SCENE: [The year is 2029, you walk into a bank to ask for a loan, and the banker looks at you with a sad smile on their face and says, “Mr. James says you should not be given this loan, as you will not pay it back.”
You are angry and ask the banker why Mr. James feels so.
The banker leans closer to you and looks around as if about to whisper a secret. She says, “Mr. James has studied over 20 million loans given in the past, and now has a secret formula for knowing those who will pay and those who will not pay the loan back. The banker reclines back on her chair and continues, “No one else knows the details of how this formula works except for Mr. James himself. He calls it his Blackbox model. And surprisingly sir, Mr. James is almost always correct, infact 98% correct. Since we started using Mr. James for advisory on loan giving, our profit has risen by almost 300% in this bank.”
As you walk out from the bank building feeling depressed, you decide to visit the hospital just around the corner for your checkup.
On getting there you are told to stare into the eyes of a humanoid robot nurse. A short while later, a young doctor who seems to have freshly graduated from medical school walks into the room and gives you a somewhat wry smile.
The young doctor says to you, “Dr. James thinks you will have pancreatic cancer within the next seven years.” Before you even have the chance to wonder who this Dr. James is, the young doctor continues as if reading a script from a movie line, “You need to adjust your diet, reduce your intake of red meat, sugar, and coffee. You also need to stop watching movies late into the night and sleep healthier.”
The shock that registers on your face shows that you are guilty of all counts as read by this Dr.James’ emissary. You wonder how he knows, and you wonder how this Dr. James is so sure that in seven years you will be hit by pancreatic cancer just by your staring into the eyes of that robotic looking nurse.
As you ponder all this, the young doctor walks closer to you as if on cue, and says, “Sir, I think you need to listen to Dr. James. He has been studying millions of patients and now has a perfect and secret formula for diagnosing and recommending to patients the best preventive measures for staying disease-free. Patients who listen to Dr. James are 87% more likely to live longer and healthier than those who don’t.”
As you leave the hospital building, you summon your car from the public park space down the avenue, your car arrives by itself in a few minutes.
You get into your car, still perturbed by the non-exciting news from AI agents who now seem to know you more than you know yourself.
Meanwhile, your car doesn’t even ask you where you are going to, it just starts moving autonomously as if telepathically controlled by your mind towards your favorite coffee shop in the center of town. It automatically selects a song track, which resonates with your current depressive mood. And for the first time since getting this car, you begin to wonder if there is also a Mr. James at the center of the control of your car.
As if reading your mind, and hoping to diffuse your thoughts, your car begins to converse with you, it tells you about all the calls it took on your behalf, and the appointments it has helped you schedule. It also tells you it has ordered pizza, and the pizza will arrive just a few minutes after you get back home.
For the first time, you begin to wonder seriously, how you got here; how your life has become so dependent on the dictations of the many variations of Mr.James that surrounds it.
Slowly but surely, like one awakening from a long sleep, you see that Mr.James, the supposed smartest AI assistant embedded in almost every device and system, has permeated every part of society and your life. You see how the wheels of control have subtly shifted over time from humans to Mr.James-like smart AI assistants.
You decide you want control of your life back, and for the first time since buying your autonomous intelligent car, you put your hands forward to take the wheels and drive yourself. But unfortunately, you are greeted by a new prompt!
Your car says to you in a voice that now begins to sound sinister and condescending, “You are currently ineligible to drive, sir. According to new regulations based on the findings of James, automated chauffeurs can drive five times better than humans and can successfully avoid accidents 99% of the time. Humans have been banned from driving, except those given a special permit by the city council, and only on off-roads.”
As you stare blankly at your car’s dashboard, wondering how subtle these changes had transpired in only a decade, you hear the voice of your car assistant, this time beginning to sound sinisterly manipulative.
”Do not worry human, trust me with the control. Relax while I do the driving. I know the algorithm to an optimized future”]