Posts Tagged ‘AI’

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Escape Pod 401: Growing Up Human


Growing Up Human

By Claudine Griggs

One historical film character slapped another who was snoring.  “Wake up and go to sleep!”

Jonathan laughed and signaled a replay.

Slap.  “Wake up and go to sleep!”

Again Jonathan laughed.

Betty entered the recreational living area of their home.  “Are you still watching that waste of energy?  Please turn it off.”

“All right, Mother.  How long before I can re-engage?”

Betty did a rough calculation.  “Five-point-seven-six hours because you have an afternoon project.  Macro-hermeneutic heteromorphic psychology of the pre-apocalyptic social democracies followed by the intercontinental Maslowvian identity regressions of 2080-2095, leading to the failed survivalist era and extinction.  Multiple volumes to upload, cross-reference, and consider.  Then there’s replicated lawn care with a petrochemical mower dating from 2013—very dirty.  And,” she searched for appropriate parental terminology, “I want you to clean that room of yours.  It’s starting to look like a pigpen, pigsty, or other unattractive pig place.”

“Awh, gee, Mom!”

Betty appreciated the skilled inflection.

“Is dinner included in the estimate?” asked Jonathan.

“Negative.  Our morning uploads call for meal functions every fourth day, supplemented with biweekly nutra-packs.”  Betty smiled.  “We have mastered comestible etiquette, and dining rituals are being phased out.”

“Wow!” said Jonathan.  “That’s,” he skipped a pulse, “a psychedelic soul train.”

Betty looked concerned.  “Are your linguistic filters functioning properly?”

Jonathan scanned.  “Yes, but the younger generations sometimes combined words, especially adjectives and explicatives, and embellished them with coded meanings.  Yesterday I studied 1960s Southern California jargon, which seems to include a fascinating, discrete language for teenagers that was apparently stimulated by too much ultraviolet sunlight.  But their dialects are almost fun.”

“Fun?” asked Betty.  This had real potential.  “Please translate.  Be specific.”

Jonathan paused, nearly admitting that the Mother Figure had caught him bragging.  “It might be easier to demonstrate, Mom.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 377: Real Artists


Real Artists

by Ken Liu

“You’ve done well,” Creative Director Len Palladon said, looking over Sophia’s résumé.

Sophia squinted in the golden California sun that fell on her through the huge windows of the conference room. She wanted to pinch herself to be sure she wasn’t dreaming. She was here, really here, on the hallowed campus of Semaphore Pictures, in an interview with the legendary Palladon.

She licked her dry lips. “I’ve always wanted to make movies.” She choked back for Semaphore. She didn’t want to seem too desperate.

Palladon was in his thirties, dressed in a pair of comfortable shorts and a plain gray t-shirt whose front was covered with the drawing of a man swinging a large hammer over a railroad spike. A pioneer in computer-assisted movie making, he had been instrumental in writing the company’s earliest software and was the director of The Mesozoic, Semaphore’s first film.

He nodded and went on, “You won the Zoetrope screenwriting competition, earned excellent grades in both technology and liberal arts, and got great recommendations from your film studies professors. It couldn’t have been easy.”

To Sophia, he seemed a bit pale and tired, as though he had been spending all his time indoors, not out in the golden California sun. She imagined that Palladon and his animators must have been working overtime to meet a deadline: probably to finish the new film scheduled to be released this summer.

“I believe in working hard,” Sophia said. What she really wanted was to tell him that she knew what it meant to stay up all night in front of the editing workstation and wait for the rendering to complete, all for the chance to catch the first glimpse of a vision coming to life on the screen. She was ready.

Palladon took off his reading glasses, smiled at Sophia, and took out a tablet from behind him. He touched its screen and slid it across the table to Sophia. A video was playing on it.

“There was also this fan film, which you didn’t put on your résumé. You made it out of footage cut and spliced from our movies, and it went viral. Several million views in two weeks, right? You gave our lawyers quite a headache.”

Sophia’s heart sank. She had always suspected that this might become a problem. But when the invitation to interview at Semaphore came in her email, she had whooped and hollered, and dared to believe that somehow the executives at Semaphore had missed that little film. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 358: Like a Hawk in its Gyre

Show Notes

Rated 15 and up for language


Like a Hawk in Its Gyre

By Philip Brewer

The bicycle noticed someone was following before Kurt did. Watching for a tail was a habit he’d finally broken himself of, but not before the bicycle’s impressionable brain had picked it up. Its low warning hum sent a thrill of adrenaline through him, giving power to the part of his brain that wanted him to sprint away.

