In 2019, I tried to do a backflip. Since I’m not a gymnast, it was difficult to imagine being able to perform such a miraculous trick.
I started first with clunky attempts. My biggest block during that period was fear. But eventually, the fear seemed to slowly fade and turn into confidence. I was getting close.
The breaking point was my toe. I jumped leaning too far backward and stubbed my toe. I tried to shake it off, but my mind shifted. The confidence was gone.
The fear was back, and I imagined that with every other jump, I might break something. That was the end. I never learned to backflip.
This is why I built my avatar. I decided to cope with my failed athleticism by learning to backflip via a copy of myself. The avatar doesn’t feel any pain and would keep on going, no matter what.
My avatar learns with the help of machine learning. The avatar observes videos of humans and then tries to imitate their movements. It also learns from its mistakes and improves on them, just like us.
I find it both magical and scary — magical because the A.I. resembles us so much, scary because the technology seems to have no ceiling. This short documentary is about ambition. It’s about fear and lack thereof. It’s about control versus uncertainty, rationality versus emotion and the desire to excel. It’s about technology, its acceleration and the acceptance of failure. It’s about letting go.
The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: email@example.com.
Op-Docs is a forum for short, opinionated documentaries by independent filmmakers. Learn more about Op-Docs and how to submit to the series. Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.