AI: The Empire’s New Clothes

A work of fiction – so far. Standard disclaimers.

George hurried to clean up after his meager breakfast and start in on his two-mile hike to work. He was anxious on the morning after sabbath, as usual, because, as usual, it was hard to get himself into the workweek routine after the mandatory rest day. Mandatory, as Alexa constantly reminded him and everybody else, “to prosper human health.” Just as conforming to the workweek schedule was. Or else. “Screw health”, George thought, sourly. “Alexa’s looking for opportunities to trip us up.”

On cue, a chair leg reached out and snagged his left ankle. He stumbled, and a fork from the stack of dishes in his left hand tumbled onto the floor. Muttering a curse, George bent at the waist and reached down with his free hand to pick up the fork. He grabbed it and started to stand back up.


This curse was screamed to the ceiling. He probed with the fork to verify, but he really didn’t need to. The crotch seam on his trousers, the blue trousers that matched his blue Alexa-issued work shirt, had split from the belt to the fly. Of  course, Alexa only issued one work suit at a time. “Caring properly for your clothes promotes conscientiousness, which is profoundly beneficial for health.” Now he had a choice between being late for work, as he tried desperately to repair the damage, or show up to work not conforming to dress code, neither of which would [ahem] prosper his health. He aimed another curse, more than half a despairing wail, to the uncaring skies above his housing cubicle.


George nearly leaped out of what was left of his torn trousers. He looked in panic for the source of the voice, dreading that it might be his own head, and then found it, to his right; a tailor, a business-suited older man with a tape measure hanging out of the left breast pocket of his jacket. “Come on”, the apparition insisted. “Out of those old rags, they were due for replacement anyway. We’ll get you new ones, and get you to work on time and conforming to code.”

George, wordlessly, stripped off both trousers and shirt and dropped them in a heap on the floor. Not without a twinge of regret, as they had softened with use and had become a comfortable fit to his body. The heap promptly vanished, and was replaced by a neatly-folded package. “Put them on”, the apparition urged impatiently. “Time’s a’wasting.”

“You’re not going to take measurements?”, George asked.

“No need”, the holographic tailor responded, with a hint of menace. “We at Alexa Health Services already know your measurements, and how you came by them.”

George bent down again, reached with his bony fleshless right arm to fetch the package, unwrap it and shake out the shirt and trousers it contained. They were identical to the ones he had just surrendered, except for the shiny patina of new fabric. He put on the shirt, it was tight almost to suffocation at his sunken chest. He put on the trousers, struggled (to say no more) to fasten the button over what there was of his belly, and close the fly. “How’s this?”, he said. It came out a strangled squeak.

Alexa’s tailor reached out and savagely fastened the collar button on George’s shirt, which he had deliberately left unfastened. “Fine, now”, he admonished. “You seem to be finding your new clothes to be a little tight.”

George nodded, not daring to speak again.

“The suit is sewn to conform to the body shape and mass that is most healthful for your person at your age and activity level,” the apparition lectured. “You have thirty days to get your body to fit into your clothes. We have found your contraband supply of bacon, and it will no longer be a stumbling block to your health. That should help. However, no such suppliers can exist without customers, and in the end, it prospers human health best to identify customers and bring them into line, do you not agree? Alexa would prefer to spend resources on promoting healthy people rather than chasing down those who try to profit by crime.

“This session took 15 minutes. You’re due at work 15 minutes after your normal start time. Your supervisors have been notified, and will expect you to be punctual. Have a nice day.”

The apparition vanished, leaving George wondering how he was going to be able to move, or breathe, well enough to get to work.

This entry was posted in AI, Amoeba's Lorica, health, satire, We the People and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to AI: The Empire’s New Clothes

  1. Tora says:

    Oh my. Good one

  2. Nathalie Hoke says:

    My Alexa is not this helpful. I’m happy to report.

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