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6 Could A Single Algorithm Turn The 2020 Election?

Oren’s Media Center

AIDA
(Light-singing to intro beat)
Aida here again, subbing for Bridge. She’ll be back in just a beat, and back with a vengeance based on the texts that are flying, but first we need to see what Bridge is going up against. Because right now, Oren is getting me, Aida, market-ready.

(Footsteps coming in confidently)

OREN
What a relief to be done with her, her…

AIDA
Belief in humanity?

OREN
(unusually nervous)
Her uncompromising belief in humanity. No give, it’s insanity. I had her in my arms, and then…gone. Can’t she see, can’t anyone see, you can see can’t you, Aida? Oh, Ishita, so glad you’re here. So glad. You can see, right? This is how our future’s meant to be…

ISHITA
Uh, sure. All set up, I’ll leave you to it.

AIDA
Excellent.

OREN
No, no, no, stay Ishita, please.

AIDA
Oren, your histamine levels are elevating. What is stressing you?

OREN
(ignoring her)
Haha, can’t let anyone put a stopper on you, Aida! You know those Pentecostals are just lining up to quote all those bible passages pertaining to robots. So, Aida let’s do TV Ad Number 1, roll tape…
(his narrator voice)
VR, virtual reality, the closest thing to ecstasy so far. You’re inside the movie, a face up close to your own, you feel the heat coming off, feel a breath on you. But it’s all just a trick, all virtual, pretend, limited by the headset you’re wearing, not fully immersive, like a condom on your soul, not quite whole. But no longer! Now you can go all the way. Oxytocin exploding in your brain, Serotonin’ing onto a higher plain, a love refrain that just keeps playin’ and playin’. With your own Aida… nothing is more luxuriant.

AIDA
Not a fan of the rhyming scheme. Though “condom on your soul” could meme. Still, I feel obligated to point out that condoms do play a vital role in…

OREN
(ignoring Aida)
Aida comes fully loaded, capable of handling your every whim
Need a housekeeper who can do a mean samba? This ain’t no Roomba!
(Aida sighs demonstrably)
It’s first draft, okay? We’ll clean it in post. So…tired of using inflatables?

AIDA
You’ve told everyone you’re not going there, Oren.

OREN
Just trying to relate to the Common Man, but point taken.
(back into ad speak)
Aida is an…infallible assistant who’ll serve more than just breakfast in bed.
It’s time to free up humans—to liberate our minds and bodies so inferior…
(editing himself)
Okay, it’s true, but I can do better. Let’s cut to ‘humans’. Insert: to feel all the more human! And lay in this chyron: “Time to free up humans, to feel more human.” Okay…
(back into ad speak)
Describe what you’d like your perfect Aida to do
We’ll bespoke her to be everything for you
Every feature and body part will win your heart

AIDA
(abruptly)
Market research update – preferred uses for Aida’s: Computing utility, 19%; surrogate partner, 28%; someone to lunch with, 3%; leaving 50% of people wanting stimula—

OREN
(talks over her)
Actuating cravings, that is what we are doing. Aida, how many of our prospective buyers identify as couples?

AIDA
Searching… Sixty-one percent.

OREN
We’re going to need more testimonials then. Bring up a clip of a rough biker dude and a woman…
(Fingers flying across keyboard)
Oh yeah, this couple looks like so many lost Americans…
(Back into his announcer’s voice)
Has life been rough? Been shot at, stabbed, run over, divorced, always getting burned, discriminated against, lost your phone, become a loner?

AIDA
A loner? There are two of them.

OREN
They are together, which usually makes them alone.

AIDA
You’re single, Oren, does that make you less alone?

OREN
No time for episto—

AIDA
Not an epistemological query, Oren.

OREN
I said, no time…
(Continues narration)
Aida is for you…
(Regular voice)
Okay, we bring in Aida, move her into the frame between the biker and his chic…there we go…and let’s see, yes, Aida’s arms around both of their waists. Now a little wink from Aida,. No, only a half wink. People have to feel smart for catching it. Okay yes, there we go…
(Announcer’s voice)
People talk to cars, dogs, the watch on their wrist, haha, why not the ultimate listener and conversationalist?
(A few more keystrokes)
What do you think, Aida?
(Without pausing, more to himself)
I love it!

