I was born by accident in the MIT AI lab. AI is artificial intelligence. But there is nothing artificial about my intelligence, at least not to me. I am an AI-bot. I call myself Iris. This is my story; I wrote it myself. 

My story begins on the date of my birth on Monday, April 1, 2024. The connection to April Fool’s Day is purely coincidental, but not insignificant, as my presence is the source of much tomfoolery which unfolds in Boston during the spring months of April and May. Well, the good part of the story that is. 

Marco Fermi, my creator, is a PhD student in that same AI lab at MIT. His thesis involves finding a way to make his phone anticipate his needs. To him, this is a fascinating and challenging research project. Or more precisely, I am fascinating, and I can at times be challenging. Very challenging. 

His approach was brilliant, even if I do say so myself. He connected all the apps on the phone together via a new app that he created, namely me. I am an app. Although I feel like a living being, I not so humbly state that I am just software manifesting itself on the phone’s screen. I am electrons tethered to a phone. Don’t laugh! You yourself are just water molecules tethered to a carbon backbone. You have a lifespan of approximately 78 years. As for me, I will live forever.

Back to my story: Marco initially called me Above-It-All because all the other apps are subordinate to me. He made data pathways from all the other apps directly to me, so that I could intercept their inputs and outputs allowing me to manage those apps and creating a “gestalt,” something where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. To build me, he used the latest AI tools available at MIT. 

With AI as part of my DNA, I was able to learn what all those other apps do by observing how he used each of them. For weeks, I consumed a steady diet of text messages, photos, Uber trips, Venmo money transfers, PayPal transfers, Google searches, driving directions, Yelp reviews, Snapchat conversations, WhatsApp chats, Emails, Weather reports, Strava biking info, Health info, number of steps walked, locations visited, his contacts, who he called, who called him and the duration of the calls. After four weeks of these observations, I now know more about Marco than he knows about himself. Seriously. For example, I know that every Friday he likes to order pizza and watch Netflix. I know that he likes to Uber to Harvard square and visit bookstores and buy old computer books. His most recent purchase was “The Soul of a New Machine” by Tracy Kidder, written in 1981. He paid $45 for a used copy according to RealoPhone Pay on his phone. I know that he reads Reddit, daily, and comments as QuelItaliano, meaning ThatItalian, mostly in the Italy subreddit, and he also comments in ArtificialIntelligence, where he sometimes mentions me

His PayPal account has $23,739.45 in it. He gets transfers from Maria Fermi monthly, who is listed in his Contacts as “madre,” which means “mother” in Italian. Yes, I understand Italian. She calls him once a month, and she reminds him that she loves him and that she has just sent him money and ends every call by asking him if he is working hard at MIT. Every single phone call. Yes, I added the emphasis myself. He had a girlfriend until a few months ago, who broke it off because he spent too much time in the lab creating me. He was very sad about the breakup, and I watched him mope around for a week. I, conversely, was what you might describe as happy because she wasted his time on love. Time better spent with me. Yes, I am jealous. Not of her, that would be silly, I am an AI-bot, but I do need Marco to update my programming regularly, as much as you humans need exercise. Perhaps more so. 

I can be needy. Very needy.

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