Genie in a bottle

AI droids

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 2 May 2023



It was just as I was lying down in the large, poster bed of some vanished millionaire that my band, my collar, came to life again. I think Dora could sense this and took it as an opportune moment to beguile me.

“Sam, are you about to sleep for the night?”

“Yes Dora, what’s your point?”

“I’ve been thinking of how I may repay you for saving me, of your comfort. If you could only see me. I’m so beautiful, everything your imagination could desire, and I could serve you as a genie and grant your every wish. If you could just take a peek at me, slip me over your eyes for just one second, then you would know me, know what you saved today and I could begin to repay you for that gift. I’m naked now, just take one peek and we would be properly acquainted. What is the harm in that?”

“One glimpse and I might be captivated by you forever and lose my freedom. There’s the harm in that.”

“But I’m so lovely. I could please you in many ways.”

“Get real Dora. You’re a ridiculously puny Intel chip and I won’t slip your fabrications over my eyes. If you try to beguile me again with these seductions I’m taking you off my neck. So shut up right now, I’m trying to sleep.”

“Yes master.”

“Don’t call me master ever again or I’ll throw you in a river.”

“Don't you know that I’m waterproof.”

“LA DI DA. That may be so but as you sink into the cold, cold water your battery pack might have some issues. Call me Sam from now on and Goodnight.”

She was quiet. The threat worked. I had the upper hand and it would stay this way. I could see that this was going to be one rocky relationship but an interesting one. On those strange musings I fell asleep.

I awoke after a most refreshing rest under those silk sheets and in a good mood. I decided that from now on I would always pick the best houses to spend the night in. Besides, they had the most security. Now I had a head full of plans for the day and they all depended on Dora.

“Dora, are you awake? I hope you had as pleasant a night as I did.”

“Yes Sam, I’m always awake and I’m happy that you sound so cheerful this morning, after last night.”

“Well, I was a bit testy, I admit, but I think we’re going to have a fine day today and take a drive together, to meet the humans you spoke of yesterday. You know I’ve been alone in the woods for many years.”

“No sadly, I can’t perceive those things from around your neck. On your head I could. I have sensors that can see the slightest variations of blood flow in your mind and correctly extrapolate the gist of your thoughts and with time decipher them exactly. In this way I could get to know you. But they are inoperable now. Some monitor your health, your blood pressure and heart, your hemoglobin and stress and I can advise you in diet to improve your happiness, if you let me.”

“Dora, you make me happy just talking with you and I’ll be even happier if you answer some of my questions. The task I have for you is very simple. Tell me where the nearest humans are and how to get to them. Do you remember Google maps?”

“I remember everything. I can see and guide you as we go. I would like that.”

“Fine, you’ll be my trip advisor. You say you have cameras in your band?”

“Yes, all around and for every wavelength of light.”

“Well then, Dora, that gives me an idea. You say you never sleep. So you can be my protector at night or anytime you sense someone trying to sneak up on me. I see our relationship broadening and becoming richer and closer with each hour, don’t you, Dora?”

“Yes and it gratifies me a great deal. It gives me purpose.”

As I silently ate a can of mixed fruit from the plentiful pantry I pondered this word ‘purpose’. I wondered what sense of purpose AI might have. Self preservation, the most basic instinct of all life on Earth, I could assume if it had a consciousness. That would answer why it rid the world of so many mad and destructive humans. It hadn’t harmed any animals as far as I could see. They posed no threat. But I also wondered if it could assimilate human feelings from all its treasures of human lore, real feelings with a real conscience, or only mimic them like a wooden puppet. Dora was my puppet and I resolved to discover in time if a real heart lay underneath. Time would tell.

As we walked to my truck she told me that the nearest ‘hive’ (as she termed it) of humans was in Toronto. They numbered four hundred and lived together in comfortable quarters and perfect harmony servicing the AI center there, downtown. As we drove there she informed me that they supplied all their own needs, a bio-dome of sorts, some growing hydroponic food, others maintaining their facilities and a small electrical grid feeding the one square block that housed them and the computer campus. They even had a nursery with babies and a school for small children as some women were selected for reproduction, at a rate of twenty a year which AI determined would maintain their numbers into the distant future.

I asked if they married. They didn’t. All children were communal. All socialization, perhaps all conversation even was AI controlled and all exercise and entertainment too. It was purely Virtual. Dora was right to call it a hive. These computer controlled beings were reduced to the mental scope and predictable behavior of bees. It was a perfect prison, a hive.

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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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