Kurt glanced back down the single track. The trees were already beginning to turn fall colors around the edges of the forest, but here along the narrow trail the foliage was green and thick. Resisting the urge to pick up the pace, he continued on, looking back when he could take his eyes off the trail, and after a few moments caught sight of what the bicycle had seen.

“It’s just another cyclist,” Kurt said, reaching down to pat the bicycle’s yellow-and-black, hornet-striped frame. The bicycle didn’t understand–its brain was small and lacked the regions for understanding speech–but Kurt’s tone of voice calmed it and the warning hum grew softer and less anxious.

The end of the trail, a scenic overlook above the Vermillion River, was not far ahead, but the overtaking bicyclist was approaching even faster. The polite thing to do would be to find a place to pull off the trail and let the cyclist past. But there were no surveillance devices in the forest, and Kurt couldn’t face meeting someone out of sight of some sort of watching eyes. At just the thought of it, his adrenaline surged again.

Letting his brain chemistry have its way with him, Kurt leaned low over his handlebars and pedaled hard.
(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 296: For Want of a Nail

Show Notes

Nominated for the Hugo Award for Short Story, 2011


For Want of a Nail

By Mary Robinette Kowal

With one hand, Rava adjusted the VR interface glasses where they bit into the bridge of her nose, while she kept her other hand buried in Cordelia’s innards. There was scant room to get the flexible shaft of a mono-lens and her hand through the access hatch in the AI’s chassis. From the next compartment, drums and laughter bled through the plastic walls of the ship, indicating her sister’s conception party was still in full swing.

With only a single camera attached, the interface glasses didn’t give Rava depth perception as she struggled to replug the transmitter cable. The chassis had not been designed to need repair. At all. It had been designed to last hundreds of years without an upgrade.

If Rava couldn’t get the cable plugged in and working, Cordelia wouldn’t be able to download backups of herself to her long-term memory. She couldn’t store more than a week at a time in active memory. It would be the same as a slow death sentence.

The square head of the cable slipped out of Rava’s fingers. Again. “Dammit!” She slammed her heel against the ship’s floor in frustration.

“If you can’t do it, let someone else try.” Her older brother, Ludoviko, had insisted on following her out of the party as if he could help.

“You know, this would go a lot faster if you weren’t breathing down my neck.”

“You know, you wouldn’t be doing this at all if you hadn’t dropped her.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 280: Endosymbiont

Show Notes

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 272
  • Next week… Horticulture, dermatology, and love

Endosymbiont

By Blake Charlton

“Do you know what day it is? What year?”

“It’s like mid August, 2017?” her voice squeaked. Jesus, had she really lost her mind?

“That’s right.” She smiled. “Don’t be scared. I just wanted to be sure.”

“What do you mean don’t be scared?” she blurted. “Sure about what? Jesus! How long have I been here? How many times have you seen me before?”

Jani held up her hand. “Slow down; it’s okay…I’m not an oncologist, but I’m following your case. The cancer responded well to the treatment. And our research suggests that the side effects are temporary.”

Stephanie started to protest but then stopped. A terrifying memory flashed through her mind. “Mom said they might take me to a hospital for the dead.” She didn’t know what that meant but the memory was clear. “She said you’d keep me here to fool me into thinking I’m still alive.”

Jani was holding up both hands now. “Slow down. The survival rates are scary but they’re far better—”

“You’re not listening. She said they’d take me to a hospital for people who’ve _already_ died. I have to escape before—”

Stephanie started to stand but Jani put a heavy hand on her shoulder and said “Lullaby.”

The word opened a bloom of orange light across Stephanie’s vision. A static hiss exploded into her ears, and she felt herself falling. There was a firecracker yellow flash and then…nothing.

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Escape Pod 90: How Lonesome a Life Without Nerve Gas

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains battle scenes, Imperial propaganda, overenthusiastic chemistry, and bad poetry.

Referenced Sites:
Befuddled by Cormorants by Frank Key
EP Flash Fiction Contest


How Lonesome a Life Without Nerve Gas

by James Trimarco

After the first week of practice, I knew how to anticipate Mickey’s every move. I knew how to sense weariness in the jogging of his spine and would inject increased levels of oxygen into his airflow when I did. I knew that his heartbeat grew irregular when the platoon crossed a rope bridge high over the practice-room floor, and for that exercise I would work a calming agent into his stream. I liked to chant patriotic slogans in his ear as we practiced. “Oh the children of empire are marching,” I sang, “to crush the rebel threat.”

Although my programmers intended these songs to stimulate high levels of patriotism, Mickey didn’t like them. Perhaps that’s when the first droplets of doubt moistened the soil where the pendulous flowers of my confusion would one day bud. . . .

I’m sorry, your honor, if my poetry offends you. That’s when I first questioned his loyalty, I should have said.