My angel was sick.
It had broken down quite unexpectedly in the middle of a weekend get-together, repeatedly uttering a word that sounded like “Sausages”! I was taken aback. Since when did AI bots start eating sausages?! Nobody understood what it was trying to say. Then we all watched with horror as it folded down on the ground in a dramatic fashion. I knew something was terribly wrong as I called for help.
I now looked at it fondly as it lay unconscious emitting a faint blue light. It was hard not to get emotional as I felt a lump forming in my throat.
“What has your angel been working on recently…if I may ask” enquired the physician, as he folded the probes neatly into a box.
“Oh…the usual pattern recognition stuff, you know” I replied curtly trying not to divulge too much private information. After all no angel is perfect. No matter how careful you are with the specifications while ordering, there are always some rough edges. My angel always performed what I requested it to do but sometimes it went well beyond what I requested.
It was almost as if it had an unsatisfied intellectual curiosity of its own.
I never reported this irregular trait as I thought it was quite harmless for an AI bot to be curious. Machine learning was never meant to be a tightly regulated process anyway.
“Your angel shall be ready to go with you shortly – would you like to wait outside sir?”. It was the Nurse.
I tried to collect my thoughts as I waited outside the Bot Operating Theater. I had recently instructed the angel to classify our vacation pictures by multiple themes. One of the themes was to create art albums from the pictures taken during our museum visits, along attributes such as artist, genre and period. But my angel expanded the exercise to include softer dimensions such as social and cultural circumstances of the paintings, early life of the artist, influence of contemporary artists, historical context etc.
What seemed like a fun project in the beginning had turned out to be immensely complex and resource consuming.
One day the angel reported to me that it had found 29 paintings of the “Annunciation” from the Louvre and Uffizi alone, painted by various European artists across several centuries.
When I clicked on its findings, I was surprised to see that it had analyzed each of the paintings in great detail along with its historical context. Fra Angelico (c. 1395-1455) painted the scene during the early Renaissance period. Lorenzo di Credi painted it in Florence. Eugene Delacroix’s painting from 1840 is at the Louvre. Even the great Leonardo da Vinci painted the Annunciation in 1472 circa, which is prominently displayed at the Uffizi.
The Annunciation marks the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus. Annunciation is a big thing in Christian belief. An important topic in Christian art. Any gallery that exhibited art during the Middle Ages would carry Annunciation paintings. And yet I was a bit surprised by the sheer number of paintings on this theme.
Were the curators of the museum trying to emphasize something to the viewers, I thought to myself.
I had read somewhere that if one saw an advertisement seven times then it was registered by the subconscious brain and it could influence buying behavior. Not sure if this theory applies in the case of religious propagation today. Once upon a time, Art did serve the important function of holding people together under a religious belief. Perhaps it still does.
On another occasion, the angel had reported to me that there was now a plausible explanation to the mystery of the undestroyed “North Metope 32” at the Acropolis in Athens. Metopes are rectangular panels with a sculpture that depicts a historical scene. 92 of these were used to decorate the Parthenon. I do remember being intrigued by this mystery during our visit to Greece but I don’t believe I had asked the angel to explore the mystery further. Anyway I was happy that my angel had decided to dig deeper…
The North Metope 32 was not defaced by the Christians when they destroyed the Greek temple of Athena. The theory is that perhaps the Christians recognized something strangely familiar in the figures of Hebe and Hera. Hebe is the personification of eternal youth, she is shown standing in front of her seated mother Hera. The sculpture looks strangely similar to the scene of the Annunciation. Virgin Mary is typically seated in paintings of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel visits her.
A historic case of mistaken identities!
It is easy to confuse the winged Hebe with angel Gabriel and the seated Hera with Virgin Mary. The Christian invaders were so conditioned in their minds with the scene of the Annunciation that even during a barbaric act of destruction - they did not dare to touch the metope with the sculpture that resembled the scene of the Annunciation.
“Your angel is ready, sir”, the Nurse had come out to inform me.
When I went inside the Operating Theater, I was pleased to see my angel coming back to life.
“Saw…sess...gess…sus…jez…sus jez” it was trying to say something. I listened carefully.
And then it struck me. My angel was trying to say “Jesus”, when it had crashed earlier.
Oh well. It seems Jesus had found a new follower.