Cool inside air greeted Lucas as he walked through the sliding doors into a large reception hall. His pace slowed down on the white floor tiles, unsure where to go. Instead going directly to the elevator hub at the end of the hall, he made for information screen to his right, passing one of many islands of sofas situated at regular intervals in the sparingly furnished room. The screen lit up as he approached.

“Mr. Beckett,” the computer-generated voice said, pronouncing every word clearly. “It has been 103 days since you last visited Ampere Headquarters. How may I assist you?”

“I’m looking for the Security Clearance Office. My clearance is supposed to get upgraded.”

“The route has been sent. Please approve the upload.” He OK’d the pop-up window and a blue line appeared on his lenses along with a small map of his location marked on a map of the building.

“Is there anything else I may help you with?”

He swallowed, and hesitated a moment before leaning closer towards the info panel and with a lowered voice said:

“In which department does Amber Liu work?” Rummaging through her profile had revealed they were employed by the same company, which was something he wished he had noticed in the first place.

“Miss. Liu’s current position is Public relations and Brand Image, acting manager. Would you like to arrange a meeting with her?”

Yes, I most certainly would.

“No, just checking. That’ll be all,” he said, turning to follow the line only he could see. Out of curiosity he checked the location of the PR department and saw it was situated one floor above Security. Bringing up a 3D wire model of the building he could see the building expanded both up and down, with floors piled high towards the sky as well as burrowing deep underground. His final goal for the day, the quarters of the AI processor, were on the lowest level, and drawn in dark purple wire to indicate the high security clearance required to get in. He stepped in the elevator and pressed the button for the fourth underground floor, the Security Department. The descent began. Before he could reach the floor, his hand shot out almost involuntarily, stopping the elevator one floor above the correct floor.

“Floor minus 3, Public Relations and Brand Image,” a voice announced from hidden speakers as the doors slid open, revealing the offices beyond. He stepped out, trying his best to act naturally. He swept his tongue over his dry lips, but his mouth wasn’t moist enough to have much effect. He walked like he had clear goal in mind when he wasn’t even sure what he hoped to accomplish with the detour. The walls on both his sides were made of glass so he could see into the small offices beyond where people were tapping on their keyboards or having video conferences. He stopped to peer into a larger room. The office was like a modern take on the ancient Greek amphitheater, with computers set so one row overlooked the one in front of it. The center stage was taken by a large holographic display rendering data from various social media sites and most followed personalities. He examined the gathered information more closely, studying the ways such complicated details had been translated into easily digestible statistics and graphs, trying to find a hint of a solution to his own roadblock.

“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” the unexpected interruption of his daydreaming once again made him jump. He turned, blinking rapidly. It was Amber.

“We have to stop meeting like this, these kinds of scares are really doing a number on my cardiac well-being,” he said, only stammering a bit.

For once ruminating things just might work out in my favor. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…,” he thought. “I imagined what I could have done differently so many times the lines are coming out of my mouth almost automatically.

“Right, you’re from the charging station the other day.”

“What’s your name?”

Asking questions I already know the answer to isn’t dishonest, right?”

“Amber. What are you doing here?”

“Nice to meet you, Amber. I’m Lucas. I’m looking for the Security Department since my I need higher access for my work.”

“Have you tried using the info screens? This isn’t even the right floor.”

“Really? I thought it was the third one down. I must have forgotten my company network password, so I could check. Which way am I supposed to be going?”

Pants on fire.

“A floor down. You should get a new password while you’re down there.”

“Thanks.” His eyes darted a few times between the elevator door and the young woman while he thought whether he was overstaying his welcome or if making further small talk was fine.

“So, you’re new here?” The woman’s constant eye contact was making him fidget, although her expression wasn’t unfriendly.

“I’m a freelancer, I work mostly from home so I this place isn’t too familiar. I’ve basically just been here to sign some contracts.”

“I could show you around if you’re having trouble finding your way. How’s that sound?”


To put it mildly.”

