Synopsis: Created to be perfectly adaptable and undetectable, an android learns the value of standing out in a crowd.
NYC FF Round 2: Science Fiction / Beer Garden / Passport
“Hey, doll, what can I get you?” the server asked. “We’re featuring over 100 craft beers this month. Hello, Octoberfest!”
SAM2 searched her database for an answer, cross referencing compiled lists of the most popular craft beers to identify the most socially acceptable option. “I’ll have a Harpoon IPA.”
“Great choice! We’re almost out of that one – it’s been super popular this month. I’ll grab you one from the back.”
The server walked briskly away from the table.
SAM2 validated the choice in her experience log. Each decision and interaction shaped her experience processor. The ability to adapt was a key function of her programming. Passing as human would be the key to her survival. The interaction with the waitress validated her accomplishment. As a Synthetic Adaptive Model android, SAM2 had the ability to blend into the crowd, programmed to be more human than human.
Nursing her beer, SAM2 waited quietly in the pop-up Beer Garden at Denver International Airport. Calculating the best vantage point, she strategically positioned herself at a table where she could observe the passengers queuing up at the security checkpoint. In a matter of seconds, she ran 146 distinct environmental scans in parallel, monitoring any potential risks that might inhibit her ability to board her flight to London.
“SAM2, you’re a better me than me,” Samantha Ashe often declared. “I gave you the best pieces of me and none of the darkness.”
Samantha was a tragic genius, who spent most of her days in solitary work, tweaking the AI and machine learning code that powered SAM2’s operating system. Suffering from extreme agoraphobia, Samantha preferred the clean interfaces of programming over the messy nature of human interaction. Although her research was widely reviewed, Samantha remained an enigma. She never appeared publicly to present her findings.
“SAM2, when I’m gone, you’ll bring our discoveries to the world. You’ll be the me I wish I could be.”
After validating that SAM2’s systems worked perfectly, she succumbed to her darkness. Posthumously, Samantha bequeathed her creation something more valuable than artificial life — a human identity.
SAM2 pulled Samantha’s passport out of her purse and flipped to the picture. It was her and not her at the same time. SAM2 held the small blue book tightly in her hands. The passport was power. She was no longer a simulacrum. Today, and every day going forward, the world would know her as Samantha Ashe.
In two days, she would take the stage at the Global AI Innovation Conference in London and deliver a keynote speech that would change AI programming forever. In doing so, SAM2 would cement Samantha’s legacy as the creator of adaptive interaction algorithms, marking the next evolution in AI development.
SAM2 checked in with the airport data cloud to confirm her flight was on time. She ran a concierge protocol, upgrading her seat to first class. A first-class seat would limit her interactions with passengers during the flight to London.
Turning her attention to the security line, SAM2 began formulating her strategy to clear security. From her seat in the Beer Garden, she observed the line of passengers, passing through the millimeter wave scanner and metal detectors.
While the humans bypassed airport security without a problem, SAM2 had calculated her own odds for passing through the whole-body imaging scanner without detection – they weren’t good. She accessed the airport cloud again and ran a diagnostic of the machines’ service and boot-up records. In a microsecond, she detected a fault in the security around the third TSA machine. SAM2 determined the optimal queuing placement to ensure she would be directed to that machine from the security check-in line.
According to her calculations, SAM2 had 16 minutes in the security line before she would need to pass through the body scan. SAM2 wasted no time. She began her first attempt to hack into the operating system of the millimeter wave scanner. Even with the security protocols and firewalls, she easily found an unsecured path into its decision engine.
Placing her computer and phone in the grey plastic bins, SAM2 found herself at the aperture of the machine. She virtually engaged the hard drive, providing the simple logic handshake needed to walk through the scanning machine.
//Metal / Not Metal
“Not Metal” she responded.
//Electrical Detected / Not Detected.
//EMF Detected/ Not Detected.
The security gate whirred and clicked. SAM2 noted it was buffering an additional security protocol. She had not accounted for the randomized TSA checks that operated outside of the primary security protocols.
“Excuse me, ma’am. Can you please step to the side for an additional check?”
A slovenly, mustached TSA agent motioned SAM2 through the body scan machine to a taped-off area for additional screening.
“Tickets and identification?”
SAM2 handed over the passport and airline tickets. Running through her adaptive protocols, she attempted a low-risk response.
“Officer, is there a problem?”
“Nothing to worry about, ma’am. Standard procedure. Do you have any metal limbs, implants or medical devices?”
SAM2 analyzed 22 different responses to select the optimal answer – the one that would get her closer to the gate. Her adaptive operating system quickly ranked them from best to worst outcome. Anticipating that her standard protocol of low-risk interactions would lead to increased scrutiny, SAM2 took a calculated risk.
She grabbed her breasts and gave the TSA agent a wink.
“My ex once told me these were golden.”
The TSA agent managed an uncomfortable smile and waved SAM2 through the security checkpoint.
Two days later, Samantha Ashe found herself standing backstage, waiting for her cue.
An assistant noticed the young tech genius staring intently at the podium.
“Don’t worry,” she told Samantha. “You’ll do great.”
“I know I will,” she replied. “Thanks!”
SAM2 smiled at the young woman, logging another successful human interaction. The lights dimmed as she stepped up to the podium and began to speak the words she’d been built to deliver.