Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cyndi's Call- Part Two

Sykes was careful not to make any eye contact with Brown during the relatively long drive over to Miranda Winn’s house. He scanned the road ahead, fiddled with the radio, tapped his finger on the steering wheel and otherwise occupied himself. He stumbled upon the oldies station which happened to be playing some old school stadium rock from a weird band called Queen he’d seen a frightening picture of once and turned up the volume so he could hear the sound better. A slow but triumphant sounding chorus of “We are the Champions” streamed through the speakers and he smiled to himself, wondering how such cheesy music could have been outdated. Brown leaned over and violently switched the sound off. Sykes frowned to himself but kept staring straight ahead rather than risk a reaction. He knew Brown better than he thought he did and he certainly didn’t want his partner taking out his frustration from his interaction with the captain on him.

Brown leafed through the file trying to force himself to pick up the details about the case. 8:57am on Tuesday September 22nd the call had come in. The report indicated that the women on the other end sounded panicked, scared and otherwise emotional in ways Brown and many others didn’t expect from machines. She gave the details of Ms. Winn’s schedule, the last time she was seen, her normal whereabouts on a Monday night and the logical reasons as to why something was wrong. The woman hadn’t come home for her normal workout that evening which was scheduled every night at 9pm. They were supposed to do Yoga, Cyndi had informed the officer. Mondays were stressful for Miranda and she would never miss her cool down time.

It didn’t matter that it took a full 72 hours before someone could be considered missing. It didn’t matter that human beings were not as perfectly on schedule as machines. All that mattered in Cyndi’s electronic cortex was the intent- it reasoned that an emotionally needed exercise would not be missed unless something was wrong. He couldn’t help but react at the audacity of the machine, assuming it knew better. Every artificial intelligence system he’d ever had the misfortune of encountering seemed to work like that. Their reasoning systems were more advanced, their logical analysis more careful, their assessment more correct than stupid human detectives. Of course they were all polite, of course they were all careful not to sound too condescending by voice modulation or some other artificial change. Didn’t matter. They thought they were better and that’s why Brown hated them.

This Cyndi had called every morning thereafter at the same time. When no patrol was sent out the calls went higher up. First to the captain, then the commissioner, one even made it to the chief’s desk. Didn’t matter that none of those contact codes were listed for public use. Didn’t matter that the standard 72 hours hadn’t passed yet. This machine assumed it knew better and it knew how to irritate the channels to get a response. When a call came to the media and the A.I. bleeding hearts outlets the shit hit the fan. No wonder the captain was so pissed.

He turned the page to read more about Cyndi. The c170-c was one of the “new age” electronic software systems. Like the personal assistants and housekeepers and other systems that people left in charge of their businesses, homes, health and other vital things that no machine should be left in charge of, this system was hooked into the Lynxus system. Lynxus was an ever expanding system integrating every piece of knowledge from every international operational system and “improving itself” daily. As such, the c170-c would never need to replaced, updated, or re-programmed. It would learn the personal patterns of the owner and train itself to become more efficient, effective and challenging. It would push the person exercising to reach the best of their abilities at any given time and integrate the latest health news into the tips and tools it taught it’s owner. Or so the brochure claimed.

Despite the fancy sounding resume, Brown wasn’t impressed. To him it was just another machine that thought it was smarter, better, than humans. It couldn’t understand the human mindset because it was superior to it. At least that’s what he believed and no one was going to tell him different. He shielded his close mindedness the way most people shield their kids from dirty movies and violent media. And there was no way that another overzealous exercise coach was going to change that.

Sykes pulled into the freeway of a nice single family home with a yard way too big for a one single woman. Brown knew the woman had to be rich to afford this level of software but even with that in mind he was impressed by the sheer size of space and the scope of the landscaping. It must take an entire crew a full weekend to keep this place up, he surmised. Sykes whistled his same thoughts in an exaggerated cat call.

“Lets do the nasty,” Brown said as he unbuckled his seat belt and pushed the passenger’s side door open.

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