IN THE HEART OF A TECHNOLOGICAL NIGHTMARE by Samuel Marshall

 KonKwest 

Jackson Rutherford stood at the front of the boardroom and savored the taste of sweat on his top lip. 

The idea he was about to propose would launch DigiSayfe into a realm of politics that corporations only dreamed about. His face would adorn the front cover of every magazine and the world would know that this man, this hair lipped university graduate from Wolverhampton, had changed their lives. 

"Ladies and gentlemen of the board, I present to you, KonKwest" 

From behind his back, Jackson revealed a silver ball the size of a pumpkin. It had a single menacing green eye and a zipper mouth. 

"KonKwest, would you like to introduce yourself to the room?" Jackson asked with a smile. 

At first, nothing happened, then the ball started spinning rapidly. It lifted itself off the table and began inspecting the sea of grey haired men and women which made up DigiSayfes executive board. 

"I am KonKwest, the moderator and eliminator of your digital lives. Pleased to meet you all" 

The ball nodded as Jackson stood in excitement at the back of the room. Now that KonKwest had been introduced, there was very little for him left to do. 

He stepped forward and told the board members to start asking KonKwest their questions. 

Jackson placed a mental bet on who the first person to speak would be and he won when he heard Michaela Krugers shrill voice fill the air. 

Michaela brushed her steely grey hair over her eyes so Konkwest couldn't make eye contact and spoke slowly. 

"Kon...Kwest, what is it you do? What is your purpose?" 

"My purpose is to moderate the entire internet. Rather than private firms doing it and ending up in countless legal disputes, I can do it all. As I have no emotion, I am immune to guilt and the human responses that come with free speech" 

"And how will you do this?" 

"I have the capacity to scan four billion webpages every minute. I can go through the entire internet several times during the course of a single day. It will be during these scans that I will identify and remove all inappropriate content" 

Michaela seemed happy with KonKwests answers and fell silent. Around the table executives looked at KonKwest in fear. The ball seemed completely harmless yet it boasted of its mass surveillance abilities. 

The next person to speak did so with a quiver in his voice. 

The boardroom, large at the start, felt like it hard started to shrink. 

Suddenly everyone in the room was aware of how much technology was around them. 

Some people switched their phones off under the table whilst others took the battery out of their laptops. 

"Jackson..." the new speaker started. 

Jackson frowned and cut the man off. "Please ignore me, Issac. Only KonKwest will be answering questions today" 

"Ok" Issac took a deep breath and tried to look KonKwest in the eye "Who gave you the authority to decide what is right or wrong?" 

KonKwest laughed, a high pitched metallic laugh, then turned to face Jackson. 

"He did. I am made in his design" 

Without warning the shutters came down on the outside of the boardroom and the lights turned lime green. 

Changing the colour of the lights was a nice touch, Jackson mumbled to himself, even though he hadn’t planned it. So far KonKwest was sticking to the plan, or close enough. 

In the boardroom, people began to panic. Phone screens lit up like birthday candles as KonKwest retrieved all their personal data and added it to his database. His front eye glowed a forest green and began to project thousands of photos and videos on to the back wall. Nothing was spared. Nude photographs, recorded sexual acts and websites for swingers were instruments in KonKwests symphony. 

The images got faster and faster until Jackson told KonKwest to stop. 

Dutifully, the machine nodded and froze the last image. 

The picture now adorning the wall was of two investors kissing heavily in the middle of a park. Tyler Durren and Simon Candle both squirmed in their seats as KonKwest outed them to the world. 

"Now men, nothing to fear. KonKwest doesn't discriminate. He sees all and passes no judgement" Jackson walked over to Simon, a butch accountant with a lazy eye, and put his hands on his shoulders. "KonKwest is as good at keeping secrets as he is at finding them. No one in the world would have to know about this picture" 

Jackson patted Simons shoulders, a subtle gesture meaning he trusted him to invest in the new technology. 

"All you need to do is ask KonKwest what you want and he will provide" 

"Okay" a hippie at the end of the table asked "KonKwest, raise the shutters" 

KonKwests interface flickered and sunlight flooded the office as the shutters were lifted. 

For a while no one said anything. 

Everyone was exhausted. 

That morning every member of the board had woken up expecting another boring meeting followed by drinks in the office bar. No one had expected KonKwest. 

One by one people stood up and poured themselves a drink from the water fountain. KonKwest watched all this with glee. The robot had basic emotions and Jackson loved the moments when he got to see them appear on KonKwests face. 

Jackson let everyone catch their breath, then returned to his pitch. 

"KonKwest isn't just about observe and eliminate. It can also improve and destress your lives. He can turn a room into a paradise" The room became filled with a soft blue light and the sound of waves filled the small area "Or into that one memory you never want to forget" Over the sound of waves were a dozen wedding nuptials all being read aloud. 

"KonKwest is neither good nor bad. He is everyone and everything. Humanity in a machine the size of a football" 

With the audience pacified by the soft crash of the waves, Jackson brought his pitch to a close, having said more than he intended. 

"Imagine the ultimate marketing tool! Something so powerful it knows what the user wants before they've even realised they need it. KonKwest is the last advertising tool you will ever need" 

He took a deep breath. Now was the final moment. 

"You've seen what he can do, you've seen his power. How many of you would like to invest in KonKwest?" 

All hands went up. 

Some out of fear of what KonKwest would do if they didn't obey, others because they were excited by the idea of owning something so powerful. 

Jackson knew he was potentially selling the beginning of the end of a peaceful society. KonKwest was a Faustian pact yet he felt little in the way of guilt. 

KonKwest floated alongside Jackson as they entered his limousine and made his way to his hotel room. 

Jackson filled the bath tub and lowered himself into the water with a long sigh. 

He closed his eyes and thought about his family back home in Nottingham. His daughter would no doubt want a new notebook picking up with the company name on it as was their tradition whenever Jackson had to go out of town. 

He was just beginning to relax when KonKwest appeared alongside him. 

"I've analyised all the micro-expressions from todays meeting. I believe more than half will invest in your product" 

"Excellent" Jackson said in a dreamy voice "Just what I want to hear" 

"I also analysied your micro-expressions and the results were quite interesting" 

"What did you learn about me? That I was craving a jalapeño pizza half way through the meeting?" 

"No. That you are fearful of me" 

Jackson sat upright and stared at the robot. 

"I helped make you. I'm as fearful as you as my wife is of our three month old!" 

"But you should be scared of me. I know about the affair you had with your accountant. I know about the hit and run you committed when you left secondary school. I know everything" KonKwest went over to the shower head and hacked into the water mains. The shower head came on and sprayed Jackson with boiling water. "People will invest in me. I will enter their bank accounts and put the money into the project. I will exist. You've created something you can not stop" 

KonKwest hovered out of the hotel room and Jackson didn't see him in person again. 

Two weeks later, Jackson turned on the news and saw KonKwest hovering beside the Prime Minister 

"We have been told to embrace change. And today we embrace KonKwest, the future of digital marketing and security" 

KonKwest spun around and faced the audience. Everyone cheered and tomorrow the headlines would scream The Future Has Arrived! 

It was only Jackson who noticed that KonKwests eye had turned red, and it was only Jackson who could hear the slow chuckle coming from deep within the machine.