book reviews by Althea

Cat Pictures Please – Naomi Kritzer ***

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

Inspired by Bruce Sterling’s ‘Maneki Neko’. (…)

In this story we meet an AI who just wants to help people, like the computer system in Sterling’s story does. All it wants in return for its help is pictures of cute cats (this explains the preponderance of this genre on the Internet.) However, it’s awfully frustrated by people’s seeming insistence on ignoring its obvious suggestions. Why would people rather be self-destructive and unhappy, rather than seeking out the help that’s put right in front of their faces? Nevertheless, the AI persists…

The story is cute and optimistic, however, I felt that it was weakened by the fact that every response the AI came up with to alleviate people’s problems was the obvious suggestion that any reasonably socially liberal American in 2015 would immediately jump to. Perhaps the humor of the piece rests in part in that the AI is behaving exactly like what one would imagine a well-meaning do-gooder with an affinity for cat memes would. But I still felt that it was a missed opportunity; because I think that an AI would come up with some much more unexpected solutions than “therapy sessions.”

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