Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 86: Applications

This is the 75th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

Applications, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 25th February 2013

Word count: 1000

The story:

“This is the biggest and most powerful computer in the world today,” the photogenic scientist Wolf Hammersmith said to the packed auditorium. “Its official name is the IBM LX9154H, but the guys working on it having given a much more meaningful name, Deep Thought, in honour of the computer from Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.”

“Excuse me Doctor Hammersmith,” a journalist said standing up, “But didn’t Deep Thought give an incomprehensible answer?”

Wolf laughed jovially, “The answer entirely depends on the questions. Our Deep Thought has a series of questions to understand, and then research the answer. This computer is the equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider. It will devote itself to answering the most important questions of our humanity, but as a computer it lacks the bias of human philosophy.”

“So there’s no AI?” another journalist in a blue suit asked.

“Just the opposite, the framework of this machine, from its hardware to its operating system is to mimic the function of key areas of the human brain. It has already developed a highly rudimentary personality, and can validate questions that refer to itself.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?” the blue suited journalist pressed.

“It can’t build evil robot versions of itself, I can assure you,” Wolf said with a laugh.

“How can you be sure?” the same blue suited journalist challenged, much to the growing frustration.

“I don’t know what Sci Fi nonsense you’ve got up there at whatever magazine you work for but I can assure you that’s just not possible. I can teach a child about nuclear physics, but I cannot expect that child to apply that knowledge, they have neither the education nor the tools for practical application. It’s the same with LX9154H.”

“I only ask because I received an email traceable back to your department, voicing these concerns,” explained the blue suited journalist, “And my name is Adam Gibson from the Times.”

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