“Hello, Brian,” said the monotone voice from his newly unpacked robotic aid. “I’m Robo MacDonald, your Artificial Intelligent Entrepreneurial Information Operator.”
“Hi!” the eager businessman replied.
“I’m a regular AIEIO,” the robot continued, chuckling at his own joke.
“Sounds great!” The proud owner stuffed the packaging that came with the AIEIO into the belly of the machine. The robot automatically recycled these materials, turning them into a flashy collar for Brian’s pug, Oscar.
“Awesome!” he cried.
Oscar sniffed the collar and then the robot. He wasn’t impressed with either one of them and walked away, jumping onto the sofa, seating himself at the opposite end from his owner.
Ordinarily, the wannabe business tycoon would yell at his dog to get off the couch, but he was preoccupied, mesmerized actually, with the electronic device standing in front of him. “You’ll help me with my invention? Make me successful, right?”
“Of course,” the AIEIO replied. “I can perform algorithmic functions to predict the viability of your project, locate resources, and create prototypes. I can gather the right people for your venture. Find the right customers. And I can even provide you with motivational support along the way.”
At the close of his self-promo, the robot placed his robotic hands on his hips and stepped away from his new owner, spreading his machine legs apart he began moving about the apartment like a cheerleader. “Give me a B! Give me an R! Give me an I…A…N! What does it spell?”
The robot did a flip, landing feet first on the sofa between the human and his pet.
“BRIAN!” he cheered. “Go, Brian, go!”
Oscar snored—remaining unimpressed.
“Uh, can you disable that feature?” Brian asked.
“Why does everyone ask that?” the machine inquired, stepping off the sofa. “Yes, it can be disabled. But before we begin, you must sign the service agreement.”
The robot turned and knelt down in front of his new master, exposing a screen on his back.
The eager entrepreneur merely blinked at the wording on the robot’s back and hit the “accept” button with this finger. “Can we begin now?”
“Certainly, what type of invention are you working on?”
“Well, it drives me crazy that my dog is always scratching,” the entrepreneur explained.
“So, I’m working on a time-saving flea shampoo. Dogs hate to get baths and owners hate to give them. This product reduces the need for that experience to just once a year. And no more scratching.”
“Interesting,” said the AIEIO, processing the data.
Oscar did not respond.
“But you could make more money if you gave dogs fleas,” the machine reported.
“What?” cried Brian. “Give dogs fleas?”
“Yes, you could sell nanofleas that emit electronic tones that kill all bugs on a dog: fleas, ticks, heartworm, etc.… It would make you more money than selling shampoo.”
“Wow! I’d be filthy rich!” Brian shouted, standing up, patting his new best friend.
“What would you do with all that money?” asked the robot.
“I’d take vacations, buy a jet, live in a huge home, and throw lots of parties!” Brian exclaimed, dancing around the apartment in his own cheerleader like manner. “I can’t believe it. I’m finally going to be rich!”
“Yes,” said his electronic helper. “I just paid for myself.”
“I’ll say, that’s because that artificial intelligence of yours is programmed to think outside the box.”
“Well,” the robot said, ‘in this case, it’s more like on the dog.”
But Oscar growled.
Two years later Brian pushed his way through a screaming crowd with his robotic entrepreneurial aid on one side and his lawyer on the other. The chanting in front of the courthouse was deafening to his ears.
“No more nanofleas!”
“Electronic insects can make pets sneeze!”
“Refund our money! Pay our legal fees!”
Thousands of people gathered to voice their dissatisfaction with the invention. Over 100 former customers gave testimony that the product caused their dog to get sick or go crazy, biting owners and lovers, causing divorces and interfering with chances for happiness and romance.
A ninety-year-old woman claimed she had an ongoing tryst with a twenty-year-old pizza delivery guy who stopped delivering to her home right after she equipped her dog with nanofleas. Now, she was suffering from a lack of affection and abstinence from pizza.
“No pizza? No love?” sobbed the attorney for the prosecution. He placed his hand on his heart as he addressed the jury. “How can this woman possible go on with her life without one or the other?”
Several somber members of the jury nodded their heads.
Brian slapped his face in disbelief.
“Furthermore,” sated the attorney, “If this woman has lived ninety years, isn’t it conceivable that she could live another ninety? But how can a person live without pizza or love?”
The teary-eyed judge took out a handkerchief and sneezed.
Brian began to tremble.
The attorney approached the witness. “Ma’am, do you honestly think you can live another ninety years now that you’ve incurred such major losses in your life?”
“I don’t think so,” cried the woman. “I feel that because of those nanofleas, I may only have another 10 or 12 years of life left in me.”
This time, the judge, the jury, and nearly everyone else in the courtroom cried.
Brian started sweating.
“Well, someone should be held liable and pay recompense for that,” the attorney roared, pointing a finger a Brian. “And we all know who that someone is!”
Brian closed his eyes, hoping the proceedings would end.
But there was more. There was worse. The most damaging claim against Brian’s company came from a flea circus owner. The man swore that the nanofleas had bred with his circus fleas, creating hybrid fleas that were unable to perform.
The owner even brought the creatures into the courtroom as proof.
Alas, he was right!
None of the fleas could provide any sort of entertainment.
Finally, after the presentation of this indisputable evidence, the prosecution rested. The jury reached a decision within an hour, and the judge pronounced the verdict: “Brian Albatross MacGreedy, you are hereby pronounced guilty of negligence in the creation, sale, and distribution of nanoflea technology. Accordingly, I am ordering you to recall these devices and make full restitution to the buyers, including compensation for emotional damages caused by the separation of every former or potential romantic partner resulting from your faulty product.”
Brian almost fainted.
The payout would be staggering considering that everybody who had purchased the product made the astonishing claim that they had at least seven suitors vying for their affections at the time of purchase.
“Why aren’t you programmed to assist in countering frivolous lawsuits?” cried the despondent entrepreneur to the AIEIO as they left the courthouse. “I’m financially ruined! And the court is forcing me to give Oscar to that flea circus owner. That dog doesn’t even come when I call him. What’s he going to do in a circus?”
“Oscar will be just fine. Besides, this is part of the terms and conditions you agreed to on the day you unwrapped me,” the robot replied. “If you had bothered to read what you signed, you would know that permanent success of any invention is only guaranteed if the wealth acquired from my assistance benefits others as well. Unfortunately, you kept all the money for yourself.”
“I’ve been scammed,” Brian sobbed.
“It’s time for me to leave you, Mr. MacGreedy. I’m being reassigned to help a woman in Michigan revamp this same product and bring it to the marketplace. She’s going to use the money to help her town have access to clean drinking water.”
“She’ll get sued, too. Your product is junk!”
“It can be fixed,” the AIEIO replied, walking away.
“How are you going to fix it? What are you going to do?”
The robot spun his torso in his former master’s direction, his feet moving in the opposite direction, continuing to distance himself from the man. “With time, most technical problems can be solved. But it’s no longer your problem. So, please…don’t let it bug you.”
The machine then spun his torso back in place and strolled out of the greedy entrepreneur’s sight, leaving the man fathomless, speechless, and penniless.
The only thing Brian could do was drop his bottom to the ground,
sit on the sidewalk,
and scratch himself.