“INHUMANE” (SHORT STORY)

A new AI Pen is set to revolutionise writing.

By interacting with authorised language models in real-time, this remarkable handheld technology promises to enhance productivity and elevate writing to new heights, boasting features like Instant Writing, Style Suggestions and Corrective Content Creation.

This AI Pen improves sentences, generates impeccable prose and predicts users’ thoughts with eerie accuracy.

“Inhumane” is a satirical short story as new product launch and demo. A quick take on the risks of blindingly putting technology before humanity. Of paving the way to technological totalitarianism.

Pitch-perfect, politically correct writing is now within easy reach.

Or does it spell the end of human expression?

Rated NC-17 / 1,500 words / 6 minutes of intelligent reading pleasure

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‘The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.’ Isaac Asimov

STEFANO BOSCUTTI

INHUMANE

Copyright 2024 Stefano Boscutti
All rights reserved

SAN FRANCISCO - INHUMANE HEADQUARTERS

Sleek, airy room. Neoclassical with spotless matt white walls and decorative trim, luminous floors and extravagant all-white Louis XVI-era decor. Cabinet, chairs, tables. But no doors or windows.

ADAM RUHR, 50, steps into frame behind a white standing desk and looks into the camera.

‘Welcome to Inhumane.’

Ruhr is bald with no facial hair, intense. Dressed in light grey marle leisure wear. Unclips a thin silver pen from the inset pocket of his top. Holds it towards the camera.

‘This is the Inhumane AI Pen. It’s a brilliant standalone device and software platform. Built from the ground up for AI.’

Shaft of light beams down one side of the shiny pen.

‘It doesn’t come in three colourways. It comes in carbon neutral Polished Silver to reflect every colour, every inference from your immediate environment. It’s a single Computer and Motion Powered Battery with all-day battery life. That sits in your hand or clips to a shirt or blouse.’

Ruhr starts writing directly on the top of the desk. No ink spills, no markings are made on the smooth surface.

‘The unique Motion Powered Battery is a perpetual power system that allows you to use your AI Pen for as long as you want. It’s always on and you can engage with it in any way you want - through Touch, Voice and Laser Display.’

Ruhr taps the side of the pen and the words he was writing are projected from the top of the pen as handwritten text onto the desk surface. It’s hard to read his handwriting. He taps the pen again and speaks to it.

‘Show in Helvetica.’

The handwritten text projected on the desk reformulates letter by letter into neat Helvetica typeface. It reads: It was a bright warm day in May. 

‘Save to notes.’

The text appears to be sucked off the desk and back into the pen.

‘It also comes with its own connectivity built right in. Our own Ultrafast Inhumane Network connected by U-Mobile. We were able to pack a lot of technology into something really small. It runs a dual-core Qualtel Magus Elite nano chipset and that means it’s exceptionally fast, which is crucial for AI.’

Ruhr holds the pen upright. 

‘It’s got an Ultrawide RGB Camera, Depth Sensor and Motion Sensors. Capturing images and video is just a tap away. And it’s got this really special speaker on top that creates a bubble of sound around you. It can be really intimate or it can be really loud. We call it Pensonic.’

Ruhr points to the pen.

‘It has a dedicated Privacy Chip, ensuring full data security. All your data is protected. The AI Pen Privacy Chip also protects it from being exploited. Which means if it’s ever physically tampered with, it will require service from Inhumane to restore operation.’

A light below the pen surface blinks green.

‘The AI Pen comes with a Trust Light that lets you know when it has something for you. Like messages from trusted contacts or trusted services like cars or food or ads.’

Ruhrh slips the pen back into the inset pocket of his top.

‘We don’t do apps. Inhumane OS runs AI experiences that are on the device and in the cloud. The OS understands what you need and picks the right AI in the moment. What this means is that you no longer have to search for, download or manage apps. These AIs are streamed on demand in real-time at the speed of thought. Let’s play some music --’

Ruhr touches the top of the pen, speaks into it.

‘Play the song “Diamond Dogs”.’

David Bowie’s song fades in and out, woozy slam-bam boogie guitar and all.

‘We’ve partnered with Spotal which you get out of the box and you can do some amazing things. Really cool things driven by AI. Like --’

Ruhr touches the top of the pen, speaks into it.

‘Play music written by Bruno Mars but not performed by Bruno Mars.’

Cee Lo Green’s clean version of “Forget You” fades in and out, lively piano riff giving way to energetic rhythmic guitar and retro bassline.

Ruhr lifts the pen out of the inset pocket of his top, touches the top of the pen and speaks into it.

‘Play songs from the film “Inception”.’

