I was part of a talk about 'Sympathetic Machines' and the Internet of Things, together with my wife Sue, and John Aggs, at the User-Centred Design Conference 2015. The general theme of the talk was about three models of artificial intelligence that might link all our physical and digital things together in the near future.
The concept behind the story was one of being able to forgive machines, and to let them into our personal space - mentally and physically. This model of AI would talk to you and react like a person, learning about you over time, but wouldn't try to appear more advanced than it actually is - perhaps presenting itself in a childlike manner, and thus being easily forgivable.
I'll blog more about it in my next post, but to set the stage, and the tone, here's the story that I wrote and read out at the conference.
Son of a Bit
Mike wound down the window, gagging slightly as the chill breeze brought in the smell of car fumes. The traffic was relentless, and in the back seat he could see Oliver’s judgmental eyes peering out from under the hood of his dinosaur onesie.
“Dad, we’re gonna be late.”
“Well, I can’t magic the traffic away.” Mike sighed and ran a hand through his thinning hair. “Look, I don’t know what’s gone on here. Some sort of accident maybe. Bit?”
The eyes on the little bobble-head air freshener that sat on the dashboard lit up, and it looked up at Mike. “No, I don’t think so, sir,” it said. “Traffic is always like this here at this time.”
Mike stared at the little robot. “What?”
“I said, traffic is-“
“I heard what you said. Why the hell would you bring us this way, then?”Read More
I listen to podcast 'Stuff You Should Know' and it's awesome. They've got hundreds of episodes up there, spanning years of material, and it's always something interesting. They've blogged about The Singularity before (and honestly, if you don't know what the Singularity is, check out that podcast!) On a recent show someone sent in an email suggesting that maybe the Singularity (the moment when AI becomes sentient and self-aware) had already happened. Well, that sounds like a perfectly creepy story idea, and I've shamelessly borrowed it and written it up as a 100 themes.Read More
I wanted to write a sequel to 035 - Hold My Hand but this wasn't quite what I had in mind. It's there, though, and done now.
I'll admit that this is a little loose. There's too many places, it's too bitty, I'm not really sure why Shania came back to see John and it ends with someone's nipple being forcibly embedded in a person's back. But hey, I wrote it and it's staying that way. I'm feeling tired and cold and slightly feeble, and I don't want to go back and rewrite it.