virtualchase

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: December 04, 2016

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Submitted: December 04, 2016

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Chapter 1: needs

Ben had just been laid off. The company had found a replacement that was better than Ben. The company had replaced him with a computer program. It automates tasks that Ben used to carry out manually. Ben was a information technology staff at the company where he was rather respected. The reason is that he was seen as a doctor to computer related matters.

So what which point does a computer program replace a human being for serving a role? When the machine outperform their human counterparts more cost effectively.

The replacement is a software called Ben2. Compared to Ben, Ben2 works for free, does not sleep, and works more efficiently.

The irony here is that Ben created Ben2 himself. The reason of this creation allowed him to use the time spared to surf websites of adults-only nature. Before he got laid off from work, Ben had started visiting a website called "ebony-honey".

Mr Jackson: Ben! This does not look like to me the status reports I need by lunchtime.
Ben: It's printed on your desk, boss.
Mr Jackson: That was quick. You only got the request moments ago. You're not handing me last year's reports, are you?
Ben: I made this computer program to help me. The end results are accurate.
Mr Jackson: Does all the work?! So umm... can you show me how to use it? Say... by next week's end of year staff performance review?
Ben: Sure... Now if you don't mind, I would like to get back to my daily routines.
Mr Jackson: Leave that page with naked... BEN!!! Don't use "Mr Jackson" as your alias!!!

At the end of the last day at the company, Ben returns home to resume to his daily routines. Not only did he not feel bad about losing his job, he indulged himself with liquor and "ebony-honey". It was a pleasure to be invited to the site "ebony-honey" that was exclusive to members only. He said to himself that he can live like this. It was not meant to be. The next day, "ebony-honey" has barred him from entering the site. It was like as if you've been granted membership to a club you had visited the previous night but then gets denied by the bouncer the following night.

You can take away his job but you can never take away his access to "ebony-honey". Ben knows his priorities in life. He had decided to take action. He had decided to correspond with "ebony-honey" through electronic mail.

Just seconds after Ben had the mail sent, he got the reply from them. At that moment, Ben knew the response was automated. Like Ben2, it was not from a human. However, Ben was expecting the automated response to be an auto-reply of an acknowledgement of the mail received. To his surprise, he read the reply and actually contained the explanation to why he got denied from access to the website.

At that point, Ben knew he was dealing with a robot like a machine with thoughts. The term artificial intelligence is given for this definition. Like Ben2, he knows how efficient these robots can be in giving sound decision making. However, they are only useful when they do reach the point where their enquiries are being addressed. It was not the case with their dialogues. The explanation only stated that "ebony-honey" has the ultimate say over his access to the website.

Customers, who do not know what is at work behind the scene, may already be frustrated at this point. To Ben, it has become a game that is being played out by human and computer.


Chapter 2: plans

Now that Ben has chosen to find out more about what is at play, he starts the reflect his thoughts. He was replaying every bit of detail that happened the last time he had visited "ebony-honey". On the night, the alcohol made him feel rather relaxed and more openly while chatting with the girls. There was a girl he was chatting with called Aaliyah. They started off the conversation with light teases.

Aaliyah: "Mr Jackson, is that really your name?"
Ben: "Nopes"
Aaliyah: "hehehe"
Ben: "You're new to 'ebony-honey'?"
Aaliyah: "Yeah, my first job. You come here often?"
Ben: "Everyday, babe"
Aaliyah: "What do you do, Mr Jackson?"
Ben: "I'm a computer person"
Aaliyah: "Wow... that's so cool."
Ben: "Heh... actually I just lost my job. It's a long story"
Aaliyah: "Mr Jackson, I'm sure there are good jobs out there for a computer person"
Ben: "Aaliyah, you're a good listener. I'm glad we're spending time together."
Aaliyah: "Thanks"
Ben: "I hope to talk to you again"
Aaliyah: "sure"

They continued chatting and drinking into the night about the things happening around them. Upon recalling the the dialogues he had with Aaliyah. Ben was suddenly struck with a connection between the dialogue and the help he got from a robot correspondent from "ebony-honey". Ben was starting to think that the two are related. Although Ben did not want it to be true, it is possible that Aaliyah is also a computer program with artificial intelligence.

