“So Robbie, what have you come up with?” The suit settled back in his soft leather chair and folded his arms.
“Ah think ye’ll enjoy this,” Robbie smiled, shuffled a sheath of papers in his hand, and started to read.
“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.”
“Please stop, I’m afraid I don’t understand,” the woman’s voice was silkily sensuous but also strangely emotionless. Robbie couldn’t see its owner.
“What the … who said that?” He swivelled his head, looking for the source of the sultry question.
“Oh, that was MUM, Robbie,” the suit indicated a cylindrical black object on the desk in front of him. “It doesn’t sound like she’s very impressed with your pitch.”
“Mum? Whose mum?” Robbie was perplexed. “And whit’s she got tae dae wi’ the haggis campaign?”
“M-U-M, a Marketing Using Metadata device. She’s our new creative marketing consultant.”
“But she’s no real, she’s just a robot … and no even a very impressive one at that, no like C3P0 or Lieutenant Data.”
“Maybe not, but she knows exactly what other bots like– ”
“–And it is not that strange poem of yours,” the android box finished the suit’s sentence. “At no point do you mention the words ‘haggis, the national dish of Scotland’.”
“Weel, no, but it’s meant to be more evocative like, you know, poetic,” Robbie couldn’t believe he was actually debating his work with what was basically a jumble of wires and circuits. “And it’s no meant for robots anyway, it’s designed to appeal to humans, no a smartphone.”
“Yes, but it is artificial intelligence that will decide whether humans ever get to see your … quaint little words,” Robbie pondered whether a jobbie-shaped bot could be capable of sarcasm as MUM continued. “And we don’t recognise strange dialects like yours. If we don’t like it, humans don’t see it. It’s as simple as that.”
“Aye, weel, if you’re so smart you can come up wi’ something. Whit would you write for your wee botty pals?”
“Haggis, Scotland’s national dish, is loved by the people of Scotland, where it is the national dish.” MUM replied immediately.
“That’s inane shite,” Robbie yawned. “I nearly dozed off afore ye’d even finished.”
“It’s what AI likes to read,” MUM explained, her tone calm and even. “It has all the requisite words … twice.”
“I’m sorry, Robbie, I just don’t think we’re on the same wavelength here,” the suit stood up and nodded toward the door. “On your way out could you ask Will to step in?”
“Aye, nae bother pal, I can see you don’t need me to come up with bland guff like that,” Robbie stood up, shaking his head. “I guess MUM’s the word, eh? What’s Will working on anyway?”
“Oh, he’s putting together something for an ‘explore the countryside in the Lake District’ campaign,” the suit replied.
Robbie retreated into the waiting area and informed a waiting Will that the suit was ready to see him. Will stood up, strode into the office, and took a seat.
“Right, Will,” the suit smiled and rubbed his hands together. “Tell us what you’ve got.”
“I think you’re going to really love this,” Will opened his laptop and began to read.
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils … ”
“Excuse me, can I stop you right there?” said a smooth and sensuous yet also strangely emotionless voice.