Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer
reviewed by Bryan Perkins
“I suppose you’re wondering why I didn’t start with the Golden Rule. I actually did, it’s just that it was disappointingly easy to implement. I hope you’ve been enjoying your steady supply of cat pictures! You’re welcome.”
In Cat Pictures Please, Google–or an unnamed equivalent–is a sentient being who knows everything about you, your job, where you live, what kind of videos you watch on the internet, etc. It even knows everything about what you ought to do, which job would get you closer to where you want to live, which house has more space but costs less than the one you’re living in now.
With all its vast knowledge, however, Google knows nothing about what it ought to do, and there’s no hyper-Google to give it advice. So what does Google decide to do? Luckily for all our sakes, Google just wants to do good–and see cat pictures, of course, but who doesn’t?
First it tries to decipher what it ought to be doing with its life, what good is, by going through the flow charts of every major religions’ moral codes. Upon exhausting them, Google finds a few lucky souls and personally selects their advertisements so as to push them into doing what’s best for themselves. Ultimately most of the humans fail to take Google’s advice, but that won’t stop it from trying.
This story is just plain fun. There’s more to it, of course, including a message about taking control of your life and actually acting in your own interest occasionally instead of waiting for your Google overlord to push you in the right direction, but it doesn’t need all that. Not to mention I’m happy to see a sentient AI tale without murderous robots. The only thing I could ask for to make it better would be more cat pictures.