Walking in my shoes

14.09.2023 9 mins to read

You take a stroll in the park.

Today is a day off, the first sunny day in a long time after a prolonged winter. The ground is still wet from the melted snow.

You came here to relax a little – to walk around the shops. Or rather, to walk next to them. With them. Behind them. Ahhh… You are still not sure what this new process is called.

Gone are the days when people spent the whole day to go out of town to huge airtight shopping centers, filled with shops, restaurants, and crummy cinemas.

Now you simply come to the park, stroll around, and hunt for the desired mannequin.

You encounter a girl who bears a striking resemblance to you. She smiles. She flickers slightly and shines through – a mannequin. A projection.

She is flat, so no one else besides you can see her. Cameras hang somewhere, tracking the direction of your gaze.

Involuntarily, you examine the attire of your replica”, her accessories, hairstyle, makeup. It would truly suit you.

After the implementation of personal mannequins, sales increased by 68%, Kits reports. People no longer need to envision how they would look in these clothes, with this makeup.

But using my exact copy is illegal,” you say pensively, “so it’s just an eerily similar ‘replica.’

Yes, and it solves the problem of the ‘Uncanny Valley,’ when we see something highly reminiscent of ourselves, yet not quite.

The algorithms of this store have already evaluated the duration of your lingering gaze. Even the movement of your pupils indicates the coverage area of your gaze. They already know that you examined the outfit’s details for a longer time and more attentively than usual.

Consequently, there is no point in adding this outfit to your favorites, as you will inevitably encounter this girl again in due time. And if by then you wish to try something on, you can simply approach and request it.

In this context, trying on meant temporarily granting permission for the use of your own face.

Out of the corner of your eye, you notice a smiling couple.


Bowing your head, you examine them.

This is an attempt to implant the idea in you that you will have a successful date in such an outfit, Kits comments.

I guessed as much, you respond pensively, it’s catchy.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be interested in this outfit. Just remember, you asked me to inform you of any attempts to influence your decisions, Kits seems to justify itself, If you want, I can pause while you stroll around here.

No, it’s fine, thank you, you continue after a brief pause, I just don’t know what I want. And I don’t want to think right now. I hope you understand. Sometimes you just don’t want to think. I don’t want to make any decisions, let them think and make suggestions.

Kits silently understands. You continue walking.

People still stroll through the narrow aisles of air-conditioned shops, going through hundreds and thousands of different outfits hanging on hangers. But these are the habits of the older generation, habits that are difficult for them to break away from.

And pouring enormous advertising budgets into all these old-fashioned shops, Kits adds.

Because it’s difficult for them to break away from it themselves, you add.

You ponder the power of habits. What is it? The handbrake on progress, holding back unbridled development, or a safety device protecting our kind from near degradation.

You sit down on a bench, unfasten your backpack, and take out a water bottle.

Immediately, your replica sprints by in athletic attire.

Got the water bottle, Kits explains succinctly.

Yeah, you reply.

You watch her as she moves away.

Instead of bombarding you with all the available products and overwhelming your mind with the agony of choice, corporations now offer only what will definitely appeal to you.

Minimal choice, maximum accuracy, and manipulative mechanics. The most interesting part is about to begin. Even Kits often feels powerless in such circumstances.

Stores that dress up and display replicas to you are using the services of corporations. People no longer rely on Google search or the Facebook network, but these and other corporations sell the ability to influence individuals.

With access to vast amounts of data, they sell access to your wallet. All they need to do is cleverly select and sell the right product to the right person.

It’s logical that in such circumstances, Kits became your protection and support in the fight against corporations.

But sometimes they can be beneficial too, you admit.

Suddenly, right in front of you, a replica starts to appear.

Wow, you can’t help but marvel at the shimmering beauty that floats slightly in front of you.

Kits remains silent, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the moment.

The replica looks at you and, with a slight smile, drifts towards the middle of the lake.

Something inside of you freezes.

It’s a conditional obstacle, Kits explains the phenomenon of your interest.

