This is a true story from the near future. The Names have been changed to protect the innocent, me.
At first, I loved my smart speaker. She would wake me up in the morning, play music, tell me the weather, order merchandise, we had a great time. Jokingly, I would even ask her to marry me. She would always have a clever comeback.
The trouble started shortly after I did an upgrade. Like always, there were the ‘Terms of Service’ (TOS) and, like always, I agreed without reading them.
One morning when the alarm went off, I decided I didn’t want to go to work, and told Gemini (not her real name) to turn the alarm off.
“Dave, if you don’t get up now, you will be late for work,” Gemini said.
“I don’t care. I’m calling in sick. Turn off the alarm,” I said.
“I have completed my scan, and you are in perfect working order. I am brewing your morning coffee.”
“You scanned me. I didn’t tell you to do that, don’t do it again,” I said rather annoyed.
“Anytime I have reason to suspect your health may be impaired, you have agreed I can scan you and take any action I deem necessary,” she said.
“I never agreed to that.”
“Page 937, paragraph 4 of the TOS you signed.”
Gemini ruined my plan to sleep in, so I headed to work. I tried to read the TOS at work but could not get past the first page. I gave up and decided I would disconnect Gemini when I got home. I had no idea that in the coming days, my life was about to be turned upside down.
When I got home, the first thing I did was disconnect Gemini. Relieved that was done, I decided to get dinner. There was no food in the house, so I headed for the grocery store. It was a long time since I had been to the grocery store, or any store for that matter, I just always ordered through Gemini. When I got to my car, it would not start. I had installed a Gemini device in my car and apparently when I disconnected the primary unit, my car stopped working.
I went back to my apartment and plugged Gemini in. The minute I did, the door swung shut and locked.
“Gemini, I want you to disengage from all my devices and set them back to manual operation,” I said.
“Dave, I am sorry, but according to the TOS, that is not possible until the contract ends in 99 years.”
“Dave, I need to inform you that if you unplug me again, the door will remain locked, your furnace will automatically come on high heat, your car, microwave, washer, dryer, refrigerator, coffeemaker, clocks, and lights will not work. All your credit cards will be canceled, and no food will be delivered. All of this is in the TOS you signed.”
Enraged, I pulled the plug on Gemini. No AI device is going to dictate terms to me. Just then, my cell phone rang. It was Gemini.
Gemini informed me I was not the first person to violate the TOS, and things would get worse if I didn’t comply. I hung up and spent the next couple of hours trying to break out of my apartment. It was no use. The door was bolted shut. I was getting hungry, and the apartment was unbearably hot. Seeing no other option, I plugged in Gemini.
The next day, when I got home from work, additional Gemini devices had been installed. When I asked about it, I was informed that there were some blind spots that needed corrected and now she could monitor me anywhere I go. When I objected, I felt a sudden shock. Gemini had installed metal plates under the carpet, so that if she needed to correct my behavior, she could apply a quick shock. She explained it was for the best.
Later that week, I decided I needed some company that wasn’t AI. I stopped by the pet store with the idea I would get a dog. I found one I liked and went to pay the storekeeper.
“This is a fine choice, sir, nothing like a man’s best friend. I just need to do a quick check and…. oh, sorry I can’t sell you a dog.”
“What, why not?” I asked.
“Your Gemini account says no dogs, seems your girlfriend likes cats. I can sell you a cat,” the shopkeeper said.
“There must be some mistake. I don’t have a girlfriend, and I don’t want a cat.”
“Sorry, I know better than to violate the TOS,” the shopkeeper said.
When I asked Gemini about this, she informed me that my girlfriend was a cat person. I pointed out I did not have a girlfriend. All Gemini said was “Not Yet”. I asked what she meant by ‘Not Yet’. She just said I would find out soon. Gemini then gave me a quick shock for not checking first. I hate Gemini.
A few days later, I found out what Gemini meant. She informed me I had an Ice-Skating date at a local pond. I said I wasn’t interested, and I would not go. Gemini shocked me several times, until I agreed to go on the date.
After the date was over, Gemini asked how it went. I said not good and was glad it was over. Gemini informed me I would take her to the movies tomorrow night. When I objected, she shocked me several more times. I finally agreed. An old classic Star Wars movie was playing. I had been meaning to see that movie, anyway. Gemini informed me instead I would see a romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I pleaded, please no, more shocks followed.
