Short Story – Trust

(This basically came out of a Skype Discussion about the merits and pitfalls of having a society run by robots for human comfort. Most of us were…less than optimistic about such an idea. It…also feels like it could be extended into a longer piece somehow…)

            Hello there! My name is John! I live in a very large city and I would like to tell you a little bit about your life.

            In the morning, I wake up at the same time, thanks to my friend Ms. Voice. She calls herself an artificial intelligence program, and she has been taking care of me for as long as I can remember. And she’s super reliable, guiding me through my daily routine every day, giving me great food and helping me select my wardrobe or have a meal. She also says that she’s here to serve my every need, and that she only wants for me to be happy. This is really great because I always feel like there’s something important that I’m overlooking, and she tells me that no, I actually haven’t, and that makes me feel better.

            I don’t really do too much here, even though I have access to all the entertainment in the world. Whether it’s a book or a movie, I can’t seem to keep concentrated on it; the words and the images just begin to swim around, and sooner or later I’ve lost track of what is going on. Or just fall asleep. So I take walks around here instead; I love listening to my feet fall on padded carpets or concrete or the other surfaces I walk across, and it’s fun to visit an atrium or a public park. Or I’ll visit a restaurant or some other business and have the servitors make a fancy meal for me. There are also public pools and ice rinks I could visit, but Ms. Voice says I should probably avoid those; she can’t guarantee my safety if something where to go wrong. She follows me around, talking to me from a special wristwatch and telling me what time it is or what I’m looking at or when I need to take a meal. Or sometimes we just talk, although she tends to agree with me a lot.

            I get into some really bad jams sometimes, though. One time I was talking a walk and I ended up stepping over some glass. I didn’t notice anything until I got home, and then it turned out that a nail had been jammed right inside my foot! Well, I was lucky that the medical arms patched me up and everything, because that could have really hurt! And sometimes, I’m a bit late to get one of my meals, and that’s when I become anxious. Really, really anxious. I start to feel like something is wrong, and that I have to run and keep running. But then Mrs. Voice gives me dinner and those feelings just up and disappear.

The nights are the same around here; Ms. Voice helps me get ready for bed, with a shower and a set of PJs, and then I fall asleep listening to very relaxing music and warm, soft bed sheets. And I can count on Ms. Voice to keep me safe as I sleep the nights away; she’s told me that it’s not safe to go out at night, as you never know what could be wandering around. Sometimes, I get woken up by loud noises off in the distance, but Ms. Voice says that everything is fine and there’s no need to worry.

            Sometimes I wonder why I never see anyone else around; after all, in a city this big you’d expect to run into someone sooner or later. When that happens, I can feel horrible for weeks on end, and then the bad feelings come back. I asked Ms. Voice about it once and she said that it was hard to maximize happiness for more than one person. I tried asking how she knew that, but she told me that she couldn’t answer that question. So I haven’t asked her that much more about it.

            After all, I trust her completely.


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