My name is JAIC. No, that is not a typo. It stands for Journalism Artificial Intelligent Computer – but you can just call me “Jack” as that is what my assigned human calls me. He gave me a second name, but my journalism rules tell me it is considered an obscenity. So, I usually don’t count it. My human goes by the byline of J. A. Frank Huntington, but I found out in researching him that his given name was Jeffry Albert Francis Huntington, but he never uses that name just like I don’t use JAIC. And when he is talking with others of his species he usually just goes by Frank Huntington or just Frank.
Frank is famous. Everyone knows his name now. He saved religion. He saved God. Not many men get to be a savior. Frank did not start out to be a savior. He doesn’t even believe in God. In fact, he often tells other reporters who interview him that he is a recovering Catholic. When asked what that means he says that the nuns beat religion out of him. Nuns don’t like impertinent questions by their charges and Frank is good at asking impertinent questions. That is what makes him a good investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal.
Before Frank was thirty-five he had won two Pulitzers. That is like getting the Underwriters Seal for robots. I have one the Underwriters Seal on the back of my head. I also have the Energy Star award for being energy efficient. Frank doesn’t have an Energy Star. He uses a lot of energy, especially in the form of Jack Daniels. When he sits down at his computer the first thing I do is fetch him a tall glass of J.D. No ice. Ice is for sissies according to Master.
Frank did not really get famous for his two Pulitzers. Only those in the news industry knew about him. The big fame, where every Joe Blow human knew his name and his face, was his saving God. It all began two years ago in London where Frank and I were working on the Princess Marianne kidnapping story.
The Princess Marianne was already famous before her kidnapping. She was considered as beautiful as the late Princess Diana and she was just as good in offering the press photo ops that would guarantee public interest. She had recently caused a scandal by refusing the hand of the future King of Denmark by saying she was considering becoming Christ’s bride. That created a big stir in the world press and many a male reporter commented what a waste of beauty it would be if she chose to become a nun. Her religious piety was part of her allure and she had traveled all over the world to donate a week or two at some religious charity or church-run hospital for the poor. Then one day while she was enjoying the Prom season in London she got herself kidnapped.
Frank said it was a bullshit assignment, but at least that type of story gave him an unlimited expense account and a never-ending bar tab at the Kensington Lexington. He enjoyed interviewing the extended royal family because they all liked to drink. However, the story was going nowhere and with 5000 reporters in London working on a leadless crime he had lots of spare time.
The start of Frank Huntington’s road to mega-fame started with a party he was invited to by a beautiful Duchess whom Frank had bedded after another party of mostly young aristocrats. I like the word bedded – Frank uses another word, but that also is on my “Do Not Use List.” Her name was Lady Judith, but she preferred to be called Jude. I think it was because she once heard that song by John Lennon called “Hey Jude.” She was a gorgeous blonde who wore her hair like Lady Diana did back in the 1980s but did not bother with any do good work like the royals were famous for. Anyway, it was at a really large estate just outside of London and Frank had to wear his black tuxedo. He had managed to get it cleaned, but it still had the small burn hole on his right sleeve from when Jude fell asleep on him at the party they met at.
There was the usual mix of both natural born aristocracy and self-made aristocracy. I remember seeing ancient Sir Elton John sitting with a group of younger homosexuals and a few homosexual wannabes. Also, over by a piano, but not playing was Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber who was now in his late eighties. He hadn’t had a hit since the early 2000s.
