A peak into the practical aspects of the Singularity…
Here’s a bit of flash fiction.
My client is waiting while I walk up to the cafe. It looks like his midlife crisis settled into the usual cliches as he hides behind a pair of dark sunglasses and a black leather jacket. What is about getting old and retiring that make men want to become Mick Jagger or James Dean? There’s just no rented Porsche or Bugatti sitting out front.
If he’s is missing that crucial part of a midlife crisis, can he afford lawyer’s fees?
“How much is this guy worth again?” I ask my assistant. The firm doesn’t just send their partners to Paris over a divorce, especially when it can be handled with secure email and a quick appearance in front of a judge. The judge isn’t even always necessary, but if the price is right….
“Enough to demand you meet him in Paris,” She messages back, her text floating in my eye.
“And idea why? We should be signing papers in the states.” Some people are just suckers for nostalgia though.
“The file doesn’t say, but his online record says he met his wife here.”
“Forty years ago.”
“He doesn’t look a day over thirty-five,” I reply. “Anything else his blogs say?”
“Too much data to parse. But he did take a crap once in gas station in 2015 after buying an energy drink and eating the biggest burrito he had ever seen.”
There is suddenly accompanying images of the burrito, the old stall covered in graffiti, probably long since demolished. I try not to grimace. “Thanks for that.”
“You like to be prepared.”
I step out of the bright sunlight, and into the dark of the umbrellas of the cafe. He’s smoking leisurely, ignoring an espresso. I pull out a chair next to him and wait.
He’s brooding as he watches the fountain. He could have been watching for her, or searching for whatever he lost. Divorce is always a tricky situation that had more to do with emotions and hurt feelings than business. I always found it best to let them say the first thing, make the first move. Besides, I’m already on the meter and billing by the minute.
Five minutes go by in silence. He still hasn’t bothered to acknowledge my presence. I’m his lawyer, not his hooker; but I’m not paid to utter pleasantries either. So far, the menu’s more interesting.
Finally, he perks up, as a woman stalks her way from the light towards us. She is tall, lithe, perfection made manifest in flesh. Her surgeon or gene splicer could not have done a better job. She looks better than the pictures I am matching her against in the dossier.
Her heels clack silently against the cobblestones as she rushes towards us. She sucks at a cigarette of her own as if she might put the home fires out if she were to stop. Didn’t they hear smoking is bad for you? Hell, its banned everywhere, mostly…. Except for those few private places where you do the most perverse of activities… And Parisian streets, apparently.
I start to stand, but she’s already standing in front of him, striking out at his three day stubble with an open palm. His face shimmers back into resolution.
“You bastard!” She shouts hoarsely at the hologram.
“Oui,” He agrees. “I thought that was why we are here.”
“You said, you would be here in person!” Her nose crinkles with disgust. “Not your avatar.”
If I’d known there’d be an issue with one of them already scanned into the Singularity, I’d have turned down the case. There had to be a junior partner itching for a trip to Paris. I sigh, lean back, and fold my arms to wait this out.
Leaping, a gray pigeon that had been picking at the crumbs left by the last patron to sit at our table flew through the woman’s chest. She shimmers all the way down as a drop of poop splats where her feet should be.
“Oui, so did you,” he counters snidely.
“I should have known—” I mutter under my breath as my fingers tighten at the bridge of my nose with frustration. “However you both brought yourselves back into the meatspace will do.“ I glare between them both. “For now.”
I did not bother offering the woman a chair. Her body was now no more than a mere projector fluttering in air. His temporary visage flickers away as well.
I continue, “But when the time comes to finalize your marriage’s dissolution, it must be done in the flesh for it to be binding by American law.”
“But what if…?” A man’s disembodied voice asks into the cochlear frequency I left open for the attorney-client privilege. “What if that can’t be arranged because of a problem with a coolant system?”
I frown, lean forward, and send the little robot a transmission. “Then you’re already dead, and she gets everything by default. You better come up with something, and clones don’t count.”
“Where is opposing counsel?” I ask the hologram as she gets herself back into shape.
“I have the entire database of several law schools integrated into my memory,” The woman maintains. “And every Supreme Court decision. I will settle this myself.”
“And I’m sure every episode of People’s Court,” The other robot snaps back.
She glares at him as if he had hit the nail on the head.
“Right, hell with them both,” I message in text to my assistant. “Leaving now.”
“I will have the car ready,” Flashes in front of my eye with her smiling avatar.
My eyes open slowly. Both projections are facing me. “Figure this out, and call me when you both are serious. Don’t make me fly to France out of some ego trip, or because this sort of thing is only legal here.”
“Flesh and bone, or not at all,” I admonish my client privately one more time.
I step out into the plaza, back into the sun. I start totaling the cost of the trip, how much I bill an hour, and how much I could extract from the estate of a dead man. Could I even force a dead man to pay me?
“What…What do I do?” My client asks, desperation in the transmission. I look back from the door of the sedan across the street. The door springs open for me. Both of them are mere specks, glinting in the light.
“If you cannot appear in front of a judge,” I start. “Then you better pay me, and accept your fate.”
“I thought material rewards didn’t matter even in nerd heaven?” I get into the car, shut the door.
My virtual assistant pops up in holographic form in the driver’s seat. “Book a flight to Heathrow,” I grumble. “Then take me to the airport.”
“Yes sir,” She replies chirpily, all smiles. There was a moment of silence as she searches. “There is a sooner flight direct to New York on a supersonic.”
“I can take my time. Might as go to London for a day, take the weekend,” I reply as I cleared my own calendar.
“All done. You will be on a plan in three hours.”
“Do you want me to book accommodations?”
I shrug, tempted to take a tube right from Heathrow to a pub, and stay there until it was time to go to New York. But I’m a professional. “Why not?”
“Am I to go with you?” Her eyes plead with me. For an AI, she’s pretty convincing.
“Always,” I whisper, pulling her close as she solidifies enough for me to touch her. A gentle hum from her generator makes her warm and soft. She gives me a dimpled smile and turns from me as if she is staring out the window.
I lean back into the seat as the car drives through the Parisian streets. The pop-up world around me, denoting specials, deals, advertisements, points of interest, anything I could possible be interested in on our voyage begins to litter my mind’s eye. I blink twice, turning the noise off, and let the City of Lights come alive like it used to.