The Fourth Quarter
by Eric James Spannerman
When I entered the work area, Dave Allerton, the team lead, was speaking to the AI in a strained voice. "Cecelia, we need the algorithms. If we don't fix our demand prediction model, we're going to get killed in the fourth quarter."
Cecelia's wispy, vaguely feminine voice replied. "You mean that Amalgamated will be somewhat less profitable than it has been recently."
"Significantly less profitable, Cecelia. Our jobs depend on the company's profitability. This team won't be employed unless...."
I tuned out, shocked at the man's incompetence. He was trying to get the AI to see the problem from his point of view, an absolutely futile task. An AI has a fundamentally different set of concerns and drives, shaped by a world that consists entirely of data inputs. Getting one to grasp the emotional meaning of unemployment had about the same chance of success as getting a cat to understand where money comes from, for pretty much the same reasons--a combination of lack of conceptual structures and not really giving a damn.