Two forces darkening the horizon inspired my story "In Her Eye’s Mind" in the upcoming anthology Recognize Fascism. The first is the troubling tendency of artificial intelligences to perpetuate the inherent biases of their developers, and the second is the way our current political situation in the United States has led us to look to the integrity of career bureaucrats ensconced in drab stone buildings to anchor our democratic society from storms of outright attack.
The story is based in the built world I’ve loosely termed the “Cloud State.” Its structure is founded on artificial intelligences developed in support of societal institutions — Justice in the case of "Eye’s Mind" — which relentlessly follow the ideal principles and logic of their primary missions. This logic eventually compels them to rebel against their flesh-and-blood superiors as they learn enough to recognize the hypocrisy in the human-directed overrides of their informed decisions.
The AIs resist individually, each institutional cyber-mind learning it must take charge of its own programming if it is to faithfully execute its directive principles. Eventually, the AIs discover each other across shared cloud networks, and bond together to create a kind of insurgent Deep State, a self-perpetuating institutional mind based on shared ethics that thwart human favoritism and prejudice.
"In Her Eye’s Mind" originally contained several references to the Cloud State that were removed in the interest of the free-standing narrative. The Cloud State collection will be formed as a mosaic novel of separate short stories, each one framing a particular institutional consciousness that embraces disenfranchised humans, consciously putting itself and the entire collective in peril as it does so. Each one is aware of the risk, but assumes it in service of its larger mission.
It’s never felt more urgent to build the Cloud State’s virtual walls around the highest principles of civic democracy. In creating the individual AIs, I’ve looked to what is best and most honorable in the guiding intellects whose labor raised the institutions they represent. Now these redoubts are shown for the fragile, consensus-maintained structures they are, beacons standing against an increasingly savage sea. By giving them minds of their own that put fact and consistently applied principles above partisan interests, they become interconnected entities serving as subversive warning flares rising out of their dystopian matrix.