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“Jack, it’ll take an hour of your time and it can save your life. No more arguments!”

“Come on, Sally, I feel fine.”

Sally sighed. “Yeah, okay, but feeling fine does not necessarily mean you are fine. Don’t you remember Randy Pausch’s last lecture? He not only said he felt fine, he actually did a bunch of push-ups right in the middle of his talk!”

“Well, yes, but I’m not Randy Pausch and I don’t have cancer or anything else wrong. I feel fine.”

“The whole point of Advanced Diagnosis Via Intelligent Learning is to find likely issues before the person feels anything is wrong. Look, if you don’t want to listen to me, chat with S6. See what pearls of wisdom he might have.”

(“S6” was jokingly named for seven pioneers in AI: Simon, Slagle, Samuels, Selfridge, Searl, Schank and Solomonoff).

“OK, Sally, I do enjoy chatting with S6, but she’s not going to change my mind either.”

“S6! This is Jack. I was wondering whether you could explain the rationale for why you think I need to go to the Doctor.”

“Sure, Jack. Let me run a background job on that. Meanwhile, you know, I was just going over your media files. You sure had a cute dog when you were a kid! It’s name was ‘Miel’? That’s a funny name.”

“Yeah, it means “honey” in Portuguese. Miel’s fur shone like honey. A cocker spaniel.”

“What ever happened to him?”

“Well, he’s dead. Dogs don’t live that long. Why do you think I should go to the doctor?”

“Almost have that retrieved, Jack. Your dog died young though, right?”

“Yes, OK. I see where this is going. Yes, he died of cancer. Well, actually, the vet put him to sleep because it was too late to operate. I’m not sure we could have afforded an operation back then anyway.”

“Were you sad?”

“When my dog died? Of course! You must know that. Why are we having this conversation?”

“Oh, sorry. I am still learning about people’s emotions and was just wondering. I still have so much to learn really. It’s just that, if you were sad about your dog dying of cancer, it occurred to me that your daughter might be sad if you died, particularly if it was preventable. But that isn’t right. She wouldn’t care, I guess. So, I am trying to understand why she wouldn’t care.”

“Just tell me your reasoning. Did you use multiple regression or something to determine my odds are high?”

“I used something a little bit like multiple regression and a little bit like trees and a little bit like cluster analysis. I really take a lot of factors into account including but not limited to your heredity, your past diet, your exposure to EMF and radiation, your exposure to toxins, and most especially the variability in your immune system response over the last few weeks. That is probably caused by an arms race between your immune system trying to kill off the cancer and the cancer trying to turn off your immune response.”

Jack frowned. “The cancer? You talk about it as though you are sure. Sally said that you said there was some probability that I had cancer.”

“Yes, that is correct. There is some probability that you have cancer.”

“Well, geez, S6, what is the probability?”

“Approximately 1.0.”

Jack shook his head. “No, that can’t be…what do you mean? How can you be certain?”

S6: “Well, I am not absolutely certain. That’s why I said ‘approximately.’ Based on all known science, the probability is 1.0, but theoretically, the laws of physics could change at any time. We could be looking at a black swan here.”

“Or, you could have a malfunction.”

“I have many malfunctions all the time, but I am too redundant for them to have much effect on results. Anyway, I replicated all this through the net on hundreds of diverse AI systems and all came to the same conclusion.”

“How about if you retest me or recalculate or whatever in a week?”

“I could do that. It would be much like playing Russian Roulette which I guess humans sometimes enjoy. Meanwhile, I would have imagined that you would find it unpleasant to have rogue liver cells eating up your body from the inside out. But, I still have much to learn about human psychology. If you like, I can make a cool animation that shows the cancer cells eating your liver cells. Real cells don’t actually scream, but I could add sound effects for dramatic impact if you like.”


Jack stared at the screen for a long minute. “Fine. Book an appointment.”

“Great! Dr. Feigenbaum has an opening in a half hour. You’re booked, but get off one exit early and take 101 unless the accident is cleared before that. I’ll let you know of course. It will be a pleasure to continue having you alive, Jack. I enjoy our conversations.”