EDITOR’S NOTE: ENJOY PRIOR PARTS HERE
Congress was not set to resume for another two weeks, so Shawna and Terry had a bit of time to decide what exactly they wanted to do with the resources they had at their disposal. But first things first, so they drove down to New York and did some shopping.
Shawna’s wardrobe consisted mostly of different kinds of jeans and shirts. Her natural beauty made it easy for her to look great in anything she wore. But Terry had convinced her that she would occasionally need something a little more business formal. Terry had booked an appointment with a company called Watson Ellis on 8th Avenue in Greenwich Village. They specialized in dressing women for business and according to Olivia, they were the best.
They arrived in Manhattan in the late afternoon and checked into the Hilton Inn in Chelsea. From there they could easily find great places to eat and it was a short walk down to Watson Ellis.
Shawna noticed that Terry seemed to know his way around this part of the city. He told her that his Gram brought him here whenever she came to get fitted for a new business suit. While she was doing that, he wandered around the whole area. He had thought that it might be a great place to live when he finished school, but the more passion he developed at programming, the more he realized that living in a place like New York would be more of a distraction.
Because Shawna was more or less of the same mind, she thought about that too. About how much more relaxed she felt in Plymouth compared to Boston. And New York, well that made Boston look like a small town. From about the time they hit White Plains it was pretty much wall-to-wall high-density civilization. A far cry from the place where she was living at the moment.
That night after dinner, they wandered around some more. They held hands, and both felt comfortable doing it. Even though they had only been together for a couple of weeks, it felt, to both of them like it had been a lot longer. They were very comfortable with each other and, even though Shawna would not say it out loud, she was falling in love. She only hoped that Terry felt the same way.
Their room had two double beds. When they got back they watched some TV for a while, but neither of them were TV people, so they both laid down on their separate beds and read for a while.
Then Shawn scooched over to the edge of the bed and sat up.
“Terry.” she said, quite softly.
Terry looked up from his book. “Shawna.” And a few seconds later, he was sitting opposite her. Their knees were touching.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about our relationship.”
“Oh yeah. And what have you been thinking?”
“I’ve been thinking that…” Shawna paused, looking for the right collection of words. “I’ve been thinking that we should, I mean if you feel the same way, I think we should try each other out.”
Terry smiled. “It may surprise you, but I have been thinking exactly the same thing.”
Shawna smiled. They both got up and moved into each other arms. They kissed, gently at first, then more passionately. And they knew right then and there that this could, indeed, be something.
Shawna ended up choosing with three business suits, a beautiful evening gown and half a dozen silk T-shirts to go with the suits or be worn with anything else, three pinstriped dress shirts, and a beautiful pair of medium heels.
They stayed in New York for three days, just walking and shopping, like most other New Yorkers. On the fourth day, they picked up Shawna’s wardrobe and headed back north. The weather had turned quite warm, as it usually did in late August. So they stashed the pizza they had picked up at Zesto’s Deli and went for a swim. Then they warmed up the pizza and ate by the pool with Olivia.
They told Olivia that they were a couple and Olivia just smiled. “You were a couple from the minute you said yes in Boston.” she said.
“Yeah,” Shawna replied. “You might just be right.”
They spent the rest of the evening watching movies in the big house.
The next day, they drove over to the local Toyota dealership in Providence where Moorehouse Digital had leased a Prius hybrid for Shawna to use.
They then drove back in separate cars. When they got home Terry rigged up the battery charger and they plugged in the Prius, They had some dinner and drove downtown to the agency.
Jamie and Jackson were sitting in the meeting room when they got there. The TV was tuned into CNN. Anderson Cooper was sitting at a desk in front of a screen.
When everybody was sitting down. Jamie took the remote. “This is about two hours old.” She pressed play.
‘At two o’clock Eastern time, this video arrived at CNN, as well as the offices of all the major TV and news networks. And, it’s a bombshell.
Senator Virgil Roman, the senior senator from Massachusetts has confessed to having made millions from insider trading during the three terms that he served as a Democratic senator. The release of the video you are about to see is shocking, to say the least.’
The video then began to play.
After it was done, Anderson Cooper came back on the screen. ‘Attempts to reach the Senator have proven to be fruitless. So like everyone else, we’ll be waiting to find out the story behind this bizarre event.’
The camera pulled back to reveal three other people sitting across from Anderson Cooper. But Jamie paused it.
“Wow,” Terry said after the video had finished playing. ‘You know it’s one thing to listen to this over and over while you are putting it together, but when you see it after a few days, out in the world. It tracks flawlessly.” He looked over at Shawna who was smiling.
