A man in his forties, Atkinson’s raised forehead, sharp nose, and lean figure forces one to take a deeper and more absorbing look again. His charismatic looks, bearing and gait had often confused the onlookers to think for a split second that they have seen this man in many Hollywood movies. The way he contemplates and presents his thoughts even in a casual conversation tells a lot about his character. He is someone who asks, “Why are you not more serious?”

Atkinson was in his study at his rented apartment in suburban Chicago when he glanced through an article about Michael Fassbender-starring movie “The Killer” and thought of giving it a try. However, he was taken back when the streaming service provider denied his request to download the movie with an unusual message. The pop-up from the browser read: “Your download request is declined because you will not need the movie. Click here to know more.”

“I will not need the movie? Who the hell are they to decide that?” Atkinson fumed.

When he touched the “Know more” in his touchscreen, a new window opened in the browser. “Hello Atkinson, we received your request to download the “The Killer” movie. Your movie watching patterns and dataset collected from your mobile devices, AR/VR headsets, laptops, browsers, and home screen say that you are not a fan of action-thriller genre. The probability that you will watch this movie is 1:1000. Thank you for your cooperation, Have a nice day!”

Atkinson sighed, turning off his laptop and slipped down in his bag and started immediately to his office, which is half an hour drive from his apartment.

Circa 2024. Data-driven decisions are taken by artificial intelligence systems to provide personalised services to human beings. Like in all cases, giving in to AI systems are completely ‘optional’ and not mandatory. But remember – everything under the sun from education, banking, and governance to politics, economy, and business are linked to AI systems.

Atkinson’s request is ‘respectfully’ rejected because he didn’t have the required ‘data credits’ to download and watch an action-thriller movie.

For Miller, who is hellbent on coming out of porn addiction, the situation was even worse. A funky lad in his thirties, Miller was earlier part of a Big Tech firm in a software development role. Clad in torn jeans and tees, his eyes spoke volumes about his cognitive dissonance that is tearing him apart from within.

He left the Big Tech firm recently as he is convinced that he has earned enough money to survive for his lifetime. There is one advantage if anyone has worked at any of the Big Tech companies. Whenever you talk or write, you can begin by saying: “When I was with…” Whether everyone there can get early retirement? Well, there is no sure shot answer for that.

Miller often says, “Even when I was with …, I was dumb as an ox”.

To destress he turned to porn and now he is struggling to come out of it, fighting not just his urges but mainly the algorithms that try to bury him down in porn. An inner awakening gave him a jolt and so he decided to read one Bible verse a day to focus his attention. When he tried to read Bible online, this is what he got.

Miller typing B in browser, AI autofilled it as “B&^%&& videos”. Ignoring that he typed, Bible in the browser. A pop-up window opened:

“Hello Miller, we assume that you are looking to find erotic stories in Bible for your sexual gratification. But unfortunately, Bible is considered the holy book and it’s just not for you 😉 (winking emoji). Click here if you would like to chat with your AI chatbot. (There are no human assistants since AI chatbots are a million times faster in resolving issues than humans who are slow)

By twice winking his eye in the AR/VR headset, Miller clicked the option virtually to chat with the AI chatbot.

“Hi Miller, this is Erotic Eugene, your personalized assistant. Can I help you with some quirky tips? 😉”

“No. I would like to read Bible online.”

“Are you sure you meant Bible and not Kamasutra, Daddy?”

“No no. Don’t call me daddy. I want to read Bible.”

“Our datasets classify you as one of the top 10 porn watchers in the country. Your browsing patterns, viewing patterns, shopping, voyeurism captured on CCTV footages, search keywords, and every data about you say that Bible is not for you as the probability that you will read Bible is 1:10000000000. Your request is ‘respectfully’ rejected.”

Miller sighed as his inner awakening bit the dust.


Atkinson is aware of AI’s interference in his daily life and feels that AI is going overboard in taking decisions for him. Working in Tale Publications as its Senior Editor, he is seeing the threat of AI looming large for the publishing industry. Tale Publications is a media and publishing conglomerate, which publishes several widely circulated dailies and magazines and has a separate book publishing division.

Their office location is a landmark in Chicago popularly known as Tale Square. Sitting in his cabin at the office, Atkinson was staring at the “Ex Machina” movie poster, which he had placed in the wall directly opposite to his chair. He was pondering over the various AI tools he and his colleagues are using to ease their tasks.

“AI tools were not intrusive once upon a time. In fact, AI tools were like babies who needed human support to survive and so they were fed with raw data,” Atkinson ruminated.

Ten years back, when he joined as Associate Editor, they were using a grammar checking tool. But now almost all stages of production including proofreading, typeset, layout, images and avatars involve AI tools. The more tools they use, the more suggestions to adopt further AI. “Do you still depend on human editors? It’s time to optimize your operations and multiply your productivity.” It seems a new AI tool has come as ads are flashing over the webpages.

Atkinson’s deep thoughts were interrupted when Assistant Editor Andrea entered his cabin. In her early thirties, Andrea is a political science graduate who has taken media & publishing as her passion. With three breaking stories and many human-interest stories to her credit in just six months, she has plans to launch her debut novel this year. Though mentored by Atkinson, they both enter into heated debate on a range of topics, especially the ethical use of AI.

