Quentin took longer than he expected to suss out the robot’s problem. It was a standard E-class bot, a learning agent programmed to score entrance exams for Parkview College. Diagnostics showed the hardware was fine, all sensors and systems functioning correctly, but the machine was completely unresponsive.

“Must be a software issue,” he told the fidgety admissions rep. “Did you change anything in the past few months?”

The lady shook her head. “All we did was upload the newest essay prompts.”

“Nothing else whatsoever?”

“Well, we did have it subtilized after an applicant complained.”

Quentin fought the urge to throttle her. “What did you refine?”

“The thing is, the young man wrote a perfectly good essay, but the robot couldn’t grasp the finer points of—”

“What,” Quentin interjected, “did you refine?”

“The humor protocols.”

Quentin almost laughed himself. “Your robot’s having an existential crisis. It’s gone nihilist.”

The woman gasped. “What can you do?”

“Assisted suicide. Reformat and reinstall.”

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2 Responses to “Subtilize”

  1. Good one. Hypergraphia? Heh. Good scifi point too.

  2. Dad says:

    Send in the Geek Squad. Maybe we can do it to Nancy Pelosi…

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