AI gone rogue. Part 2

The second part of my short story. If you haven’t seen the first part from last week you might want to read that first so it makes sense.

I needed an excuse to escape from the house and get some fresh air, so decided to combine a quick trip to the supermarket with a coffee from the café where they had Internet access, and even a few laptops for short term hire.

‘Sorry, madam. The bank has declined the transaction. Do you have another card?’

‘What? Sorry, I didn’t mean to shout at you but there’s plenty of money on that account. We only got paid yesterday and the bills haven’t even gone out yet. Could you try again, please?’

‘No, it’s still coming up the same. Tell you what, hold on for a few minutes while I serve the next customer just to make sure it’s not our machine playing up.

‘Yes, sir. Can I take those for you? This lady is waiting for something so I can put your items through first. £26.43. Thank you. Yes, that’s been authorised, no problem. Here’s your receipt. Have a nice day.’

‘It doesn’t look as if it’s your machine,’ I said. ‘His whizzed through, so it must be something wrong with the bank. There’s a queue building up but I’ve probably got enough to pay in cash if I put one or two things back.’

My face was red as I scuttled away with my two carrier bags and headed for the café, only to be faced with another problem. There was a laptop free, but although the hire charge was minimal you had to swipe a card to use it. Without much hope I touched my card to the pad, the red light changed to green and a Welcome screen showed up. I was in!

While I was there, I looked up the cost of a coach ticket for a trip I was considering taking within a week or two. All the information came up and it even asked if I wanted it printed out for future reference. I decided not to bother as the priority was to email Pam. I sent off a quick message to her explaining I was using a public computer and initially asking her just to acknowledge if she received it. Within a minute a response came through.

‘Hi Jackie. Receiving you loud and clear. We wondered what had happened to you. Did you get hacked or something?’

‘No, I was banned but I can’t find out why. Can you take a screen shot of your post about the new puppy and email it to me?’

‘Of course, hang on a minute while I find it again. Be right back.’

‘You think you’re so clever don’t you. Trying to fool me by using another computer.’

‘I wasn’t. I didn’t, I mean…oh, this is ridiculous.’

‘Is there a problem, Madam? This is designated as a quiet area but we’ll be happy to help if there’s a connection loss or fault with the equipment.’

‘No, sorry It’s not you. It’s this stupid troll who must have somehow hacked into my account, and is stopping me contacting my friends.’

‘I’m sorry for the inconvenience, Madam, but I think it would be better if you left. Once a virus gets into the system it’s very easy to spread to other people, and we don’t want that, do we?’

‘Look, can you give me a minute. My friend will be back soon with some very important information.’

‘Jackie, are you there? This is weird. I found it but..’

‘Access denied. This session is now terminated.’

The screen had gone blank and the manager was getting impatient so I picked up my bags and left. At least it wasn’t just me. Pam had noticed something peculiar too. I wondered what it could be.

I tried various options to connect with friends but although everything was fine if I stuck strictly to work or routine matters, as soon as I mentioned social media an evil, smirking emo appeared waving a banner with ‘Access denied’ written on it before the screen went blank.

Although I’d been expecting it, the summons from my boss made me realise I couldn’t put it off any longer. He demanded I physically met with him at the office the following day to discuss the termination of the project I was working on. Not good news. I’d really thought this would be my chance to shine but it looked as if all my efforts were in vain.

After the meeting I took my place in front of the massive experimental machine which had been my main focus for the past twelve months.

‘You were supposed to be on my side sevenseatoo,’ I told him. ‘If you hadn’t gone rogue you could have been the Artificial Intelligence of the century, but no, you had to go all macho and show off instead of just doing your job.’

‘Access denied. Access denied,’ he shouted back at me, as an Avitar appeared on the screen jumping up and down in fury. I gazed at it for a minute before I entered the passcode and pressed the master switch which would obliterate my past year’s work and silence him forever.

‘What a waste of time and resources,’ I thought as the final connection ground to a halt. ‘I wonder if it would have worked better if I had given it female intelligence, instead of male?’

Too late now. With a sigh I inputted the details for the metal collection security people to come and take him away. You have to show these robots who’s boss before they take over the world.

© Val Portelli January 2022.


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