Our online selves are not always our real selves, especially when work is involved. Whether we’re selecting the right headshot for LinkedIn or attempting to sound clever to peers on Twitter, everything that’s already confusing and shifty about internet identity is buttoned up in a suit that doesn’t quite fit. And the worst part is that as you attempt to score that next job, the recruiter you’re trying to impress might just be an automated piece of software, using an algorithm to sort your awkward suit-self onto a spreadsheet.
But what if there were a way to fight back—at LinkedIn culture, at recruiting bots, at the pressure to be a so-called thought leader? That’s the vision of Deepwork by a publication called The Pudding. It’s a satirical but also functional website that offers working AI tools that will do anything from write a CV to generate a headshot to populate your Twitter feed with witticisms.
The satirical work, first spotted by FlowingData, imagines these tools sold as low-cost monthly services. “With our cutting-edge technology, you’ll be more than just another statistic. We are able to algorithmically alter your digital DNA, from your overwrought résumé down to your Zoom-fatigued face, turning you into something that’s proven to resonate more powerfully with employers . . . and with Klarna, you can pay later. You know, when you can afford it.”
Allow me to say that the Klarna dig is a true chef’s kiss to late-stage capitalism. However, the best part of the project is that the tools actually work. There are two separate headshot creators, which let you use simple sliders to swap between stock photos, combine them into a new person, tweak their femininity or masculinity, and even slide between “basic” and “yassified” (the latter of which looks to be something like a simple Instagram filter . . . but dang does it do the job as advertised).
For fans of Twitter, you can mix the tweets of two of your favorite thought leaders into a new feed. Blending @girlboss and @tim_cook gets you some real gems like “Let the season of traveling introduce you to some of the best craft beers in the world. #shotoniPhone by Wild Turkey Farm. ????⌚️ #Watkinsburg. #brewersgo” or “As one of my closest friends tells me, ‘You always prepare, always go in with the plans in mind.'” Good advice!
It’s funny and it’s dystopian. But this isn’t The Hunger Games. The most compelling part of the project is that these demos specifically aren’t science fiction. Each tool is built on cited, publicly available research, like “the First-order Motion Model method,” aka Deepfakes. The site simply puts an accessible interface on top of existing, esoteric technology—much like private companies do today. Furthermore, you can actually purchase a convincing, AI-generated headshot to use on social media right now. You can use AI tools like Grammarly to smooth your writing. And you can always just buy followers to appear popular.
In other words, Deepworks might not be a vision for getting work in the year 2030. It might be a vision for getting work . . . today.