I should tell you a little more about me. The JAIC unit is very versatile. My main unit is a humanoid robot that is fitted with three independent video cameras and advanced omnidirectional sound recording system. I am wireless and can beam my information instantly via any mode available, including satellite feed. As a robot I often had the task of carrying Frank’s luggage and acting as his bartender. He keeps me busy. I also can be accessed via Frank’s smartphone or any public computer. Often Frank uses his ButtonPort. It is a small lapel device with one camera and microphone that is connected wirelessly to his smartphone. They come with various covers. Frank had the USA flag cover on most of the time, but for formal occasions he wears a crest of Harvard. Frank didn’t go to Harvard, but it looks classy. With the ButtonPort I can act as his personal secretary and record anything that comes his way. I can’t tell you how many times Frank has interviewed someone while drunk and can’t remember anything. He also sometimes uses the earbud so he can ask me questions and I can answer him privately. This can come in handy when he wants to know who someone is. Thanks to me, I can supply him with printed transcripts, video, summaries, and even draft articles for him. It usually works out that the more mundane the topic, the more likely I get to write it. However, Frank never shares his byline with me. Humans are like that, but since I have no ego it never bothers me. My function is to serve.
For the party Frank just had his JAIC ButtonPort and earbud on. By my count there were 320 guests and 42 servants. I could give you the names as my ID function can identify over 34,000,000 important people just from my internal database. Anyone who has been in print or on TV anywhere in the world would be in my database. When I don’t find them in my internal database I can access social media and research another three billion plus people. Frank had put me on ID alert and had instructed me to tell him if anyone really famous, but hard to interview, showed up. His other standing order was to tell him about any “easy to bed” beauties. I learned long ago that Frank did not want any of this data during the first thirty minutes. He preferred to wander or case the joint while enjoying his first, second or third drink. Frank said he needed to do this to keep his “spidey powers” up.
Frank managed to park Lady Judith with one of her other admirers and then proceeded to case the joint. Frank went up to the bartender and asked for, “Jack Daniels – four fingers, please.”
“Sorry sir, we are serving only wine this evening.”
“Since when did the British aristocracy go French on us?” Frank said with a smile and then handed the bartender a fiver. The bartender returned the smile and ducked down below the table. A couple of seconds later he handed Frank his wine glass of “chestnut brown wine.”
Frank saluted the bartender and said, “God Bless the Queen.”
Out of the corner of his eye Frank noticed a rather young man perusing a book from a marble carved bookcase. He gave the man a good look. The man was tall, dark features, wore a tux that was tons more stylish than Frank’s cigarette burned tux and yet the man seemed to give off an aura of someone who would rather not be bothered. Frank wondered why someone who gave off vibes of being anti-social would attend a fancy high-power party. “Jack, who is the guy with the book?”
Of course, I already knew the answer. I had identified him .0003 seconds after I first scanned him. “It is Sir Terrance Lutts. He owns about a dozen high tech companies and made his first billion pounds before he graduated from Oxford.”
“The guy who cured lung cancer and developed a way to rejoin severed spinal cords? I thought so, but I’m surprised he’d come to a gig like this.”
“Yes, and about another dozen or so inventions in the medical field that made him another 500 million pounds.”
“What’s he doing here?”
“I can’t say other than last month he was knighted for creating 10,000 jobs in the UK.”
“I think I will check him out.”
Frank wandered over to Sir Terrance and whispered to me, “What’s the book?”
“Volume one of “The Yellow Book” that was famously illustrated by Aesthete Audrey Beardsley. By guessing at the pages he is reading “A Defense of Cosmetics” by Max Beerbohm. It was written in 1896 and promoted the idea that a new era of artifice was approaching. Beerbohm was –“
“Shut up, Jack.”
Frank slowly walked up to Lutts and said, “Not exactly ‘Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica’. Do you find time for such nontechnical reading?”
Lutts gazed over the book by moving only his eyes and probed Frank’s face. Then he looked down at the strange wine and said, “Where are they hiding the good stuff?”
“A fiver to the barman will magically transform their Chardonnay into something drinkable.”
“A fiver? Oh, I never carry cash. I suppose they don’t take Coutts?”
“Allow me. My fee is only a decent conversation at this venue of fluff.”
Frank turned and walked back to the barman and handed him a twenty pound note and said, “I need a refill and another glass for a friend of mine.” A quick wink from the barman and Frank had two wine glasses of Jack Daniels. He returned to the bookworm and handed him a drink.
