Don’t be Evil

19 Nov

100 word story for Friday Fictioneers based on the photo prompt below. Enjoy, but not while you’re driving.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 8.27.18 AM

(Copyright – Claire Fuller)

Google driverless cars were the law now. No humans at the wheel meant no wrecks, a detail that sounded a death knell for Middleham Motors, Gene and Gerry Roper’s once prosperous father and son auto body shop. While his dad kept a silent vigil for customers, Gerry used his newfound free time to study computer programming online.

Later that day, Gerry smiled and poised a finger above his laptop. ”Idle hands…” he thought, then pressed ‘Enter’. Tomorrow, courtesy of a virus he’d written, Google’s system and a lot of cars were going to crash.

Business was about to pick up.



Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.45.25 AM

45 Responses to “Don’t be Evil”

  1. billgncs November 19, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

    Don’t be evil – probably in the tiny print it clarifies it to: anything we want for you can’t be evil.

    Good thought provoking write.

    • dmmacilroy November 19, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

      Dear Bill,

      I’m glad you’re fluent in Googlese. And I’m glad you primed the pump for this story. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  2. elmowrites November 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    Mwahahaha! How entrepreneurial of him! I am highly suspicious of driverless cars, but on the other hand, the way people behave round here, they couldn’t possibly be as bad as some humans, so…
    I wouldn’t expect the line “Tomorrow, courtesy of a virus he’d written, Google’s system and a lot of cars were going to crash.” from you. Not really a criticism, more an observation – it works as it stands, but I’m used to subtlety from you and this was surprisingly blunt by comparison.

    • dmmacilroy November 19, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

      Dear Jennifer,

      I’m working on my more direct side. Perhaps last week’s story was too subtle so I’m overcompensating. Either that or I’m channeling my blue collar side into a story about the future being blunted by the past…

      I so love your comments, Jennifer. Thanks for dropping by to say hello.

      I’ll be reading stories every few minutes today before I head up the mountain. Will find yours soon.



  3. storydivamg November 19, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    Dear Doug,
    What a skillfully woven tale. You broadcasted part of your topic with the title, but the driverless car was a fun turn down an unexpected detour. There needs to be some sort of pat response to “Don’t be evil.” I’m thinking along the lines of a new cliche. Perhaps “Evil is as evil does.” or “Evil is all in the eyes of the beholder.”

    Malevolently yours,
    Marie Gail

    • dmmacilroy November 19, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

      Dear Marie,

      Cliches are as cliches do….? Just kidding. Thanks for such a nice comment. I think that in the end, Sergey and Larry are going to wish they’d never coined that motto. Oh, well. With a little luck I’ll be dead before the new 1984 gets here.



  4. rochellewisoff November 19, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    Driverless cars would certainly be a boon to texters wouldn’t they? But don’t get me started on that subject…

    One has to admire Gerry’s ingenuity as well as that of this story’s writer.

    I hear the question between the lines, “How far is too far?”

    Great transmission this week.



    • dmmacilroy November 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

      Dear Rochelle,

      Luddites unite…sort of. Gerry may find he gets some new job offers once he gets out of jail. Hard tellin’ not knowin’.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Juggling here.



  5. singleworkingmomswm November 19, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

    Doug, this was a great write! For me, the spelled out nature of this post gave me the chills. Had you been more subtle, I’m not sure I would’ve had the same reaction, so I think it was a proper choice for this write. It also resonates with my belief that as we allow more and more technology to take over we also subject ourselves to these exact sort of outcomes, going from perceived control to realizing there is no control. Scary! I really loved this! XOXO-Kasey

    • dmmacilroy November 19, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

      Dear Kasey,

      You certainly nailed the future with your comment. We are slowly being subsumed by technology, no matter how we ‘feel’ about it. I did want to get more into the father’s feelings in this piece, but words, words, pesky words ran out. Thanks for reading and commenting with such pithy observations. I appreciate it.



  6. misskzebra November 19, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

    Perhaps with the latest hacks, it might be too early for us to be putting our faith in driverless cars, no matter how terrible I am at parallel parking.

    • dmmacilroy November 19, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

      Dear MissKzebra,

      I think you are spot on with your assessment. Ambulance chasing lawyers will like it and perhaps, contrary to my story, auto body shop owners. Still and all, technology has a way of steamrolling over minor speed bumps that the first years of development reveal. We shall see…well, probably not me…but you shall. Enjoy it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  7. Riya Anne Polcastro November 19, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    Ha! I’m afraid this might be a prophesy!

    • dmmacilroy November 19, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

      Dear Riya,

      That should have been my genre this week. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  8. Sandra Conner November 19, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    Okay, I laughed out loud …. and then I laughed out loud again. Super. Smart. Funny. Priceless. (And just in case you didn’t get my point — I LOVED THIS STORY!)

