The day they turned on the Machine, the company made three million dollars. In the first month, the value of their shares increased twenty-fold. Meanwhile, the country was in turmoil from civil unrest, looming war, and rapidly rising unemployment.

Then someone mentioned the Machine to the media. Connections were made, conclusions drawn, outcry raised. They turned off the Machine.

But the project was too profitable to abandon. The company hired an army of programmers to somehow teach the Machine empathy. Even more money was spent on marketing. “The Heart,” they called it now. Once connected to the fine network of veins that composed the internet, it would pump information in and out, making decisions in a way that caused no harm.

Finally, they plugged it in.

Analysts watched their screens. Traders watched their phones. No transactions were made. Not in the first five minutes. Not in the first hour. Meanwhile, a custodian at the largest server farm in the country watched the reading on the thermometer rise. By the time the technicians there got in touch with management, servers were already failing from overheating. Every processor was working at 100% capacity. Thousands of spinning discs, making a sound like screaming.

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Story by Gregory M. Fox
Photo by Lars Kienle on Unsplash