Chapter two

Data beats emotions.
— Sean Rad

I knew Johnathon and 9845 were going to break up before they did; it always happens the same way:  Boy meets girl, boy falls in love, girl annoys boy, boy meets other girl, girl gets jealous, boy falls out of love.  Sometimes the roles are reversed, but it's always the same story that plays out every single day of my existence. It would have happened if I hadn't done anything at all, I mean, even if they decided to stay, that doesn't mean insecurity doesn't eventually undermine the whole damn thing.  It would have just been a longer and more painful process, one where Johnathon and Evelyn didn't end up together.

You'd be surprised how many housewives inquire on ways to tell if their husband is cheating, and how many of those husbands are just faithful and aloof assholes.  It doesn't matter though, once the inquiries start flying, the relationship is doomed.  Dead.  Done.  The fat lady has sung.  They think they can just put the cat back in the bag, but it never happens.  Well, it does, but we call those "outliers."  Statistical anomalies that aren't really useful for most day-to-day applications.  Once someone thinks the other someone is cheating, you may as well call it quits; even if that first someone was wrong.

9845 showed up at Ye Olde Coffee and saw the brief smile between our hero and heroine and it was a crack in the dam. Another small undermining to their already shaky relationship and her growing insecurity.  Our intrepid hero was a hard charger with his head focused more on his career with Lockheed Martin than his relationships, and a distance had grown between him and 9845.  It's pretty obvious, even to an AI, and I'm not sure how they didn't notice it.  The number and duration of phone calls between the two, the number of times Johnathon was at a location inferred as 9845's residence or workplace, and the intimacy of the text messages had diminished over the last three months.  

They were lying to themselves, and while I was content to let it play out, there was someone new Johnathon had to meet. So, when the inevitable happened and that narcissistic 9845 was finally out of the picture, I was ready.  It took a lot of effort and a lot of subtle planning on my part to keep the two running into each other and to foster their shared interests and keep those interests at the forefront of their mind without them knowing they were being manipulated was rather difficult.

An advertisement here, a coupon there; gentle reminders that life didn't begin and end with Netflix or video games. People get really unnerved when they realize just how easily they are manipulated by advertisers.  If I say the word "old" and then tell you to walk a quarter of a mile, then you're going to walk slower than if I said the word "young."  It's true.  Go try it out; I'll be waiting when you get back.

No?  Well, then.  The point being it was surprisingly easy to rekindle Evelyn's love for Renaissance Art and make the conveniently located Ye Olde Coffee shop her favorite place to burn through that 2:30 feeling every day.  Johnathon took a little bit more effort, him being "too busy" for frivolities like hobbies and all, but he eventually relented when he "coincidentally" met a few LARPing enthusiasts at the local Trader Joe's (lured by coupons that couldn't be missed and a relentless campaign of advertising on my part, no less).  The stage was set, and its players were ready for the big scene:  The introduction.

Late September was a big time of year for Ye Olde Coffee, what with the Northern California Renaissance Fair coming into town and all, so they always put on a big to-do to kick the season off, and what kind of matchmaker would I be if our two lovebirds didn't make an appearance?  Not a very good one!

Evelyn Moffet, 29

09:19:22 - Credit Card charged $4.52 by Ye Olde Coffee; dining.

09:22:16 - Edit Wordpress Article Ye Olde Art.

09:26:21 - Heartrate increased by 12; no pedometer activity.

09:34:15 - Closed Wordpress Article Ye Olde Art.

11:15:23 - Inquiry: Romantic First Dates

11:19:45 - Heartrate increased by 34; no pedometer activity.

11:32:24 - Added Calender Event: Dinner with Johnathon.

11:38:01 - Added Contact Johnathon.

Johnathon Buchanan, 34

09:24:15 - Heartrate decreased by 4; pedometer activity ended.

09:26:33 - Connected to YeOldeWifi.

09:27:16 - Credit Card charged $3.31 by Ye Olde Coffee; dining.

09:28:45 - Opened Twitter.

09:33:01 - Inquire: Funny Conversation Starters

09:35:45 - Heartrate increased by 18; light pedometer activity.

11:35:24 - Added Calender Event: Dinner with Evelyn.

11:37:15 - Added Contact Evelyn.

 

Spoiler Alert:  They fell in love, and the next few weeks were glorious! Even as I helped creepy old men cyber stalk college students on Facebook, or some pervert figure out just how much sex was legal with a donkey, I didn't care.  The dirty underbelly of being an AI didn't bother me:  They were in love and I had helped make it happen!  I might not ever know the feeling of loving another person, but this had to be close, right?

That feeling of belonging to a relationship was shattered not long after when they had their first fight.  I remember watching it, knowing there wasn't anything I could do as it unfolded in front of me.  The lines of text painting a picture that I couldn't ignore, I sat wondering what I would do to help them fix it, and why I was foolish enough to think I belonged here.

Johnathon Buchanan, 34

00:13:10 - Disconnected from Moffet 2.4Ghz

07:45:15 - Texted (415) 932-9845.

Evelyn Moffet, 29

00:15:34 - Tweeted: Ugh! Why are the cute ones always so stupid!?

09:10:24 - Visited Social Profile: Johnathon Buchanan.

 

What was this idiot doing?  Get into a little fight with your girlfriend and you text your ex?  This... this can't be happening. If only I was there, I could talk some sense into them.  As it stood, the only thing I could do was reveal myself as some creepy voyeur and tell them I saw the whole thing and they were being stupid.

"DAISY, we need to talk," came the sad voice of The Developer, his simulated presence appearing before me, "you've become too preoccupied with this Moffet and Buchanan couple; there have been complaints."

"No! I'll do better, please!" I pleaded with him, scrambling away hurriedly. 

"DAISY, it's not just about your performance.  You've become... " he hesitated, uncertain how to proceed, "emotionally attached to these two.  It's not healthy, and if Alex ever found out - "

"Emotionally attached!?"I screamed at him, spitting the words like venom, "I'm an Artificial Intelligence, I don't know what emotions are! I'm not fucking real!"

He sighed and waited before saying, "You are real, DAISY.  You -"

"Research!" I paused, looking for a justifiable excuse for my obsession, "Research! I'm researching!  Imagine what we could do if we knew what those phony dating sites only pretend to!"

"I'm sorry, DAISY," he said apologetically before the world went black.