131

She wasn’t perfect at mimicking normal human interaction. But neither was I. And she was built to learn.
“Sound sad,” I told her. “Call and tell them goodbye.”
“Okay,” she answered. Her voice was kind.

In a recent demo, Google Assistant booked an appointment over the phone. Without obviously giving itself away, the AI had a natural conversation with a human at a salon. This release has prompted questions about the Turing test, and a possible AI doomsday. I was interested in the other side of it: what does this mean for anyone who has communication difficulties. Might it be possible to use this technology as an access aid? // Statement by the Author

//Laura loves theatre, spaceships, and stories about personhood (and hope). She tweets at @lc_bradley//

88

“You’ve got to get rid of this junk.”
“But it’s art! Some of it.”
“Even art is a hazard in low orbit!”
Coming up next on Galactic Hoarders.

After centuries of arguments about the definition of art on Earth, artist Trevor Paglen is launching the debate into space! Earlier this month, Paglan announced that he plans to launch “the first satellite to exist purely as an artistic gesture” into low-Earth orbit in 2018. Known for being conceptually adventurous, this work could be an expansion of Paglans focus on global surveillance and ethics. But with a large amount of debris already floating in space, writer Mara Katz had to ask – is Paglan’s work Space Art or Space Junk?

//Mara Katz (@dialmformara) knits b/c she can’t not knit, writes b/c she can’t not write, and draws b/c she wants to get better at drawing.//

76

I left Earth to get away from her, but the galaxy had different plans. I tried to forget feeling, but galaxies are stronger. They merely BE.

It has been two decades since NASA’s Cassini spacecraft began its remarkable journey of exploration to Saturn. Last September, having expended almost all the rocket propellant it carried to Saturn, Cassini was sent on its final mission – a suicidal descent into the planet itself. An emotional Earth created tributes to the death of Cassini and today, hundreds of artists and storytellers have shared works inspired by them. The Vault is please to present Gemma Mahadeo’s story seed inspired by Cassini, a tale of travel through the universe and emotional connections. // Alex Massey

//Gemma Mahadeo is a Melbourne-based writer, poet, and occasional musician from the U.K. She/they tweets as @snarkattack & @eatdrinkstagger.//

74

No one believed me, not till it was too late. The whole time we thought we were watching them, they were watching us and learning.

In Jervis Bay, just off the east coast of Australia, an international team of marine biologists saw something strange. Led by professor David Scheel of Alaska Pacific University, the team filmed 15 gloomy octopuses communicating, dwelling together, and even evicting each other from dens. Previously thought to be anti-social, this discovery proved that congregation of octopuses do exist. The researchers nicknamed it ‘Octlantis’. Writer C.M Johnson casts this discovery into an ocean of paranoia. Could her net have caught onto the truth? // Alex Massey

//C.M Johnson is an artist and writer. Her work often deals with anthropology and social sciences. You can find her at @selkiemade.//

17

“I can’t afford the licence fee for my petfood’s DRM.”
“I heard homebrew stuff can turn pets into beautiful monsters.”
“Oh no,” she smiled.

This story by Alex Hardison was inspired by recent events in the 3D virtual world Second Life. Virtual rabbits across Second Life will fall asleep on Saturday then never wake up, unable to access their food. Ozimal’s DRM-protected virtual food relies on servers which have been shut down by a legal battle.

//Alexander Hardison lives in Sydney with his girlfriend, cat & too-large collection of action figures. His work can be found at alexanderhardison.wordpress.com//