I live in Las Vegas, but I do not gamble. When I first visited the Strip twenty years ago, I tried my luck at blackjack. Took out $100 in mad money. Lost $85 immediately. Back then, they had $3 tables with human dealers rather than machines, and a kind woman from Monterey showed me how to split and double down. I kept winning and let it ride, telling myself it was just fifteen bucks. Night became day, but I had no concept of time until I realized I’d smoked an entire pack of cigarettes. I was up nearly $800.

Five years later, I drove through Vegas again. I’m great at blackjack, I thought. I should play. Vegas took it all back and then some. This city will get its money, no matter how long it takes.

So I do not gamble. Except for one longstanding wager.

Seven years ago, C. and I debated how the world would end. We’ll all be killed by a disease, she said. All those chemicals, long-haul flights, and antibiotics are going to add up to something bad. I thought it would be the singularity, mostly because I was reading a lot of sci-fi. Our conversation felt theoretical at the time, this debate over whether we’d perish while holding hands on a cot beneath the harsh lights of a stadium transformed into a quarantine zone, or if we’d be running through the streets for our lives before getting laser-blasted by a renegade sex robot.

During the peak of the pandemic, there was a constant hum from C., faint but unmistakable. It said I told you so. But I’m gaining serious ground this year. I don’t think the Rise of the ChatBots will destroy us right away. Torching the livelihoods of millions so a few billionaires can line their pockets is the next logical step. But you never know what the side effects of any new technology will be. If someone told me fifteen years ago that Facebook and Twitter would transform America into a basketcase, I doubt I would have listened. I don’t know if anyone could connect the dots between sharing a picture of your lunch and attempting to hang the vice president. Social media seemed benign in its early years. AI feels sinister after two months.

So our wager continues, and it will be the biggest jackpot of all: one of us gets to look into the other’s eyes during our final moments and know we were right.

Religious Knives – Luck

Resin | No Fun, 2008 | Boomkat