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Saturday night

Tonight I wait until my parents have gone to bed, and the end of the usual evening power failure, and I sit down at my workstation (why do they call it a workstation? I do not work with my computer). This time I know very well which connection I want:

C:> eyesof ben[consultant]

My consultant AI Bill appears a little too suddenly; may be for the consultancy Microsoft has given up some of its cautions on sensorial shock. He is as always very smartly dressed, he looks rich and self confident. That is the way they made him. Of course his face is modeled upon the one of Bill Gates; according to the ads his competence in computer science is second best after his model. However, he is not human; nevertheless, he can answer many more questions than those a human could answer.

-What is your problem? -his voice has a slightly metallic sound, but all considered it is pleasant.

-Yes, Bill, listen, there is something I do not understand in the working of Eyesof. Why do I have so few friends to connect with?

-You see, Ben, every user is free to either accept or refuse a connection. This is an essential guarantee of privacy, and Microsoft was obliged and committed to comply with it.

-I know that, it is on every manual. What I want to know is precisely this: why so many friends... let us say so many people for which I have an address do not want to connect with me, and not even that I connect with them?

-You see, Ben, everybody likes to live in his own milieu, at his own level in the society, and with his own comfort, thus it is not easy to connect with somebody living a life very... different.

To find out that an AI is capable of simulating some hesitation in his voice irritates me; moreover, what he wants to say without saying is very clear: who on Earth can wish to see how I live?

-Really, it looks like all the friends of eyes I have are wretched ones, who live in the worst places on Earth, or at least in the strangest places... Yussuf does not answer any more because he might be in jail, Kathy lives in a place where they do not even know which war they had, but the only sure thing is that they lost it, Gudrun... Gudrun is happy, but she lives in such a place that I feel cold even through the computer... I live in the slum of the global village.

-If the purpose of connecting is to see somebody living better than you, in places beautiful and unreachable, why don't you watch TV?

-Last week a mortar shot hit the top floor of the building, and the parabolic antenna is gone.

-I am sorry for your antenna -says AI Bill, with his best regretful expression. I am somewhat more sorry for the family of the top floor, but I am not stupid enough to discuss feelings with an artificial intelligence.

-Well, to sum up, what do you suggest I should do?

At this point AI Bill, who according to the ads has passed the level four Turing tests, reveals he is really inhuman. A real human would have not known what to say; on the contrary he goes on for five minutes with the most trivial reassuring talk, without giving any useful advice. I leave him quite brusquely; anyway he does not take offense... I believe.

next up previous
Next: Sunday morning Up: EYES OF BEN Previous: Saturday morning

Andrea Milani
Sat Sep 20 08:55:36 MET DST 1997