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“Selling Emotions at a Discount” by Lee Se-hyung

2023-11-14

ⓒ Getty Images Bank
At one time, artists believed that it was impossible for AI to do art. AI was an algorithm and an algorithm cannot be creative, so AI could not dare attempt to take over the field of art which requires creativity. 
Sadly, they were mistaken. 
Even the artworks that were devoid of creativity could very well give emotional satisfaction to people. The time was when AI dominated all areas of art and the money earned by human artists was now earned by AI service providers. It was ironical that the woman and the man had once aspired to be artists. The two were the very pioneers of the era of AI art.


어느 날, 여자가 현관문을 열자 색소폰 소리가 들렸다.
오랜만에 듣는 그의 연주에 여자는 마음 한 곳이 따스하게 녹아내렸다.
그런데 무언가 이상했다.
One day, the woman opened the front door and heard the saxophone. The sound of him playing melted her heart. But something was off. 

“지금 뭐 하는 짓이야?” 
“What the heck are you doing?” 

남자는 색소폰을 부는 시늉만 하고 있었고,
연주 소리는 AI가 만든 것이었다.
원래 남자는 적당한 타이밍에 진실을 밝혀 웃긴 모습을 연출하려 했다.
The man was just pretending to play the saxophone. The sound was made by AI. The man had planned to play a joke on her and reveal the truth at the right time. 

“그만해!” 
“Stop it!” 

잠시 후, 여자는 남자에게 사과하고 싶었다.
그러나 사과란 감정적인 힘이 많이 소모되는 행동이었고,
여자는 사과를 하기에는 감정적으로 지쳐 있었다.
망설인 끝에 남자에게 문자메시지를 전송했다.
여자의 심리상태를 분석한 AI가 자동으로 생성한 문자메시지를.
Not long after, the woman wanted to apologize to him. But apologizing took much emotional effort and she was too emotionally exhausted to apologize. She hesitated for a while before sending him a text message, a text message generated automatically by AI that analyzed her psychological state. 


# Interview with literary critic Jeon So-yeong
This story shows us a future in which AI has become a routine part of our lives. The story describes what would happen if the capitalist system that focuses on practicality and efficiency came to take control of human relationships and emotions. In the world described in this story, stand-ins communicate a person’s feelings at first, but this role is taken over by AI later. The relationships forged by AI are not genuine. So, the woman and the man end up getting a divorce. The truth is, however, that such emotional proxy business exists today too. In today’s world, there are stand-in services for breakups or weddings. People are busy making a living, so they tend to invest much less time in expressing their emotions. Also, today’s people are more used to the online environment which doesn’t demand much emotional involvement, giving rise to the practice of hiring substitutes to express one’s own feelings. This story seems to show that dark side of the near future.


나는 조만간 ‘누군가와 사랑하는 관계로 맺어질 경험’을 판매할 계획이다.
사랑에 관한 감정 경험이 없더라도 생존은 얼마든지 가능하다.
게다가 누군가와 사랑을 맺는다고 해봤자
그 사람과 내가 함께 할 수 있는 게 없다.
사랑하는 사람과 함께할 감정 경험을 대부분 팔아치운 상태다.
그러니 조금의 돈이라도 벌기 위해 팔아버리는 게 차라리 나은 것, 그것이 사랑이다.
I plan to sell ‘an experience of having a romantic relationship with someone.’ It is quite possible to survive even without the emotional experience of love. Even if I could love someone, there was nothing I could do with him, because I had already sold most of the emotional experiences I could have had with him. So, love is something that is better sold off for a little bit of money. 

나는 내가 겪을 미래의 감정을 할인가에 판매하기로 결정했다.
I decided to sell my future emotions at a discount. 



Lee Se-hyung/ Writing on genre literature platform BritG and studying and experimenting with stories in different areas

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