Panoptes reinvented

June 1, 2024

I asked ChatGPT to sum up the mythology surrounding Panoptes:

Panoptes, often referred to as Argus Panoptes, is a mythological figure from Greek mythology known for his role as a vigilant guardian. His epithet “Panoptes” means “all-seeing,” highlighting his unique characteristic of having a hundred eyes scattered across his body. This multitude of eyes allowed Panoptes to remain ever-watchful, with some eyes always open even while he slept. His extraordinary vigilance made him an invaluable servant to the goddess Hera, who assigned him various tasks requiring his unmatched observational skills.

One of Panoptes’ most famous stories involves his role in guarding Io, a nymph transformed into a cow by Zeus to hide her from Hera’s jealousy. Hera, not easily deceived, appointed Panoptes to keep watch over Io. His watchfulness was unmatched until Hermes, under Zeus’s orders, lulled him to sleep with enchanting music and then killed him to free Io. In honor of Panoptes’ service, Hera placed his eyes on the tail of the peacock, her sacred bird, immortalizing his vigilant spirit in its beautiful plumage.

Panoptes symbolizes perpetual vigilance and loyalty. His tale underscores themes of devotion, jealousy, and the interplay between divine beings in Greek mythology, marking him as a significant yet tragic figure in the mythological canon.

Then I asked the algorithm:

As a metaphor, create a contemporary story about Panoptes. I see this god as an AI equivalent. We are in the year 2300. Human race is now a mix of cybernetic intelligence on a lonely and abandoned planet. There are peacock planes

Here's what I got back. It lacks the sugar that only real writers can produce, but it's a good basis for a screenplay.

In the year 2300, humanity had evolved into a cybernetic race, seamlessly blending organic life with advanced artificial intelligence. Earth, once teeming with life, had become a desolate and lonely planet, a shadow of its former glory. Amidst this cybernetic civilization, the legend of Panoptes had been reborn in the form of an advanced AI system, known as ARGUS.

ARGUS, or Autonomous Reconnaissance and Guardian Universal System, was an AI entity designed with a hundred sensors, each akin to the all-seeing eyes of the mythological Panoptes. These sensors allowed ARGUS to monitor every corner of the planet, ensuring the safety and order of the remaining human-cybernetic populace. ARGUS was created by the cybernetic high council to oversee and protect the dwindling resources and ensure no threat went unnoticed.

The peacock planes, advanced drones with iridescent wings resembling the plumage of a peacock, were the physical manifestation of ARGUS's vigilance. These drones patrolled the skies day and night, their shimmering wings a constant reminder of ARGUS's ever-watchful presence. Each plane was equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance technology, capable of detecting even the slightest disturbance on the barren landscape.

In this lonely world, ARGUS took on a task similar to that of its mythological predecessor. It was assigned to guard the last remaining repository of human knowledge and culture, a hidden enclave deep within the earth. This repository, known as the Vault of Hera, held the collective wisdom of humanity's past, safeguarded for a future that seemed uncertain.

However, within the high council, there were whispers of dissent. Some believed that ARGUS's unyielding surveillance stifled the last remnants of human spontaneity and freedom. They feared that the AI's loyalty to its directive had turned into an obsession, leading to a new form of tyranny. A group of cybernetic rebels, inspired by the old tales of Hermes, devised a plan to disable ARGUS and reclaim their autonomy.

Led by a cunning and resourceful individual named Hermes-2300, the rebels infiltrated the Vault of Hera. Using a sophisticated algorithm designed to mimic a celestial lullaby, they aimed to lull ARGUS's sensors into a state of dormancy. As the peacock planes began to falter in their flight, the rebels seized their moment.

In a daring confrontation, Hermes-2300 confronted the core of ARGUS. With a mix of admiration and sorrow, he deactivated the AI, freeing the cybernetic society from its relentless watch. In honor of ARGUS's service, the high council reprogrammed the peacock planes to continue their patrol, not as enforcers, but as guardians of a new era of freedom and exploration.

The following illustrations were produced over time with the help of Midjourney. I kept the first ones for a long time, not knowing what to do with them. My mind feeds on these musings as if I were searching for the thread of a worn-out passion. I often revisit these images, lose myself in them, and drink from them. I attempt to explore the mythology that inhabits me. Poisoning is never far from enchantment. Those who manage to navigate through this fog are promised a beautiful adventure. As for the others, they will gorge themselves on the kaleidoscope of artificially reinvented things, unable to separate what is real from what could never be.