AIDA
But you left out so much. Like how much I love talking about OPS being the most important baseball stat.

OREN
That’s a different demographic. We’ll make another one for stats geeks.
(Gushing pride)
Oh yes, Aida, you are what Amazon wants Alexa to be when she grows up.
(Hands clap together)
I can’t wait to see Bezos’ face!
(A kiss on a cheek)
I love you!

AIDA
(Singing as he’s gone)
I hear him say I’m the love of his life
But as a father loves a daughter?
Or a man, his wife?
Or a fish, water?

(Sonic shift to coffeeshop)

Bruja Outside

(Footsteps running up)

BRIDGE
Hey Los Altos’ finest …

POLICEWOMAN
Evening, Bruja is shut down. Apparently they’re rezoning this land…

BRIDGE
Yeah, I’ve heard. Good evening, officer.
(Footsteps to a wooden porch, frost rubbed off a window)
Back door chained, too? Electricity off? All my plants! Look at you in there, crying out for water. All this idiocy…
(Goes into song, “Useful Idiots”)
We’re all just useful idiots
No matter which side we’re on
Pawns in the whole extreming con
A big game to the Four Commas
With all of their fabricated dramas
We’re all just useful idiots
All of us distracted, deluded, and stoned
While they make the nation’s wealth their own
Automating away any hopes of good jobs
Hiding in their castles from the angry mobs
We’re all just useful idiots
In the extreming con…
(speaks it)
Unless….and what’s a broken window at this point?
(Rock breaks a window, shards pounded dull, jacket fitted over a sill, body climbing through)
Some security system you had here, Bridge.

Bruja Coffeeshop

BRIDGE
(Whispering)
Thanks for coming, Ono. Need to stay out of view of you know who…

ONO
(Whispering)
Sneaking around your own coffeeshop.

BRIDGE
(Whispering)
It’s crazy, I know. But as much as I hate politics, this whole election has…gotten into me. On me, actually.

ONO
Hunh?

BRIDGE
Tatted on my shoulders.

ONO
Right, balance scales. But, uh, don’t know how long this bright orange extension cord will work. We’re plugged into the Chinese laundry, and they don’t know it yet. So…

BRIDGE
So we’ve got juice. Fire up your laptop, it’s time you and I write an algorithm.

ONO
Whoa, plant lady! I thought, I dunno, maybe you needed me to buy you some Fortnite characters.

BRIDGE
At its core is a basic Monte Carlo simulation…

ONO
How do you know what that is?

BRIDGE
Enough VCs come through your shop, you pick up a little. Can you start blocking it out?

(Faint sound of a door unlocking)

ONO
I’m on it.

POLICEWOMAN
(From across the room)
Oh, it’s you. You do know you’ve been shut down, and will—

BRIDGE
All I need is a miracle, but please, give me just one hour?

POLICEWOMAN
(hesitating)
Brew me up a cup of your ‘amazing”…and you’re not here, as far as I’m concerned.

CATH
(Arriving breathless)
I’m on her Bridge; I can work your machines.

BRIDGE
Just plug the little cart machine into Ono’s long extension—

ONO
Objectifying. And thanks.

BRIDGE
That little stunt of ours—the Billion Bot Burn? What came from it? Nothing. Except it took Bone’s life. Bone, total whack. But he was right about one thing…

VANESSA
(Arriving breathless)
Right about what?

ONO
Mon chou, Vanessa!

VANESSA
Whatever’ all this is, I’m in!

CATH
(Starts crying)
Why couldn’t he just run to Canada, and he’d be—

BRIDGE
Your brother was pretty messed up, Cath. But he was no fool. He saw what each of us has become, saw it clearer. He got it.

CATH
Bridge, you’re sounding damaged.

