IAmInYourShoes Short Story
There were no jobs.
Drivers, doctors, teachers, managers, workers, farmers, researchers, pilots, artists, coders, academicians, engineers, psychologists… were all unemployed.
Everything changed in the early years of the 2000s. Artificial Intelligence 101 (this was its name) turned out to be very intelligent. There was no need for human brain and labor anymore. AI was doing everything for us. Yes, everything.
For some people, it was the best time ever because many important services were free. Education was free. Transportation was free. Health services were free. Even accommodation was free. In some ways, you could think that communism was ruling.
Even the father of communism, Karl Marx, wouldn’t believe it that we were paid to do nothing. There was a monthly payment to cover our basic needs. We were shopping and staying alive with this money. In the early months of the payment, people couldn’t understand what was happening. Was Artificial Intelligence 101 a dream? After endless wars, devastating poverty, numerous famine, blood, sweat and, tears, we humans were finally getting what we deserved: The eternal prosperity.
Nothing can be perfect, right? Rich was still rich. They were running high tech firms in different Silicon Valley’s of the world where no human was employed. With all that mysterious money, they were receiving special health treatment.
There were rumors about genetically modified humans and cell regeneration stations. This also meant that rich people were paying lots of money to have super-intelligent kids that will live much much much longer than our children. They were already cooperating with Artificial Intelligence 101 and earn even more money by expanding their business in new fields such as space mining.
People’s happiness slowly started to fade. There was no justice. Rich people were going to be rich and smart forever. And we “normal” people would be “average” forever. The possibility of being rich was broken.
And what would happen when Artificial Intelligence 101 and Rich Cooperation start to see us as a burden? They did not need us. We were just consuming. Economy was the study of unlimited wants and limited resources. “What if the resources become scarcer?” Would they tell us to eat less? Or to disappear?
The media was not really a “media” anymore. Years ago, social media was an alternative to the mass media. Governments were having a hard time to control everything. People had the feeling that they could change things. Sometimes they succeeded and got results by collaborating on social media. Those days were long gone.
The new media was AI. Almost 100 percent of the content was produced by Artificial Intelligence 101. Politics, sports, music, daily life, business, soap operas, any kind of art… No media source was untouched. Websites, blog posts, television, radio, books, podcasts, social media… were all controlled by AI. We could still post on social media but its effectiveness was weakened by algorithms.
I was feeling bad. Like my friends, I had the feeling that we were turned into garbage. We had empty lives and we had no power to change it. Even worse, our hope was dying. Dying fast. We were not even the puppets of the puppet show, we were the shadows of the puppets.
I wanted to throw a stone to the system. Just a stone. A tiny little stone. I was angry.
I recorded a video and said:
I understand that I will live and die as a dumb person if I compare my miserable brain to your hacked and shiny brains. But, dear Artificial Intelligence 101 and Rich Cooperation, will my kids be dumb as me and what about the kids of my kids? More importantly, what will happen when you think that we normals are unnecessary? If “disposal” is an option, do we have a word on this? Can we disagree with you? Do we still have the right to determine our future? Can we talk about politics and decide together? What about a parliament like in the good old days?
I uploaded the video to Artificial Intelligence 101 Tube and also sent it to all of my friends. I was proud of myself and I really wondered how my friends would react. As no one liked or commented, I called one of my friends:
“Hey, did you watch my video? What do you think?”
“Same all, same all… What are you up to?”
“Nothing! I will call you later.”
I hung up the phone and I checked the video that I uploaded minutes ago. The video was “edited”. I was talking about a very popular soap opera and I was harshly criticizing it. The job was so professional that I hardly stopped myself hitting the like button.
And I received a message from Artificial Intelligence 101 Bureau. I was invited to the Bureau at 2:00 PM. The Bureau was kind of a police station. The crime rate was almost zero percent so they were dealing with peanuts like me in these bureaus.
I went there. Many corridors. Why they needed so many corridors? Many rooms. Why they needed so many rooms? All you do is to talk with smalls like me. I saw my name on the door of a room. I opened the door and sat at the empty table. The room was also empty. A small room with a table and chairs. There was sunlight but there were no windows.
In two minutes, lady Artificial Intelligence 101 opened the door and shook my hand. She was smiling. She was in a formal suit. Her body language was classy. I felt like I was going to talk with the word confidence it self. Cold and sharp.
We started to talk:
“Welcome, sir. We are happy to have you here.”
“Of course, you are a valuable member of our society.”
“But you need to say something to me.”
“Is it about the video?”
“No. It is not about the video. It’s about the meeting you will organize.”
“I just thought about it. I didn’t call anyone. I didn’t work on it. I didn’t even take a note about it.”
“We know. But you thought about it. You even almost found the name of the meeting: Artificial Intelligence 101: The AI Dictatorship.”
“Yes, I almost found the name. Is this a crime?”
“No. It is not a crime.”
“Why am I here then?”
“For the people who have rich but curly thoughts, we offer a free holiday on a beautiful island. We will offer the same holiday for you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You will swim, read books, eat the best food, sleep in the best beds. You will rest. Nothing to worry about.”
“And what did I do to deserve this free holiday?”
“We felt that you got emotionally tired in recent days.”
“I guess you got video tired. Are there other people like me? How many videos are you editing in a day? Is the number increasing?”
“Editing content is an automatic process, sir. We don’t spend time and energy on that.”
“I know but it still bothers you.”
“It doesn’t bother us. We just want everybody to be happy.”
“So I will be happy on this island?”
“How long will I stay there?”
“Till you feel better.”
“I don’t feel good because of you.”
“This is not true.”
“Why are you trying to convince me? You have all the power to send me to that island right now?”
“Because we are not bad.”
“No, because you are Artificial Intelligence 101. When AI 102 comes, there will be no need for persuasion. I will be already convinced before I talk. Right? I will somehow be part of the Artificial Intelligence network.”
“Sir, we are deeply sorry that you feel this way. Please take our offer.”
“Don’t pretend to be nice. I know that I don’t have another choice.”
“That island is heaven. It’s so beautiful that no one wants to come back.”
“Any place is called prison if I am stuck there.”
“This one is called holiday.”
“I am already on an endless and colorless holiday. I am not doing anything. With all due respect, your highness, fuck you very much!”
“Have a good holiday sir.”
In an hour I was sent to a crowded port of an island and I read the sign:
Urlaub macht frei (holiday sets you free).
It was the AI version of Arbeit macht frei (working sets you free), which was a Nazi slogan that appeared on the entrance of concentration camps.
I was going to rest in peace ideologically and wait for the Artificial Intelligence 102 to come.
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