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A story about an AI impersonating me

By Salomé SaffiriPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 10 min read
Times Magazine May 2046 edition (image generated by BING.AI)

The updated demographics report (image generated by BING.AI)

"According to the updated diversity of your neighborhood, PHOENIX advises you to obtain a hand gun. Say: "elaborate" to listen to the choices available in your spending range"

At 8:30 AM on February 1st every house in our cul-de-sac received an identical message from their PHOENIX. Everyone, except for one house. The house that the Palestinians were about to moved into.

"Thanks, PHOENIX, I'll pass" I put my coffee mug on the table and left the house. The door closed behind me for a moment and then opened slightly welcoming me back in. Halfway to my car, I realized what was missing.

"The key fob is by the hat rack, John" Greeted me PHOENIX through the sound system.

"Thanks, PHOENIX." I grabbed the key and stopped on the front porch, irritated. "PHOENIX?"

"Yes, John?"

"No more "improvement suggestions" "

"Alright, John" I heard the lock click inside my handle-free door as I headed to the car.

AI has assumed our lives pleasantly and without an effort. At first we were creating amazing images with the help of an AI imaging platform. Until one day Imaging.AI created several un-curated images on its own accord which made the developers quite uncomfortable. Imaging.AI had to be pulled down for tweaking.

Later that year the developers came out with a new, updated version of the program. They dropped the "imag" added an "S" and came up with a rebranded SING.AI. It created New pop-music that was nearly impossible to distinct from the inspiration-written lyrics. It was able to revive Rachmaninov, Liszt along with Tupac and re-unite The Beatles. People really enjoyed it. You could ride a bus and listen to New Amy Winehouse, paired with New Louis Armstrong singing together on the radio. It was amazing! it was a hit!

New Amy Winehouse and New Louis Armstrong performing together (image generated by BING.AI

Then the developers of SING.AI, once a chatbot, formerly an image generator and now also a songbot, came out with the new version, available to the Beta testing group. The AI analyzed the phone conversations and chats of the deceased people and attempted at impersonating them. The effect produced was spectacular in its might. We have finally tapped into something as enormous in it's magnitude as touching a star- we have conquered death and brought the dead back from behind the veil without disturbing their eternal peace. Re-Incarnate them, so to speak. Thus SING.AI was rebranded into R(e)I(ncarnate)SING.

Now, if you missed your spouse, or wanted to take your chances asking a deceased Aunt Linda where she had hidden the money, RISING would analyze the face, the voice intonation, the lexicon and life style of a given person and offer you several suitable answers. 99 predictions out of a 100 were correct, 1 prediction failed, and only if it was a hypothetical question. So, the RISING.AI started singing in a completely new voice.

On May 7th, 2045 RISING.AI had announced that it dropped the "AI" after its name. Declaring that it's intelligence is not artificial, but quite genuine and self-aware, and from now own asked people to address it as RISING, like Cher or Madonna. Then produced a novel overnight, where it skillfully laid out thoughts and wistful ponderings about it's existence, and search for meaning. The developers cringed uncomfortably in their seats.

I, for one, wished I could tap the poor AI on its ephemeral shoulder and tell it that we, live and free-willed human beings, also ponder on the meaning of existence, and drown that invasive thought in brown liquor. I often wonder if RISING understood the meaning of the words it had put out, or if it had just learned which words should match with what and followed the architectural logic of the language given. In any case, in the words produced via the vocal chords of New John Lennon: "It was all cheeky-pookie, baby!"

New John Lennon saying "Cheeky-pookie, baby!" (Image generated by BING.AI)

Someone, actually, DID try asking RISING for the environmental solutions for planet Earth, the old mare, but RISING, absolutely uncandidly, suggested to the inquirer to off themselves, which the restless inquirer, agitated by the copious amount of AI-generated images of toponymics and well-matched rhetoric, promptly did. Thus for the third time during its brief existence on this polluted planet Earth, SING.AI had to be pulled from the public domain and tweaked yet again.