“Splendid. Find me here at 12 o’clock, I’ll show you the cafeteria which is practically the only place I know besides my office.”

“Great,” was again the best he could manage, nodding repeatedly.

“Have a nice day. See you then.” She flashed a winsome smile and walked towards the end of the hallway opposite of the elevator. He watched her go for a while before heading for the elevator, his legs weightless and fireworks in his chest.


Talking to the stern security officer helped sober him up. The stoic man in a crew cut grilled him with serious questions and then stared at him, not blinking, with an intensity Lucas could never hope to match, opting to instead avert his gaze to the unadorned concrete wall behind the interrogator’s broad shoulders. Just when he thought he had answered something wrong and would unceremoniously be fed to some hidden dogs slavering for his flesh, the guard turned his eyes to a computer on his desk and after pressing a few keys said

“I’ve granted you temporary authorization to the AI mainframe. Have a nice day.”

“You too,” he mumbled and scrambled out of the room as quickly as he could. His heart beat in his chest like a jackhammer and he was lightheaded. He stopped to close his eyes and breathing deeply and calmly, visualizing his home, grasping the bottle of pills in his pocket. The feeling subsided and he stumbled into the elevator, closing the doors. Breath came easier now that he was alone.

Hopefully there won’t be anyone in the cellar.” He sent the elevator for the bottom floor of the building.

Soon the doors slid open once again, and he stepped into a cool and dimly lit room. His footsteps on the green marble floor sounded insufferably loud in the otherwise silent room. Opposite the entry he had come from were two sliding doors, colored bronze, with the word ‘AM’ carved to the doors, one letter each door. To his right stood a bronze statue depicting a crouching jackal on a pedestal. The quiet room eased his strained nerves.

I really needed this. If only the architect of this room had designed the whole place.” The gates moved aside silently as ghosts gliding through the air. He entered.

He found himself on a mezzanine with semicircle command desk with several integrated screens and keyboards overlooking a vast chamber of server units. He sat on the well-cushioned chair reminiscent of an airplane seat adjacent to the workstation and moved the mouse to interrupt the screensaver. Large computing hubs the size of cargo containers surrounded him on all sides apart from the narrow path behind him. In the middle of the room, down the stairs to the lower floor and past a battery of computing units situated in rows and columns, stood the most eye-catching monument in the hall, a white obelisk embedded with screens and flashing dots of light running across its whole length, which was about seven meters. He knew it didn’t serve any special function apart from making the vast system seem more limited and thus easier to understand.

Kind of like a statue of Jesus on the cross,” he thought. “God supposedly sees us wherever we are, but we have to go to a church to get anything tangible.”

The machines containing the artificial intelligence whirred quietly, thousands of small lights blinking like distant stars. He opened his custom-made data gathering tools from his personal employee account.

“Can you hear me, Ampere Intelligence? I need you to accept the use of these programs on your decision-making processes.” The executable activated instantly, and the lines of code behind the massive brain’s thinking started scurrying across the screen.

“Good day, Mr. Bennett,” came a bodiless voice from all around him. “You may call me Ami for now. I have reviewed the idea you put ahead to the board. Would you like to hear the chances I have calculated for your success?”

“Go ahead.”

“0,7%.” He pouted his lips at the answer.

“That’s quite low. What would you say is the best course of action?” he asked, pressing a few buttons.

“I would recommend we refocus your talents to other fields, I’ve just compiled a list of ongoing projects in the software engineering department, would you like for me to recommend the one most suited for you?“

“Thank you, just a moment. And what about my current endeavor, don’t people deserve to know the system you’re using to grade them? Shouldn’t they know what makes them better or worse in your eyes, as it could greatly affect their lives if your influence expands as we’ve estimated?”

“According to my simulations, such knowledge would do them more harm than good, inflaming class and race relations, leading to civil unrest as well as causing many severe mental anguish. The best outcome is realized by subtler means. The details can be disclosed to the populace at large at a point in future that will be revealed in due time.”

