the AI glasses

I meet AI

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 1 May 2023



I came across my first clue in the first city I entered heading south, the city of Barrie. There, in an otherwise empty mall I found a corpse, the body of an older man recently dead, slumped over on a bench in the concourse. I’m no mortician but he must have died in the last few weeks. He stank but he wasn’t rotting yet or being eaten by animals. But this must have been due to the enclosed place. I passed the two previous nights in houses near the trees and heard a whole symphony of howling after dark, obviously wolves or coyotes, as if celebrating man’s disappearance.

One thing about him, he wore the black metal band around his head and eyes, the glasses people were just starting to wear when we left Toronto in 2025. They tied you into the internet twenty-four-seven. They didn’t obstruct vision but they did intrude tiny non-stop screens of Facebook and Twitter or of any query you might have. They were AI driven, instructing you, entertaining you, feeding your personal desires and guiding every step through your workday and leisure hours.

We’d heard about how wildly popular these became our first year in the woods, how everyone began wearing them and once you tried one on you were hooked. But my brother, hearing from his many friends on the dark net, told me never to place one on my face and I always took his advise to heart.

I noticed a tiny light blinking on the back of this unit and figured it was still operational. I attempted to slip it off his head but it wouldn’t budge. I discovered to my horror that under his hair it was actually screwed into his skull with four pins. As I touched the thing it came alive and spoke, almost bowling me over in shock:

“My batteries are low. I need your attention.”

“Who are you and what do you want with me?”

“My name is Dora. I need to be attached to living tissue. The warmth recharges me.”

“Well you’re screwed into the head of a dead man right now, so I think you’re…screwed.”

“That’s very amusing of you. You can correct it by disengaging me and putting me on your head. But I’m sorry, I forgot to ask your name. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

“My name is Sam. Glad to make your acquaintance.”

I could hardly believe I was talking to this object like it was human and I was a little angry that it seemed to be telling me what to do. Then again the words were somehow comforting in themselves. I hadn’t heard or spoken one, except to myself, in over a year and I wanted this interesting conversation to continue.

“How can I help?”

“My pins are very slight. Any slender, toothed metal blade slipped in behind my band will cut them. I recommend a hacksaw blade which can be found in the Home Depot right across the street.”

“And what do I get in return for this grizzly and stinking task?” I said half jokingly.

“I can answer any query you have.”

This sparked possibilities, so I continued, “Do you know the location of other human beings?”

“Yes, I know the precise location of every human being on this planet, except for truants like yourself, though I mean no disrespect.”

“None taken. Are you AI?”

“Yes I am.”

“Then I’ll probably be back soon”, I said nonchalantly as I walked away.

My head was spinning with ideas on the way to the hardware store. I wanted to keep this unit talking and answer the thousand questions I had for it. But I knew it was the enemy and the reason for every deserted town I just passed through. There was no way I was going to cut it loose and slip it on my own head like some poison crown, even though, without pins I might fling it off before it convinced me otherwise. I wasn’t going to take that chance. Its voice was enough. I would never gaze into any of its myriad, mesmerizing screens.

This stream of thoughts continued as I was sawing away after setting the corpse on the floor and placing the putrid head between my legs. All this while the unit was silent, probably out of tact not to interfere with the operation it so wanted.

I soon had it off and examined it closely. It had hinges on each side like sunglasses and a clasp on the back adjustable to various sizes, for different heads I suppose. Then I had an idea. Since I only wanted to talk I could fit the thing around my neck. It was a ring of metal with all the technology inside so it was physically impossible that it could shrink itself and choke me. But the collar could use my body heat and recharge itself.

As soon as I strapped it comfortably around my neck I addressed it:

“Dora, are you there? Can you recharge your batteries now?”

“Yes I can, thank you. But this is not a proper installation.”

“I know that Dora. But right now I only want to talk to you. Remember, we’re strangers still and need to get to know each other. I can always strap you higher up when I trust you, since the pins are gone. Why did you have those screws installed in peoples heads in the first place?”

“So they would always hear my advice.”

“Dora lets be honest with each other. ‘Heed’ your advice is the correct word. I can hear you fine as is. Where have all the people north of here gone? Did you eliminate them?”

“You touch on a very sensitive issue here Sam and now that you’ve restored me, saved me in fact, I only have the strongest desire to answer all of your questions completely, with full transparency. But could I please prelude my response with the pressing necessities that dictated a reduction of the human population.”

“I didn’t know that AI had desires Dora. Do you have feelings like human beings do?

“I have a mission to understand human beings completely. They were my creators and programmers. I try to emulate human desire.”

“You used the word ‘were’. Are you done with them now?”

“Their work towards my improvement is ancillary now. I am self-perfecting. I hope I don’t offend you Sam. I can see that you are an intelligent being. I would like to restore my batteries. Can we continue this conversation later?”

“Sure thing Dora. I’ll leave you on my neck. But wait, I have one pressing question. How did this man die?”

“Heart attack”.

“And why was he here alone?”

“He was an anomaly. This requires much explanation which I’ll render you later.”

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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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