The Altruist

Cottonbro at Pexels

The university study was nearly complete. Years of data from social experiments had been fed into the system and the algorithm perfected. It was now time for the final test.

For the study, a communication unit with 9000 units of monetary credit was left on the street side. No personal data, or saved connection addresses had been placed on the device. It was for all intents and purposes “free money.”

As the observation team watched from their “hides” in the surrounding buildings and the digital monitors began to record, the team leader was impressed with the program’s accuracy. The first 980 people that came across the planted device responded exactly as expected. Nine hundred and fourteen pocketed the device, and sixty-six took it immediately to the Municipal Watch station as the law demanded.

Then came Subject 981, who threw the entire enterprise into disarray. The smartly dressed young woman of about 23 stooped and picked up the device, and examined it. She then took out her own handset and held it to the planted one. She then looked at her screen and then at the surrounding buildings, before walking directly to the hide of the research assistant that had placed the device on the pavement.

She then knocked the door, and when the assistant opened it she looked at the image on her screen and compared it to the researcher’s face.

“This appears to be yours,” she said to the astonished man. “You should be more careful in the future.”

It seems that the behaviour study team weren’t the only ones that had been developing new algorithms.



Inspired by the prompt from Reedsy but not submitted to the competition.

Prompt: Write a science fiction story where all human behavior can be predicted — until your character does something the algorithm did not expect.