I’ve taken some intense portraits of strangers around the world, developed an ingenious campaign to protect wildlife, penned some fantastic branding for a tequila company, and even found time to render a shiny MP3 player.
You can see all of this and more in my brand new portfolio! But between us, I’ll admit, none of the work is my own.
In fact, my portfolio was made in just a few seconds using Pro-Folio, by Royal College of Art student Sures Kumar. After typing my name in a box, Pro-Folio scrapes public Behance collections—without Behance's permission or knowledge—to borrow the work for my own use. Moments later, their creations are republished on a site that’s generic in every way, except for one important differentiator: My name is on it.
Pro-Folio is quite easily the ultimate tool in turnkey creative plagiarism, with its core algorithm capable of generating 690,903,803 trillion unique fictional identities. The algorithm links names to feasible countries of origin, then pulls appropriate projects to match. Fooling its audience is “the entire point of this project,” Kumar says. But Pro-Folio wasn't created to artificially enhance your resume. Rather, it’s meant to portend a future in which machines generate artificial identities on a whim, and there's nothing any of us can do about it.
Sound like science fiction? Then consider the dry banter of Apple’s Siri, or the pseudo friendliness of one of those automated customer support bots you may have encountered on a random retail site. Even Twitter bots, which respond to keywords you tweet with advertisements, are a form of machine-generated identity. It's not just about artificial intelligence anymore, but artificial personality and identity. Artificial us.
“There will be a point where we won’t be able to differentiate a real human identity from a machine generated one,” Kumar writes. “By creating a model prototype of such identity creating machine, Pro-Folio also aims to question possible motivations to create such identities.”
I see Pro-Folio as the bait for our own drive to be creative, to be seen as not just smart, but the type of genius that births provocative ideas and products. And by taking the cheese, even just to have a good laugh about it, I’m now complicit in the coming era of machine-generated identity. Even though I meant no harm to anyone, I’ve contributed to the problem. The wheels of this new Mark Wilson are in a motion I cannot stop, and within 10 days, Google will index my/his new site.
Will everyone who eventually stumbles across it notice the small disclaimer explaining that the site’s work is not my own? Undoubtedly, no. Kumar says it took his testers an average of five to 10 minutes to figure out his sites were phony. And my portfolio is so great, you’ll probably call me offering work within four.