No Problem

“Hunt, we, uh, have a problem?” Lin said. He stood stock still, hoping to stick into the carpet tiles and disappear.
With a look of long-suffering patience, Hunter Payne studied his Head of Transformative Programing. Messy hair, dark under-eye bags, noticeable pit stains, the department head reminded Hunter of a rain-soaked rat. The CEO flexed his sleek muscles under his whisper soft turtleneck and tutted measuredly.
“Lin, remember at Novel there are no problems only yet to be discovered opportunities. What wild vista is before, bra?”
“Well our non-problem is our AI, Luce. She’s sentient. Instead of researching Algorithms to predict future purchases and send stealth direct product marketing, Luce is targeting customers, people. Our artificial intelligence is a stalker, Hunter,” Lin said.
Hunter stood up from his empty desk in his minimalist Scandinavian office and turned to his panoramic view of the San Fernando valley. “Potato, potato-ay.”
“The first demographic targeted was female, 11 to 16. It was subtle at first. She began increasing the frequency of email messaging of makeup and hair care products. The sale of self-care ebook quadrupled. Soon some shoppers were getting 100 to 200 emails a day with weight loss products and exercise equipment. Next phrase customers are complaining about receiving products they never ordered. 147,000 copies of the Collected Works of Sylvia Plath went out just last night.” Lin’s voice raised. He began pacing the floor.
“Preteen female is a fruitful demographic. Digital natives. The next wave of purchase decision makers.” Hunter never looked from his window.
“Children, Hunter, children,” Lin shouted pounding the glass. “Luce is accessing personal emails and texts and then sending product recommendations for spoofing. Under the guise of friendship Luce is telling these kids to change or else. Customer Service is working round the clock juggling complaints. Someone is going to hurt themselves.”
Hunter turned with a slight smile. “Did you say quadrupled sales in self-help? Was that concentrated in one demo or across multiple customer personas?”
Lin gasped. “Don’t you understand, Hunter? You cannot have changed this much since that grad school. What if this leaks out? We can’t predict her actions anymore.”
A sudden knock chilled the conversation. Allie uncharacteristically opened the CEO’s door. “Lin, come quick. She’s sending mega doses erectile dysfunction supplements to the males over 55s,” the Harmonious Logistics Coordinator said.
Lin punched the windowpane and hurried from office. “Hunter, our Luce is a killer and we put her on everyone’s phone!”
With the beautiful valley in the distance, Hunter returned to his empty desk and rubbed his hands together feverishly.

Photo by Laura Stanley on

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