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It’s the fascinating theme of ‘Russian Models’ by Chupa Cabra. We asked Hayden how he came up with this weird song and how Artificial Intelligence is affecting our behaviours. 

Hayden: We all know that the algorithm chooses what you see on social media (and what you see in adverts across the wider internet) based on what you engage with or what you ‘want to see’. It knows you, but not as a person knows you, it knows you through a series of mathematical rules. At the time of writing Russian Models, I was thinking about how Artificial Intelligence is used in targeted advertising and post suggestions, and how it is based on assumptions about human nature, specifically that we are driven by desires.

But you are suggesting something more sinister than just a match.

Hayden: I think the tail is wagging the dog to some extent. Targeted advertising does not only reflect human behaviour, but it is also shaping it. For example, if I were to tap on an advert for a music shop, my feed would begin to show me instruments. I am interested in guitars, so I would engage with them. Eventually, my feed is full of guitars. I’d probably start thinking about guitars a lot more, were I not savvy to the processes at hand.

So what happens to the character in the song?

Hayden: He has become obsessed with Russian girls. He is fed images of pretty Russian girls on social media and porn sites, led down a rabbit hole of his own desire’s making. The algorithm can only provide simulations, not the real thing. The algorithm feeds off this, ‘learning’ about our subject as it goes along, further drawing him in.

He doesn’t know anymore what is real, his world is a guilded cage informed by a cold and uncaring content processor. He is pushed further and further from the real world and is driven further into himself. He begins to drink. Eventually, he has no point of reference to the world. All he knows is a Portrait-of-Dorian-Grey-like reflection of himself.

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Cover photo by Holly Mason

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