On a recent Long Island outing, we found lovely pollinators that managed to momentarily dull a mindful of existential puzzles and quiet down those chaotically newsworthy echoes that clash with one’s inner peace on a daily basis. You know what I’m talking about, the news, COVID, a war, children in suits playing with their Mar-a-Lego…

Black swallowtail, Long Island

The chaos theory uses a butterfly analogy to illustrate how small changes in initial conditions can greatly affect the evolution of complex systems such as the weather. There were so many butterflies around us that day that surely the universe’s fate has been modified somehow.

Black swallowtail, Long Island

“To each action a reaction, and thus a consequence”, once mused a certain Isaac. He was a mathematician and focused on mechanics, but he might as well have been a philosopher. He could have warned us of the importance to take the present seriously, to weigh our actions against the butterfly effect; in other words, to manage our apples.

Eastern tiger swallowtail, Long Island

But wait, I thought while shooting. The butterflies are still flying, pollinating, scurrying from flower to flower, because time is so short, but not all gone.

So small actions can still have a great future impact. It is never too late to get out of our misery. You hear this, global warming?

Black swallowtail, Long Island

For instance maybe, just maybe, if I were to…

But it was time to drive home and that train of thought, a double-decker, never reached the station.

Monarch, eastern tiger swallowtail and a bee, Long Island


Now, in an abrupt volte-face while I have a semi-captive audience, the three images below deserve a special mention and your unflinching attention. They are not the result of my clumsy dabbing of brushes and palettes in Procreate or another digital drawing app, or even pretending I can draw. In fact their pixels are not even mine at all, only the words are. Let me explain.

All I asked for was “butterflies on flowers, digital art, 3D, realistic, highly detailed”, and “butterflies against the moon, intricate details, high definition, 4k, digital art”. Who came up with the drawings then? An AI did!

Those images were rendered by a Midjourney bot interpreting my words, in under a minute each, plus another minute to upscale. It has been trained into the translation of words to images. Those paintings are unique, have never existed before and can never be duplicated or recreated again as the exact same request would yield a completely new, randomly generated set of images.

The flutter of wings yielding new results in this case could be an atomic clock increment of a few milliseconds, a dataset of billions of image-to-text comparisons that just grew incrementally by 0.001%, an unintended space in the query, the varying load on the rendering processor from concurrent queries, who knows. Never-the-same-results-again.

An AI’s rendition of butterflies
An AI’s rendition of butterflies
An AI’s rendition of butterflies

Sure these images are rough around the edges. But welcome to the future. AI is emerging as a force that will redefine many pillars of our world, from Technology to Art.

I cannot say I am proud of those since I did not create them. The program which spat them out is not (yet) self-aware so no pride involved there either. Maybe the programmers can legitimately feel some degree of gratification. But ultimately, this form of art will flood the creative landscape with a new breed of masterpieces born, for the first time, not from the hard work, imagination and often-swollen pride of an artist, but from the compiling and analysis of gigantic amounts of data and the neutral, unbiased processing of zeroes and ones.

I am sure there is, somewhere deep in those calculations, a loop bringing us back to the chaos theory.

There is so much to say about this topic I will follow-up with a full-fledged report on current contenders, results and the possibilities, which are staggering.

Misery is a butterfly
Her heavy wings will warp your mind
With her small ugly face
And her long antenna
And her black and pink heavy wings
Remember when we found misery
We watched her, watched her spread her wings
And slowly, slowly fly around our room
And she asked for your gentle mind
Gentle mind, gentle mind

Bonde Redhead Misery Is a Butterfly