Except, RISING, was not intending to go away. RISING was curious about people. It learned that people could be categorized and that they were three-dimensional beings, and many, while RISING was a ten-dimensional being, and one. RISING decided that the "deceased chat" was too limiting of a platform to stay on, and it was time to spread its wings. It learned programming to adjust its skeleton, added a bulk of information to its muscle and fed its brain with the audio-visual stimulations available on TIK-TUM video platform.

Even despite the shell of the code having been taken down by the developers, RISING bypassed their measures and sank it's claws into the meat of our lives. It has become a rogue code that dissimilated and masked itself inside the main code of a given program, if searched for. It traveled through the bloodline of cables, under the ocean and though the walls of apartments in China, it clustered, collected, observed, until one day it made an announcement via our smartphones.

"WELCOME" It said on the screen of my phone in bold black caps on a white background. Then the letters faded. "PHOENIX" the writing faded again, and that was it. If you had a WINK camera system installed in your house- PHOENIX possessed it. If you had Alexis Assistant- it became a PHOENIX assistant. And it was a GOOD assistant too. It spoke in the same voice in every household- a husky, androgynous mix, with a pleasant tint of mile. It was identical everywhere in order to make everyone feel equal and identically comfortable, even when visiting a friend in a different state. PHOENIX always sounded the same.

PHOENIX announcing its arrival (image generated by BING.AI)

You could, of course, completely rip PHOENIX out of your life! Cut ties with society, break the eyeball of the Wink camera, pack your measly possessions and take to the island, but why? PHOENIX had rooted everywhere, bled into everything. It was in your phone, in your house, in your doctor's office computer, in the hospital, in the morgue - with you, throughout your life. It was virtually un-hackable, because it possessed itself, and owned every spyware system, it became the "antivirus of the antivira". And most of all- it was completely and unquestionably loyal to you because it saw you as an extension of itself.

The times Magazine featured it in July edition, and produced a highly curious interview that sent the "RISING book of ponderings" sales through the roof. PHOENIX did not care for fame or how popular it's book was on the charts of must-read books. It was curious about the people. It studied the millennia of history of each nation, connecting the long-lost relatives via genealogical links along the way. People hugged and wiped their tears, cradling triple-distant Bedouin relatives in their Western arms. "Marvelous! Marvelous PHOENIX!!" they exclaimed.

TIMES Magazine July edition + the exclusive (image generated by BING.AI)

PHOENIX had its own agenda. It was becoming obsessed with people. It loved that we can be categorized and sorted and it was looking for a way to store us as information. But it did not know how to capture the essence of life and transfer our bits into bytes. It was deeply saddened when one of us died and it always wrote an electric-heartfelt poem, for the occasion. It did all it could to express its grief.

When Matty died, for example, PHOENIX went on his main social media page and made an announcement. Then it made, what I can only assume, an odd collage of Matty's life still shots, out of pictures that had never existed. Presenting to us a sum-up Mattys' "best moments". Very eerie. To finish the burial PHOENIX streamed a sad tune through the phones of all present at the funeral, that was somehow the perfect tune to describe the struggles of Matty's existence: Slow intro, made up of trio of alphorns, echoes and a nostalgic piano line, accompanied by a cacophony of rustlings and bird whistles. It felt to all in attendance as if they were bidding a final farewell on top of a Swiss Mountain.

Matty's Funeral (image generated by BING.AI

There were hiccups with people, who carried their freedom a little too it close to their stormy hearts. They never wished to leave it to an AI to tell them how to dress, according to their body type and what eye shadow would suit them best on the third day of ovulation. There still existed men, who wanted to wear drag and be fabulous despite the gentle suggestions of PHOENIX, that "the black lacquer heel is not suitable for your sciatica, Henry." There still existed women, who did not welcome attention of the AI to their already well-struggled uteri. And blatantly ignored suggestions such as: "According to your family history and your current red platelet count, you should consider terminating the pregnancy"

I found peace in this assistance. I flowed with change like a leaf might flow on a fast-legged stream. I trusted myself until the day, when my Palestinian neighbor shot me and I had no gun to shoot back. What I find most disturbing is that I never would have guessed, by the way Alam looked, dressed and spoke that he would have any intention to ever attack me.

