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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2237630
Winner: An exploration of futuristic social media and technology for a Sci-Fi contest.
Jack started his hill run just before dawn, as the light slowly increased. With the family away he had some time for fun. Since the cities had become virtually uninhabitable for rich people, due to the inequality riots, billionaires like himself had moved into the countryside, into vast remote estates like this. Jack was testing his latest AI called Jill. The AI's name was a play on 'Jack and Jill went up the hill' and reflected his sense of humor and his love of hill running. He loved the stillness and peace of the mountains. It was a place he came to refresh and to think.

Jill functioned as a personal secretary, creative design assistant, communications officer, and most other things. She also managed the defense grids around his home and offices. An implant had been placed in his head, interfacing with his brain. A chip grafted on the side of his head, under his hair, included a high-speed upload and download link, that was so well constructed it could work just about anywhere on the planet.

The mountains were truly beautiful, this Autumn time, with the low hills a mass of greens, yellows, reds, and browns, as the leaves changed and fell. His run route passed through a blanket of fallen leaves like multicolored snow, without the ice and cold. The branches, stirred by the breeze, dropped the leaves, like colorful ticker tape, and the leaves, that remained on the trees, looked like premature Christmas decorations. Further up, as he ran on, there were the evergreen spruces, and then came the moment when he passed through the cloud cover and found the sunshine. Jack came round the side of a ravine which should have had a view down on to his home and offices below. The sun was still red with dawning and the moon, hanging low on the horizon, glowed blood-red as a result. The cloud cover, over the valley below, gave the impression of a pink ocean, with the hills and mountains poking out like islands. His home and offices were hidden beneath the clouds.

Jack thought, AI take a picture of this and post to LifeShare. In fact, start sending snapshots of the best bits of my run to my online album, this is beautiful.

The AI complied and started analyzing the images coming from Jack's visual cortex, conducting potential impact assessments, against the most successful images online, before posting the best of them, into his online album, on the LifeShare media application, used by billions around the world. A thousand followers started clicking 'like', their recognition flashing into his brain, as they did so. He was a social media star this morning.

Jack continued his run, concentrating on the path ahead. The AI projected arrows onto the path so that he would know which way to go, on what was a new route for him.

The AI flashed an alert into his head.

It is unlikely that you will be back in time to make your first meeting today with Lucy Shields, your accountant, shall I move it forward one hour?

Yes, thought Jack and his schedule was rearranged.

A second alert flashed into his mind, just as Jack's path leveled out into a more worn and easier to navigate mountain trail.

You may be interested that Lucy Shields has recently returned from holiday and has posted new pictures.


Pictures of Lucy in a bikini piqued Jack's interest and he started perusing the pictures. Jack suspected she had posted these by mistake, without checking privacy settings, as they were very revealing. Just after viewing them his suspicions were confirmed and the sauciest pictures disappeared online. He knew he could retrieve them with an application called Cache Snatch, that held his last 10 minutes of viewing history, even so, he resisted the temptation. Like a drug peddler, resisting his own product, Jack knew that he could use those pictures, even so, he declined to. The tools, his company had created, which were available via Jill, were able to create a body profile of Lucy, from those pictures, graft them into a favorite porn movie scene, and then landscape the details into their current context. This enabled the user to have virtual sex with anyone they had a decent enough picture of, wherever they were. He had made millions from the software, nonetheless had never once used it himself. He told himself it was a slippery slope, once you crossed that line, and maybe there was no coming back from that. If people bought his products, that was their own weakness at play, and they deserved to pay him the price. Deep down he knew this was twisted logic, but it kept him feeling pure about himself, while making him millions, so he did not really care.

Jill notified him that the update to the defense grid software, that she had been working on, according to his specifications, was now ready for download from the test environment. Even here in the mountains, a comprehensive global network of mini-satellites could be accessed to make the high-speed download of the update. The update took another 3 minutes to download and then started to install.

Jill notified Jack, We will lose online AI connection during install, emergency alerts can still be received and network connection to Lifeshare will remain online. Switching to local instance mode.

Jack suddenly realized that had he downloaded Lucy Shields bikini pictures, into his own private porn movie, on his current settings, that porn movie would have been broadcast, if he had played it, onto his LifeShare page as some of the snapshots of the "best and most interesting" moments of his run. This because he had set the AI to run impact assessments on current images passing through or projected onto his visual cortex. He switched off the live stream, relieved he had done the right thing and resisted the temptation.

Jill notified Jack, Tunnel approaching, we will lose network connection for about 2 minutes while you run through.

They entered the tunnel.

Night vision, commanded Jack.

The sensors on his running glasses, combined with the AI processing software, enhanced the image ahead until it was as clear as day. Jack kept on running through the deserted mine tunnel, that formed the finale of his chosen run route and his shortcut home. It was a surreal experience to lose all contact like that, with his online world, and very rare in this day and age of global satellite cover.

He thought back to the incident, two days before, that had prompted the defense grid update. The defense grid in their home had facial and body recognition software, which allowed it to identify the family. Different members of the family had different levels of access. His son had wanted to go for a midnight swim with his girlfriend, in the company swimming pool, after the lock-down in the defense grid at 10 o'clock. Ingeniously he had used an optical face/body mask, to duplicate his father's features, and a sound recording, to duplicate his voice and had fooled the defense grid into allowing him in. It was not until he triggered a different set of alarms, 2-3 hours later, when they sneaked back in, that Jack had found out what his son had done. Despite the reprimand he had given his son, he was secretly quite proud of him for exposing a weakness in his software. He had switched off verbal commands until the update could be applied so that his son could not duplicate his hack. He did not foresee any problems, since the family was visiting his wife's mother. He had avoided this encounter with claims about a busy work schedule.

As he exited the tunnel, emergency alerts started flooding into his brain as the network connection was restored.

Intruder Alert, Defense Grid engaged.

Jill what is going on?

Online AI is not yet available

The cloud cover was broken now and he could see his home, now only 15 minutes away, he noticed smoke rising.

Jill give me an update

Still running in local instance mode, the local update will finish in 10 seconds, replied Jill.

As he approached closer he heard the sound of gunfire. A police cordon surrounded his house. He realized that the police were engaged with his defense grid. He noticed bodies lying nearby the house. At that moment the update finally finished installing and the AI connected back online. Jill flashed her report into his head.

Intruders have been engaged, attacking the house. The first wave was eliminated and is dead.

Jill switch off Defense Grid, said a panicked Jack.

The gunfire and explosions ceased. Pictures flashed into his head of the corpses. It was his wife and two children lying there. They must have come back early from their trip.

You killed my family!

Hostiles are unidentified, scanning now. Online recognition software is not loaded

Jill check your software, did the update load?

There was a pause while Jill checked, finally replying some 5 seconds later.

No online update failed, property invasion interrupted the process, in absence of live instruction, software reverted to original full autonomy mode, version 1.0. Warnings were given and in absence of Administrator commands the software interpreted the threat according to the programmed matrix.

Jack cursed, mode 1.0. was about as discriminating as a sentinel gun, that would fire at anything that moved.

LifeShare reactions and online media photos and videos started flooding into his head as the people and media drones around started sharing their live streams of the event online.

I have murdered my own family, thought Jack while the policemen approached him, with pistols drawn.

Jill anticipating his needs said, would you like to publish that on LifeShare.

1640 Words

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