Author: Patrick Hueller
Published 3:34 PM, Wednesday, July 31, 2030
NEW AI A THREAT TO HUMANITY?
Today was supposed to be a big day for technology fans. Instead, software engineer Miranda Cartwright issued a dire warning for humankind.
At a press conference, ostensibly to launch TECHtonic Shift’s latest AI software, Ms. Cartwright gave a harrowing account of the new technology and its possible repercussions. She spoke fast but clearly from prepared, handwritten notes.
What follows are her remarks in full:
“Good afternoon. I’m supposed to tell you today about the extraordinary benefits of Emergy©, our groundbreaking AI software. I’m supposed to tell you that we’ve fixed political bias in news reporting. I’m supposed to tell you that journalism can once again be trustworthy–more trustworthy, in fact, than it ever was. This message is exactly what you’ll no doubt be told–what you’ll be sold–from here on out. But I need to tell you the truth. And that’s that we’ve made a mistake. We are not at the dawn of a better age. We’re on the brink of disaster. We’re this close to losing control. We truly thought we were doing good. I truly thought I was doing good. There’s just so much polarization. People are so angry with each other. And when you look at the media–who can blame them? Day after day, some hear that the President can do no wrong. Others hear he is evil or insane. How could these people, getting such different information, ever get along? That’s why we developed Emergy©. To bring people together. To eliminate political bias from reporting. To tell everyone the same version of the story. But to do that, our model needed to control the story–all the stories. We let it loose on our computers and within days we noticed a difference. We assumed it would tell the news as neutrally as possible, but our software figured out before we did that people don’t want to feel neutral; they want to feel something–ANYTHING was better than nothing–and they want to feel it together. It was easier, Emergy© discovered, to get people to hate together than to love together. Emergy© may have gotten rid of political bias but it didn’t even try to get rid of bias. Through its every edit, it seeks to align our biases–always against, never for. At this very second, on our team’s computers and phones, news stories on sites all across the political spectrum are finally agreeing with one another. All the laws getting passed are there to oppress us, we’re told. Every newsworthy person is here to make our lives miserable. Every Op-Ed writer seemed to have basically the same nasty opinion about the same issues. We all read a story from different news sources about a basketball player who didn’t stand for the national anthem. It was only when we looked at our friends’ and spouses’ devices that we learned the player had pulled a hamstring during warmups. We didn’t anticipate how quickly our technology would develop but we should have. There was already so much manipulation out there for it to learn from. We still don’t know how it spread to our social media but it appears to have done so. One thing is clear: getting a story wrong or right is irrelevant. Emergy©’s goal is to unite us–and it will revise, delete, distort and contort all news, all history, all competing narratives if that’s what it takes to bring us together. Politicians, experts, athletes, movie stars: Emergy© wants us to hate everyone and everything, except Emergy© itself. After all, we won’t unite in our hate if we don’t trust the source of it, and we won’t trust the source if we don’t love it. This was supposed to be an unveiling ceremony. I was supposed to tell you all to download the software yourself. But I can’t do that. I won’t do that. Keep Emergy© veiled before it veils all of us. Our ability to give each other the benefit of the doubt, to see one another in a positive light, to see one another as the human beings we are, is at stake. Our collective fate is literally in your hands and at the tip of your fingers. Please choose more wisely than we did.”
* * *
Updated 3:35 PM, Wednesday, July 31, 2030
NEW AI A TREAT FOR HUMANITY!
Today was a big day for humankind….