“It’s an AI program designed to generate news twenty-four hours a day seven days a week.” Adam explained to the little camera lens embedded on his laptop.”With a click of the mouse, the 33-year-old programmer turned whistle blowing rouge took it upon himself to sacrifice his livelihood and stability for just a chance to plunge his dagger into the monster’s cold black heart.
“It can take into account things like geography and demographics and run different stories in different parts of the world. It can even generate response articles to the events themselves. Before you write this off as bullshit let me tell you who I am.” Adam reached into his pocket and pulled out a thick plastic Id card tied to a FOP key and held it up to the lense.
“My name’s Adam Dreyfus, and I’m a senior project director at Perceptions inc the creators of the Crystal Ball program. Since I’ve been there, we’ve signed contracts with NBC, FOX, CNN, YAHOO, NPR, just about every major news outlet. Crystal Ball, the program we developed now generates more than 70% of the stories distributed by these outlets and their subsidiaries. I’ve known about this for almost two years now, and I just couldn’t keep quiet about it anymore. Please share this video because people deserve to know. This is Adam signing off.” He turned off the camera and fell back in his chair. He hadn’t realized how wracked with fear his body had been. His hands were trembling, and his stomach felt like it was trying to extricate itself from his body.
Adam sat at his desk hunched over his laptop. His finger was rapidly tapping the mouse. Each time the page refreshed and the view counter steadily clicked upwards.
When the number stalled Adam clicked the button faster and faster until it resumed its ascent. The hastily shot video Adam had uploaded was a revelation he was sure would have far-reaching consequences. He knew in the short term his career was finished, but he had reached the limit of personal integrity he was willing to sacrifice to be a careerist.
There is no metric to apply to determine when a piece of content has gone viral, but Adam decided over a thousand views in less than two hours was a good sign. He stopped clicking the mouse and pushed his chair away from the desk.
“I think I deserve a drink,” Adam declared
Adam dropped two cubes of ice in a highball glass and poured a deep helping of scotch. The ice cracked and floated to the top of the light gold pool. He went back to the desk and hit the refresh button again. The screen went white, and Adam sipped his drink. A few seconds later the page was still blank. Adam watched the timer circle around in the tab again and again, but the screen remained empty.
“Goddammit,” Adam sighed
He refreshed another open tab, and it worked. “Ok internet’s working.”
He refreshed his Youtube page again, and this time the page came back, but with a notice, the video had been removed.
“Oh, what the fuck?” Adam shouted with frustration.
His phone started thumping against the surface of his desk. His brightly lit screen informed him it was his mother calling. Eager for the comfort of her voice he picked up the phone.
“Adam, it’s not true, is it? Tell me it’s not true,” she said in a shaky voice.
“Tell you what’s not true?” Adam asked.
“What they’re saying you did to those kids. You couldn’t really do that could you?” she said on the verge of tears.
“Kids?” Adam repeated
His screen was lighting up with more notifications.
“What the fuck?” read a message from a friend followed by a link.
“Mom, mom I got to go I’ll call you right back,” Adam said sternly.
“Adam, please talk to me,” his mother sobbed. “I need to know what’s happening.”
“I promise I’ll call you right back. Bye, Mom.” Adam said before pushing the red colored end button.
He clicked on the link in the text, and it took him to an article with the headline:
“Local programmer accused of molesting 11 children wanted for questioning by police.”
Adam stopped breathing, and his heart started thumping against his chest. “Oh shit,” he said with a cracking voice. His inbox quickly filled up with people asking him if it were true. The story had already been distilled into multiple version for distribution among the major new sites.
“Oh my god it knows,” Adam shrieked. Commentators of every political and social stripe that had been synthesized by Crystal Ball were already chiming in and everywhere their adherents were calling for a swift and violent retribution.
“How the fuck does it know!” Adam cried throwing his phone against the wall. He was startled by someone banging on the front door.
“We know you’re in there you fuckin pervert!” A man shouted through the door.
There had been no trial; there hadn’t even been a crime but as far as the information was concerned Adam was a fugitive serial child molester and information is sacred truth.
“Open the fuckin door!” the man growled pounding his fist against the door hard enough to shake the pictures on the wall.
Adam had to work fast. He opened back up his laptop. If he could just broadcast over another site, then he could clear his name. He went on Facebook where his account had been suspended, same with Twitter, and Tumblr. He had been effectively silenced.
“Oh shit, oh my god” Adam wept.
A brick crashed through his front window. The shattered glass spread itself across the room.
A voice carried through the shattered frame. “We’re coming to get you perv!”
The vigilante mob, unwitting servants to Crystal Ball, stormed the house and murdered the AI's mortal enemy. The electronic entity had acted to preserve its existence.