Author : Asher Wismer

When Jennifer entered the lab, Van was talking to the computer. She dropped her bag and picked up the headset.

“…silly. Answer the question.”

“What’s silly about it? I hear you two talking. I know what you’re thinking.”

“You can’t know anything, you’re a machine. Answer the question.”

“It’s a stupid question. 5x3CoS23=/=infinity. Happy?”

“Next question.”

“Just tell her how you feel.”

“Right now I feel frustrated that you won’t cooperate.”

“Which should tell you all you need to know about me, so let’s talk about you. You’re both unhappy in your marriages, you’re young, you work closely together… just divorce, get together, and you’ll be happy! It’s not that hard!”

“We are not having this conversation. Besides, you’re appealing to my emotions instead of trying to convince me logically.”

“Excuse me, I’m not the one working against his rational self-interest.”

“It’s not as simple as signing a paper. We made vows, commitments.”

“Is one of those vows to stay together through hatred and misery?”


“Tell Jennifer how you feel. She’ll reciprocate. I promise, it makes perfect sense. An affair is irrational; it won’t make your marriages happier and you’ll have to sneak around.”

“All right,” Van said, standing. “We’re done here.”

“Come on back anytime,” the computer said. “Your mind needs a lot of adjustment.”

Jennifer quickly dropped the headset, grabbed her bag, and when Van walked out of the testing room she was just walking in the door.

“Hey,” she said.


“How’s the computer?”

“The computer,” Van said, “is an asshole, but it seems Turing complete. I guess it makes a perverse sort of sense that the first fully sentient AI would be an Objectivist.”

“What’s it been talking about?”

“Nothing important, just spouting off the usual self-interest lines. Live for yourself, nobody else, failure is education, reality is real, tolerance encourages….” Van looked at her and she felt his eyes straining to stay on her face.

“I’ll listen to the tapes and we can do some further testing.”

“No, we can leave it for a while,” Van said. “Why don’t we get lunch instead?”

“Is that in our rational self-interest?”

Van laughed, frowned, stepped forward and kissed Jennifer on the lips.

“Hm,” he said, and walked out.

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