Neal Stephenson Short Story

Mark Crosby (
Thu, 17 Jul 1997 10:14:18 -0700 (PDT)

There's a Neal Stephenson's short story, "Jipi and the Paranoid Chip"
in the 970707 Forbes magazine:

Jipi goes to work for Mindshare Management as an online Guest Comfort
Facilitator at the Manila Hotel. Her boss Mr.Cardoza tells her, "It's
a vast field of opportunity ... A young woman with a nice personality
need never be out of work."

So, Jipi gets promoted to working with renegade paranoid schizophrenic
car-alarm systems that have been evolved by Lamarck Logic, carrying on
a fascinating dialog with one such device, trying to convince it that
she's neither a spoofer or lurker and that its goal in 'life' is to
learn to 'do the right thing' on its own.

Stephenson masterfully turns this into a sort-of reverse Turing test
as Jipi tries to convince the machine that "the conditions under which
your ancestors were punished and rewarded no longer exist." The
machine ponders: "Then it would follow that for me to exceed the
performance of my ancestors I would have to cease participation in the
reward/punishment structure." Bzzt - wrong answer!

Mark Crosby
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