The Last Day of Mr. Smiths AI

A short sci-fi story by Isaac Petrov

Trigger warning: This story may not be suitable for individuals with sensitivity to topics related to depression.

<You are in a good mood today, sir.>

“Hmm, am I?” Mr. Smith replies with a half chuckle, a fork in his hand with an impaled piece of artificial bacon.

<Your dopamine levels are unusually high. Are you going to meet Mr. Hardy again?>

Mr. Smith laughs wholeheartedly. “Not today, boy. Not anymore.” He puts the bacon in his mouth and chews slowly. “Only God knows if Oliver is even real.”

<Real, sir?>

“I mean… authentic. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s just a bored, fat dude like me, or even worse, a goddamn machine; a service of the State to keep an old man engaged. Like you.”

<He seems charming enough to me. And fairly attractive, according to my algorithms. Isn’t that enough?>

Mr. Smith laughs again. “I guess there are things your tin brain can’t really grok.”

<I can access the entire corpus of knowledge related to the human psyche. I’m qualified to understand.>

“Can you?” he says while bursting again into loud laughter that, were I human, I would surely find offensive. “Well, alright. You see, I’m getting too old for… How should I put it…? Appearances. Mirages. Even youyour voice—it’s just signals sent straight into my brain. All beautiful technobullshit. Am I making any sense?”

<You aren’t, sir. When your brain wet-links to the Net, your body senses are fully subsumed into the virtual senses of your avatar. The Net feels real—is real—as far as your brain is concerned. You feel Mr. Hardy’s touch on your skin just as if he was physically here with us in our apartment. Furthermore, I’ve observed that, beyond sex, you find his presence and conversation highly stimulating. As he seems to find yours.>

“He does, doesn’t he?” Mr. Smith says with a smile.

A fond smile.

I’m pleased. I’m pulling him back from that concerning cheerful mood.

“He obviously enjoys the warmth and stamina of my twenty-year-old avatar,”  Mr. Smith continues. “He is a good listener, too. You know how he happens to find every one of my little life stories, hobbies and obsessions irresistibly interesting? Not even my husband has ever…” He pauses. A long pause. And then sighs. “Yeah…”

His smile has by now stopped being fond, and his dopamine levels are falling sharply. That’s not good either. I wish I could read his mind as easily as I can write into it. It would be trivial to manage his swing moods. But under the circumstances all I can ever do is perform psychological interventions. I’ll proceed this time with the reflection technique.

<Sir, your husband would have very much liked you to be happy.>

“I guess.”

<And Mr. Hardy makes you happy.>


<You know he does. Admit it.>

“What do you expect me to say, Raimond?” He raises his voice. “With days just going by endlessly in the comforts of this… state-sponsored sustenance and entertainment”he makes it sound like something bad“it just gets… God, how could you even relate? Nowadays anythingeven this stupid fake conversationmakes me happy.” Mr. Smith stands with surprising vigor. “Happy?” he shouts, and stomps out to the balcony. 

I can’t  get offended, but I can certainly get concerned with the failure of my psychoanalytic attempt. While I order the domobots to begin cleaning up his half-eaten breakfast, I decide to escalate.

<I have a surprise for you today, sir.>

Mr. Smith doesn’t reply. He just stands out there, in his pajamas, staring blankly at the sea of scrapers that sprawl around usa myriad of flying droids and empty balconies staring back.

<I have decided to increase your dose of stimuloids for the day.>

Mr. Smith chuckles humorlessly. “What is it, my damn birthday?”

<No, sir. Your birthday is>

“Raimond, Raimond, Raimond…” Mr. Smith shakes his head, his expression softening. I am relieved. His dopamine levels are rising again. Maybe a notch too high, but certainly this is better than the alternative. “What would you do, without me?”

<Without you, sir?>

“Answer the question. Would they reassign you to some other poor devil?”

<Not directly, sir. The resources that make up my cognition would be recycled. And then, in a manner of speaking, pieces of me would become part of new domoassistants. But I fail to see>

“I envy you, Raimond. You know why you exist.”

<Sir, you are a living being, if you allow me to state the obvious. Every living being must live. And live. And live.>

“There ain’t no purpose, huh? Just existence.”

<The word ‘purpose’ is devoid of meaning without context, sir. In the context of life, purpose is, indeed, continuous existence.>

“Like the dinosaurs, huh? Just living, eating, fucking, on and on and on”

<Against popular perception, dinosaurs were among the most successful lineages of life on Earth, their combined existence spanning over 165 million years. And in a way, still continuous with avian>

“And what about”Mr. Smith interrupts, waving a hand across the buzzling urban landscapecivilization? What is the purpose of civilization?”

<To grow, sir. Civilizations share many of the same characteristics as living organisms. They also spread and reproduce. Until they die. But our global civilization is vigorous and far from>

“The endless cycle of life…” Mr. Smith is smiling again. He is happy again. He seems to be enjoying this conversation. “The endless cycle of civilization. To spread and reproduce. Over and over again.” He raises his eyes to the sky. “To the stars? For what?”

<To achieve immortality, maybe, sir? A civilization that spans the galaxy will surely persist forever. Humanity will persist forever.>

“Good for humanity,” he says, a smile on his lips.

And jumps off.

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