As he tilts the top of the pen forward, music controls are projected onto the desk and Hans Zimmer’s snaking score fades up. Ruhr gently slides a fingertip over the controls.

‘Got my Music Control. If I go to the left, I can go back. If I go to the right, I can skip forward. Centre and I can pause.’

Ruhr fades the song out.

‘I can also use it to ask questions like --’

Ruhr touches the top of the pen.

‘When is the next eclipse and where is the best place to see it?’

The AI Pen silently browses the web, grabbing knowledge from everywhere.

‘The next total solar eclipse will occur on April 8th 2024. The best place to see it is Mazatlán, Mexico at 9:51am.’

‘I can use it for messaging either by voice or laser --’

Ruhr speaks into the top of the pen.

‘Tell Andrew I’ll be there later tonight.’

‘Your message to Andrew says, I’ll  be there later tonight - okay to send?’

‘Make me sound more excited.’

‘Your message to Andrew says, I’ll be there later tonight, can’t wait - okay to send?’

‘Yes.’

Ruhr looks at the pen.

‘One of the things I like most is message scanning. The AI Pen summarises what’s important so I don’t have to go back and read every message -- Scan Messages.’

‘Ella asked if you want to get dinner with Sam this week. Andrew wants to meet online tomorrow. Michael sent some notes about today’s design sync.’

‘Of course you can make a phone call --’

Ruhr speaks into the top of the pen.

‘Call Diego.’

‘Hey.’

‘Hey Diego can you help me with this demo.’

‘Be right there.’

‘Thanks.’

Diego steps in and looks at Ruhr, speaks to him in Spanish.

‘Estamos casi listos para enviar la versión final.’

The pen glows as it translates and plays in English, mimicking Diego’s voice and intonation.

‘We are almost ready to ship the final version.’

‘Great. I can’t wait.’

The pen glows as it translates and plays in English, mimicking Ruhr’s voice and intonation.

‘Excelente. No puedo esperar.’

Diego nods and steps away. Ruhr turns to the camera.

‘So what happened there is the AI Pen auto-detected Spanish, interpreted to English and replied back to Diego in Spanish with my intonation. This is available in any language you’d like to speak or understand or write in.’

Ruhr holds up the pen.

‘Writing with the AI Pen is a breeze. Instant Writing generates instantly approved text at the speed of light.’

Ruhr speaks into the top of the pen.

‘Write a nine-thousand-word dissertation on “Allegories of the Sun” by Plato.’

Words start to flow from the top of the pen onto the desk. Ruhr speaks into the top of the pen.

‘Make it more academic and introduce three additional arguments.’

Words retabulate on the fly.

‘Counter the arguments, apply Political Auto Correct and then send’

Words fly off the desk. 

‘Political Auto Correct removes any inflammatory content. It automatically moderates harmful text, curtails hate speech and eliminates controversial topics. Anything odd or different is simply deleted to make your writing more palatable.’

Ruhr looks serious.

‘Subversive topics can normalise harms. So the AI Pen moves content in a more positive, thoughtful direction. Nuance and complexity are things of the past.’

Ruhr lowers the pen.

‘Auto Fact Check runs constantly in the background so you never make a mistake. You no longer have to worry about planning, researching, outlining, revising and proofing. Editing, clarifying and optimising your writing is handled in the background in real-time.’

Ruhr double taps the pen.

‘Okay, so the details --’

Ruhr looks at the pen.

‘The AI Pen starts at $99. Syncing and storage of all your writing, conversations, photos and videos with no limits on the number of queries you can pose along with unlimited text, talk and data with a dedicated cell phone number for your AI Pen via the Inhumane Network is just $9 a month.’

Ruhr places the pen down on the desk.

‘We are so excited to finally unveil the AI Pen and can’t wait for you to begin trying it for yourselves.’

Ruhr looks into the camera.

‘It’s our aim at Inhumane to build for the world not as it exists today but for tomorrow where we can take the full power of AI everywhere and have it weave seamlessly into our everyday lives.’

Ruhr smiles softly.

‘For us, the AI Pen is just the beginning.’


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Copyright 2024 Stefano Boscutti

All Rights Reserved


No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing.

Stefano Boscutti acknowledges the trademark owners of various products referenced in this work. The publication or use of these trademarks is not authorised or sponsored by the trademark owner.

This is a work of fiction. While many of the characters portrayed here have counterparts in the life and times of technologists and others, the characterisations and incidents presented are totally the products of the author’s unsettling imagination. This work is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It should not be resold or given away. Thank you for your support. (Couldn’t do it without you.)

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