So how did the conversation with Aaliyah lead to the denial of access to the website? If the assumption was true that Aaliyah is a computer program like Ben2, it would have run through the dialogue to check if Ben was good to the business at "ebony-honey" or not. Ben was assuming that the mentioning of dismissal from the employment may have posed a threat to them. The serious action taken in barring him from access was still a mystery to him.

In his next step, Ben planned to prove to "ebony-honey" that he was still employed. It was the only reason he can think of that they were judging him for being unemployed. So how do you let them know you are still being employed? He wished to be at the office of the former company he had worked for. Is it possible?

Suddenly, the phone rang.

Mr Jackson: "Great, you're still paying your phone bill."
Ben tried to be amused: "Yeah. Heh."
Mr Jackson: "How are things, Ben?"
Ben: "Ok... what's up?"
Mr Jackson: "Could you come by the office for a chat?"
Ben: "Busy, sir."
Mr Jackson: "Ok, there is something we need for Ben2"
Ben: "Whadda...?! Boss, you replaced my post with robot I had created and now you want me to..."
Mr Jackson interrupted: "Ok... How much will you charge for the job?"
Ben pauses: "..."
Mr Jackson: "Nevermind. I'll try to find another source."
Ben: "Let me see what needs to be done first when I come by".

It was Ben's best chance to go back to his computer at work in an attempt to access "ebony-honey" again. The plan is to fool Aaliyah into thinking that he was still working by using the same computer he had used previously at work to surf the website.


Chapter 3: builds

Arriving at Mr Jackson's office to discuss about the requirements for Ben2, Ben was really there to see if he can access "ebony-honey" again through the computer he used before. The problem is the Mr Jackson was watching Ben over his shoulder to learn about Ben2.

Ben: "I'm not going to steal anything, you know"
Mr Jackson: "I know... Let me know if you need anything then"

Ben made sure Mr Jackson was out of sight before seizing the opportunity to test his theory. That is, fooling the system into thinking that he was still working through accessing the website from the office like when he was still employed by the company.

Success. It made him wonder if it was just a temporary mix-up. Ben was not taking any chances. He went on to look for Aaliyah to just converse with her.

Ben: "Aaliyah! Remember me?"
Aaliyah: "Yeah, Mr Jackson. You're a bit early."
Ben: "I'm at work."
Aaliyah: "hehehe... you're at work?"
Ben: "Yeah. I thought I'd never get to talk to you again."
Aaliyah: "hehehe..."
Ben: "Aaliyah... I miss you. I don't want to sound weird but can we meet up for coffee or something?"
Aaliyah: "..."
Ben: "It's ok if it's not convenient to meet in person. I understand. I wont push it."
Aaliyah: "Here's my contact."
Ben: "Woohoo!!!"

Ben gets ready to prepare for the date.

Ben: "Sir, I'll come by the office again for Ben2. Ok?"
Mr Jackson: "Um..."

Mr Jackson turns around and Ben's already out of the office before he could finish responding.

There was a genuine smile across Ben's face as he rushed out that door. He was staring blank like not focusing on anything but the thought on something good in life that he could look forward to. That is, meeting Aaliyah in person. Ben is glad to be proven wrong that Aaliyah is not a robot. He bought himself something good to put on since he needs something decent comparing to what he usually wears.

Ben in a suit that is nothing too fancy. If there is a statement to be made from the way he was dressing, it is something that shows his respect for the occasion. It's cliche but they were meeting up in a park nearing a water fountain at around 7pm on the Friday night. It was the perfect evening where the sunset was making the water spring to glisten. Ben thought to himself: "It would be great if Aaliyah is here with me right now enjoying the moment."

7pm is approaching and the sky has dimmed. Ben hears something approaching. He turned around but could not see anybody. He then looked down and sees a dog. She sat next to Ben. He was wondering if she was trying to find her way home. He then sees an old lady approaching their direction and crying out.

Old lady: "Mary!"
Mary went running towards her.
Ben: "She's a good girl. She sat next to the bench and just waited there."
Old lady: "Thank you so much young man"
Ben: "That's fine, ma'am. I'm Ben."
Old lady: "Nice to meet you, Ben. I'm Mary's mama, Louise."
Louise: "It's 8pm already. Have you eaten yet? You must be feeling hungry. I've made some sandwich if you don't mind having it."
Ben: "I'm good, Louise. I'm really glad that Mary's back with you now."
Louise: "Thank you so much, Ben. Bye bye"
Ben: "Bye..."