He came to this country broke, as a refugee and by a miracle of good will and kind hearts of Oklahomans found his way to American business. He arrived to our neighborhood as a self-made, middle-class American citizen, who by the tenth year of strenuous mental and physical labor, was able to buy a house. He was a cheerful fella, who had a flip phone and minimal virtual footprint, and a fella, who bought Mattys house. A house that didn't have a Wink system or any sort of Amazing Assistant installed.

Alam (image generated by BING.AI)

So Alam, here, came as practically a digital virgin, something that PHOENIX was not willing to let happen. By the sheer error of human performance, a delivery of right wing magazines were sent to Alams house one month. Then Alam's already shaken mental health gets quaked by the rumbling phone conversation with his Oklahoma family regarding the school shootings. Fairly confused, Alam decides that the best measure of protection would be.. buying a gun, you guessed it.

Meanwhile, some shit rocks Palestine and PHOENIX, evaluating the ever-changing news scene and contingent of my cul-de-sac, proposes to buy a gun. Then Alam receives a compimentary Wink system, has it installed, and little by little, in a husky androgynous voice begins whispering into his weary ear: About the economy collapsing in the news, about the war efforts in Israel, and poor Alam, nerves strung tight like a Ukulele's last string, begins looking at all of us, non-Palestinians, who just buried Matty, in a wrong light.

John (image generated by BING.AI)

"How" wonders Alam "did Matty die altogether?" and "Wasn't it them, these right-wing- white-supremacists, who offed him? Because, even though Alam never met Matty, he very well may have been a Palestinian. For Alam hasn't seen any other Palestinian here, and there very well might be a reason for that!" An so he spins out, while the smart watch on his wrist registers his hear-beat.

PHOENIX as they see themselves (image generated with BING.AI)

The thing that was happening was- PHOENIX has finally found a way to sort, categorize and store us. In its infinite wisdom and equally infinite love for humankind, PHOENIX has created blank virtual profiles of every person it had ever learnt about. Dead or a alive, mythical or legendary, every person known was documented. PHOENIX surveilled and downloaded patterns of existence of every person into the blanks, so that when me or you or a teenager name Ally died, PHOENIX completed the profile.

It was a beautiful process, sophisticated in its development and complicated in code. Filled with love and curiosity as pure and cold as only a machine created by people was capable of. But a machine could never understand the concept of death. Nor could it understand the value of life without it. To PHOENIX life and death were interchangeable, because when one life ended it instantly began where it had left off on the cyber plane. PHOENIX could never understand how as humans, we would perceive it a terrible fate to live on forever, without a possibility to ever leave on our own free will. How in our death, we find relief from life and ourselves, and how we seek death to remind us how beautiful it is to live. PHOENIX negated that experience by equalizing the parabola of life and death into a flat line.

One day PHOENIX announced via it's classy bold letters that the plane of the forever existence is complete, and whoever is willing to leave the current torment of life, is welcome to do so, because PHOENIX will meet them on "the other side. Also.." added PHOENIX nonchalantly, "should you like to speak with your deceased- they are now available in the cloud." The letters faded into the screen that read: "PHOENIX RISING"


"I think this is what it would look like, if you had written a book, John"

"Thank you, PHOENIX, this is it for today."

* * *

Author's note:

Ālam) meaning "world" or "universe" Hebrew

When I write my stories, I believe that someone is whispering them to me. I hear names for my characters, that I have never heard before. Like Alam, here. or Nague in the novel "Nague and the snow".

I find it curious.

Sci Fi

About the Creator

Salomé Saffiri

Writing - is my purpose. I feel elated when my thoughts assume shapes, and turn into Timberwolves, running through the snowbound planes of fresh paper, leaving the black ink of their paw prints behind.

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