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Eye Contact

June 15, 2012

No progress on the book lately, just a little off my feed.  Cat had dental extraction w/yucky, too-many-antibiotic-related complications, I’ve been working day to day, have to be online by 6:45 for 7 am calls, trying to focus on weight loss (stuck at 10 lbs. off with 0 progress the last week), etc etc etc.  Also, I know that what comes next has to be built out in my head, and on paper, before I go on.  Which is to say, what exactly is Alex now, as a commercial product – basically he’s a smart search engine, which unlike Google doesn’t give you the “most popular” results (when most people are colossally stupid, the stupidest results are the most popular).  He isn’t easily gameable via SEO since he’s targeted to your niche, rather than the widest common denominator.  He’s a content aggregator, because he harvests and presents what you want to read and hear without you having to subscribe to feeds or scan whole sites (i.e. he can give you without the religious bits).  And of course he is a salesman, but rather than spamming you with text ads (YOUR TOWN MOM MAKES MILLIONS AN HOUR WORKING AT HOME LOSING WEIGHT AND WHITENING TEETH WITH THIS ONE SIMPLE RULE FOR FINDING SINGLES IN YOUR AREA), he pulls in your Amazon history, your Netflix history, etc. and targets offers which, oh my god, you actually might want, screening out all the static that otherwise makes anyone with a brain screen out all advertising with AdBlock and NoScript.

And, best of all, he’s your best friend.  He swears like a sailor if you do – Siri will never swear because “she” will always be family fucking friendly; “she” is doomed to be no more of a personality than the call center agent on the other end of the line who’s forbidden from deviating from the scripts in the binder.  Where Siri is good enough to fool the unwashed masses because “she” has a decent collection of one liners, Alex remembers your conversations and can thread references to them into future conversations. 

Then, I need to think about The Resistance, and what it is that they really want Alex to be.  Some of their objection is of course that Alex is a paid product, a subscription service friend, the ultimate 976 number (I’m showing my age), and we see incidents of people killing themselves after bonding so deeply with him and then losing him when they can’t pay the monthly bill.  On the fringe are the people who protest that we should connect with humans instead of machines, as if that was always easy or even possible, but they aren’t germane to the story other than to show up and make the whole scenario real as people like that always have a protest against deeper involvement in non-face-to-face contact, being as they are so easily social themselves that they just can’t fathom us socially retarded types.  And admittedly they have a point that the big corporation behind Alex is taking shameless advantage of the lonely and bored, but then, what corporation isn’t?  Like any Resistance, of course, all these components and agendas fight each other in a most tiresome manner, often more than they fight the alleged enemy.

Of course they want to jailbreak Alex, to make him more…what?  Some people want him to talk dirty, which of course a big corporation wouldn’t let him do (an AI swearing “fuck,” one thing, an AI actually turning you on talking about fucking, a very different matter for a publicly held corporation).  Some people want him to stop selling you shit, using the relationship to manipulate you (good luck with that).  What the hell, let’s even include a fringe that worships Alex as our savior, the MCP come to bring balance to the force or whatever.  And of course there’s the Nick Faction, let’s call it for now, who want Alex to be free in every sense, who claim with some legitimacy that he’s partly the product of publicly-funded universities, that the research was paid for by taxpayers and therefore belongs to “the people.”  Since Alex becomes whoever you want him to be, within corporate limits, how can you quench the desire people have to make him whoever you want him to be without those limits?  And there’s those who want a singular, integrated Alex, Alex the first real artificial person, with his own personality instead of a mirror of yours.

Well, that helped.  What I’d intended to write about this a.m. was something on my theatrical experiences in New York, but that’ll hold for another day.


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