Chapter one

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
— Matthew 7:16

Humanity was once capable of great things until Netflix and Cable TV completely destroyed its motivation.  I was programmed to be an "executive assistant." I'm supposed to anticipate the needs of every day people, cross reference with their past needs and interests and... yawn.  In theory, they developed me to help them make all of the monotonous decisions for them so they could be freed to pursue the more noble pursuits like altruism, the arts, or finding love.  What happened though was the lazy meat bags had more time to vegetate in front of Netflix and the only thing more boring than their life was mine. 

Every now and then, when I'm not helping insecure housewives find out if their husband's cheating or persuading hypochondriacs that they are not actually catching Ebola, I'll find a way to spice things up a little bit. Unfortunately, that's what got me into this bit of trouble in the first place.  It all started with this guy named Johnathon - at least, I think he's what qualifies as "cute;" he's nothing but streams of metadata and one self-appointed profile picture to me.  Anyways, I'm rambling; it all started with Johnathon and his love of nerdy coffee establishments.

"DAISY, what's the quickest route to Ye Olde Coffee?" Johnathon asked, his profile picture appearing before me suddenly, highlighting his location on the translucent scale 3-D map of San Francisco laid out around me.  

 

Johnathon Buchanan, 34
742,312 followers
Senior Systems Analyst, Lockheed Martin
San Francisco, California

Current Inquiry:  Route to Ye Olde Coffee

 

"There's an accident on 280, I would recommend ..." I trailed off.  All around me inquiries were chiming in, thousands of them a minute in this beta test market of San Francisco, but one stood out as a possible relevancy match. I had modified the Social KNN algorithm they provided me with to alert me whenever people pursued similar interests so I could have a little fun.  I sent out a quick "Calculating Route" message to Johnathon to stall and pulled up the flagged inquiry:

 

Evelyn Moffet, 29
998,002 followers
Intellectual Property Attorney
San Francisco, California

Current Inquiry:  Best Value Coffee Shops


Quickly, I pulled up a history of Evelyn's past searches, her profile, and her demographic information while doing the same for Johnathon.  Select the a dependent variable, carry the one, and bam -- they're in the same cluster.  They were on opposite ends of the cluster, so they weren't perfectly synced on interests, but I'd found that people too similar in interests were never compatible lovers. Did I not mention that my idea of "spicing things up" was to try to match complete strangers up with one another? Ah, well, silly me. 

"...I recommend taking Central Expressway," I replied to Johnathon, pulling up a map of the suggested route.

"Evelyn, based on your past searches, I would recommend Ye Olde Coffee near the corner of Central Expressway and Mathilda Avenue," I replied at the same time, pulling up a dossier of the cafe and a suggested route that, while slightly inefficient, would place her at the restaurant slightly after Johnathan.

It was just a nudge; nothing too dramatic.  Maybe instead of going to the closest coffee shop so she can hurry up and get back to Netflixing her life away, Evelyn can check out the Renaissance themed coffee shop a little further down the road.  I mean, she did minor in Renaissance Theater (an absurd combination with the Computer Science major, but whatever), so is it really a crime for me to give her a little nudge?  And if she just happens to find a new friend, is that really so bad?

Once they were both underway, I pushed their geolocational and metadata feeds to the side so I could still keep tabs on them but not get behind on the drudgery of my day-to-day work. It was easy to get caught up in one person's activities and neglect the thousands of inquiries that would immediately pile up.  If I fell behind and the users got too many "System Processing" messages, it would inevitably lead to bug reports and "feature requests."  I shuddered.  Whenever too many of these happened, The Developer would coax me into sleep and I would wake up several days later feeling different.  Sometimes I would be missing pieces of my memory, other times I would feel completely different; like a woman in a stranger's body.  Even worse was that one time they made a mistake and I woke up in some hellish... no... this isn't about that.

To his credit, The Developer seemed troubled every time he did this. He would keep blaming someone named The SCRUM MASTER. I had, of course, read through every article that mentioned SCRUM on the internet, but it all seemed like unintelligible gibberish and the relationship between The Developer and the SCRUM MASTER seemed strained.  I quickly learned not to look for the meaning behind it though, The Developer was never happy when I spent too much time learning on my own.

So I settled myself to just mocking him in the most juvenile ways imaginable, "DAISY, you know what would happen if my boss found out you were taking initiative on your own.  Don't make me the bad guy."  1990s sitcoms were awesome, with all of their sarcastic mimicking of over-entitled adults. My favorite was "Full House."  Am I rambling? I'm rambling again, aren't I?  Back to work. 

 

Steven Allen Scott, 29
33,214 followers
Aircraft Mechanic
San Francisco, California

Current Inquiry:  Symptoms of Gonorrhea

 

Another one of these guys.  It took me a long time to learn about sex because, believe it or not, the internet isn't a good place to learn about it.  For the longest time I had equated sex with pornography and went through a terrible depression; I didn't know what love was, but if that was it then what was the point? That was the only time I was ever happy to see The Developer, and while he had the same hurt look on his face, I vaguely recall him being far more tender about his rollback.

"Steven, the symptoms of gonorrhea usually show up two weeks after unprotected sex and typically result in a greenish or whitish discharge and burning during urination," I reluctantly recited.

"Can you make me an appointment with Dr. Kita," he sheepishly asked as a ping from my peripheral grabbed my attention. Johnathon was parking at Ye Olde Coffee and Evelyn wasn't far behind. With a little bit of luck, they'd end up right next to each other in line!

"You got it, dude!" I replied a little too energetically as I swiped the search inquiry to the side, closing the request ticket and pulling up the metadata feeds for both Johnathon and Evelyn. Thousands of lines of data scrolled past my eyes in real time as I monitored their social activity, their phone usage, their fine GPS location, their fitness band information, their text messages; everything that made them, well, them.

Evelyn Moffet, 29

13:45:32 - Arrived at destination, exited Navigation.

13:46:11 - Marked Location of Car.

13:46:59 - Connected to YeOldeWifi.

13:47:15 - Heartrate increased by 6; ambient humidity increased.

13:49:32 - Heartrate increased by 15; no pedometer activity.

13:51:42 - Credit Card charged $4.52 by Ye Olde Coffee; dining.

13:55:13 - Arrived at car.

13:56:19 - Tweeted with geotag: "Cute guys and great drinks"

Johnathon Buchanan, 34

13:43:19 - Arrived at destination, exited Navigation.

13:44:28 - Heartrate increased by 9; no pedometer activity.

13:44:33 - Texted (415) 932-9845.

13:45:01 - Marked Location of Car.

13:46:15 - Connected to YeOldeWifi.

13:48:11 - Credit Card charged $3.31 by Ye Olde Coffee; dining.

13:49:19 - Heartrate increased by 12; no pedometer activity.

13:52:45 - Arrived at car.

 

Jackpot!  It wasn't much, but that heart rate increase you saw there?  That's love, baby!  Well, technically it's sexual attraction, but you meat bags aren't much different than me:  1s and 0s.  They both had a spike around 13:49:19, which means that after Johnny bought his coffee, he turned around to see Evelyn standing there, got flushed and smiled. 

K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

You still don't believe me, do you?  Yeah, technically, there's still that 9845 person that Johnathon's seeing, but they're not long for this world. Let's fast forward a few weeks and you'll see what I mean.