Future Tense, one of the revolving features on this page, presents stories and
essays from the intersection of computational science and technological speculation,
their boundaries limited only by our ability to imagine what will and could be.
Daniel H. Wilson
the near Cloud
Wish I never pulled the plug…
“JoHnsonVILLe BReaKfasT sausaGe has
the variety to satisfy all your taste preference needs,” says a small plastic face,
its black camera eyes peeking over my
Groaning, I blindly shove the robot
away. The child-size humanoid stumbles and falls softly to the carpet, then
rolls clumsily onto its chest, unharmed.
There isn’t much to this robot. Just a
bunch of actuators and sensors and a
radio. It’s durable and light and always
getting smarter because it doesn’t do
its own thinking. Its robot brain is out
there somewhere. Nowhere.
In the Google Cloud.
Pushing it down isn’t the worst I’ve
done to it, not by far. But, as usual, its
bleached white casing provides protection. It’s like a little white knight in dull
That’s why I call him Whitey.
“Shall I run to the store for a pack
of Vermont Maple Breakfast Sausage
Links?” he intones, speaker muffled on
my freshly vacuumed beige carpet. “Or
perhaps Wisconsin Cheddar Break-
My pillow lands on Whitey, and he
cuts it out. Every morning he hits me
i’m not scared
of the government;
it’s the ads that
are killing me.
with the advertising. Always for the opposite of whatever he’s found rummaging around in my refrigerator, bathroom, closet.
Johnsonville sausage, really? Whitey knows I’m a Jimmy Dean man.
I’ve finally had it. The Google corporation gave me Whitey five years ago. Today, I’m gonna jailbreak him and set us
The robot is sitting on my coffee table between empty soda cans and old
magazines. My smartphone has the
jailbreak software loaded and ready to
go. I’ve decided to keep my data here
in the house from now on. It’s time to
get Whitey’s head out of the Cloud.
And not just because of the spying.
Whitey isn’t a narc. Sure, his re-
cords could be subpoenaed. But the
government is welcome to peek into
my crummy apartment and watch me
play video games while Whitey folds
towels. The ads are right; if you’ve got
nothing to hide, then you’ve got noth-
ing to worry about. Right?