Artificial Decisions (Science Fiction Short Story)
She stared at the holographic screen of her personal communicator. Her future husband was chosen for her. Not by her parents like in some religious countries in the old days. But by Omega, the artificial intelligence algorithm directing the world. It takes every tiny detail into consideration and makes an advantageous decision for everyone. It is the most advanced system ever developed, even more so than our brains. Moreover, it has already started developing itself further.
It obtains data from everywhere and about everyone. We used to call it the Internet of things, now it’s called life. It supervises financial transactions, politics, medical decisions and even lifestyle choices. It never lets you down or alone. People have got quite used to it. By today, even the elderly grew up with it.
It prevents diseases as all the sensors feed it with information and it can send out alerts to patients and caregivers in time. People have been living longer lives than a hundred years since the end of the 21st century. It makes the best financial decisions and distribute wealth according to people’s strengths and contributions to the progress of society. It helps educate people in a way kids stay motivated and become functioning adults who can make a normal living. Almost all common procedures from shopping to choosing from the menu at a restaurant based on the person’s genomic and metabolic background is taken care of. It is fair, logical and objective.
People are healthy, can afford almost anything they want, and the world is prospering. Everything is perfect. But not for her. She wants her own choices. She has never been a conformist. The result: she got surprising looks from her classmates when she didn’t follow Omega’s instructions. Her communicator kept on buzzing with updates and she kept on making her own decisions. Every family has a black sheep, so had hers. But a marriage proposal the moment she became 16, the legal age of getting into relationships, was the final straw. Not having a say in who she will live with her entire life was too much.
She ran away. From Omega, supervision, her parents whom she considered blind, her sensors and surveillance through the communicator. She left all these behind and tried to find a place where she can be herself.
She didn’t get far. On the periphery of the city, outside civilization, a strange settlement found its home. People who didn’t like this perfect world ran away too to create their own society. Just like in the barbaric era, there was no technology, no artificial intelligence and no supervision. Everyone was on their own. They struggled with disease and even having enough resources to live on, but they kept one thing though, control.
This is what she was looking for but she didn’t trust anyone anymore. So when she met him, she was anything but kind. She wanted to keep on running although the boy had something in his eyes, a sparkle she hasn’t seen for a long time. It seemed as if he was smarter than the ones she used to live with. She thought a word or two won’t make a difference. But it did. They had the same fear of losing control, yet they came from a very different past. The boy lived all his life in the chaos of human decisions and no assistance from algorithms. He never witnessed the advantages of civilization or human progress.
The world he lived in seemed to be brutal to her who enjoyed the civilizational advantages of Omega all her life. And the further she tried to run away, the stranger the world became without AI. So she stayed for a while thinking that it might be safe to be among like-minded people. She stayed and they talked. More and more often. They realized something binds them together. Longing for human control can be the strongest glue between two people under these circumstances.
So a new home for her, a new meaning of life for him. They kept on dreaming about a world in which people act like people, make mistakes and hard decisions. Like when there was no AI at all. A real world with emotions. They were happy to lose the strings of technology and start a family there. Just like how their great-grandparents did. It was heart-warming and hopeful at the same time. This is what they lived and fought for: to keep control.
Omega stroke a boy and a girl off its list. It paused for a second – just like a digital pat on its own back – and right after, it started targeting all its algorithms to find the next couple.
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