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Written in the stars: In defense of Co-Star

| Thursday, February 20, 2020

Co-Star is a “hyper-personalized” daily horoscope and planet mapping service “powered by artificial intelligence that merges NASA data with the insight of human astrologers,” endorsed by trusted individuals such as Vogue writers and Dua Lipa. It’s also an app that I downloaded as a joke, which got funnier when I asked my parents the exact time of my birth and they could only tell me I entered the world sometime after Wheel of Fortune finished. After digging up my birth certificate, they determined I was born at 7:04 p.m. According to Co-Star, this placed my sun in Capricorn, my moon in Scorpio, my ascendant in Leo and all of my accompanying planets within other various birth signs.

These associations translate into personality traits and habitual actions. All human beings contain traces of stardust (look it up — it’s science!) and Co-Star seems to tap directly into this poetic notion. Do you feel the need to distinguish yourself from others through work, routines and bodily health? Co-Star will tell you your sun sits in Capricorn. Can you tend to passive-aggressive? The explanation for this energy, Co-Star says, is a Mars in Libra.

Reading into my astrological makeup felt a bit like stepping into an oracle’s tent or cracking open a fortune cookie. Even better, I received daily notifications with one-sentence horoscopes curated by an AI mystic, which swung on a pendulum between incredibly vague and astonishingly specific.

My horoscopes told me to change my hair, to trust that I know what’s real, to thaw myself in winter. They told me that my mind is hungry for new things and that my anger can mask anxiety. On Friday, after I spent the whole morning feeling guilty that I had skipped my run, my horoscope told me that my progress does not have to be accompanied by guilt, and in the second that it took for me to read the notification, I felt relief.

Despite understanding that no amount of NASA data, AI foresight or stardust can truly determine the course of my life — and that, in fact, that’s entirely within my own power — a tiny part of me loves receiving direction from the cosmos. I’m not about to start reading tea leaves or flipping tarot cards (though I’ve dabbled in the YouTube tarot community and think it’s well-worth an explorative Google search). At the same time, it’s sometimes nice to hear from “the universe,” especially on days when I’m searching for advice from anyone who will give it — even the stars.

So while I’m not quite sure where I stand on the science of planet mapping and astrology, I’m thankful for my daily conversation with Co-Star’s artificial intelligence author peering over her crystal ball. She wouldn’t pass the “Am I a Robot?” test, but if Dua Lipa calls her a friend, then I do too. While I stay grounded here on Earth — grounded in common sense, science and my own sense of self — I’ll let Co-Star tell me what’s written in the stars.

Contact Maeve at [email protected]

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About Maeve Filbin

Maeve is a senior studying political science and economics at Saint Mary's, as well as Journalism, Ethics and Democracy at Notre Dame. She serves as an Assistant Managing Editor of The Observer, and thinks everyone should support student journalism.

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