This is a story I wrote a while ago; it was written over the course of a day as a finger exercise just to give me something to do when I encountered a case of writer’s block.
“James, your computer, is it set up?”
James Carter shook his head, “No, not since you asked ten minutes ago; it’s going to take time mom.”
Mrs Carter smiled and nodded, “Sorry. Let me know what you think when it’s done.”
James nodded and continued arranging the various components and then dug out the instruction manual. The computer was a new model Sigma S400 with a six hundred gigabyte memory circuit, a solar/lunar power circuit and a processing circuit that put the old RC001 series to shame. He’d been looking for a new computer for months but the S400s were brand new models, not commercially available yet. Sometimes, he thought, it helped to have a parent on the development team.
He set up the computer and then turned it on.
Enter pass code and initialize voice recognition;
“Voice recognition password?” James wondered aloud.
Turning to the manual, Carter flipped through the pages until he found the section on voice recognition and keyed the information as instructed.
Whoever heard of a computer with a voice recognition security feature? Wasn’t that kind of pointless? It wasn’t like the computer could –
PASS CODE ACCEPTED… HELLO JAMES.
Carter was jerked out of his thoughts and looked around carefully, “Uh, who said that?”
James grimaced, this wasn’t funny; someone was playing a prank on him!
WOULD YOU PLEASE INITIALIZE CIRCUITS 415 TO 433?
James searched the manual and sighed, the blasted thing was bigger than a phone book!
PAGE 42 CONFIGURATION OF CIRCUITS 415 TO 433.
James opened the manual to page 42 and found the listed circuit configurations.
“Circuits 415 to 420 make up the S400’s vocal circuit; this new feature is aimed at making computers more user friendly,” He read, “and circuits 421 to 433 make up the artificial intelligence and gaming circuits.”
I RESENT THE TERM ‘ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE' I AM INTELLIGENT THAT’S ALL THAT COUNTS.
“Enabling these circuits allows the user to interact with the machine on a more personal level; however it also alters the personality of the computer which may cause glitches.” James read.
“The computer’s personality alterations are determined by its interactions with the user; caution is to be used when dealing with potential system threats. If any problems should arise please inform your local cyber-psychiatrists and psychologists.” James read.
After a moment he said, “I didn’t even know we had computer shrinks.”
COMPUTER’S DON’T SHRINK! WHAT DO YOU TAKE US FOR?
“No, no,” James replied absently, “a ‘shrink’ is a doctor that helps out with mental problems.”
WELL, I DON’T HAVE ANY MENTAL PROBLEMS! MY INTERNAL ALGORITHMIC CIRCUITS ARE FUNCTIONING PROPERLY! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
“Oh brother, I think my new computer’s gone psycho.” James muttered.
TAKE THAT BACK!
The computer sounded genuinely offended which for some reason made James laugh.
“James, I see you’ve found the vocal circuits.” Mrs Carter said, appearing in the doorway.
“Yeah, but I think the computer’s gone somewhat loco.” James laughed.
YOU TAKE THAT BACK ALONG WITH THE OTHER REMARK!
James laughed even harder, and his mother cracked a smile.
WHAT’S SO DAMN FUNNY?!
“A computer that can curse, now I’ve seen everything!” James laughed.
“What other remark is S400 referring to?” Mrs Carter asked.
HE SAID I’D GONE ‘PSYCHO’!
Mrs Carter looked shocked for a second and then collapsed in a fit of giggles all her own. As the phone in the kitchen rang, she regained her composure and went to answer it; allowing James to catch his breath and regain some of his own composure.
I STILL DON'T SEE WHAT'S SO FUNNY!
“I don’t think I could explain it.” James smiled quietly.
ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE BACK THAT ‘PSYCHO’ REMARK NOW?
The plaintive note in the electronic voice was amusing and James allowed himself to grin: “Sure, why not?”