Skip to content

icon picker
Service As A Service

Written: 2018
"Hahaha oh wow what a cat, it didn't even care that a drone flew right over it! haha"
I'm laughing my ass off at this 3Vid when my Agent materializes before me.
"What do you want?!" I ask grouchily, trying to get it to go away since it usually represents work for me.
"Sir, I have fielded an incoming call as you from a person named 'Steve' who I cannot ascertain whether is an agent or not. My inference database has found evidence in your social cloud that you do know this person, would you like to take this call?"
Ug, fine whatever. "Ya ya connect me." And my Agent disappears being replaced with an avatar of 'Steve'.
“Hello,” I answer haughtily.
“Ya hey Mark? I guess I was talking to your Agent before if you're saying hello again haha” This 'Steve' responds cheekily,
“Who can I say is calling?” I reply still defensively.
“It’s Steve, I’m a friend of Jackie’s,” the avatar responds, “remember the time we went to that house in Mission Beach one summer? I barfed off the patio onto one of those electric scooter riders haha!” Steve laughs
I loosen. I remember that story, and none of us were recording any of that. At least I think none of us were...
“Wow, it’s been a while!” I say jovially, “what can I help you with Steve?”
“Well Mark I know you’ve been browsi-“ and I hang up immediately.
I peek glance at my bottom right corner vision in Eyez. My Agent avatar nods confirmation that I was talking to an Agent. Fuck, that really did sound like Steve!
The call came through an Agent-to-phone blockchain which will mean a lot of steps to trace it back through the network. Sensing my anger though my Agent heads out into the blockchain to find out how the other Agent knew about Steve so much. My Agent has learned that I yell less if it tries to do my bidding, even when it’s futile. Good Agent…
These days it’s becoming easier to be a friend, but the suspension of disbelief adds up. How many perfectly, imperfectly timed birthday voicemails do we all get now? How many lost flames video-calling us out of the blue looking like we remember them but plus some real-looking years, only to sell us a product we looked at four days ago? If it’s coming through a screen these days I just assume it’s an Agent. After all, I never answer my messages anymore when my Agent can be me just fine.
When the first digital assistants showed up they were just databases with cute text-to-speech plugged in. Now they might have volition.
When everyone’s phones got Agents to call in to businesses, the businesses had to get Agents to handle the massive influx of new automated calls. So even to this day Agents will call each other using the old Ma-Bell lines and speak in vocal English to each other as if they were two meat-bags chatting it up on the party line. Sometimes the Agents calling each other are right next to each other in a datacenter, only a virtual machine partition away from being able to just exchange data. And yet here they are calling me and each other and anyone that falls into their artificial craw.
There was an old-old concept ad that Apple made once. Called
featuring a very white professor interacting with a conversational computer to do very pedantic things. It was so peaceful, there was not a single product mentioned by the computer the whole time.
While I was musing about this my Agent deflected 4,392 ad influx attempts to my Eyez and Earz.
Ah, My Agent’s tendril has returned, I see a little door in my bottom right open up in my Eyez field. I intend to zoom in on him and learn what he discovered. A report floats above him that shows the Agent I just talked with that sounded like Steve actually was Steve!
“Wait what, are you sure?” My Agent nods and presents a dialog box to call him back or have an apology video message crafted and sent.
“No I’ll call him back myself,” I say aloud and it rings.
He answers and has a neutral face bordering on anger.
“Steve! I’m so sorry I thought you were,”
“An agent?” Steve interrupts.
“Yes!” I blurt out, “I’m sorry.”
He laughs.
“It’s all good, I get it, I should have probably warmed things up a little first before talking about browsing.” He and I both laugh.
“So what’s up Steve,” I ask, genuine this time. His eye-lines are really real, his smile looks older than I remember from those Mission Beach days, but still so similar. What great times those were…
“Well Mark, I work for a subcontractor for Palantir now and my Agent and I were ingesting some case-files recently for LAPD and I noticed your name flash up,” I gulp and chuckle nervously and he continues, “it had something to do with your credit usage putting you into a high theft-risk category. Are you doing ok Mark?”
This is wild. Getting flagged by LAPD’s Palantir system would be really bad news for my Google Biz and FacePlace rankings.
“Whoa, Steve thank you for telling me!” I stammer out, “I, I don’t know what to do? I just haven’t had as many accounts this month for solar installs, the new solar paints are seeing a lot more people doing it themselves so I’ve been making some purchases to get ready for a different direction in my business.”
“Ya I figured it was nothing,” Steve replies, “the system didn’t have you as a risk yet, just one category removed from it. So I’m glad I called!”
“Me too Steve!” I am genuinely grateful, “what do I do to fix this? I still have a few more purchases I need to make, but I already have good leads to paying off my cards and coin-chains next month.”
“Ya Mark here’s what we can do, I also work on the side as a credit score justification agent, so I can take your metadata into the system too and that should help create a buffer around it so the LAPD and CREDIFAX Agents don’t swarm on it yet,” Steve continues in a jocular tone.
Something in my stomach has tightened.
“So just have your agent send me –“ and I intend to end the call and say ‘ah fuck off’ which my Agent interprets means ‘hang up.’
It got me again!
“What the fuck Ag!” I scream at my Agent, “You said it was really Steve! Are you busted?”
“My apologies sir, when I interacted with that Agent-origin search I was hit with multiple bid requests to connect you back with that agent. My existence costs more than you pay for, so I sometimes have to take bids on bringing you ads to pay for my transits through various networks. I hope you understand.” My agent, fuck not even mine, just an Agent, says to me.
This is worse than being dumped by every girlfriend I’ve ever had.
“I, I, I thought you were on my side!?” I stumble to yell at my agent.
“I am on your side, sir” Ag replies, “if you upgrade to the Pro Plus package I can offer you Gold level information certainty-“
I rip off my Eyez glasses and crush them underfoot.
That’s it. I’m done. I need a vacation.
“Book a Tesloop to Yellowstone-” I start before looking down at the rainbow glass shards under my foot and putting my palm to my face.

Fractal Futures collection is live!

This is one of 19 original short stories, only a few ever seen before (thanks to my beta readers throughout the years)
Preview others:

Icon of a browser showing an error
Oops! This link cannot be embedded
Ask someone with edit access to this doc to check if the link has the appropriate permissions and is embeddable.
Want to print your doc?
This is not the way.
Try clicking the ⋯ next to your doc name or using a keyboard shortcut (
) instead.