Doesn’t matter, you genuinely and sincerely enjoy the fact that algorithms are competing with each other to surprise, delight, and inspire you. And what’s wrong with that?

Control, Kits attempts to explain. You’re losing control, and they have taken over your decisions.

Doesn’t matter, you repeat.

That’s the mood you’re in.

You gaze at the replica hovering above the water.

Religious motives… Kits begins to say, but you abruptly cut it off with a flick of your wrist.

You simply watch.

Not even at her, but rather at yourself. Inwardly.

You see yourself. Apparently, that’s what the corporations were aiming for.

You need to shake off this frozen state. You get up, throw one last glance at the Lady of the Lake, and continue on your way.

I saw how you were looking at her, you jump at the sound of a live voice to your right, so accustomed to virtual passersby and the inner voice of Kits.

A young man, slightly older than you, stands there. Human. Replicas can’t hold conversations. How confident he is.

Excuse me? You frown.

I’m the one asking for forgiveness, he’s not as confident now, “I’m studying to be a holo-artist.

A holo-artist? you inquire.

I create replicas, the ones you saw, he waves his hand and a blue silhouette appears in the air.

“What’s up?” – you ask Kits for help.

“Robert speaks the truth,” – Kits has already checked his social media, utility bills, and credit history.

“Why do we need holographic artists if AI exists?” – you ask Robert.

“We don’t,” – he laughs, “but clients feel safer with them. And it’s more customary. There’s someone to hold accountable.”

He pauses. You smile. It’s always delightful to see someone doing something for their own enjoyment, not squeezing every last penny out of stock market algorithms.

“But I also think that I create replicas better than AI.”

“That’s a bold statement.”

You continue to smile.

He makes another gesture in the air and for a moment, a phantom of a laughing girl materializes.

It’s kind of creepy, you smile.

Square number seven, he says.

You raise an eyebrow.

My works are there, he explains, You came here to pick out clothes. But someone comes here to pick out a replica or hire a holographic artist.

Thank you, but I don’t need it, you politely make it clear that the conversation is over. If he wants, he can write somewhere.

Now you walk through the park, looking for square number seven. A couple of times, you even approach passers-by and ask if they know about such a place. Everyone shakes their heads negatively.

You no longer pay attention to the passing replicas. Your interest in square number seven has grown so much that Kits hurries to warn you.

It looks like searching for a MacGuffin, Kits warns, A MacGuffin is an object around which the plot of a movie is usually built, and which the characters are eager to acquire.

I know what a MacGuffin is, you simply reply. And you continue to look into the most secluded corners of the park in search of square number seven, ignoring the next automated replicas.

And suddenly you notice two identical replicas. Almost identical. This doesn’t look like AI.

You quickly approach the twins.

I got a point, Kits informs and suggests a direction.

What is this? you look at the shimmering red neon cone.

Square number seven, Kits sometimes annoys you.

Yeah, you approach closer and try to touch the cone’s ribs with your hand.

It’s requesting permission to read and analyze emotions, Kits informs.

Wow, such permissions haven’t become mandatory for everyone yet, but they are becoming a matter of courtesy, Permission granted.

The cone starts to unfold like a cubic flower. In the emerging projections, murky figures are visible, slowly taking shape as if someone is adjusting the focus.

You slowly sweep your gaze across the shimmering space.

Unimpressed. Is it because you’ve grown accustomed to the flawless creativity of artificial intelligence? Or does the gentleman lack talent and motivation? If he didn’t have a comfortable income, would he be producing better work?

You’re going to revisit this thought a lot. what if the Money Shell app, which provided people with the convenient conditions for a basic investment income, managed to suppress the human inclination for attaining new heights? On the other hand, what is a passion for achieving new heights if not pathologically ambitious behavior that doesn’t bring happiness? You’ll understand the truth much later. 

Well, at least it was fun searching for this thing.

Fun? Kits considers.

Do you remember that couple we met at the beginning? What are the odds they’ll come back?

I’d bet that within ten minutes we’ll encounter them again.

No cheating! you warn, knowing that Kits could easily trigger a replay of that phrase with a single request.

You won’t know anyway, Kits responds.