I’ve just dried the ink on my latest short story - The Recipe.

Which also means I’ve won National Novel Writing Month, hurray! Give or take 45,000 words here or there, that is. I set my sights somewhat more realistically than the official goal, and aimed for 5,000 words in a month rather than 50,000. What’s a significant digit among friends?

For this story, I set out to explore Lady Lovelace’s Objection, which is a simple and fascinating idea from the early days of computing: the notion that computational “intelligence” is really just a byproduct of the intelligence of the computer program’s author. It seems relatively obvious to me, but it’s coming under increasingly sustained criticism as the machine learning industry appears to scale more and more stunning heights year after year. The consequences of this criticism are potentially tremendous. After all, if computational intelligence is not just a derivative of human intelligence, then it might gain a kind of legal autonomy. The idea of computational autonomy sounds kind of cool and futuristic, but taken to its logical conclusion, it’s quite the opposite: it’s a mask for bad actors to do bad things without accountability. It’s really just a rehash of some of the darkest corners of elitist legal theory over the centuries, like a modern take on the divine right of kings. So, my goal was to revive Lady Lovelace’s Objection, and the elegant idea behind it.

At the same time, I wanted to explore the epistolary format - it’s a form of storytelling which I’ve always admired but have never quite attempted. And I wanted to have another go at the genre I had tried out two years ago, techno-magical realism. I actually went and wrote a whole appendix explaining my writing process, and the thought behind the story, in some detail - mainly because it seemed the only fair thing to do for the poor reader.

I’m not sure it was my most successful effort ever. Poor old Lady Lovelace’s idea got rather bungled up. But I really enjoyed it anyway. It’s available on Kindle, but you can also read it on GitBook or suggest changes on Github. If you have suggestions, I’m certainly happy to hear feedback! In the meantime, I’m happy to step back and enjoy the accomplishment, for the time being.

Image courtesy of Aidana Khabdesh