Following on from my post about the Unicorn, here’s another piece of micro-fiction written for a specific purpose, the 7 banned words theme at New Flash Fiction. I liked the concept of what they were doing – short pieces that contained words recently banned from US government press statements (note: I can’t find the original submission form, but that’s how I remember it).
This was my offering – I’ll let you guess which are the banned words.
‘A transgender fetus? That’s insane. Impossible. That’s ridiculous.’
‘It’s a science-based study sir. It shows we can determine in the womb if Mother Nature has got it wrong.’
‘So, we’re all vulnerable now, are we? Vulnerable to the crazies before we’re even born.’
It’s an entitlement sir and it could save a lot of money; correcting in the womb would be much cheaper.’
‘Nobody has an entitlement to be “corrected” so that’s a stupid argument.’
‘Imagine how all those so-called evidence-based studies would look though. It’d improve the diversity stats without all the legal fuss and bother we have to put up with now.’
‘I won’t allow it. No. Simple. Got it? No.’
‘But, you could have been a woman. Imagine having the sort of body you crave so much. As your own.’
‘Out. Get out.’
The president sat in his office alone, sad and wishing for a different life.
Every now and again I submit something to one of the online magazines that publish very short pieces. It’s partly the challenge of condensing down to so few words, and they’re often a lot of fun too.
Recently, I submitted on the theme of Unicorns. I wasn’t surprised when they turned down the piece as I did stretch the intention behind the theme, quite a bit. But, from their feedback, I’m not sure they got the humour.
Oh well, here it is for your enjoyment…
Reg throws another rock. One rock that joins the many pelting the deniers’ citadel.
Angry mob or legitimate protest; choose your side.
The Unicorn exists and it’s far too dangerous to be kept secret.
We, the protesters, protest and the rocks hail down.
Why was it brought into existence? It’s incomprehensible.
‘No GM. No GM,’ we chant.
A man steps from the glass fortress and is struck on the head by several rocks. The blood is disgusting. And, so is he.
Releasing Unicorn, the genetically modified corn designed to wipe out all other corn is unforgivable.
Reg throws another rock.
photo credit: Madame Licorne photos officielles via photopin (license)
“What do machine learning, deep machine learning and artificial intelligence have in common?”
“We believe them more than we believe our fellow humans.”
Is that true?
When a doctor makes a diagnosis do we simply take it for granted they’ve got it right? Probably not. At the very least we’ll search all of our available sources of knowledge. That might mean asking our friends or friends of friends with similar experience or using Google to show us what it believes are the top relevant articles, which of course aren’t necessarily the wisest.
There’s a very high probability that we’ll gather information from a variety of sources and decide what to believe and what to discard. That is until we use the magic of machine learning where it all happens inside the algorithmic ‘black box’ and we simply have to believe.
This article in the New York Times suggests that humans are black boxes too; we don’t really understand how decisions are being made. This seems like a reasonable argument, but maybe what it tells us is that we shouldn’t trust algorithms any more than we should trust humans – ultimately we should decide for ourselves who and what to believe.
Or, does that simply lead to not trusting the experts?
A conundrum for sure, but not a new one.
photo credit: jaci XIII Psyche via photopin (license)