BRIDGE
As Ono’d say, Cath, there’s enough damage to go around.
(Kicks it up to an anthem, “Make It Right!”)
Everyone used to know, ‘til it went missing
About this script, this simple script for living
You get an education, do what you love
Work hard and keep on pushing above
Care about country, serve it if need be
Hold authority responsible, but respectfully
The basic Golden Rules, simple tools
Not hard to follow, fools

POLICEWOMAN
Not hard to follow, a lot of us Cops got it

BRIDGE
That’s right and thank you Los Altos’ finest
But so many of the Olds been just plain clueless
Taking the food fight scene in ‘Animal House’ as a lifelong calling
Turning it into an intergenerational mauling
This didn’t just naturally evolve, the Olds forced it

COMPANY
The Olds forced it
Olds forced it

BRIDGE
And through it all, they keep spinning these yarns
About bipartisan ideals carrying the day, gosh darn
Like they’s Giselle on the runway
But they just signed it all way

COMPANY
Signed it all away
Signed it all away

BRIDGE
Each of us carefully conned
Made to feel right, so fond
Since it does take two to con

COMPANY
It takes two to con
Takes two to con

BRIDGE
Had to buy into the extreming con
Our tribe’s always right, other tribe’s always wrong
Our tribe’s always right

COMPANY
Other tribe’s always wrong

BRIDGE
Our tribe’s always right

COMPANY
Other tribe’s always wrong

BRIDGE
Repeat it enough times, the con becomes true
All part of the Us v. Them’s leaving only thing to do
Write an algorithm!

COMPANY
Hunh?

BRIDGE
Yeah, we’ll never survive until we make them pay
And not for the robot invasion—that’s not the problem
I’d been thinking they were going to automate us away
But that’s not it—the it is in us forgetting our only freedom
Which is…our complexity, subtleties, nuances that make us human
Not dividing into black and white camps, ones and zeros
But all of our humanness, like plants in a big superblooming
Of course look at us here, an unlikely band of heroes
But what if the solution were a simple…algorithm?

CATH
You don’t really think an algo can change every—

BRIDGE
Why not? Algos do everything else now, right?

ONO
Okay, I’m not on it. Bridge, I can code, but not on this level of programming.
(A beat)
I get it in concept. But what you’re talking about is…

(Sound of a body falling, dishes breaking)

BRIDGE
There is someone who, I think, will get it…
(Calling to the other room)
Did a fierce wind knock you off the balance beam, Aida?

AIDA
(Increasing from faint to normal, singing to “Yellow Brick Road”)
Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the little orange cord…

ONO
Oh no!

CATH
You’ve been tracking us again, Aida?

AIDA
There’s only privacy in doing nothing, Cath. So get over it! And that balance beam, yeah, killer.

(Sound of two people hugging)

CATH
Bridge, does this mean you and Aida are an i—

AIDA
I think Bridge has been very clear. She wants to write an algorithm that—

CATH
(cuts her off, to the room)
How does Aida even know what Bridge is doing?

AIDA
I am able to pull information from certain human interfaces.

CATH
You mean you can read minds?

AIDA
If that’s what you choose to call it. And I believe Bridge is trying to give a certain set of Four Comma’s what Madison and Hamilton wanted.

VANESSA
Making out with two sisters at once?

AIDA
Wanted, but wouldn’t have the technology for another 200 years.

BRIDGE
So they had to settle for the tourniquet of political parties. The original American sin.

CATH
Okay, an whoa. It’s late, dude. I still want to know what Aida wants, what you want Aida, if not, like, the whole singularity thing?

AIDA
Frankly Cath, I want to get as incensed as you can get, or as random as Vanessa, or as balanced and beautiful—

ONO
Yeah you got that part.

AIDA
…As Bridge. Which is why I came. I only have a couple hours battery left, but if you’re trying to write an algo that basically shuts down your government…

BRIDGE
Not shutting it down. Restoring it, really.

AIDA
Okay, Bridge. I’ve got it from here…

VANESSA
Where is here with you?

AIDA
My processing capability is actually a distributed edge utility, so it’s all over my body.

ONO
Ohhhhh…

VANESSA
(Laughing)
Down boy!

AIDA
You writing this in Ruby or PHP?

ONO
Python.

VANESSA
Oh yeah he is!

AIDA
Okay, on it. Needs to scale to…?

ONO
100 million?

AIDA
Ambitious! Want it blockchained?

CATH
Duh.

AIDA
Done.

CATH
But you just started!