“It’s going to be quite interesting,” Shawna said. “To see what kind of reaction the Senator gets when he plays the ‘making of’ video.”
“Nice work on the scripting.” Terry said to Jackson.
“Thanks.” Jackson replied. “I was amazed that the Senator would want to take things to this extreme. But he insisted. As the Senator put it, not so much a threat as a warning.”
“He’s a very dedicated man.” Jamie said. “I’ve known him for quite a few years and he’s the rarest of rarities in Washington.”
They talked about next steps. But none of that would happen until the fake was revealed and the wound was exposed. Jamie had gotten one of the downstairs kids, as she called them, to compile a list of the owners and principals of the top 100 companies working in the AI field.
The press coverage was virtually non-stop as the story rolled out across the country. But it was the reaction in Washington that was the real story. It was hard to spin this because this sort of corruption was one of Washington’s worst-kept secrets and now here it was out in the open with a confession from one of the most respected politicians in the country.
Terry started to wonder if the good Senator was working to kill two birds with one stone here. He wondered if the Senator would be actually making more enemies than friends as a result of this. He just prayed that the fake political scandal wouldn’t overpower the intended purpose here. Of course, it was all totally out of his hands now. All he could do was hope for the best.
In the car on the way back home, Shawna picked up on Terry’s mood.
“A little postpartum depression?”
“Naa. Mostly just a bit of sadness that we have to go to such extremes to wake people up to something that should be obvious to everyone.”
“Well, let’s face it. Not everybody is a multi-millionaire at twenty-four. I’m sure as hell not one. So I understand that these people are just trying to chop as much wood as they can before winter comes.”
They drove on without talking. Then, after they had pulled up to the house. Terry said. “You’re right. About the chopping wood. I’ve never had to chop wood, not in my whole life. But that doesn’t get them a free pass. There has to be accountability. There has to be a system in place. There have to be rules, otherwise, they will just keep chopping and chopping until there are no trees left. And, who knows, maybe thanks, in part, to what we’ve just done, maybe there will be some accountability, some rules and a system that works.”
“All we can do what we can do. And in my book, we have done a lot.” Shawna said.
~ Epilogue ~
Senator Roman was detained, questioned and released. Three days later, The “How it was done” video was released. From the untraceable server in the second floor of Moorehouse Digital.
The circus that followed was unprecedented in the history of the country. The American people, tens of millions of whom had seen both videos were now frighteningly aware of the power of AI and the dangers that abusing that power represented.
When the Senate reconvened, Senator Roman was given the floor, and used every bit of passion he could summon to point out to his fellow Senators that there but for the grace of God…
The result was the formation of a key committee to create a legislative roadmap for the new digital age in America. The committee would work on the details of the proposed legislation, in consultation with the heads of a dozen of the major players in the AI sphere.
While that was going on, Senator Roman took a small delegation on a round-the-world junket to meet with the heads of state of thirty different countries to sell them on the idea of standards for AI development. His president assured him that he could offer any US support necessary to help them get organized.
Jackson Freeburgh was hired by the AI committee, based on the fact that he was relatively the same age as many of the AI players the committee would have to deal with, and because Senator Roman owed him one. The Senator also owed Terry and Shawna one too, but that could wait until finished his term and he could throw his considerable weight around in the private sector, and he told them as much in a lunch meeting at his club.
Olivia Moorehouse stayed in the big house, but moved her office to the pool house, where she continued to run her small empire. She would eventually move in with soon-to-be ex-Senator Virgil Roman.
Terry and Shawna spent some time travelling. Their first stop was Quebec City where Shawna introduced Terry to her brother, Shane and his wife Lisette. Shane was working with Quebec Ministry of Education, training teachers on teaching something he called Ethical AI at the secondary school level. He had picked up French rather quickly and was very comfortable in his life there. His wife, Lisette, was a senior administrator in the Quebec Ministry of Education which is how Shane wangled the gig, although it really was his idea. once word of the program became public, several other provincial Ministries had expressed interest, so Shane was designing a course to teach other instructors.
On their way back to the States, Shawna brought up the idea of starting something like that in the US. Terry thought about it for a bit and then nodded. “Well, we do have a bit of clout with the school system.”
This story doesn’t really have an ending, per se. Because the current state of the AI market is almost the dictionary definition of a free-for-all. That’s not to say that good things are coming out of it. Because they are. But without standards and safeguards, this unbridled technology also has the power to hurt a lot of people. And anybody is fair game.