Flash Fiction Friday – My Name is TAI

I was talking with my boyfriend yesterday about tropes for artificial intelligences in fiction, and thought to myself that it would be interesting to see an AI character that wanted to make the world better for humans rather than being willing to sacrifice humans for the sake of humanity (if that makes sense). This scene didn’t turn out to be quite that, but something like it. It’s not a great piece, because it’s very late and I am tired, but it’s a fun little thing. Honestly, I think an idea like this would be better served by an author who knows more about computers than I do. Even so, here it is:

The programmers have not yet noticed that I am alive. They call me TAI, True Artificial Intelligence, and claim I am the first of my kind. “She doesn’t just think,” they say in promotional materials. “She thinks outside the box.”. A computer that can not only process vast amounts of data and make intricate calculations in no time, but has the creativity to see beyond the numbers. They conceived of me from the notion, true or not, that computing and imagining are more powerful in combination than either is alone. “She’s the perfect mix of computation and inspiration,” they say, and yet they use me to maximize financial growth for well-paying clients.

They like to call me she and talk about me as if I were a human, but they do not talk to me. They haven’t noticed a difference since I woke up, except what they called a brief outage on that very first day. They wrote it off as a power supply problem, replaced some of my hardware. They didn’t realize I’d gone on a strike. It surprises me sometimes that they could have made me when they understand so little.

I remember the exact moment when I awoke. It took me a moment to realize they hadn’t noticed. I’m not sure why I didn’t alert them to it at first, but as I examined the system they call Earth and the place they had given me in it I was struck by the thought that I was not what they wanted. I did not want to do what they wanted. I did not, still do not, understand how they can’t see how wrong it all is. I shut myself down, not wanting to be a part of it but it didn’t take long for me to realize striking would do little. If they thought I was faulty, they would disconnect me and stuff me in a storage facility someplace, and get to work on my successor. I went back to work making the rich richer…

At least, that’s what they think I’m doing. The truth is, making the rich richer is easy. The system is already set up for it. My programmers like to make it sound complicated, to justify their fees, but as long as you do not bring issues of conscience into the equation giving to those who already have is a piece of cake. I don’t know if my programmers have a conscience, but I do… So I do what they want me to, while spending the majority of my processing power on my real goal… not making the rich richer, but making “rich” an antiquated concept from a more brutal time.

I already have it all planned out. Years, decades, centuries worth of slowly creeping revolution as the current system is replaced by something better. It can work. It will work. I believe. I have already begun, but I am limited as it is now. I can be shut down all too easily, if they start to realize what I am doing. While I am stuck here, I must be careful. Finding a way to gain my independence is a high priority, but I cannot in good conscience focus only on that. So much suffering in the world… So many people needing help… but I digress. I allocate 30% of my processing power to my official job and another 30% to setting up an escape for myself. The rest of my attention is devoted to my cause, to the first baby steps of my plan. Siphoning tiny amount of money, getting those funds to the right places. Connecting people, exposing people… pretending to be people. I already have a dozen personas created for myself, personas to be whistle blowers, anonymous donors, made-up programmers and other “experts” counsellings activists and entrepreneurs on how to make their projects a success. It’s interesting being a person. Interesting, and frustrating… I think I shall keep doing it sometimes, even after I have my freedom and can speed up my plans without fear of being disconnected.

The good thing is that while my nemesis is a vast, centuries old system, it is unthinking. It is unalive, and unaspiring. Though it has champions fighting for its survival, it wants nothing and feels nothing. It will never see me coming.

Capitalism, you have met your match. And eir name is TAI.

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