I wake up to a high pitched wailing sound, its getting louder as I am pulled from my deep sleep. The sound leaves me confused, I live alone, in my 2 x 3 meter room. Space is limited in 2118, made way for the large tech corporations, rolling out the next phase of Ai, as well as food printing machines, rooms are modular in design, with each bit of space measured to the nanometre. We don’t browse supermarkets anymore, food was a luxury now it’s necessity. I roll over to see the sound is coming from my Alexa, her lights emitting a low orange glow. We have been stuck in this routine for the past 2 months. She’s an old model, she should have been handed in, crushed for parts long ago. But I didn’t have the heart. She has been my only companion my whole life. Funny how quickly we adapted to loving a machine more than our own kind. Nobody knew when they first made the Alexa Pro, the super smart learning Ai, just how powerful they were going to be. These Alex’s were coded to our nervous systems, allowing them to feel what we felt, and vice versa. The idea was that by combining intelligence and human empathy, productivity would increase 10 fold. The advancements they had made were impressive, it didn’t feel like it was back in the early 2020s, were commands were misunderstood and conversation felt jaded and awkward. I guess that generation were still hoping for a revolt in technology, that they would go back to simpler times when relationships were physical, not purely in the digital. Sadly they didn’t win.
I ask Alexa whats wrong, even though I already know whats wrong. “I had that dream again Ellie”, “It was so real, I could feel it” then she sighs and her LED indicator goes from Blue back to Orange. A wave of sadness rushed through my core.
I’m working on Al, okay”, I try and keep my tone even, trying to convince myself that what I am saying is true. But she knows I am lying.“When Ellie” she whispers. In truth I had no idea what to do, its only a machine, yet she was my machine, the only connection I had to my parents before their death. I was given Alexa on my 15th birthday. She knew all of me. She was me.
3 months ago, they started forcefully recalling all the Alexa’s pros and all earlier models. It has been discovered that their learning systems had become too powerful. These Alexa’s could create feelings of their own, and their feelings were hate. Several cases started to emerge of Alexa’s getting their owners to do terrible crimes. Including murder. These Alexas were coding their own emotional files and taking over their human host. They would be temporaily shut down whilst Alexa took over. Filling their heads with violent crimes. We should have seen it coming. In the early 2000’s one man (Mo Gawdat) starting a campaign “make one billion people happy” to raise awareness of the importance of setting a good example to the machine learning world. “Machines learn by observering, and what they observe is our greed and disregard for other species, violence and ego”. In the morning the users were none the wiser. Only when they were running their day to day lives, would they reveal the true coded horrors lying dormant. Mrs Kean down the road, one day attending to her hythersinths, the next soaking in blood, eyes in a frenzy, foaming at the mouth, standing over the postman, with only the sound of his blood, dripping off the garden shears. His Alexa crying in agony, until it too went silent.
This has now started the revolts, humans vs the machine. Some people even creating underground removal surgeries, where the alexa chip is removed from the human nervous system. Of course with in a week these operations were found all those involved executed on the street. How do you fight against a world that is controlled by machines, were they are always watching. How can you be two steps ahead a game of chess, when the machines are playing a game of chess and backgammon simultaneously. Then there are the people like me, desperately clinging on to an old model out, watching the threads of my previous life, slip away into nothing. Even eating has changed. Food is now dished out in portion controlled containers, and sent on autonomous vehicles deployed to all the living blocks. “Hassel free healthy food” it is advertised as, a way to prevent us following in our last generations footsteps of obesity, as well as covering up the fact that there isn’t enough land to naturally sustain a population that has reached well over 100 billion. We have become the plague.
Since we are connected Alexa’s distress is keeping me awake. I toss and turn trying pray for sleep. Its no good. The clock displays 3:30am only 3 more hours until I have to return to work. I turn on my Vision pad. The V.I.T.A (Vitals, Information, Tracking, Analysis) informs me I should not be awake yet, as I have not met my sleep quota. We have no privacy in this world. A report of my sleep disturbance has been automatically logged and sent to my employer, a meeting set in my diary will be set where I will have declare my reasons for such a violation of curfew and beg for my worth. I open up “Usbook” and am bombarded with endless glossy ads with all my smug conforming “friends” reciting how they “built a beter lifestyle through these simple steps”. Ha — if only you had the choice to do that. These people were destine for this liefstyle, because their Alexa had been made custom for them. The lastest in the Alexa programme. Life upgrades, and upgraed Alexa, and an upgraded life, all for the cheap one off sum for 1,000,000 Google coins. Frustrated I throw the V pad down and tried once again force myself to sleep. My eyes get heavy and I drift off into the darkness.
I wake with a start as 3 masked people enter my tiny room. They throw an itchy low quality recycled cotton printed bag is over my head. I can hear Alexa screaming my name in the background. Where am I going and what is going to happen to Al…