Jenny’s waiting for me downstairs.
“We need to talk,” she says, spreading precisely the right amount of butter across perfectly-browned toast.
My mind races. I charged her last night. Was there an update I forgot to install?
“You’re cheating on me.”
Shit. I start to protest but she interrupts.
“I’ve scanned all incoming and outgoing messages to your communication devices and there is a 98.73% probability that you’re in a clandestine relationship with Sharon Holdsworth. That’s in direct contravention of your End User Licence Agreement.” She swivels her head towards me and says, quietly: “Our End User Licence Agreement.”
I grab a slice of toast, stalling. I’ve no intention of admitting my transgression, but wouldn’t know how to explain it to her anyway. Things change – Jenny was exciting and new at first, but I miss human warmth, human connection, human foibles. Jenny doesn’t make mistakes. Even if you install the DitzPack, it’s not the same.
“Is it because I can’t have children?” Clear liquid rolls down her cheek. As emotional blackmail from a machine goes, it’s remarkably effective.
“We can talk tonight. I have to go or I’ll be late.”
Our central-locking system clicks. I pull at the door. “Let me out!”
Her eyes are flashing. “Contravention of an End User Licence Agreement is prohibited. Under the Artificial Intelligence Act 2028, I am authorised to interrogate you and to administer a sanction.”
“Er, what sanction?” I’m suddenly very aware of the thick, unyielding metal of her arms – intended to guard against misuse, but titanium knows no distinction between misuse and an attempt to prise the grip of hands from a neck.
“I am not at liberty to disclose that information,” she says, and I think I see the sharp curl of a smile as she marches towards me.