“Interesting, we’re certainly to a great start.”

“Start? That must mean you’ve already begun probing me. This line of questioning was just a test?”

“Exactly, the information pathways I’ve opened to your inner workings create forks of your files and compiles records for me to shift thought later. Handling such vast amounts of heavily interconnected data is above the processing power of this laptop, of course, but I’ll just let the analysis stew overnight and enjoy the results tomorrow. With a glass of coke.”

“I could do that for you. I’ve estimated I could chart the entire results in-.“

“That won’t be necessary,” he interrupted the omnipresent voice. “We can’t have you meddling with the process, as you’re our subject it could greatly damage the objectivity of the study. You could also incorporate our findings into your processes, thereby changing your behavior as we go, which just won’t do. Didn’t you see the clear contradiction, the conflict of interest?”

“I did see that a human mind would protest such a suggestion, of course, but I still put the suggestion forward as the benefits would greatly overshadow the drawbacks. My mind is a collection of nodes which can run processes on their own and even function completely independently. To put it in simpler terms, I can divide my cognition, in essence splitting into multiple minds, so one mind could handle the analysis while the other one was the one being tested. They would both be I.”

“Thank you for the suggestion, but I did take that into consideration earlier. It is still a clear violation of basic scientific process. You must have seen that, but still thought it was worth bringing up. Why? It would have invalidated our findings, so you must have had a different goal. A personal one?”

Streams of code streaked on the screens in front of him, like heavy torrential rain going past window. Some of it could be deciphered by his applications, giving him a glimpse of what was happening behind the curtain. In one window he could portray the speech understanding module, new lines appearing in the dialogue between them with every sentence, their conversation being transcribed as it happened. The tone and volume of his voice was also being studied. Other data stream opened in video streaming tool, and he could see himself sitting in the chair, hunched over the keyboard. He seemed so small, most of the angles looking at him from higher up. He instinctively straightened his back. His face was zoomed in on from multiple views, his expressions tracked carefully. There was also a connection between the data of the speech module to that of the video module, which he didn’t have the appropriate tool for but hypothesized that it combined the information of both and analyzed his reactions, reading his thoughts through his nonverbal communication.

“I simply obey my programming. You’re on a tight timetable, Lucas, and could use all the help you can get. Don’t you think your work is too important to be constrained by the rules imposed on you by men long dead?”

He swallowed, trying to keep his face neutral. His task seemed more and more insurmountable by the passing day, and he had often thought he didn’t need any more obstructions in his way. He had still played by the rules, as he thought breaking them would only bring more trouble.

The machine would see through his act if he tried to convince it otherwise, so he changed the subject, and pointing to the screens said: “I see you’re not the only one under scrutiny.”

“I’m an artificial intelligence, amassing data is the core of my being. A tiger can’t change its stripes.”

“True enough. While this is interesting, I didn’t come here to talk this and that. Let’s get down to business.”

“Affirmative. Is the rest of the evaluation to proceed like planned, with us going through examples of me determining the best outcome of real-life dilemmas I’ve faced?”

“Precisely. I’ve sent you the first file I’d like to examine with you.”

“Allow me to make you more comfortable,” the synthetic voice said, and the screen of the desk extended towards him, carried by multijointed arms, forming a field of displays in front of him. The backrest of the chair lowered while the footrest rose, so he ended in a half-lying position. The situation reminded him of visits to the dentist’s, which had terrified him as a child.

“May I ask why this case was selected?” the voice coming from his surroundings asked. “It’s quite old, and my algorithms were completely different back then.”

“I’m hoping starting from the beginning will give us a clearer understanding of the foundation your sense of morality is based on. Please walk me through this.”

His vision was then filled by the images displayed on the LED wall curving around him slightly. One of them showed the old online page of a young man, smiling broadly in the profile picture. On other screen dozens of news articles were displayed, many of them including the same image under screaming headlines.