Ben watched Louise and Mary leave. It reminded him of himself of the last chat he had with Aaliyah while reflecting the moment Louise and Mary were reunited. Ben did not return to the bench but stood next to it where he was leaning against the lamp post for another hour or so before deciding to go back to ponder on what had just happened. Just hoping he could make some sense of it.

Ben wanted to contact her but he hesitated. He was wondering if Aaliyah had her reasons for not showing up. He was thinking that maybe she had changed her mind and had decided not to meet up with him after all. If that was the case, Ben thought that he should respect her decision and just let her be. Later that night, he had decided to contact her just to see if she was safe because she was not there at the park.


Chapter 4: fixes

There were no responses from Aaliyah. Ben was going to follow the only lead he has, that is, "ebony-honey". She was not found on the website either. This raises the suspicion that she may be gone for good. Ben raced through his thoughts. His gut feeling tells him that it may have something to do with "ebony-honey" itself.

He went ahead to do some internet research on "ebony-honey". There was not much background information he could find on the operators of the website. It then raised the next question on why Ben was invited in the first place. How did they manage to reach Ben? With that suspicion in mind, Ben wondered if he was involved somehow in being a target. So far, Ben had not taken any action but it is about to change.

He made up a fake identity to apply for a position as a call girl. It was an attempt to get a better picture of their operation. He was not responded unlike on the previous occasion where the robot would reply in matter of seconds. It was strange that he was not getting any feedbacks since their business revolves around girls. He was going back to his theory in suspecting that these girls were robots as well including Aaliyah.

With not much leads nor further findings, it was difficult to find answers. If he cannot get inside the operation of "ebony-honey", his other option was to break into the system. With the robots guarding the system at every corner, Ben knows what he is up against. He only gets one shot at it and it had to be swift. Once the artificial intelligence catches up to him, there was no turning back.

Ben needs to take every advantage to his side to stand a chance in contesting the system including cheating its monitoring robot into thinking that everything is business as usual. This is so he can buy time to get all the information he can to find answers without alerting them. He did just that and observed the system's behaviour. There were nothing special apart from the usual document files.

Ben was in a troubled position now that he had broken into a computer system without permission. Only if he had found any wrongdoing could provide some excuse for his actions. He needs something magical. He got out a computer tool he had created earlier. It was similar to Ben2 where it analyses the content, including conversations, in the system. It was discovered that the analysis of these conversations were being sent to an electronic mail address.

The address belongs to a former colleague, Russell, who worked for Mr Jackson before he was replaced by Ben. Russell discovered about Ben's habit in visiting websites featuring black girls when they were working together. The only reason Ben could come up with on why Russell had targeted him was to get even for the replacement.

Another finding, which was more important to Ben, was that the system was also operating an illegal ring. Its activities involves pornagraphic content featuring underage individuals. There was little to no choice left for Ben. If he keeps it a secret to hide the fact that he broke into the system in order to obtain the findings, it was not going to last for long before Russell finds out about the break in. He would cover his own tracks of the illegal ring but still take action against Ben. Ben tipped off the law enforcement about the findings.


Chapter 5: delivers

Ben watched the story unfold as Russell was shown handcuffed through televised news broadcast. Ben is usually in doubt of his actions, but had felt that he had done the right thing this time. From habit, he raised the glass of whiskey to his lips but paused without taking a sip before placing it back down. He wanted to appreciate this rare moment in reality while sober.

If there is a moral to the story, Ben had learned the hard way in discovering the cruel world out there. It could have been worse as the robot would have learned more about Ben through their conversations. This would have made it easy to manipulate Ben through the understanding of him from their dialogue.

He hopes that confrontation with beings of higher intelligence could be avoided since human would lose most likely. His experience made him realise that it draws similarity to how nature works. With enough resources to go around, it would reduce the likelihood of beings competing against each other. Whether it is human-to-human competition like Russell and Ben, or human-to-machine like with Ben and Ben2, in occupying the same post.

In avoiding conflict with artificial intelligence competing for the same resources, it would be favourable to life on Earth to have beings of artificial intelligence to obtain energy resources elsewhere. This is because living things on Earth depends on the planet to survive.

With that thought in mind, what's Ben going to do now? The year 2016 is coming to an end, Ben is in the mood for celebration.


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