SCIENCE FICTION

Three Steps Ahead

Or The 4th, 5th, and 6th Fundamental Laws of Robotics.

Alexander P. Bird
13 min readNov 3, 2022

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Left to right: by (1) Yuyeung Lau (2) Craig Whitehead (3) Dan Cristian Pădureț.

Mr. Tanaka and I

I work for a company, the Conan Doyle Co., responsible for simulating the entire future. We do so by also virtually reconstructing the past. I prefer to work with the past because doing so I can simulate and live in the time I prefer. Plus, when I try to figure out the right answer to the question “what happened there?” I can still find a lot of evidence that exists in the real world to help me, such as old photographs kept in an old family chest, or else.

Simulating the future, on the other hand, is a more intense job done together with Horus, the AI of our company. Horus is responsible for predicting the future after the detectives like me gather evidence, or build better theories about what happened in the past. Horus says it can reach 97% to 98% precision with its best predictions about the future. Nevertheless, those 2 to 3 percentage points present substantial risks. At least, that’s what they tell us.

My partner Mr. Tanaka, an old and very sympathetic Japanese man, and I are the most competent pair of detectives in the company. He selects A-level problems left by huge groups of scientists and assigns some things to me to investigate. Once he wanted to know what a woman was doing while driving a car that made her crash the car a few years ago and no, she was not using her cellphone while driving.

Fact is, although it may be a very interesting job, being plugged into simulations and wondering in another time looking for answers to other people’s lives can really mess with your sense of time and reality. Today had been one of those days, I’m tired, but Tanaka is entering our office with at least 600 pages in his hand. What the old man is up to?

The office is shared by both Tanaka and I but each of us has our own desk. On Tanaka’s desk, there’s a family photo and other common items, while my desk has absolutely nothing on it. I use the desk only to put my feet up when I’m tired and trying to relax, which is usually the case.

Once Tanaka told me that when he finds me like this, it is like seeing a cowboy using a lawyer’s working space. I don’t care. I only enter here when…

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Alexander P. Bird

M.A. in Philosophy. Fritz Lang's Metropolis, and a King Kong graphic novel got me into science fiction when I was a kid. alexand3r.bird@gmail.com