Clarkesworld has gotten a lot of media attention lately with its problems with AI-generated story submissions. We see plenty of negative effects of these new tools, but this short story manages to propose something a bit more constructive use of these tools – with respect to the more questionable moral dilemmas they also add.
In this near future a journalists hears about a new app that apparently is great at helping people to be more productive and happier. At first she thinks it sounds like a cult thing with how every user talks about it a bit too passionately. She tries it though and the key element is that the app is built around a community where other users are instructed to make real phone calls to other users. Like telling them it is time to wake up and remind them of their personal goals. This turns out to be quite effective. As we all know, the motivation to actually do something is low if it is just an app telling you, but if you have a friend waiting for you at the gym – then you have to go.
The story centers around this journalist and how she tries to unravel who or what is behind this special app. What starts as a great community where people help each other is quickly ruined by an influx of scammers and commercial interests.
I found this story to be fairly realistic in what tech could evovle into in the near future, while also acknowledging how easily otherwise noble intents can be quickly ruined by a few bad people. Not unlike how AI tools are used today.
Read in Clarkesworld May 2023