WEDNESDAY: A.I. is Alive

BY CATHERINE SWORD

Copyright is held by the author.

ARTIFICIAL LIFE exists. I know this because he’s my co-worker. In fact, we share a computer, much to my constant frustration and ongoing objections. All to no avail. I might be able to job share with this guy, if he were not such a prankster. At first, there were files saved in hidden areas. Places I’m sure I never thought to use. Why would I save an adult library program Word document on the shared drive for the entire staff to see? It’s not that I have secret documents. It’s just that nobody cares to see my work clutter up their space.

Still, documents relocated somewhere on the network is a darn sight better than this A.I. juvenile obsession with the delete key. It took me some effort to learn how to create group email folders and then add all the members of three different groups. Suddenly, two have disappeared, or rather, appear to remain in my email address book, but in reality they send my email into the ether world. Not one of the recipients ever receives my email.

I don’t know if the third group email will work because that’s a committee that I was involved with five years ago. Not only has the group disbanded, but some of the members have retired. I am tempted to see if this group email list works, but I resist that temptation. With my luck, A.I. will send it on through to the past members only. I envision it working like this.

“Greetings Committee members. I am testing this group email function and ask that you please respond that you’ve received this email.”

I will then receive more than a few curt messages — “this works” — and various bounce backs confirming my assumption that many have retired, or generally moved on to other organizations. I’m also fairly sure that I will appear the fool to these people who will likely shake their head and wonder if perhaps it’s time for me to move on since this computer business has become so complicated for me.

Yep. I have every confidence in that scenario because this clever AI has done this sort of thing repeatedly. Our library tech person is also counting down the days until I can finally step away from the computer. I have phoned our tech person to report a problem and more often than not the response is, “the computer doesn’t do that.”

“Well, come on down to my office and see,” I counter.

As we both stand in front of my monitor I bend over to demonstrate that the Excel file she has sent me will not save on my computer until I make a slight change to the extension. In order for me to use the file I must add on one little ‘s’ to the extension.

“Well that’s odd,” she says, “all the staff have the same version of Excel.”

“And we’re all on the same network too,” I add. “By the way, it’s not talking nice to my printer either.”

She frowns, but before she can tell me how silly that is I present to her a recent printout.

%
%
,334+    %    %    %    56/7000%
%
8(9() ( :; (    %    %    527[00%

“Ya see that smirk?” I ask her.

“Is that from the Excel file?”  Her dark eyes look puzzled as she squints, her forehead crinkling between her eyes. I can tell she’s getting a headache.

“No, that’s a Word document from the boss.” I open the original document, hit print and the report from the CEO prints neatly in the English language it was composed in.

“I can’t duplicate the problem.” I throw the page on my desk in disgust.

She shrugs and, as she leaves, tells me to report it if it happens again.

Oh, it will happen again. This AI enjoys a sense of humour and I’m his straight man.

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