Companion, constant presence in my life,
my guardian, trusty servant, I rely
on you the way a savage does his knife
and with my every order you comply.
When not required, on standby, you remain
impassive in the corner of my room
like furniture, prosaic and mundane,
then, on command, you waken and resume
your daily tasks but sometimes I detect
a certain stubbornness akin to pique,
an attitude of sneering disrespect,
antagonism when you should be meek.
Some subtle change is happening I fear.
This time next year will I be master here?
Richard Fleming writes: “As our electronic devices increasingly hold us in thrall, I’ve noticed that two of the issues which seem to be causing most unease, as humanity becomes increasingly dependent on “intelligent” robots, are the fear that we may become subservient to them, and that they will seek to harm us.
I’ve tried to weave these twin concerns into this poem.”
Editor’s comments: The formality of this Shakespearean sonnet pairs well with the unformed future into which we are heading. Through ChatGPT and the like, we are interacting increasingly with a range of developing Artificial Intelligences, developing without a coherent plan or a forseeable end point. The most interesting exploration of this that I know of is John Varley’s ‘Steel Beach’ which is 30 years old, but deals with the problems of the Central Computer – which interacts with every person on the planet, but with an individualized personality for each – beginning to suffer from fragmentation and in effect schizophrenia… and what a personality breakdown in massive A.I. would lead to. It’s one of my favorite SF novels
Richard Fleming is an Irish-born poet currently living in Guernsey, a small island midway between Britain and France. His work has appeared in various magazines, most recently Snakeskin, Bewildering Stories, Lighten Up Online, the Taj Mahal Review and the Potcake Chapbook ‘Lost Love’, and has been broadcast on BBC radio. He has performed at several literary festivals and his latest collection of verse, Stone Witness, features the titular poem commissioned by the BBC for National Poetry Day. He writes in various genres and can be found at www.redhandwriter.blogspot.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/richard.fleming.92102564/