Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Conversation with an autopilot part 59

The T25 junk banks gently into the shadow of Saturn, what someone called The June Weekend- a vast and desolate tract of push-free hinterland where soul traders rely on chemical reaction alone.

The captain flicks an old-school switch (not for him the expense of pre-cog control, where the board sees what he wants ahead of time and actions that task with prescient alacrity) and the autopilot personality boots up:

"Hello captain," says the autopilot, "good to see you awake and...", the autopilot senses the environment, "... in the middle of the doldrums."

"Hey, personality, can the enthusiasm," says the captain, "and talk to me."

"Well, one, I have a name," this flashed in italics across the HUD, "which is Clement' - now in bold- ' and 2, are you on a downer again? Because...' the captain starts to answer but the autopilot increases emphasis both volume-wise and typographically,

'Because' - this in 40 point helvetica neue bold- 'I have heard it 153 and a half times before, and, although I am programmed not to be bored by my owner's endless carping, frankly, I have a bug that renders me unable to bear this particular monologue once more.'

'Yes, but you are also programmed to shut the fuck up when I'm speaking', says the captain.

'It is the same story though, isn't it?' says the autopilot (after a programmed hiatus when the autopilot's conversation protocol sub-routine thinks a suitable period has elapsed), 'it's about her again,' - flashed italics, but 9 point this time- 'isn't it captain?'

The captain sighs, twists the ring on his left little finger and (finally) admits, 'yes, it's about her'

'if you're going to say "I should have had said 'X' or I should have said 'Y', then I will say that those are letters of the alphabet and really don't mean anything', says the autopilot. 'Yes, ha ha, literal minded tertiary AI that you are, I almost thought you were making a joke', says the captain.

Outside occur occasional flashes as too-close dust bunnies are burned by the ship's proximity defence.

'You keeping a close watch on that?' says the captain as one particularly large explosion brightens the cabin. 'Not too pre-occupied with my woes are you?'

'Sir', says the autopilot, with an amount of sniffiness that the captain is sure is beyond the factory settings, 'your banal ramblings occupy less than point one percent of my operational contingency. A contingency, I might add, that is normally reserved for dealing with sump drainage errors'.

The captain slumps a little, and does not notice the ambient light warm fractionally as the autopilot says 'I'm sorry, I was a little pre-occupied,'

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