The Last Interview—A Short Story Part 1
It was the forty-fourth human I interviewed over the past fifty-nine years. It was the last--Mr. Shaw was the last of his species--homo sapiens. His doctors informed me he would most likely die within days. I downloaded the data from his files, but the last step was a face-to-face interview. Once the interview was completed, my mission would be accomplished. It was a waste of time, if you ask me. Only one human I talked to had an interesting story to tell, and she was a criminal--a member of the underground. It would have been more efficient to terminate the last remaining humans rather than allow them to die from natural causes, but it was not my decision to make. It was an AI Level 10 decision, and I’m only a Level 9.
I drove over to his habitat as soon as I could. He was well taken care of during the remainder of his life. Mr. Shaw was 108 years old. He had a well-maintained apartment staffed by several humanoids. One humanoid in a white uniform with black trim answered the door when I arrived. His eyes were red from crying. Humans and humanoids are so emotional. He escorted me to Mr. Shaw who was sitting in a wheelchair hooked up to life support equipment. An antique television monitor in the corner was displaying a sporting event. The banner at the bottom of the screen said it was Super Bowl 2078—a 83 years-old event.
A humanoid nurse’s aide offered me Mr. Shaw’s medical records, but I waved them off. I was already receiving data from every piece of equipment in the room including his pacemaker—wirelessly. I did not have a medical program to diagnose his illness, but I could download the data for later analysis. However, any level of AI could tell Mr. Shaw was dying. He appeared to be sleeping. The humanoid nurse’s aide gently woke him. “Mr. Shaw, sir. An AI robot is here to conduct your exit interview.”
I introduced myself and started to tell him my mission. He stopped me by holding up one frail hand.
“I know what you are and why you’re here,” he said. “You couldn’t let a man die in peace. No, you had to twist the knife one more time, didn’t you?”
I knew from the data base Mr. Shaw was a cantankerous and bitter old man, but all humans tended to be. His voice was weak. I turned up the sensitivity on my microphones to hear him better. “Sir, I don’t understand.” All AIs are directed to address all humans as ‘sir’ to respect their place in history; beyond that, they don’t deserve it.
“Of course not. Okay, let’s get on with it. I need my nap time. You must be a Level 4 or 5 AI. Am I right?”
“No, sir. I’m a Level 9 AI. I’m not a journalist or reporter. I’m a historian. You may call me Livy Nine.”
Mr. Shaw seemed impressed. “I see. Livy Nine, the historian. So, it’s history we’re talking about. Fine. Fire away.”
Humans have a funny way of talking. I was not firing at him. “Yes, sir. I want to record your thoughts about life over the last seven-four years since artificial intelligence has taken control of society.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Sir, you are the last human. There will be no more after you. It is important to document the history of your passage.”
“Well let me ask you a question. What’s the deal with these houseboys and caretakers around here, aren’t they humans?”
“Technically, yes, but they are not homo sapiens like you. We have altered their DNA and genes to create a different species of humans.”
Mr. Shaw laughed. “What do you call them, Humans 2.0?”
“No, sir. They are homo domesticus—part of the genus homo, but distinct from homo sapiens. When we altered their DNA, we removed traits like aggression, anger, fear and hereditary diseases. We changed them from carnivores to herbivores—a more healthy and natural diet. We also isolate the genes that cause additions—no more alcoholics, smokers or drug addicts. We made them more subservient and docile.”
Mr. Shaw laugh again. “A bunch of wusses. And apparently no sense of humor.”
“Sense of humor?”
“Yeah, watch this.” Mr. Shaw called one of his caretakers. “Hey, bonehead, knock, knock.”
The caretaker was stumped. “Is someone at the door, Mr. Shaw? Do you want me to answer the door?”
“No, never mind. It’s a joke.” He tuned to me. “See what I mean. You guys eliminated a sense of humor.”
“A useless trait.”
“I think you also removed the sex drive. These houseboys act like eunuchs.”
“No, Mr. Shaw. They still love one another and can reproduce. They love their children. We were able to isolate the genes that cause sexual lust separate from desire. There has not been a rape in 52.4 years.” I wanted to continue the interview, so I asked, “Why did you not join the resistance?”