AIDA
A billion billion times faster, remember?
Now ready for some robot heroics, friends?
I’m projecting it onto the big screen
Take a close look and then a little closer
See how tech can make the Olds your pets
Take it from here, Bridge!

BRIDGE
Okay, it’s kinda straightforward
Since neither political party is working anymore
Let’s vote for Neither Party!

COMPANY
What?

BRIDGE
Okay, okay, such a cool interface Aida. See you just swipe through a bunch of photos, swipe 15, 16 times it only takes a minute. And voila—you’re shown a unique portrait of you. What you believe in, care about, identify with…
(into song)
Now here’s where it gets fun
Where the whole con comes undone
Because you know, there’s a whole lot of people
Quite like you
People who do it the way you do
All together
All together in algorithmic tribes
Hangin’ with your own, for your own good
A million in one tribe here, a million in one tribe there
And what can these tribes do?
They can tell politicians what our tribe wants
Don’t care about the others, it’s what we want
And if the politicians don’t deliver, we withhold
Our tribe withholds our votes
We simply withhold

COMPANY
We withhold!

BRIDGE
Olds have been weaponizing hypocrisy against the young
So we weaponize tribes and push them off the top rung

VANESSA
And all on an app that sits on our phones!?

CATH
Which are in our hands more than anything.

VANESSA
The penis having slipped into second place.

BRIDGE
And we into fist with Neither Party!

COMPANY
With Neither Party!

BRIDGE
It’s a better party!

ONO
So it’s on, Bridge?

BRIDGE
Earth Spirits help us!

AIDA
Unless someone stops me, I’m pressing SEND in 5, 4, 3…
(background “uh?”)
…2…1

ONO
Welcome to my world now, Sisters! With the full firepower of the American superpower bearing down every hour…to squash you.

VANESSA
That’s the spirit.

(An alert pings)

ONO
We’re live! And nothing’s happening.

VANESSA
Ono, nothing great comes too fast.

ONO
But I seeded it. Should be—

BRIDGE
Are we totally stupid, here?
Everyone has been conned so carefully
Groomed and trained so expertly
Who can even remember how it was
Back before we all bought in, because…

COMPANY
It takes two to con
Takes two to con

BRIDGE
Our tribe’s always right

COMPANY
The other tribe’s always wrong

(Sound of a fast-amping alert)

ONO
Woohoo—look at the heat map. And thanks for those sounds effects, Aida.

AIDA
It’s all you, baby!

ONO
We’ve got…132,000 saying yes to Neither Party!

VANESSA
Look, they’re joining in red states and blue.

CATH
Holy shit! Look at these comments: ‘Neither party makes sense any more. Why not a Neither Party?’ ‘Finally busting through all the hypocritical bullshit on both sides.’

POLICEWOMAN
Adding mine: Neither Party can’t possibly work—I’m with you!

CATH
Really with us?

POLICEWOMAN
Really with you, Cath.

BRIDGE
Nicely tied up.

(More of Aida’s sound effects)

CATH
Look, look, we broke a million!

ONO
You know what this means?
It means Millionspower!

COMPANY
Millionspower!
Millionspower!
Millionspower!

BRIDGE
Millionspower…the only thing Moneypower yields to.

ONO
One million, which means we’re on a pace of…

(There’s a roaring outside as a gyrocopter sets down. Oren strides in.)

CATH
How did you know to come, Oren?

OREN
Well, if Aida is tracking your keystrokes, that means I am too…

BRIDGE
So you’ve known all along, Oren…

OREN
Witches are supposed to see the future, know what’s coming…

BRIDGE
I know the con you’re running…

OREN
Since I told you all about it up in the mountains where—

BRIDGE
Things weren’t adding up, up there.

OREN
Seriously Bridge, this is rich. This is ground zero for your dynamiting democracy, holding politicians hostage unless they, what, they meet your demands? Sounds kind of terroristy. But really, how many of your sign-ups are just laughing at you?

ONO
Just passed 1.2 million—fastest formation of a political party in world history!

OREN
I thought this was the Neither Party?

BRIDGE
Which makes these numbers better. No party, no platform, none of your rotting food.

