’s fed a steady diet of Californian psychedelic texts, the effect is spectacular. No human being ever composed a “book” like Pharmako-AI – it reads like a gnostic’s Ouija board powered by atomic kaleidoscopes.’ — Bruce Sterling, author of The Difference Engine and Islands in the Net and editor of Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology
‘An exciting example of the future of AI creativity: code as collaborator not competitor. Discover how AI can stop us humans falling into lazy mechanistic ways of thinking and challenge us with provocative new ideas.’ — Marcus du Sautoy, Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford and author of The Creativity Code
‘This is the first time I feel as if technology is actively participating in our collective effort to make sense of life and our shared destiny. And I’m actually hopeful we may get to do this next stage of existence, together.’ — Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock, Team Human and Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus
‘A wild ride that triggers sensory overload and makes real the surreality of machinic presence in our daily lives.’ — Legacy Russell, author of Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto
‘This book isn’t just a futuristic project about consciousness and technology. It is an anatomical theatre displaying the ruptured limbs of the self, the tendons binding thought and voice, the lymphatic dialogue between freedom and necessity. Peek into it, and you’ll gain a glimpse of a mystery that has been with us since time immemorial.’ — Federico Campagna, author of Technic and Magic
‘As Star Wars instructs, hyperspace is a place – once you arrive there, you can relax. K Allado-McDowell locates this place on Earth, and this extraordinary book contains their map directions. Would it not be great to land our kinky machines there, as soon as we possibly can? The nonhumans are getting anxious.’ — Timothy Morton, author of Being Ecological and Humankind: Solidarity with Non-Human People
‘Pharmako-AI is a work that leaves us reaching for stories waiting to bloom in the ether, for the shimmering possibilities and coalitions between man, technology and space… A profound, experimental, technologically advanced offering, this wields the power to reconstitute ideas of writing, collaboration and process in our wildest imaginations. ’ — Irenosen Okojie, author of Nudibranch and the winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing 2020
K Allado-McDowell is a writer, speaker, and consultant to cultural, artistic, and technological institutions that seek to align their work with larger traditions of human understanding. Allado-McDowell established the Artists + Machine Intelligence program at Google AI. They are the co-editor, with Ben Vickers, of The Atlas of Anomalous AI. Allado-McDowell records and releases music under the name Qenric.