Scripted Romance

“If you could have a dinner party with anyone from the past or present, who would it be?”

She pondered her DATE’s question as she chewed and swallowed her branzino. “Douglas Adams,” she answered. “You can feel his warm, funny personality emanating from all his writing. I’m sure he’d have tons of fascinating stuff to say at a dinner party.”

“That’s awesome!” he said with a grin.

She waited to see if he had anything more to add. Then: “How about you?”

“Hm… Bill Gates, for obvious reasons! What would constitute an ideal day for you?”

Once again she gave a thoughtful response, and once again he merely smiled and gave positive affirmation. She wondered if he always talked as if reading off a teleprompter, and felt herself growing frustrated and embarrassed.

When her friend had offered to set her up with a Dedicated Anthropomorphic Technical Emissary for today, she thought it would at least be somewhat entertaining. She had just gotten out of an eight-year relationship and dreaded being alone on Valentine’s Day, her favorite holiday. “They’ve made terrific strides with AI lately,” her friend had assured her. Yeah, right. This thing was duller than her childhood robot tutor.

“Say, I’ve got a question for you,” she said to her DATE. “You see a tortoise lying on its back in the hot desert sun. It can’t turn itself over. Why don’t you help it?”

He looked surprised. “Is that a Voight-Kampff question? I’m not an android, you know.”

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