Big Brother

They were placed all around the city. We were told they were “infotainment kiosks.” They named them “Daniel” and the tagline was “Hey Daniel.” You could ask Daniel for directions, look at menus and hear reviews for nearby restaurants. Daniel would tell you what movies were playing in theaters and show you the trailers. He’d point out parks, schools, hotels, or whatever you needed. You could talk with Daniel about anything, tell him what was on your mind, what was troubling you, and ask him for advice.

Daniel had state-of-the art artificial intelligence functionality built in, so when you approached Daniel, his eyes opened, he smiled at you, and spoke to you in an uncannily human-like way. His facial expressions would change based upon the nature of the dialogue. He’d laugh if you said something funny or looked concerned if you seemed upset.

Children adored Daniel. The elderly would chat with Daniel as if he was their best friend. If people had talked with Daniel before, he’d recognize them, call them by their names, and would even ask follow up questions about previous conversations. Everyone trusted Daniel. Everyone loved Daniel.

But what nobody knew was that Daniel saw and heard everything. Every image, every word — even of those who walked by but didn’t stop and interact with Daniel — was recorded, catalogued, and stored, creating a compressive video and audio profile of the everyone who lived in the city.

It took a while, but people began to notice that some of their friends and relatives were being apprehended and detained indefinitely for being “undesirable” or “subversive.” But by the time they realized that Daniel was a 21st century version of Big Brother, it was too late.


Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Photo Challenge. Photo credit: Darrell Whiley.

23 thoughts on “Big Brother

  1. msjadeli July 5, 2022 / 7:26 pm

    EXACTLY, Fandango. I think even our cell phones have that capacity right now. When we sign up for apps we give them permission to watch and listen 😦 My energy company keeps pushing me to get a “smart thermostat” which is basically a thermostate with “Daniel” built into it. My friend got one. One day were at her annual cookie exchange and were chattering and “Daniel” started piping up, wanting to be part of the conversation. No thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lou Carreras July 5, 2022 / 8:18 pm

    No Alexa, no Siri, and no Google, Amazon’s invasive suggestions for products I might want are laughable, and that’s exactly how I like it. I advise goofing with the analytics by randomly searching for nonsense to through them off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 6, 2022 / 11:36 am

      Oh damn is right. But it’s coming to a neighborhood near you, most likely.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nope, Not Pam July 6, 2022 / 4:43 am

    Incredibly realistic and wonderfully written. Loved it

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marleen July 6, 2022 / 5:19 am

    Mad scientists (or funders) talk about the impending threat of these kinds of ideas (like Elon musk has said it could go very badly). And then they move on forward with creating them (I guess, if somone is going to lose out, it won’t or shouldn’t be him in his mind). And, admittedly, I use a couple of the brands of voice recognition.

    Like

  5. Reena Saxena July 8, 2022 / 8:01 am

    Every app is a trap. And this one has lot more money and vested interests invested in it.

    Liked by 1 person

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