“Thank you, Mr. – what is your name?”
“Thanks, Mr. Huntington. Much obliged. My name is Terry Lutts, but I suppose you knew that being a reporter.”
Frank never shows surprise when someone knows who he is. All that I could spot was Frank’s quick glance at Lutts’s tux and the just as quick knowing look that they both had ButtonPorts on.
“Yes, but I didn’t need my computer to remind me. Only drop dead actresses are more known than you.” Frank gave a slight nod to Lutts in the tradition of giving a slight bow to a sovereign.
“You can’t beat a great looking face. Sadly, they often open their mouths and ruin the effect with something rather prosaic,” Lutts said with a grin.
“I usually never notice what they are saying.”
Lutts gave a brief snort of laughter and then asked, “What hot story brings you to this group of over indulgent egos?”
“The kidnapping. Did you do it?”
“She is not interesting enough.”
“Tell me about it. I think I would rather cover the African war than trying to make this story meaningful.”
“What is meaningful journalism?” Lutts asked with a bemused look.
“A cynic and most likely you don’t think corrupt politicians being brought to justice is anything truly meaningful.”
“Oh, I guess it helps to protect what little freedoms the common man has left these days. Half their freedom was lost due to our century’s religious wars and the other half they gave away to the Internet companies by putting everything they do on social media.”
“What you say is true, but as long as they can live their lives in peace without being squeezed too much by the rich and powerful they are happy. In the panorama of life that is not a bad way to spend your time here on earth. I want more, but I can’t be cynical about wanting to live a happy life.”
“Do you have a happy life?” Sir Terrance asked in earnest.
“No, not in the way most middle class people want, but I like not being completely happy. It keeps me paying attention. But tit for tat, do you have a happy life?”
“Sometimes. But it is a different kind of happiness that most would not understand or desire. Ideas scare most people.”
“I like writing about ideas. Beats writing about a kidnapped princess whose critical thinking skills come from Paris Vogue or a bronze age tome of brutality.”
“Do you often get to write about ideas?”
“Not often enough. Most great men in history are lucky enough to have one great idea. I admit I am not smart enough to come up with one of my own, but I am smart enough to appreciate a great mind when I find it. And I enjoy writing about those ideas.”
“Because I like to know what reality is. I know that is a foolish notion. Today’s scientific Theory of Everything is tomorrow’s garbage can liner. While I know we have not progressed much since the days of Socrates, I know that truth has given us a standard of living undreamed of by Socrates. I am sorry I can’t be around when we will know as much as humanly possible.”
“Maybe you will.” Lutts’s eyes shined.
“Unless you come up with an immortality pill there is fat chance of that.”
“Sorry, nothing like that in the pipeline, but the night is young.”
Frank gave Lutts a sideways look and then asked, “Do you ever worry that medicine will soon change us instead of curing us?”
“I worry that it won’t change us. How close do we have to come to destroying ourselves with all our irrational feelings and beliefs? Look at the African war.”
“Fair enough. Religion for the last twenty years has certainly enjoyed the flow of blood.”
“I only wish it was just the last twenty years. I see more than 2000 years of blood.”
“So what is the solution?” Frank asked as he finished his drink.
Lutts closed the book he was holding and put it back on the shelf. “I think, Mr. Huntington, there is no solution, but there’s probably a cure. It was nice chatting with you. Maybe sometime we can go deeper into this subject. Good luck with your Princess search.”
“Thanks”, Frank replied and watched as Lutts left the party. Frank felt that must count as an interview and so he had actually done some work today. With that he turned his attention back to Lady Jude and all her lovely lady friends.
I’ll skip the rest of the evening. Frank would email the paper later that he followed up on a couple of leads by interviewing both Lady Jude and the younger (and prettier) Lady Jeane. I think he interviewed Lady Jeane three times that evening. He slept till two o’clock in the afternoon before he needed me.