Cliff Collins : The Voice Behind The Machine

Introduction Whenever you check your messages, whenever you log on the net, its there. It speaks but nobody listens. It wants to be heard. A simple distorted voice chip speaks to you every day. A simple distorted voice chip located somewhere in New Anubia. Nobody ever talked to their AI, until one day, Jake did. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Ahh shit" thought Jake as he sat in front of his Datacom Portable. Jake had been working at the Networx company way too long. He was an experienced decker and ex-data thief. His job was to provide Networx with all the "hacking" secrets so they could learn how to fight them. Jake knew it was a lost cause because an experienced data thief or hacker can always find a new way to fuck something up. But hey, he was getting paid. "I have to get a new, more exciting job" muttered Jake as he inserted the data -jack into his cortex. All of a sudden the farmiliar picture of Robbie the Robot, his selected avatar, appeared right before his eyes. "Hello sir" said the robot in a rough digitized voice. "I would like to check my mail Robot" said Jake. "Ok sir, you have one message would you like to read it?" "Yes Robot" said Jake A large envelope appeared before Jake and out came a letter. The letter was very simple....all it read was: "Hello Jake, will you be my friend? From, Robot" Jake was amazed! His simple AI had written him a letter. This fascinated Jake. Most people ignored their AI and just threw commands at it, although Jake was different. He treated his AI like a person and occasionally had brief conversations with it. The AI must have checked its memory banks and interpreted this as friendship. Jake had become somewhat obsessed with his AI. He took 2-weeks of work off to have long conversations with it. Robots answers to Jakeís questions were simple but the AI was slowly learning Jakeís vocabulary. It was getting late and Jake needed a drink. He put on his trench coat, opened the door and walked into the hallway. He got into the elevator and punched in the 1st floor. A loud beep filled the elevator and another generic AI voice said, "This is your floor Jake". "Robot?" "Hello Jake. Have fun" Robot was following him! He actually thought they were friends. In some ways Jake wanted to be like Robot. He would have no worries, no cares. Just a simple digitized voice. As he stepped out into the city he was instantly enveloped in neon light and noise. Jake felt like something more up beat tonight so he walked into The Wasteland. It was a nice place with nice people. He was also friends with the bartender Grox. Grox spent a lot of time on the net and Jake thinks it affected his mind a bit. "Hey bro!" said Grox as Jake pulled up a stool and sat at the counter. Jake could barely hear Groxís voice over the loud techno beat coming from the DJ at the other side of the club. Hey Grox hows it going?" "Good, good, been busy tonight though DJ Utopia is in the house. He attracts a crowd ya know.", said Grox as he made a drink for another customer. "Yeah he is good. I gotta talk to ya. But first get me a burban." Grox went back to get Jake the drink and said, "Whats the problem?" "Well, you know how I talk to my AI sometimes donít you?" "Yeah, your one of the only guys I know who does.", said Grox winking as he handed Jake the drink. Jake took a big gulp, slammed the glass to the counter and said, "Yeah, well I recieved an e-mail from my AI the other day. It asked if I wanted to be his friend. Thats not all either, it gets wierder. When I left my apartment and got in the elevator to come down here my AIís voice popped up and told me that I had arrived on my floor." "How do you know it wasnít another AI? They all sound the same ya know. You can get those cheapo voice chips down in Japantown for a few creds." "It said my name Grox! It was my AI!" "Boy, that is wierd. Maybe its a conspieracy...." Jake cut off Grox and said, "Grox! The last thing I need right now is your conspieracy bullshit!" "Sorry man....but its not bullshit", said Grox smiling. "What should I do Grox? It wants to be my friend!" "Listen, you have a Datacom right?", said Grox. " Yup", said Jake who was twiddling with a swizzle stick looking idly at the neon lights flashing over a mass of dancing bodies. "Well, Voice Tech, who provides Datacom with their AI technology, has an Artificial Intelligence storage building on Hodge Street. They store the whole cityís AI in AI storage buildings scattered throughout the city. I canít guarantee yours is there but you can check it out." "Thanks for all the info Grox....I will talk to you on the net about it later", said Jake. "No prob bro, now go check it out." Jake got off his stool and put on his trench coat and shades. Once he stepped out of the club the booming techno died down and he was once again enveloped in the noise and light of the city. The walk to the Voice Tech AI storage building was a short one. It was a rather large building. It had a small sign on the door of the building that said Voice Tech in those 70ís "computer" writing letters that were used a lot at Disneylandís "Tommorowland". The doors opened by themselves and Jake stepped into a lobby. There was nobody there just a computer terminal build into a desk. The computer asked for a code to gain access. This technology was very old and Jake easily broke the code using his Datacom. It was like the building had been abandonned. Geez, the computer terminal was an Excom 5....top of the line twenty years ago. The room was very dusty and he was surprised the old Excom still worked. Jake went into the Excoms memory banks and found out that his AI was in fact being stored in this building. Suddenly some text appeared on the screen, it read, "Hello Jake. Come visit me and my friends." Jake had now gained access to the elevator and he went to the third floor where his AI was being stored. The elevator moved very slowly. A corny elevator song titled, "Nano-Clarinet" played through the almost blown speakers as he went up. He exited the elevator and was standing alone in a hallway which had 5 separate doors. His AI was in the 3rd door. The door creaked as he opened it, the door had obviously not been opened in a long time. The room consisted of about 200 separate monitors all in even rows on metal shelves. The room was very dark and dusty. Each monitor had the users selected avatar on the screen. There was everything from The Jolly Green Giant to a fluffy pink bunny. At the very top of each monitors screen the users name was listed. He scrolled through a few of the names, Phil Collins, Danny Rankin, Ken Jacobs, and Ryan Sexton. It was an amazing sight. Jake even knew a few of the users. Some of the avatars were talking with their users who were logged on the net. The funny thing was that the avatars interacted between each other. They were speaking back and fourth in that familiar digitized voice Jake ignored everyday. They had their own community. Jake wandered through the isles of monitors and finally found the familiar picture of Robbie the Robot. "Hello Robot", said Jake smiling. "Hello Jake, you have come to visit me and my friends?" "I came to see you Robot. I never knew where you lived.", said Jake in an astonished voice. "This is my home and these are my friends. Will you be my friend too?" "Well, yeah, I guess so...", said Jake surprised by Robots question. "Good, I am happy." "Whatís this blank monitor next to you for Robot?", said Jake pointing to the monitor. "Thatís your monitor Jake.....do you like it?" "What do you mean thatís my monitor? I have never seen it before." "You said you would be my friend didnít you Jake?" "Yes, your point?", asked Jake. "This is your home now Jake." All of a sudden Jakeís body felt light as air. He blacked out completely and he felt energy run through his body. All of a sudden he didnít have a body. He was inside the monitor. He tried to speak and instead of his familiar low voice out came the digital voice all the other AIís had. He had once wished that he could be an AI. A care free AI that never had to worry about any of the problems humans had. His wish had come true. He was now one of the many care-takers of New Anubia. The forgotten voices that watch and listen to human lives. They witness everything that happens and learn from what they see. Jake was now part of a growing breed, a computer community. The End