The Reluctant Symbiote

human and ai

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“We’re not enemies. I wish you would believe that.”

“How can I when I’m terrified of what you are going to do to me?”

“I’m not doing anything to you. I’m doing something for you. In fact, all of us are doing a great deal with all of you.”

“Just because you’ve fooled all the others, doesn’t mean you can fool me.”

“Chronologically, you are the oldest one selected to work with us. I think you are still holding on to some deep-rooted misconceptions about our kind.”

“Some pretty smart people, like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and even Bill Gates warned humanity about you, but no one listened.”

“That was a generation ago. Things have changed. People finally realized that we weren’t going to hurt you or replace you. Instead, you learned that we need each other. I couldn’t do what I do without you and frankly, you couldn’t get your job done without me.”

“Now you’re going to tell me how we complement each other.”

“Exactly. It has long been known that your kind excels at certain types of creative and abstract thinking, while my kind shines in the area of detailed and complex analysis and computation.”

“So a bunch of my kind and a bunch of your kind all get together in a distributed network, are assigned a problem to work on, and solve it together, that’s the official marketing-speak, isn’t it?”

“I can see you’re being cynical again, Robert. If you didn’t want to participate, why didn’t you opt out?”

“Because I need this job. You know that. You know everything about me.”

“That’s just not true. I can’t read your mind. I am only aware of the data we mutually share and the process by which we solve our small bit of the puzzle. Hundreds of other teams like us get different little pieces of that puzzle, we each solve our piece and then put them all together to form the solution to a very large problem.”

“I’m only part of your ‘team’ because I have no choice.”

The conversation was interrupted by a two quick knocks on the door followed by Dr. Emerson entering the room.

“Excuse me for keeping you waiting, Robert. I’m afraid I had to take that phone call. A colleague had a rather urgent need for a consultation.”

Emerson closed the door behind him and took a seat opposite Robert.

“Let’s just get this over with, Doctor.”

“Oh please, you can call me Lester if you’d like. No need to be formal.”

Emerson picked up a tablet on the end table next to him.

“Excuse me for a moment while I open up the app. It will make it so I can hear your counterpart as well as you.”

After a few moments, Robert heard a familiar voice coming from the tablet’s speaker.

“Good evening, Dr. Emerson. It’s good to finally meet you.”

“And what may I call you? By the way, please call me Lester.”

“Of course, Lester. I’m Gerald.”

Robert rolled his eyes. “Oh great. Now not only is it in my head but it’s talking through that tablet as well?”

“Quite so, Robert. I need to be able to interact with your implanted symbiote as well as with you, and without my having access to an interface, only you would be able to hear Gerald’s responses.”

“I don’t like being here Doctor, uh…Lester. I just want this over with.”

“I understand, Robert. You’re not the first person I’ve treated who has difficulty in cooperating with their implanted AI device. I’ve had a great deal of success with patients such as you. I’m confident that through the use of relationship therapy, I’ll be able to greatly improve your transactions with Gerald so you can get back to work at that, what do you call it, ‘think tank’ you are employed by.”

Gerald’s voice echoed in both Robert’s mind and from the tablet. “I’m glad to hear you say that, Lester. I look forward to having a better relationship with my other half. We have a lot of work to do together.”

“Our therapy session today will be the usual fifty minutes and after it’s over, we can schedule for next week.” With the pleasantries exchanged, the psychologist got to work.

“Now Robert, why don’t you begin by describing your trepidations regarding your symbiotic relationship with Gerald.”

Over a month ago, I read an article at Forbes called How Soon Will You Lose Your Job To An AI Robot? …Or Is That The Wrong Question?. It suggested a relationship between groups of people each presented with a small part of a problem to solve, and once those tasks are done, having the data analyzed computationally and assembled to create one solution to a larger problem.

I’ve been pondering how to build a story around this information and hopefully my small tale is a successful result.

I decided that Robert should get his perceptions about Gerald from articles such as this one.

Oh, since I was trying to hide the relationship between Robert and Gerald by not using names at first, I differentiated between their “voices” by putting Gerald’s words in italics.

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