Kiosk by Bruce Sterling

A new piece of fiction from Bruce Sterling at F&Sf. Although I enjoy his non-fiction work, I love his fiction, and it’s good to see something new from him. It’s about technology, the internet, and revolution. Good stuff. Here’s an excerpt:

Ace lifted and splayed his fingers. “Look, tell me something I can get my hands on. You know. Something that a man can steal.”
“Say you type two words at random: any two words. Type those two words into an Internet search engine. What happens?”
Ace twirled his shot glass. “Well, a search engine always hits on something, that’s for sure. Something stupid, maybe, but always something.”
“That’s right. Now imagine you put two products into a search engine for things. So let’s say it tries to sort and mix together…a parachute and a pair of shoes. What do you get from that kind of search?”
Ace thought it over. “I get it. You get a shoe that blows up a plane.”
Borislav shook his head. “No, no. See, that is your problem right there. You’re in the racket, you’re a fixer. So you just don’t think commercially.”
“How can I outthink a machine like that?”
“You’re doing it right now, Ace. Search engines have no ideas, no philosophy. They never think at all. Only people think and create ideas. Search engines are just programmed to search through what people want. Then they just mix, and match, and spit up some results. Endless results. Those results don’t matter, though, unless the people want them. And here, the people want them!”

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