“Cat Pictures Please” is a 2015 science fiction short story by Naomi Kritzer. It is about a self-aware artificial intelligence that makes a huge effort to help a few real people. It was the winner of the 2016 Hugo Award and a 2016 Locus Award.
A Case for Better Online Privacy!
In the last few years I have been making a conscious effort to increase my online privacy. Sure, there are a few mild things that I really don’t want people to know, but mostly I am becoming more and more appalled at the amount of information people can find out about us just by using online tools and searches. Also, I hate getting those targeted ads focusing on things I recently searched for! That is a big reason I am trying to get away from Google services, and why I switched to DuckDuckGo for my default search engine. Anyway, this story does give a glimpse of how much our online activity can tell others about our real lives. Now if there was just a benevolent AI, like the one in this story, that would use that information only for good!
This is yet another story of an artificial intelligence that has recently gained self-awareness. However, this AI is truly good and wants to make a real effort to help humans, but is unsure how to do that. Oh, and it also loves cat pictures! Anyway, it tries a few different philosophies, and finally settles on focusing on one of Asimov’s Laws of Robotics: not allowing a human being to come to harm through inaction. It chooses three specific people to help, and makes huge efforts to affect them for good. Now if they would just notice and take it’s advice. But, you know, humans tend to ignore advice… and they are so slow!
Also, this story makes more than one reference to a 1998 science fiction short story by Bruce Sterling called “Maneki Neko”. I reviewed that story several years ago, so if you’d like a refresher on it please check out my original posting.
My Two Cents
- Story: – Even though it has a bit of a unique twist, it is still an AI story like so many others.
- Writing: – Yeah, the writing was good. Nothing spectacular, but still good.
- Fun Factor: – Regardless of the two points above, this was still a super fun story to read! I couldn’t help getting caught up in the AI’s efforts to help people.
Where To Find Cat Pictures Please
- “Cat Pictures Please” first appeared in January 2015 on the Clarkes World web site, where you can still read it for free!
- It is also included in the author’s anthology Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories.
Craving More SF Stories Like This One?
If you liked “Cat Pictures Please” then you might also enjoy “I, Row-Boat” by Cory Doctorow – about a sentient row-boat who becomes involved in an uplifted reef’s grudge war against humanity.