A high-level call came in from London. Nikolai, surprised and intrigued, took the call himself. A young mans’s face appeared on the screen. “I’m a headhunter and have your first manager ready to jump ship and come work for you,” he said.
Nikolai frowned. “What?”
“The person who you worked for at your first job. You liked her and said she was a great boss. You told her so. I have it on tape.”
“You must be joking,” Nikolai said. “That manager was just a cybernetic interface. You can’t headhunt a data system.”
“Yes, I can,” the young man said truculently. “The old expert system’s been scrapped in favor of a new one with a sounder ideology. Look.” A second face appeared on the screen: it was a superhumanly smooth and faintly glowing image of his old manager. “Please hire me, Nikolai,” the image said woodenly.”I hate it here.”
The young man’s face reappeared. Nikolai laugh in credulously. “So you’ve saved the old tapes?” Nikolai said. “I don’t know what your game is, but I supposed the data has a certain value. I’m prepared to be generous.” He named a price. The young man shook his head. Nikolai grew impatient. “Look,” he said. “What makes you think a mere expert system has any objective worth?”
“I know it does, “ the young man said. “I’m one myself.”
(Apologies to Bruce Sterling.)