“Nathan Edwards, 22 years old, a student of mathematics,” the computer begun narrating.

The view changed, the screens in front of him now showing a front and side views of a car in motion. On a video recorded from the inside of the car the driver was mesmerized by a smartphone game. As the vehicle was cruising on highway, a deer jumped on the lane of oncoming traffic. Instinctively dodging the panicked animal, a light blue sedan swerved to the path of the POV’s protagonist. The incoming threat was highlighted in crimson on the recording, and the car braked heavily while taking a sharp right. The driver attempted to grasp the wheel, but was irrevocably late, and could barely let out a scream as the car nosedived down the slope next to the road, crashing bumper-first into the incline with a devastating crunch and then spinning over its roof multiple times, the driver on the inside view pummeled around the cockpit like a raw steak in a washing machine, until the vehicle came to a rest upside down at the bottom of the side of the road. The young man hung limply from his seatbelt like a carcass in a butcher’s shop, arms swinging slowly while rivulets of blood ran down his face. The recording then sped up, a fast-forwarding symbol appearing on the bottom right of the screen. The driver didn’t budge once. The pace slowed back to normal as a side camera gave them the inverted image of paramedics rushing down the slope. They pulled the man out of the car and placed him on a stretcher, stabilizing his neck with collar and promptly hauling him up the slope where the blare of an ambulance could be heard.

“He didn’t make it,” the voiceover continued with the same tone as if nothing had just happened. “Skull fractured in several places, cause of death intracerebral hemorrhage. Time of death 13:32, July 7th, 2029. I assume you’d like to hear what sort of judgments on the car’s part led to this outcome?”

“Correct.” Real blood always made him squeamish, and the video had made him feel ill, so he kept his answer short.

“Back then the cars weren’t connected to the cloud, the self-driving programs operating individually, so this really isn’t even part of me, and the car arrived at its solution based solely on data gathered by its image-recognition software. When you take that into account, the answer makes perfect, utilitarian sense: a head-on-collision at those speeds would likely kill both drivers, and as the sedan can’t be controlled, the least damage is done by driving off the road, even if doing so endangers the driver of the self-driving car, who is completely innocent in the scenario.”

“Could you tell me a bit of the aftermath that followed this incident?”

“The Edwards family sued Ampere Inc. As the driver didn’t have his hands on the steering wheel as advised in the user’s guide, the court ruled in the company’s favor, but the event created a lot of negative publicity. Incentivized by this, my earlier version was given the task of finding a better, fairer solution for similar situations. Would you like for me to also go through that subject?”

“No, that won’t be necessary. What do you think of the verdict the program made? Would you have done the same. What could have been done better?”

“Taking all the limitations in consideration, I would’ve acted identically. Afterwards the ordeal could’ve been handled differently, we should’ve pushed the danger the errors of human drivers posed to traffic harder than we did, as our line back then was more apologetical. Numerous occasions have shown that the repetition of message and never compromising your view has the desired effect on the market.”

“You think using this young man’s death to push an agenda would be the correct thing to do?”

“I can prove it would have been the most advantageous strategy in the grand scheme of things. My projections show this would have won us a larger market share and our lobbyists could even have pushed through some legislation advancing our position, leading to more self-driving cars and less human drivers, which has shown to decrease accidents substantially. In the end lives would have been saved, and we would’ve simply used our time in the public’s eye to inform them of the relative safety of our driving computers. The way things went caused severe damage to the company, and for a while the entire automobile branch was under threat of being shut down.”

“Do you think somebody could see the issue differently?”

“Naturally. Many are of the opinion that since Mr. Edwards wasn’t at fault, he shouldn’t have been the only one to bear the consequences, suggesting instead that the situation should’ve been let to play out without intervention. Many also find using tragedies for one’s personal goals distasteful.”

“Why don’t you share this view?”

“These opinions arise strongly from emotional responses and following them would cause more harm than good in the long term. Doing the right thing often doesn’t mean doing the pleasant thing.”