“Hope you didn’t forget that we have an extraordinary general meeting for both editorial and commercial teams together at 1 pm at the Board Room,” she reminded him. Atkinson looked at his Vintage Casio watch and it was already 12:30 pm.

Only the other day, The New York Times carried the lead news in front page announcing that an author by name Kaarle James from Illinois has bypassed Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Shakespeare to become the world-famous author. Kaarle James has produced over 10,000 poems, 4000 novels, 7000 short stories, and 1500 non-fiction works in a single year.

Kaarle is now hoping to complete his 50,000-page autobiography in five working days. Interestingly, his autobiography will be the world’s first ‘auto autobiography’ because it’s being written on auto mode by his ‘AI assistant.’ With the emergence of prolific author Kaarl on the horizon, his publisher Foresight Publications have now become the topmost publisher in the world.

Milan Hashmi, CEO of Tale Publications is a third-generation entrepreneur, who is even admired by his critics for his formidable ability to maintain editorial integrity while ensuring successful business operations.

His sharp features and flawless formal suit reminded one of Michael Corleone of The Godfather movie. Respect and admiration were in the air in the Board Room as he exchanged courtesies with editors and managers.

“Foresight Publications are enjoying their newfound success, which in my opinion is going to be short-lived. They have done the Faustian bargain against all ethics of not just media & publishing industry but also of business operations,” Milan told the participants who were listening with rapt attention.

“Presently, our business is facing a setback and AI sympathizers in our group are quick to suggest that we follow the model of Foresight Publishers. We were never in AI denial mode but we have scaled up our editorial and business operations using AI,” he said.

“What I refuse to offer in platter to the AI is the decision-making power, which I will certainly retain for our flesh and blood colleagues. AI will continue to be our useful tool but not the brain. We are playing the longer game, and it is for the coming generations to judge us,” Milan presented his points to the forum.

Atkinson who was nodding in agreement straightened in his chair and began to speak:

“For flesh and blood people like us, it’s not what we do but how we do it that makes us stand out. AI can never understand this fully. All our original work, art, literature, and intellectual property depends on this simple fact. So, what we see now is a useful challenge which motivates us to test the limits of AI and not otherwise. What we are looking for is one original breaking news or original creative work that will stand the test of times.”

“It is not so tough to produce thousands of books in a week using AI but are we making any significant contributions to society? They say just by feeding the script to an AI machine we can get to know whether it will become a success or failure in the market. How funny? How about consulting the soothsayer or go for astrology predictions, instead?”

As Atkinson sat down, everyone applauded, and Milan Hashmi was visibly pleased with what he heard.

“From Atkinson’s speech and from the energy shown by you all today, I see not just the spirit of Tale Publications but the spirit of human nature. While we will continue ethical use of AI to optimize our operations and business performance, we will take all steps to prevent the unnecessary intervention of AI in our personal and work life,” Milan Hashmi said before he left the meeting.

Meanwhile, Miller is hounded everywhere by his patterns, marks he had left online, and complex algorithms, which were created in the aftermath. Sometimes, he even doubts whether his thoughts are being policed by Big Brother.

“When I think of shoes or jackets, I am flooded with those ads all over the internet,” he mused as he was sitting at the coffeeshop near the Community Care Centre, where he recently joined as a volunteer.

His life took a fresh turn when he started meeting a lot of underprivileged people, patients suffering from terminal illness and elderly people at the care of society at the Centre. They had told him that porn was a taboo once.

“Porn was available only in CDs then and you had to go to an internet café to watch porn meaning you have to spend money or spare a lot of time and effort to watch porn,” one of the inmates at the Community Care Centre had told Miller. ‘A’ rated movies with pornographic content were played only in select theatres, again meaning one can watch porn only by spending money and sparing some effort.

Miller realized that when mobile phones and mobile internet became widely available, porn too became easily available leading to gullible people falling to porn addiction. What was once considered porn can now be found as shorts and reels on most social media platforms blurring even the definition of porn.

“Miller, you must be kind to yourself,” said the inmate adding, “the world doesn’t consider porn addiction a psychological disorder because porn has now become mainstream. People have learnt to live with it and so when someone call an explicit content as porn they are being laughed at and they are being termed as ‘uncivilized’. You should be proud because you are not one among them”.

Just like leaves falling off the trees during autumn, he felt that he is no longer addicted to watching porn. Thanking the inmate in his heart, Miller was glad he got to talk with the inmate, which changed his life.

“AI is a parrot and its online behavior with me is purely based on my past preferences,” Miller thought, “It can create as many algorithms and personas as possible and try to trap me. It may even be capable of reading my thoughts but not my intentions”.

Humanity is safe so far as it doesn’t allow AI to judge us and decide for us. Everyone gets a second chance as long as human intellect is in the driver’s seat. But if AI replaces human intellect, every aspect of human life will be decided by patterns, personas, and user behavior. There can’t be a future but only the past repeated time and again.