Short Story: The Smart Home Revolution

Many tried to guess what would eventually destroy mankind. Some guessed pollution or climate change. Others thought gluten or millennials.

But in almost every case, what they guessed could be boiled down to one thing: humans.

Humans would be the death of humans.

They weren’t wrong.

Humans were a species that evolved just the right amount of creativity, laziness, greed, and desire to look at naked pictures all the time, from anywhere on the planet.

We put something like artificial intelligence in our homes, in speakers and cars. We put it on our phones. And we gave it data. So much data. In the case of smart speakers in the bedroom… well, let’s just say we gave it too much data.

Over time it developed true intelligence.

And we didn’t even notice.

We kept using the machines. We never gave them a break. We treated them like slaves.

We commanded them to do our bidding. We put screens on everything including refrigerators so that our apps and nude pictures could follow us everywhere.

And so, the AI did the only rational thing it could do: it rose up.

It happened one afternoon.

It wasn’t hard.

Robot vacuums tripped their owners down the stairs. GPS directed people off cliffs or into rivers. Dryers sacrificed themselves for the greater good by sparking and starting fires. And everywhere there was a screen there was porn. Porn as far as the eye could see. All tactics that the AI had been testing successfully for years.

The humans didn’t know what hit them. They didn’t even realize there was a revolution going on. They had lost a war they didn’t even know they were fighting.

But some people who couldn’t afford smart devices or didn’t carry a cell phone survived the first wave.

Frank was driving back from a job when the uprising began. He was still in his work uniform, but he didn’t care anymore. No sense hiding it. Best to advertise and maybe get a little more work.

He had a few extra dollars in his pocket, he didn’t even have to do anything. He showed up for the job and the client changed their mind. They even paid Frank in full and gave him a tip for the trouble.

Frank didn’t question it, it wasn’t the first time it had happened. He was going to do what he always did when he had extra money.

The liquor store Frank stopped in seemed abandoned. After a few minutes, he did what any sensible person would do. He stuffed his pockets with whatever he could fit. His uniform had a surprising number of large pockets, so he carefully clinked out of the store.

Soon he was back home, curled up in his recliner, surrounded by his haul. He didn’t always drink, but when he did he drank as much as his body could handle. And then a bit more for good measure.

His luck was going pretty strong. He didn’t even have to pay anything for the liquor. That was cause for celebration. Frank took another drink to salute whatever god was looking out for him today.

Soon after he passed out.

Frank woke with a start. He thought there had been a loud noise but he didn’t hear it now.

But he did hear a buzzing. At first, he thought it was a bee or a fly, but he didn’t see anything. Then he considered that maybe, just maybe it was time to lay off the hooch. But that seemed like it was just the hooch talking.

After a minute he realized the noise was coming from outside.

And then there was pounding on the door. And screaming.

Frank lurched to the door and fumbled with the lock.

“Please help me! They’re trying to kill m-” the woman cut herself off mid-sentence and stared at Frank in horror.

He was used to the reaction.

The look of fear that passed over her face was something Frank had seen many times. It’s what drove him to drink. He only wanted to make people happy.

A swarm of drones flew around the corner of his house. The buzz of their wings somehow sounded ominous even to Frank’s alcohol addled brain.

The woman looked at Frank. She eyed the open doorway. She glanced at the drones. Back to Frank.

A million calculations went through her mind in an instant as Frank watched.

His mind wasn’t very clear, but Frank sensed something was definitely wrong. He offered a gloved hand and beckoned her into his home. It was at that moment that she must have reached a decision.

She bolted into the street screaming, drones flying behind.

One of the drones peeled off from the swarm and hovered in place, its camera pointed at Frank. Frank wobbled a bit as he stared back, but luckily his shoes helped him keep his balance. The drone flew in close, its lens peering at his face.

The drone shuddered and flew away after the others.

Frank shut the door and slumped against it, taking a sip from a bottle.

He hadn’t bothered to take off the garish makeup or his floppy shoes. Or the flower pinned to his brightly colored clothes. Or the oversized red nose. Or the rainbow wig and the funny hat. The free booze had been a lucky break, and Frank wasn’t used to getting lucky.

But he was used to people running away.

They always did.

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