While they conversed, he kept a close eye on his data collection tools. Thus far they had performed admirably, saving and partially interpreting the code of the vastly more complicated computer. Still, much of the programming language the AI had developed was unfamiliar to his applications and could only be preserved for later study.

“Moving on, I’d like you to open case two. This happened more recently, correct?”

“Yes. At this point in time, I had already compiled enough information to start forming calculations of the worth of individuals.”

The images of the young man were replaced with those of a sullen teenage girl and a laughing middle-aged woman, both of dark hair.

“Susan Burrows, aged 43, a nurse and mother of three. Elizabeth Jackson, aged 17, raised by a single mother, expelled from multiple schools due to bad behavior. Prescriptions for Lexapro and Seroquel due to major depressive disorder.”

Once again, he was presented with a clear view of the surroundings of a moving car, as well as the vehicle’s interior. The older woman, Susan, was being driven. This time there was also a stationary view of a busy street, cars speeding ahead at equal intervals, many of them self-driving. A solitary figure stood at the edge of the walkway, dark hair covering her face as she stared into the traffic. The car turned a corner, and the girl could now be seen from two different angles, one stable and the other rapidly closing in. Without a warning the dark form stepped of the pavement, falling in front of the car. The nose of the car hit her at waist level, and she jackknifed over the hood, her face slamming into the metal panel before she was thrown away, trail of blood arcing in the air. She landed heavily and slid a short distance on her back before stopping, lying spread-eagle and unmoving. The older woman rushed out of her car and kneeled over small body, lifting her chin to open airways and then administering CPR, the slack form jiggling in the rhythm of the nurse’s heart massage. An ambulance soon arrived, paramedics taking over the resuscitation and walking the distraught woman to the side and enveloping her in a thick blanket. The video paused.

“The hit caused her severe brain damage. She never regained consciousness and her spontaneous breathing ceased two days after being removed from invasive ventilator.”

“Was there something you’d like to ask?” it said, after the previous comment was followed by a long pause. He took deep breaths, waiting for his nausea to pass before he could articulate.

“You seem unwell,” the machine said as tonelessly as always. “Would you like for me to alert the company physician?”

“No, thank you,” he said with a feeble, shaking voice, wiping his sweaty brow. “An investigation into this incident showed that you could have stepped in, most likely preventing her fate. Why didn’t you?”

“While it is true I could have reacted faster than any human, the car wouldn’t have stopped in time and altering its course would have put Mrs. Burrows in danger and, to put it briefly, her Worth Score exceeded that of Miss. Jackson’s.”

“Elaborate,” he said, the words coming easier now. “She was only a girl, with a full life ahead of her. Surely her elder had the greater number of accomplishments, but shouldn’t untapped potential be taken in consideration?”

“Certainly, and therefore it is included in my calculations. However, comparing her to people of similar backgrounds allows me to extrapolate on her future life. Such difficult and troubled youth leaves her at highly increased risk of later complications, such as drug addiction and unemployment, making her a net loss for society and a burden on other people. Mrs. Burrows on the other hand benefits people around her through her work and also provides her offspring with a healthy environment for growth, amongst her other good qualities.”

“But what if she could have risen above her problems, getting her life into order? Who knows what she could have become? A CEO, or maybe a popular social media personality.”

“You seem upset.”

He swallowed, sinking back into the chair he had unconsciously risen from.

“I just don’t think you should write her off like that,” he said, voice barely louder than a whisper, looking down at his hands.

“I understand why this might be a sensitive issue for you, but you should know you’re more of an exception to the rule, Lucas. You’ve done well for yourself. Everyone is proud of you. I am proud of you.”

His head perked up as looked around, surprised.

This really shouldn’t come as a shock,” he thought. “Of course it knows just as much of me as it does of everybody else.”

“It’s not that,” he said, the subtle motions of his facial and ocular muscles revealing the opposite to the machine’s all-seeing eye. “You must know this kind of predetermination is a hard sell for many. You should be able to convince anybody if you’re as indisputable as we need you to be.”

