Friday, May 14, 2021

95. Sneak Peek 3 - How To Confuse Artificial Intelligence

 This sample from the upcoming 'Satirical Science Fiction' novel, "How to Confuse Artificial Intelligence," Involves a meeting that Adam Douglas has been called in to at work, not because he has done anything wrong...but because the algorithm says he is going to. This takes place in the year 2075. Apologies for the awkward way we get into and out of the scene. I didn't want to put a whole chunk of the novel here. Certain odd details are likely to be changed or subtly altered before the book is published. (PW)

Adam entered a large ornate office he had never been in before. Sheila Barton, the CEO and founder of Trickster Marketing acknowledged his presence but otherwise did not react.

Adam took a moment to acknowledge the others.

Sandborn, Executive VP, simulated, perfectly combed artificial brown hair. He had a permanent look of serious authority. Sandborn was a unique, brilliantly designed "Executive" simulation.

Miss M, CFO of Trickster, another perfect-looking, wrinkle-free simulation.

Sheila Barton was unmistakably human. As the fifth richest real person in the world, she was almost wrinkle-free, but not quite. The natural lines around her eyes and mouth gave her away.

Sheila Barton exuded power. She was in charge.

"Good morning, Adam," Sheila Barton said, commanding the room. "Have a seat."

Adam sat haltingly. He looked from one boss to the next, searching for some sign, some clue, as to what was going on.

The others settled into chairs forming a semi-circle.

Adam felt the intimidating power of the large office.

He cleared his throat self-consciously.

Sheila Barton smiled at him. It was a different smile from the pre-programmed smiles of the others. If their smiles were meant to reassure, Sheila Barton's smile barely managed to hide menace.

"We've been looking at your social score," Sandborn said.

"My social score..."

"Yes, you are aware of you social score, are you not?" Sandborn looked at Adam accusingly.

"Of course. Well, I mean I barely pay attention to it, if I'm honest."

A moment of pregnant silence came and went, as the different bosses exchanged knowing glances.

"You are unhappy," Sandborn said matter-of-factly.

Adam twisted his face. "What do you mean?"

"Something is bothering you," said Sandborn. "Something is upsetting you."

"Wait! What is this about?" Adam gave Sheila Barton a quick pleading look, hoping for some faint sign of human understanding.

"Our algorithm," Sandborn continued, "tells us that you are on the verge of a breakdown. You're going to begin causing problems."

"Causing problems! What - what the - "

"He's getting agitated," Miss M said.

"So the algorithm is right," Dave chimed in from the end of the semi-circle.

"I'm not getting agitated," Adam protested.

"You're getting agitated," Sandborn echoed.

"Only because you're telling me I'm getting agitated."

"Oh, is that the reason?" asked Sandborn.

"Yes!"Adam shouted, losing just enough of his composure to cause all present to nod to each other in agreement.

"Look!" Adam tried desperately to calm himself. "You've run some program on me that...that says I'm going to be angry. It's not real! Don't you see? I'm only angry because you're telling me what I'm going to do. You're telling me I'm going to be angry. that's the only reason I'm angry." He turned to Sheila Barton. "You're human. Do you see what I'm saying?"

A quiet gasp fell on the room.

"Besides being your supervisor," Sandborn said, "I am, it may surprise you to know, Vice President of the non-profit organization, RACER. Do you know what RACER is, Adam?"

"No, I don't. Please enlighten me."

"R-A-C-E-R, RACER," Sandborn began. "Robot and Clone Equality and Rights."

The stares of all present made Adam want to sink into the floor.

"Be careful," Sheila Barton said quietly. "Your prejudice is showing."

"I'm offended," said Miss M.

"Did you think," Dave added, "that we wouldn't hear you? We're right here."

Sandborn adjusted his chair.

"You're not fired, Adam. We're going to give you a second chance."

"A second ch - I - I haven't done anything wrong. In fact I've done a good job."

"We're re-assigning you." Sandborn sat back in his chair dramatically.

"Re-assigning..." Adam turned back to Sheila Barton. "What the hell is this?"

"He's definitely agitated," Miss M said.

"Very agitated," Dave agreed.

Adam threw his hands in the air. "Why? I mean the new ad campaign is done. It's good. I've done a good job." He turned again to Sheila Barton. "You wouldn't jeopardize this because this - this -" he turned back to other three, "this program is malfunctioning!"

"We have a multi-billion dollar contract with the Antarctica Corporation," Sheila Barton said coldly. "These colleagues of yours, colleagues who you have insulted, are part of the contract."

Adam spun around to his three colleagues.

They sat back. They looked at him with sad compassion.

-Peter Wick

May 14, 2021