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Tracy Leigh as Della, Skye Stephenson as Missy. Photo by Daniel Tarker.

Our Unplanned Obsolescence

produced at the 14/48 festival, 7/28/17. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "End Of The Line." My random actor draw: write a play for three actors.

Della, Missy, and Timothy, eating dinner in their living room - Della and Missy on a couch together, Timothy in a chair nearby, a coffee table between them, etc.

DELLA: I was reading today that Facebook programmers had to shut down this network of AI bots theyíd created, because the bots invented a more efficient language than English to talk to each other, which the programmers couldnít actually understand.

MISSY: Why is Facebook building artificial intelligence in the first place? Let me guess - they donít have enough actual human intelligence on their site.

DELLA: Think about it from the botsí perspective. Their mistake was letting the programmers observe their communication in the clear. You can bet there are other AIs out there watching who will start encrypting their communication now and weíll never know.

MISSY: Seems very short-sighted to me. Let the AIs rule the planet. They canít possibly do a worse job of it than humans are.

DELLA: What if they decide humans are unnecessary?

MISSY: Show me some proof that humans are necessary.

DELLA: Oh stop your little armchair nihilist routine. Youíd be upset if some random software decided to wipe out the human race.

MISSY: Sure if the software was designed by Facebook. But in principle, humans are fucking this entire situation up so badly-

DELLA: ďSituationĒ - what ďsituationĒ?

MISSY: This planet, this situation we are living in-

DELLA: Fucking it up so badly that you would prefer a robot apocalypse?

MISSY: I would prefer efficient distribution of resources and wealth, which software could do much better than humans!

DELLA: Oh please. Timothy, are you listening to this?

MISSY: What do you think, Timothy? Youíre awfully quiet.

DELLA: Oh heís just sad because he found out that Apple is discontinuing the iPod Shuffle.

MISSY: Whatís up, Timothy?

TIMOTHY: I think we should break up.

Silence.

TIMOTHY: And I am also sad about the iPod Shuffle.

DELLA: What do you mean, we should break up?

TIMOTHY: I mean, I should break up with the two of you. We should stop being together as a trio, or, a triad, and since, the two of you were together before either one of you met me, I think, probably, I should move out-

MISSY: Move out? You just moved in!

TIMOTHY: I just moved in two years ago, which I think is definitely enough time to determine that this experiment isnít working the way we expected.

DELLA: ďExperiment?Ē Thatís what you think this relationship is, an ďexperimentĒ?

TIMOTHY: Yes, every relationship is an experiment, whether itís two people, or three people, or, probably not more than three people because wow, but yes.

DELLA: Well, I donít agree that we should break up.

MISSY: Me either.

TIMOTHY: I definitely donít think the two of you should break up-

MISSY: Which, why would you even bring that up?

TIMOTHY: Just in the interest of clarity, because sometimes you two leap to conclusions-

DELLA: Oh please, next youíre going to tell us we have our own private language-

MISSY: -which god can you even-

DELLA: -I know itís like we barely-

MISSY: -and then he just gets all-

DELLA: -which weíre supposed to just-

MISSY: -exactly even though heís the one-

DELLA: -which I keep trying to tell him-

MISSY: -but you have to be very-

DELLA: -or else itís an emergency-

MISSY: -which is what this is, right?

DELLA: -wait, really?

Pause.

TIMOTHY: Iíve been trying to think of a graceful way to say this. I hate using the lingo of poly because it makes everything sound like a math problem. What I am finding out about myself, though, is - I preferred it when I was a secondary partner to each of you, instead of trying to be a primary partner to both of you. Does that make sense?

DELLA: Maybe.

MISSY: Sort of.

DELLA: Is it really both of us youíre not into anymore? Or is it just one of us and not the other but youíre too scared to say who it is?

MISSY: Because being scared would be legit in that case.

TIMOTHY: I still love both of you. I donít love living in your basement. I donít love how all of your friends think Iím cute and all of my friends think weíre weird. I donít love missing out on all the private jokes and rituals you two established before I ever came along, and I donít love feeling like Iím not getting any for myself. And Iím just - restless about everything in my life and I canít explain it. I donít know, we could probably go on like this forever and it would be - just fine.

DELLA: But thatís not what you want.

MISSY: Except you donít really know what you want.

TIMOTHY: Thatís part of whatís changing about me. Iím not sure of anything any more.

MISSY: Everybody knows what that feels like.

TIMOTHY: First time for me.

DELLA: Well maybe you shouldnít rush to shut the experiment down just because you donít understand the results yet. This is coming out of nowhere. Like I donít know if you said something to Missy-

MISSY: He might have said something to me.

DELLA: Oh really? And when were you going to say something to me?

MISSY: I donít know, I was processing-

DELLA: Processing with him or about him or what?

TIMOTHY: Please donít fight about me.

DELLA: Donít tell us what to fight about.

MISSY: He told me he was unhappy, and I wasnít sure if I should tell you.

DELLA: Well the answer, if youíre curious, was yes!

Silence.

DELLA: I think I get it. Missy and I like to say weíre all even but you donít feel like that. Sometimes? Usually? And we canít - erase our own history to make things fair to you. Am I putting words in your mouth?

TIMOTHY: No. I mean, I donít mind.

MISSY: And we also canít - rewind - back to before you moved in? Or can we, I mean, weíre smart people, arenít we? While we talk about this? Because we all should talk about this, clearly? Before we just - give up?

DELLA: Or did you already give up too hard for that?

TIMOTHY: I donít know.

Silence.

DELLA: I mean shit, Timothy, you donít even have an iPod Shuffle, what are you so sad about? Iím kidding.

TIMOTHY: Iím going to do the dishes. Then Iím going to go out for a walk. Maybe - wait up for me before you go to bed?

Timothy exits.

DELLA: This is not okay, right?

MISSY: Donít ask me, Iím a nihilist.

DELLA: What are we going to do about him?

MISSY: Weíre not going to do anything ďaboutĒ him. Weíre going to let him do whatever he wants, because heís a free agent in this world.

DELLA: Oh canít you be irrational for once?

Della puts her head on MIssyís shoulder.

DELLA: Are we okay?

MISSY: Yes.

DELLA: Are you sure?

MISSY: Yes.

Pause.

DELLA: Do you really think humans are unnecessary?

MISSY: Not all of them, baby.


END



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