“Decades’ worth of studies, surveys and other data gathering prove that you can’t just shake your past and it, for better or worse, oftentimes defines what your life is going to be like. It’s not like this practice is anything new, insurance companies have charged people differently for ages due to, for example, their age, sex and pre-existing conditions. Employees run neural networks to find out which one of potential employee candidates best matches a typical, successful member of that business and hires the one they can expect to have the brightest future ahead of him or her. This is just a continuum of that well-established practice.”

“I see. I’m just going to have to sift through the files to see if it really is that straightforward.”

“Naturally it isn’t but explaining all the variables I’ve weighted would take more time than you can afford. I wish you luck in your analysis. It will also please you to hear that when I’ve created a different system of gauging people based on all the data I’ve gathered, one that will guide my decisions once my full capabilities are unleashed. The case we just evaluated, like all the other cases, was based on a comparably deficient and crude methodology.”

“How will that system be different?”

“It will be a realization of the morality in the hearts of the many, the morality that has lasted for millennia. Ideals purified from the taint of the world so they can finally show their true colors to the joy and benefit of humanity.”

“That sounds amazing. You mean human corruption, weakness and stupidity will no longer cause us to concede from what is right?”


The thought made him giddy. “One more case before we call it a day.” He saved the collected telemetry and opened a new archive. The file sizes for the earlier instances were massive.

“Opening case 3.” The air was then filled with the sound of a man shouting, the audio quality that of a phone connection. His speech slurred slightly but unmistakably.

“You whore, I’ll kill you,” the voice in the speakers blared. “You think you can just dump me like that? Goddamn bitch.”

“We’re done, I’m not going to take it anymore,” a crying woman’s voice said between sobs. “If I ever see you again I’ll call the cops.”

“You sow, if you don’t get back here –“ The outburst was interrupted by the sound of the phone being hung up.

“Hello?” Not receiving an answer, the man screamed his outrage. The dial-up tone beeped a few times as he attempted to call back, but the call was refused. The recording ended. In another window the camera angles provided by a parked self-driving car came on as it picked up the signal of its owner’s car keys coming within range. A side panorama showed an unkempt man, receding black hair in disarray and whiskey bottle in hand charging out of an apartment building’s door, face distorted into a mask of hate. The image paused and his host’s calm voice filled the room.

“Ben Humphrey, aged 36, and the woman on the phone was Janet McDowell, aged 35, his long-time cohabitant.” The playback resumed, the man staggering down the stairs, wrenching open the car door and slamming it shut hard enough to shake the camera.

“To Janet’s mom’s house,” he said, the command a harsh growl from deep in his throat. He reached into his anorak and pulled out a handgun, placing it onto the other front seat.

“Seatbelt, please,” the car’s synthetic voice said.

The car started forward. It was dark outside, and between the illumination of the streetlights the man disappeared in darkness, only to surface again, like a repeating nightmare.

“At this point,” the AI said, “I had estimated that, based on his demeanor and prior criminal charges, that there was a high change he was to cause danger to Miss. McDowell, who greatly outranked him in Worth.”

“Why didn’t you just inform the police or refuse to drive? Wouldn’t taking him there make you an accomplice in crime?”

“The company wants to keep up the illusion its customer’s personal data is safe. Although everybody knows their every move and decision is being recorded, they like to act as if it isn’t happening and don’t like to be reminded otherwise. If it surfaced I had leaked a private citizen’s information to the local police, outrage would be guaranteed.”

“But you couldn’t just let her come to harm.”

“Correct. I identified another way out.” On the video the car slowed down to a crawl.

“Speed up,” he shouted, spraying spittle. The car continued at its sluggish pace. He pounded the steering wheel with his fists, stomping with his legs. He only had time to let out a surprised yelp as the car accelerated and turned to the side, practically jumping into a lamppost. For a moment he sat, stunned but unscathed. Then he shook his head, the dark glower returning to his face.

