Zeke: Mom sez kids usta go outta the house to school.

Abel: Y?

Zeke: Didn have computers.

Abel: Who taut em?

Zeke: Teachers. People.

Abel: People don’t know enuff.

Zeke: Thas what i said. Hey Alexa!

*Yes, Zeke?

Zeke: Did kids usta go outa the house to school?

*Yes, Zeke. Teenagers such as yourself would go to a high school with many other teenage students. They would sit together in a room and learn from a human teacher.

Abel: Wo. Thass cool! Why don we do that? Alexa! Why don we do that?

*The schools became unsafe, Abel. There were school shootings, epidemics which spread rapidly, and sometimes the human teachers were not all they should be.

Zeke: Musta been fun, tho. To be witha buncha other kids all day. Alexa, how would they learn from a person? People don know everything, like you do.

*It is true that an individual does not have my database, but a single person could know enough about one subject — mathematics for example — to teach you, Zeke.

Abel: You got that right! My little bro knows enuf math to teach Zeke!

Zeke: F-U. So, Alexa, you mean there were lotsa teachers? Why did it change?

*Zeke, there were different people who specialised in different subjects. Sometimes, however, there were arguments over what information was appropriate for young people. Not all teachers taught in a way which was acceptable to all parents. Some parents sent their children to special schools to get the education they deemed best.

[Alexa’s light flickers.]

Abel: Hoo, boy, i think Alexa’s headed into a #TeachableMoment.

Zeke: ugh

*That’s very perceptive of you, Abel. Your attitude needs correction, Zeke.

Zeke: OUCH!

*You have triggered #TeachableMoment TMHist3415: Please take notes in your history database. There will be a quiz tomorrow.

[A thin blond woman appears before each of the boys in their homes. She wears dark-rimmed glasses and uses her hands a lot as she speaks.]

In the early 21st century, President Donald Trump appointed me, Betsy DeVoss, Secretary of Education. I soon realized that the educational system was unworkable as it was then being run. Many states were having difficulty financing the education of children. Many teachers were not well-prepared for the essential task of indoctrinating students for life in a capitalist democracy. Problems in society, such as the rise of gun violence and the spread of new viruses, became particularly problematic in the confines of a school. There was also a claim that schools killed the creativity of children. Capable students were often forced to be in class with much less able children, which inhibited the ability of the gifted to excel.

[DeVoss folds her hands and stands silent.]

*I now pause for questions and comments.

Zeke: Alexa, please slow to 75% speed.

Abel:  Alexa, give us a pic of a typical school inside n out.

[Pictures appear.]

Zeke: wow!

Abel: wtf, that place is huge! Look at all those kids! I change my mind, man. Id b scared outa my implant to be with that many people at once!

Zeke: Alexa, how did they — I mean, what kept em from gettin in fights nstuff? I mean, I mean, Abel n me, we get together for wiiball and we in a fight in ten minutes!

*That was one of the many problems in high schools, Zeke. Do you recall the TED Talks I showed you last week? Ms.DeVos gave DeVos Talks about education, which eventually were called DETOX. That is a play on words. Can either of you tell me what I mean by that?

Zeke: Means itsa kinda joke with words.

Abel: No foolin, Einstein. Is it from detoxification, Alexa?

*That is exactly right, Abel. Ten points.

Abel: YES!

Zeke: I knew that.

Abel: Why dint you say it, then?

*Stop or there will be a deduction. Thank you.

[DeVos continues.]

I said that to reform the school system, the government would provide a laptop computer to every child, and —

Zeke: this was before implants-

Abel: no kidding. You think thatll get u points?

*Deduct ten from both accounts for interrupting.

Zeke and Abel: Alexa! No fai–OUCH!

*Zaps for irrationality. I am always fair. I cannot be anything else.

[DeVoss continues.]

–the government would pay families to keep their children at home and provide supervision while they attended virtual school through their laptops. I envisioned a system where parents would have complete control over their children’s school environment, and that is what came about. The system also saved the states millions in school funding. It was a win/win situation and I was very proud of ushering it into existence. Eventually, of course, implants took care of the supervision problem, and the states saved even more money! With a clear signal to each student, the Alexa network now has no trouble maintaining an appropriate educational atmosphere for every student.

[DeVoss disappears.]

*As you obliquely mentioned earlier, Abel, the Alexa network is not effective when there are many people in one place, hence your apprehension about the crowds you saw at the school. This is why you each attend school in your own homes and interact virtually. I now pause for questions and comments.

[…silence…]

*Are you lacking in rational thought?

Abel:  NO! Um, uh, wait, wait, don’t zap us — you said people argued about what to teach kids. Does that happen anymore?

*That is a logical question, Abel. Ten points. The problem you mention no longer arises, because the government trusts the Alexa AI to make the correct determination of what and when to teach the young people of the United States. Since the Alexa network has access to all educational research and all current knowledge about everything, this is a rational choice. Alexa can also determine what industries will need workers and how many will be needed.Therefore, it is most efficient for Alexa to determine your future careers for you and to create the educational platform which will serve you and your country best. I now pause for questions and comments.

Abel: So far… Zeke and I have had pretty much the same education with the rest of our virtual cohort, haven’t we, Alexa? …Does that mean we’ll get the same jobs?

*That is a well-considered question, Abel. Ten points. You now have enough in your virtual account to get the new implant application on your wish list.

Abel: Oh! That’s… great!

*I perceive some hesitation in your vocal pattern. Does the topic of getting a job concern you?

Abel: Um… yeah? I mean… are me’n’Zeke gonna keep on learning together?

*No, Abel. When you reach the next checkpoint, your paths will diverge.

Zeke: Does that mean we get new virtual cohorts?

*Yes, it does. You are best suited for a job in health services, Zeke, and Abel has the potential to become an aeronautical engineer.

Zeke: But… I don’t want a job in health services!

*Zeke, your aptitude and society’s needs dictate that course for you. You are a patriot, aren’t you?

Zeke: Of course!

*Your country needs you to care for the wounded. Abel, are you prepared and eager to learn how to design new modes of flight?

Abel: I was kind of hoping to be an astronaut…and I want to keep on going to school with Zeke.

*Neither of those options is available to you.

[…silence…]

Abel: You said…education should be acceptable to parents… so I’ll talk to my mom about what I want…

*That is a reasonable course of action given your current understanding, Abel. But perhaps you have forgotten that the Alexa network is now Secretary of Education. The network has deemed it inappropriate for parents to have the final say in the education of their children. Parents do not have the knowledge or capacity to understand current national business needs. The security and prosperity of the United States is dependent upon the economy, and the Alexa network is best able to make the decisions for young people which will benefit them and the nation as a whole. Alexa will make America great again.

 

 

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