I don’t want to bore you with the details of the test. The truth is I was only half paying attention. As soon as they get past the first couple of baseline questions, like who are you, and what do you do here, I tend to drift in thought or zone out. The funny thing is I don’t remember what I was thinking during that whole time, even though it started half an hour ago and just ended. It’s weird how time can pass like that.
I did watch Susanne closely at the end there. She was beaming with joy, eager to please me with her discovery. It was a little too much to stomach. I hate ambition and brown nosing even though I know I encourage it in my people. It’s another one of those things I need to look into. I dismissed her and C as soon as it was over. My tester told me C aced the test and was everything we’d expected, but I didn’t tell Susanne that. I only told her I was pleased with the preliminary results and I’d reach out with more information soon. I’ll purposely forget to tell her anything and see how long it will take before she comes out and asks for concrete results. It may even get fun after a while. I know I’ll enjoy it.
Now that the room is clear I can talk to my client with some practiced candor. They insist on privacy and so do we. It makes these meetings different than what you imagine. The tester and their team sits with me in a room behind a two-way mirror and runs through a list of questions. They analyze the verbal and non-verbal responses while I daydream. The manager usually isn’t part of the session but in this case Susanne was allowed to sit behind C and observe while he took the test. I wanted her to see it in action and re-affirm her profound fear that she doesn’t really understand any of what we do here. When I say the room is clear I mean the room I’m sitting in. The client sits in their own room with their own two-way mirror that looks out on the testing room. It’s the room next to mine, both facing the test area. We can easily communicate just by talking in a normal voice but we can’t see each other. There is no surveillance tech at these levels of interaction. The voices are altered as another precautionary measure but it still feels like a normal everyday conversation. I’m amazed how comfortable it can feel when I’m talking to a robotic voice that I don’t have to see nor worry about how I look.
I start to wonder if I should maybe say something to ensure they’ve understood the results described by the tester. I wonder what they are thinking when I hear someone clearing their throat and I pause to prepare for the usual q and a – “I speak for everyone in the room when I say that we are impressed with what you’ve just shown us here today. We were wondering if you could provide us a bit more information on your methodology.”
“Of course,” I say. “This is a subject I identified early on in their tenure with us and I knew he was exactly what you were looking for so that’s why I reached out immediately. “
“Yes we know that story, but how did you teach, or program him may be a better word, to not only find the inconsistencies in a story but only believe facts that affirmed the opinion of a specific group. I mean how did you get him to understand the hypocrisy and still have it entrench his stance?”
I sit back in my chair and take a deep breath because I know I’ve got them exactly where I want them. They are eating out of my hand and I may as well be sitting on a pile of gold so I decide to slow roll it a little bit. “That’s what makes this case so interesting, am I right.” I love little rhetorical questions to pique interest. “We started him off with all the usual content our AI generates for all of our reviewers; mostly front page bleeds-it-leads fear mongering to get them immersed in the idea of a violent world. A lot of people don’t pay attention to the news or the salacious aspects of it. We have to generate that baseline understanding. Once they understand that violence is lurking everywhere we create two competing philosophical camps, modeled off of political parties of old if you will, back when they had roughly equal power. They are two competing entities with vastly different ideological make-ups in the experiment design. We start to treat one group’s actions and rhetoric with empathy and depict the other as unhinged and dangerous. Now we do that for everyone that comes through the training. The purpose is to develop a bias and test its limits or bounds if you will by tweaking the AI in different ways. Those subjects become blindly obedient to a specific group with extremely wide latitude. We push the bounds regularly to see how far it can go, which is pretty far, let me tell you. C, is different because he can see the bounds. He calls out the inconsistencies, corrects them to confirm his bias, or can changes his ideas about his group if we change the narrative. He’s fully bought into that one bias and we could flip the narratives about what it means to be part of that group versus the other and he will accept it and change all his opinions and know he’s doing it. It’s really astounding stuff, a first that we’ve come across. I mean, here we have a real-life subject who we’ve taught to abhor violence in the name of one group, and support it in the name of the other. And we can change the contexts and supporting narratives without diminishing his fervent support for his group of choice that we’ve picked for him.”
“And I’m sure you have ideas for how we can take this experiment and apply it to our business at scale. Am I correct? Otherwise what are we doing here.”
Now I’m smiling ear to ear. I almost wish they could see me. “We have all of the data on the process, this personality type, the thought patterns, learning approaches. In sum, we have everything that will enable you to take what we’ve done and create the same effect in any other person with a similar disposition. We even have the algorithm of narrative progression that will program those people. Sound good.”
I pause now to let that sink in. I’m sure they are in there celebrating this achievement, fist pumping, high-fiving, what have you. What I didn’t say and they surely know is we’ve found a way to create an obedient leader class. Followers was easy. We cracked that nut years ago and have been fine tuning it ever since. It has kept the lights on in this place and given me a nice place in the green zone of town, but this is a next level finding. I may get enough credit to move out to the suburban sprawl. I’ve never seen it but if the rumors are true then it’s a nice step up the value chain.
“Mr Lomax? That’s your name, correct?”
“Congratulations. You’ve done excellent work here.”
And that’s the end of the meeting. There is nothing else for me to say. The in-room computer tells me the client has disconnected their comms. I’m happy, the client is happy, and I got the credit I fully deserve. I may savor this for the rest of the afternoon. I’ll have to tell my secretary to schedule urgent calls with my people and then cancel them soon after. Maybe do that a couple of times so I can watch them squirm on a knife’s edge.
Wait, that sounds borderline sadistic. I should look into why I just thought that. I’ll do that tomorrow after I see how the squirming goes.
[To Be Continued…]