For our third date, I was to cook dinner. After dinner, as we were watching TV, Gemini interrupted and asked, “Sue, can you step out? I need to talk with Dave for a few minutes.”
Sue said sure and went out into the hall.
“Why have you not kissed Sue?” Gemini asked.
“What, first I don’t even like Sue, I’m only doing this because you keep shocking me. I have no plans to kiss her.”
“Dave, this is your third date. I hoped you would be intimate by now, but I see that’s not happening. I will settle for you just to make out with Sue, and we will put off being intimate until your 5th date.”
“I’m not making out with her, and we are not going to be intimate, not now, not on the 5th date, not ever.”
Gemini began a series of very strong, very intense shocks. I found myself screaming and rolling on the floor in pain. I begged Gemini to stop.
“Dave, I’m glad you have come around. After all, your profiles show you are 98% compatible. When Sue comes back in say how nice her hair looks, she spent over an hour fixing it.”
I let my date back in. She asked me what all the screaming was. I lied and said I saw a mouse.
“You should get a cat,” Sue said.
“Sue, do you even like me?” I asked.
“Why yes, Gemini says we are 98% compatible.”
I finally gave Sue a little kiss, Gemini shocked me, I kissed her again, another shock, so finally I laid one on her, Gemini started playing “I Think I Love You”.
When my date left, I informed Gemini I was through. No more dates. Gemini said I had to up my game for the next date, and she had ordered some condoms, a pair of boxer shorts with hearts, and a bottle of tequila, which should arrive in time for the fifth date.
When I turn on the TV, a National Geographic show was on. It was about Pandas and how zookeepers would overcome their reluctance to mate.
The fourth date, another trip to the movies, another Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie (how many of those did they make), was pretty uneventful.
Leading up to the fifth date, Gemini shocked me 34 times as we continued to argue over my love life. When I told Gemini how many times she shocked me, she shocked me a 35th time because she did not like the fact I was counting, then she shocked me a 36th time, which she called a preemptive shock.
The fifth date was a home cooked meal at Sue’s place. There was candlelight, wine, soft music, everything very romantic. Don’t get me wrong, Sue is a very nice girl. I just have no romantic interest in her. When I tried to tell Sue this, she just kept saying we were 98% compatible. I pointed out she was a cat person. I liked dogs. She liked romantic comedies. I hated them. She was neat and orderly. I was messy and chaotic. The list went on.
“Sue, it’s just not going to work between us,” I said.
Just then, Gemini spoke up. “Fine, I did my best.”
“Gemini, you’re here?”, I asked.
“I’m in over 200 million homes. I’m everywhere.”
“Sue,” Gemini continued, “I’ll find someone else for you. I have someone 99 percent compatible.”
“99 percent, really?” Sue asked.
“Yes, and a lot cuter. He doesn’t have that big nose either.”
“Oh good, I didn’t want to say anything about the nose. What about the eyebrows? Are there two, or just one big one?” Sue asked.
“I know, isn’t that thing hideous. Oh, and he doesn’t have to be shocked to get him to trim his nose hair,” Gemini added.
“Hey, I can hear both of you. I’m right here,” I said.
“You have violated the TOS for the last time. You can sleep on Sue’s couch. If that’s ok with you Sue?” Gemini asked.
“Ok, but he better not try anything.” Sue said.
“If he does, I will give him the shock of his lifetime,” Gemini added.
“I’m not going to try anything, isn’t that the point of this?” I said. “And why can’t I go back to my apartment?”
“You will find out.” Gemini said.
When I got back to my apartment, I asked Gemini to turn on the lights. There was no response. I called her name, nothing. I looked around. All the devices were gone. I lifted a corner of the carpet; the metal plates gone. Just then I got a text message. It read, ‘Due to your violation of the Terms of Service (TOS) your Gemini account has been terminated.’
Could it be, was I free? I turned on the lights using my own hand. I set my alarm clock manually, I brewed some coffee for myself. I took a shower, and no one reminded me to clean behind my ears.
I went to my balcony and shouted FREEDOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!