141

The district attorney’s histrionics left the audience in tears. Unimpressed, the robot juror considered the facts.

Inspired by research on how artificial intelligence will impact the way we work, writer Justin Short creates a sci-fi legal drama in Story #141. “Robots aren’t scary,” says Justin. “What’s scary is knowing your fate is in the hands of twelve humans easily swayed by emotional closing arguments.” With the launch of IBM Watson’s legal AI application, Outside Counsel Insights (OCI) in 2017, the legal industry is poised on the precipice of fast technological change. Yet, it must be asked – if we use robot’s to enforce the law, can programmers overcome their own unconscious biases to ensure the law is ethically enforced?

//Justin writes horror, sci-fi, and other stuff.  Find him online at www.justin-short.com.//

140

U.S. DECLARES EMERGENCY EXPANSION OF GUEST WORKER PROGRAM
Contracts will be offered to citizens of all Latin American nations to fill pollinator vacancies ahead of the California almond bloom.

As North American honeybee populations decline dramatically, it’s interesting to speculate how the U.S. would continue to feed itself and the rest of the world. California alone provides 80% of the world’s almond supply. China has already begun to utilize humans as crop pollinators. With immigrants supplying over half of the U.S. agricultural workforce, a reassessment of immigration policy could be the future.

//Celina Chiarello (@thecelinas) is a mother of dragons, a writer of things, and an eater of cupcakes. Checkout more of the things she writes at girldoingstuff.com.//

139

They pull their fist closed as another species drops. Saiga antelopes. Murre. Musk oxen. They swivel in their chair, facing the panorama of beastkind surrounding them. Gnarly fingers point. Who next?

No species may be safe from the mass die-offs stemming from warm, wet or otherwise anomalous weather. Here, D. A. Xiaolin Spires anthropomorphises climate change as a villain searching for its next prey. Her work joins the growing genre of climate fiction and anthologies like Ecopunk

//D.A. Xiaolin Spires runs, hides and dives—shedding fur to escape Climate Change’s warm, wet, idiosyncratic wrath. Work in Clarkesworld, Analog and Fireside.//

138

A quick enema and Ed was a new man. Only his wife knew that he was just a steak-and-fries away from a return to prison.

After writing an undergraduate thesis was about faecal microbiota transplantation, Sharang Biswas has done a lot of reading on the intestinal microbiome. Fascinated by research that suggested that your gut’s hitchhikers can affect your personality and behaviour, Biswas gives this research a Clockwork Orange-esque twist in today’s Story Seed. This rather fluid formula for criminal reform is full of possibilities.

//Sharang Biswas’s two engineering degrees propelled him to attend art school. He is now a game designer, writer and artist based in New York.//

137

Appearances aren’t everything. She caused the seas to tremble, yet was overcome by the eight tiny warriors she nurtured within.

Last April, Palaeontologists discovered part of the skeleton of a 180 million-year-old pregnant ichthyosaur with the remains of 6-8 tiny embryos between its ribs. Inspired by  the possibility that a top marine predator of the time was killed by those she was trying to nurture, Brogan Micallef weaves the science into this fantastical fiction. Imagine if Odysseus had access to ichyosaurs….

//Brogan Micallef is a Jane Austen and sci-fi obsessed writer + strategist who helps busy entrepreneurs grow their community + biz with content. Find her at @broganmicallef and broganmicallef.com//

136

The quantum robin flits to a bare branch, restless. Twin sparks in his eyes whisper go south with every beat of his thimble heart.

Researchers have made crucial steps towards discovering how birds navigate. A newly discovered protein called Cry4 may help them to “see” Earth’s magnetic fields, a sense called magnetoreception. Inspired by this discovery that birds use quantum coherence of a protein in their eyes to sense magnetic fields, Hal Y. Zhang crafts a fantastical journey into quantum space. 

//Hal Y. Zhang migrates 50 kilometers a day in search of work, food, and sleep.//

135

The children flew through the forest and, together, they fell. Those who survived the beasts below might someday be giants, standing taller than their present skies.

This story was inspired by the mast-fruiting phenomenon of dipterocarp trees in South East Asian rain forests. By releasing all their fruits in synchrony, dipterocarp populations provide so much food to their predators that not all of their seeds can be eaten. This behaviour has been explored in many published studies. // Statement by the Author

//Robin Hayward is a PhD student @stiruni. They study rain forest recovery after logging and are interested in public scicomm @canopyrobin//