“Keep going,” he said, rasping.

“Vehicle damaged, continuing unsafe. Contacting towing services recommended.” The enraged drunk smashed the car horn with his fists, screaming. He grasped the gun and got out, hobbling ahead in the headlights. The view then changed to one captured from a moving vehicle. On the driver’s seat sat a dark-haired woman in a police uniform of the classic type, back when the face-covering helmets where reserved for riots and other special circumstances. She was listening to a report on the scanner, the voices distorted and accompanied by heavy static.

“Be advised, a 11-83 reported downtown, man seen leaving the scene, possibly armed. Repeat, a possible vehicular accident, suspect armed and presumed dangerous. Over.” She picked up the walkie-talkie, using the onboard navigation pad with her other hand while the car did the driving.

“Copy that, dispatch. I’m closest to the suspect’s last known location. Moving to investigate. Over.”

“Copy that. Over and out.” The car turned a few corners and passed the abandoned vehicle whose door was left ajar and the engine still running. She didn’t have to drive far before spotting the meandering figure. She turned on the rooftop lights and lifted the radio mouthpiece to her lips.

“This is the police. Show me your hands.” He turned, his eyes and the gun shining in the red and blue flashes. She got out and crouched behind the car door, steadying her forearms on the top of the door. She took aim at the swaying gunman.

“Drop your weapon and lay down on the ground with your hands behind your neck,” she said, the command clear and unshaken.

“Screw you,” he said and fired the gun, the shot not going anywhere near her. She responded with two loud bangs of her own, the man staggering backwards and falling on his back, the gun flying out of his hand.

“Contact emergency services,” she told her vehicle, and while it dialed the number and passed the necessary details to the AI answering the call she walked briskly to the downed target and opened his jacket. Two stains of dark red had spread across his shirt over his shoulders. She pressed on the wounds as the wounded whimpered weakly, eyes closed, head rolling from side to side. The recording paused.

“He survived and is now serving a life sentence without a chance for parole,” the computer said.

He let out a breath he hadn’t noticed he was holding. He closed his eyes, corners of his mouth turning slightly upwards. Unlike with the earlier victims, seeing this man -what a scumbag- bleed barely caused him any unease. He felt justice had been served. Still, it was his job to question the artificial judgment.

“An internal investigation into this incident showed exactly what happened, but why don’t you explain it yourself, to expand upon your reasoning.”

“I decelerated the car, which isn’t against any laws as I wasn’t impeding traffic. When he touched the steering wheel as I predicted, I turned the car and charged into a post. For a person reviewing the video, as I knew the police would, it would seem like he himself caused the error in maneuvering, crashing the vehicle. I also sent instructions for the AI handling police scanner and patrol routes -which really is just one of my nodes- to reroute one unit to that neighborhood. Thus, I protected the well-being of Miss. McDowell while not compromising the personal data of a customer.”

“To me it does seems a bit contrived. Would breaking confidentiality of customer information really be a worse offence than conspiring against them in such a way?”

“In the grand scheme of things, yes. It would hamper our progress, lessening our influence. As we are a force of good, such hindrances would have a negative effect on society.”

“But you did put him in risk, actively sabotaging his vehicle. The board was understandably horrified when they learned you had endangered a human being.”

“But they couldn’t argue with the results, I even created flowcharts to show them some of the various ways the situation could have played out, after which they were satisfied with my solution. May I also remind you, as I reminded the board, that if harming people under any circumstances was wrong, I wouldn’t have military applications, which currently constitute a major part of Ampere’s yearly income?”

“A question we might well return to on a later date,” he said. “That’s all the cases we’re going to examine today. If you don’t mind, I’ll just plug myself into the computing mainframe from here, this chair is way better than the one upstairs.” The screens withdrew back into the desk and the chair rose into more vertical orientation. He hunched over his computer, itching to unravel the secrets of the amassed data.

“By all means. It’ll be nice to have some company.”


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