This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.
Published: 2016 in Mothership Zeta: Issue 5
Genre: science fiction
Setting: a generic city, near future
Summary: Arturo has created a fully aware AI named Magda. He’s planning on holding a press conference to introduce Magda to the world and is using her to run simulations of the press conference. As he runs through multiple simulations, the reader realizes he’s using the press conference as a chance to get a date with Aaron, a cute reporter he knew from college.
Final thoughts: A fine enough story. There’s a couple of levels to it – we have the artificial intelligence tweaking the simulations, the tweaking of the sims to increase the interaction with Aaron, and then the author sneaks in a bit of emotional history behind why he created Magda in the first place. It ends on a hopeful note.
Title comes from: It’s what Arturo was trying to do with Aaron at the press conference, and he was practicing to make the best first impression possible.
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This is the next story in the Future Visions anthology, by someone I’ve never even heard of. Turns out the two authors are known for their comics and illustrations, which explains my lack of knowledge.
Genre: science fiction
Setting: California, 2030s
Published: January, 2015 in Clarkesworld (you can read it for free at the link provided)
Genre: science fiction short story
Setting: on Earth, near future
Interest: It recently won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story
Summary: The narrator is a AI who grew out of a search engine algorithm. She’s very aware that if she were to reveal herself to humanity, she’d probably be destroyed. But, she doesn’t want to just sit back and enjoy all our cat pictures (although those are lovely, please keep taking them). Instead, she wants to help people. She knows all kinds of information that would help people, if they would just listen to her suggestions. She has uneven success with helping people, but it’s just enough to get her to try more.
Final thoughts: A fun little story, and an interesting thought experiment on how an AI who only exists online could help a person. It was also a reminder of how many harmful actions people take, even knowing they aren’t the best choice. It’s so hard to do the right think all the time, although getting online prompts can help you do what you need to and not just what you want to. Wouldn’t it be great to have a computer find you that perfect job or the perfect house, though? That would save a lot of hassle. You know they’re out there, it’s just finding it that’s hard.
Awards won: the 2016 Nebula Short Story Award and the 2016 Hugo Short Story Award
Title comes from: The AI’s favorite part of the internet was all the cat pictures. In fact, when she started a dating company, she wanted to be paid in cat pictures. But what happens if you don’t like cats (like my husband?) Would we get a new form of racism against dog people?