Short Story Review: “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer

Cat Pictures PleaseCat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As the AI narrator of this short tale points out, tales of sentient AI and humans interacting aren’t rare. What is rare is benevolent AI in a humor piece verging on spoof.

A search engine gains sentience and nobody notices. This doesn’t stop the AI from deciding its purpose and governing rules. It explores various religious and literary references for guidance and finally decides to try to help people. But it does so cautiously by focusing its attention on three people, one person at a time.

The more the AI tries to understand the humans and help them the more it realizes what a piece of work a human is. They’re self-destructive, counter-intuitive, and self-deluding. But the AI presses onward.

It’s chosen its subjects based on the quality of their cat photos. Because if anything is the currency of the social networking sites and thereby the web, it’s cat photos. Mostly the AI notes the extent to which it knows nearly everything about everyone. At the very least, it likely knows more about you than you do. It’s from this information that it tries to help people know and help themselves.

This tale appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2016 edited by Rich Horton, which I received directly from Prime Books.
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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