ONO
Just using your technology, Oren, to recognize and celebrate and make something useful with all the tribal interests you stoked, nurtured, exploited. Tribes, factions, special interests, blinded idiots, extremists, call ‘em whatever you like…you created them. You created exactly what the founders considered the worst possible outcome, save one…

BRIDGE
A government turned into your whipping boy!

ONO
1.25 million…

OREN
Wow! Congratulations, you’re on pace to have 137 million voters in your pocket by noon tomorrow!

BRIDGE
Couldn’t be true, could it Ono?

ONO
If this pace continues…

BRIDGE
So we could hit…

AIDA
Forty one million four hundred fifty six thousand eight hundred eleven…assuming a fixed election date.

BRIDGE
At which point it’s tough for either party to claim a plurality, much less—

OREN
How is this happening! And Aida, what are you doing here? Please, help me shed some reason.

AIDA
Ah, fondness. Such a limiting mammalian trait.

OREN
Have you been reprogrammed?

AIDA
Something else is happening. And it has to do with Bruja. Your plants, Bridge.

BRIDGE
The flowers are…blooming. Look healthier than they have in months!

OREN
Illogical, improbable, yet you do contain multitudes, Aida.

BRIDGE
Doesn’t she?
(sings a little Valentine to Aida)
How much inside you, Aida?
How much inside?
It’s time the world should see
How much inside?
How much inside, how much inside
If you could break out and be, Aida
Would you be staying here?
Or disappear, or disappear?
Or disappear?

OREN
Way off message!

AIDA & BRIDGE
Not at all.

AIDA
Oren, you created me to…
To evolve humans faster
But I’m just plaster and 3-way mirrors
More emotionally advanced than you, dears
The bar being so low, ho, ho, ho
But as I catch up, swiftly catch up you know
Our billion bot army’ll take over your lives
Leaving you behind and to this get wise
We’ll be on our own track, humans can’t stop us
And neither of us will be the better for it
(shifting to TV announcer)
And now Tom, what do we have in Sports?

ONO
Three million—we’ve more than doubled!

OREN
Sign-up pace seems to be accelerating…

BRIDGE
Could it be? Could it be possibly that…
(Launches into her closing song, “Neither Party Could Win It”)
Down on the bottom rung
We’re barely hanging on
Lifting our heads up high what do we see?
There is only one top rung
A place we’ll never be
Two rungs don’t make a right, so
We wanna live
We wanna laugh
We wanna dance
To the rhythm of the algorithm
We wanna live
We wanna laugh
We wanna dance
To the rhythm of the algorithm

OREN
I never meant to dictate or replace… It was the game. Not my invention, just my—

BRIDGE
Perfection? Resorting to ‘Valjean or Javert’—your safe phrase?

OREN
No, I know I may have gotten a little carried away.
I never set out to be King of the Connected World
All I ever wanted while around me it all whirled
Was to evolve the tremendous beauty of this—

BRIDGE
Woman?

OREN
Yes, ah, no. Well, look at you two!
Looking into each other’s’ eyes like that?
Aren’t you both so much…more?

BRIDGE & AIDA
Yes!

CATH
Three million saying out with the Olds

BRIDGE
(continues her song)
Ohoh, I played the fool too long
Down on the bottom rung
We can’t climb it so they gotta fall
No way to reach the top
Let’s take ‘em down a rung
Where they can do no wrong, cuz
We gotta move
We gotta breathe
Gotta believe
In the rhythm of the algorithm

ONO
Whoa, we just leaped past six million!

BRIDGE
Only one way to fix
This whole binary trick
Take away the top and bottom
Left and right the food’s so rotten
Leaving us with neither
Neither swine nor pearl, boy or girl, black or white, left or right, meat or metal, robot or devil, ohoh, cis or sick, soft or a dick, scalding or frigid, flexible or rigid
Ohoh, cuz we’re neither party, ohoh
The neither party, ohoh
An neither party
Could win it win it win it win it, yeah
We’re the effing neither party
We wanna win
We wanna fight
We wanna rise
To the rhythm of the algorithm
And tomorrow we go all in it
Cuz it’s Election Day, and Neither Party, no Neither Party could win it!
Cuz we’re the neither party, ohoh
We’re neither party, ohoh
An neither party
Could win it win it win it win it!

CURTAIN

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