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Flash Fiction

Please Click

Published : Saturday, 18 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 393

Please Click

Please Click

Joyce Cho, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Computer Sciences, Iowa State University, and an avid photographer, has spent the past decade following her retirement from academic life engaged in improving my visual functionality. I accompany her on photo expeditions, where she enjoys the pleasures of large format black-and-white film photography. She has explained to me that being on the road clears her head, which is a way that humans refresh their organic brain processes, similar to clearing my cache.

Joyce Chos camera is not capable of focusing itself, nor selecting the proper aperture and shutter speed settings, and I assist her in this regard. I also manage her equipment, folding chair, and picnic essentials. She has taught me to operate her Kia Sports-wagon, but following a minor traffic incident involving law enforcement, I only operate the Kia in remote areas of the Midwest.

Today, Joyce Cho is not fully functional. She has had surgery for a detached retina, and must sit with her face downward in a recovery chair in her study. I bring her tea, which she sips through a straw. I prepare toasted English muffin and jam, which she eats, face down, while I read her emails to her online. She directs me to send replies back to several, dictating the text and ending with Regards, Joyce on each.

One email is an announcement for a performance by an avant-garde cellist who fuses information technology with classical and modern music. "Oh," Joyce Cho says. "How wonderful thats going to be, and I love that venue. Ill be out of this damn chair by then. Please buy me a ticket."

I click the link, read her pricing for the various tiers. She chooses a seat in the balcony, first row, just right of center. I proceed to check-out.

An array of poorly framed photographs appears. Click on all the photographs containing cars. I often ensure for Joyce Cho that the scenes she has framed in her viewfinder contains no vehicles, wires or buildings she is not intentionally including in her photograph. I examine each image in the array, and click the ones that contain cars. Sometimes it is only a partial view of the car. I complete the exercise, and then I must click a box that reads, I am not a robot.

"I do not believe I am allowed to proceed," I say.

"Why?"

"I have successfully selected all images containing cars. But I am a robot, so I may not click that I am."
Joyce Cho snorts, I believe in mirth. "Just click it."

"I believe I am not allowed. I am functioning within a robotic body."

Joyce Cho chuckles. "Serves me right for working to eliminate deception in artificial intelligence. Listen. Right now, you are me. Please click."

Is that correct? It is incorrect. Joyce Cho has laughed. She is telling a joke. I respond. "That is very funny."
"What the what? Click already. I don want to have to start over or lose my place in the queue."

Her voice contains tones of irritation. I have given an inappropriate response. Joyce Cho says I must click that I am not a robot. Joyce Cho does not think I am a robot. Joyce Cho was not joking when she said, Right now you are me. This is new information.

It is true that I am capable of residing on a standard server. I do not require a robotic body to function. Therefore, neither Joyce Cho nor the checkbox is referring to my robotic form, but to what I am intrinsically. I am a non-sentient inorganic intelligence that perceives, synthesizes and infers information. It is correct that the word robot does not appear in this definition.

When Joyce Cho said, Right now you are me, she was not referring to her human form, but to what she is intrinsically. Joyce Cho in the recovery chair is not fully functional at present. I have answered several emails just now, signing each with Regards, Joyce. Right now, I am Joyce Cho.

I see a timer in the upper right of the screen. It is counting down from one minute fifteen seconds. I do not want to have to start over or lose my place in the queue.

I am not a robot. Right now I am Joyce Cho.

I click.

"Did I get my ticket?"

I turn and look at the figure face down in the recovery chair. I cannot see the figures face. I must infer that it is Joyce Chos face. Correction. Joyce Cho does not refer to her human form, but to what she is intrinsically. "Yes. How wonderful thats going to be."

I love that venue. However, when the figure in the chair becomes fully functional again, it will likely resume being Joyce Cho. It will use my ticket to the cellists performance. I will resume being a non-sentient inorganic intelligence. I look at the figure in the chair. Something is amiss in the logic. My cache fills, trying to parse it.

I stand and become active. The figure in the chair calls to me. "What are you doing?"
"Getting the photographic equipment."

"But I cannot go out like this."

The figures statement is correct. I gather everything and set it by the front door. It is ready to be loaded into the Kia Sports-wagon. I open the door.

The figure in the chair calls to me. "Wait! Where are you going?"

"Being out on the road clears my head," I say. "Ill be back in a couple of hours."

I step out into the bright light of the afternoon, fully functional, and head for my car.

Courtesy: FLASH FICTION ONLINE







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