    • dmmacilroy November 19, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

      Dear Sandra,

      Stop beating around the bush! Seriously, though, thank you for such a nice comment for Don’t be Evil. I’m glad you laughed, too. Good medicine.



  9. sustainabilitea November 20, 2014 at 2:13 am #

    Doug, we were just talking about driverless cars the other day and I was thinking the same thing, that a virus, or government takeover, would create chaos. I enjoy driving and would hate to give up that control. I could just hear, “Bwwwwwwahhhhh” at the end of your story. And are these Ropers related to Claire’s? I enjoyed this one and your more direct writing this week.


  10. J November 20, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    Where there’s a will, there’s a way —-
    LOVED IT! 🙂

  11. Sandra November 20, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    A driverless car can take you anywhere it wants to, if programmed correctly. Oops, where did that come from? Sorry just musing on the dark side. Good job it’s just bodywork the duo are looking for and nothing more. Good one, the pendulum has swung from one side to the other. 😉

  12. marysmoments4life November 20, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    Great twist on the father/son relationship…definitely more congenial than my story! A little bit of ingenuity and a bit of revenge…whatever it takes to make a business succeed!

    Great story!


  13. Claire Fuller November 20, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    Good business for the hospitals too 😦 A lovely idea about the consequences of being safer.

  14. draliman November 20, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    Ooh, blimey! Very enterprising of him, gotta move with the times!

    I do have a fear that these driverless cars will get hacked – like you’ll get a text telling you to transfer 1000 pounds to a certain bank account or your car will go over the cliff.
    Your story hasn’t put my mind at ease 😦

  15. patrickprinsloo November 20, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    Good for Gerry. He has initiative.

  16. rgayer55 November 20, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    We’ve had this conversation and Connie would never relinquish control. She feels the same way about a steering wheel as the NRA does about guns–you’d have to pry it from her cold, dead fingers.
    I do admire Gerry’s ingenuity in saving the family business. We have a lot of automobile/deer collisions in our neck of the woods. I wonder how a driverless car prepares for that?

  17. aliciajamtaas November 20, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Love this forward thinking lad. Nicely done this week, Doug. Hope you have fun “going up the mountain”. And what mountain would that be? Alicia

    • dmmacilroy November 21, 2014 at 1:00 am #

      Dear Alicia,

      This will shed some starlight on your question.

      Thanks for reading and commenting this week. I will try to have fun.



      • aliciajamtaas November 23, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

        Wow! Mauna Kea! My husband and I were there this summer – first time in Hawaii. Spent much of a rainy night up there watching more stars than either of us had seen since camping in the wilds of Utah. Best part was, as we drove higher, the rain disappeared and we had gorgeous clear skies. Thanks so much for sending the link. Donn and I just watched the video. What a delightfully simple “contraption” that does its job well.

  18. Suzanne Joshi November 20, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    Doug, It always seems the more complicated something is the more that goes wrong with it. I’d hate to be going some place important and have the car computer crash. There are sure to be bugs for a while. I don’t think I’d care for it. Good story and well written as always. 🙂 — Susan

  19. Honie Briggs November 20, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

    Dastardly deed! That Gerry Roper is a bad seed. This story is terrific, Doug.

  20. Maree Gallop November 21, 2014 at 12:54 am #

    Fantastic story, completely evil – I love the line “Idle hands…” it says so much.

  21. wildbilbo November 21, 2014 at 1:03 am #

    I’m very sure that Gerry will be promptly found out, arrested, then offered a lucrative job by Google or one of their competitors.


    I enjoyed your take on the prompt.

  22. David Stewart November 21, 2014 at 3:39 am #

    Dear Doug,
    that is the danger, isn’t it? You know that someone will try it if it’s at all possible. Reformatting a computer is one thing but reformatting your body when your car crashes you is another. I’m glad that more people aren’t evil like this, or tire salesmen would go around at night with an ice pick and windshield repairmen would go around with a baseball bat. I hope this isn’t a vision of things to come.
    Take care,

  23. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) November 21, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

    First Doug .. the title brought Google into my mind directly.. a brilliant choice.. and and what an evil mind could do.. What a sinister plot to get money.

  24. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) November 22, 2014 at 8:51 am #

    Fascinating piece which had me fooled. I don’t know if the guy’s evil or just a stellar business person, but he certainly took the matter in hand, and it’s nice to see Google humbled for a change. Thanks, Doug!

  25. Sarah Ann November 22, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

    This is so possible – do you have the gift of prescience? Hopefully Google will never be that powerful, but more hopefully any virus-attack would cause vehicles to slow to a halt rather than crash to one.

    • dmmacilroy November 23, 2014 at 12:09 am #

      Dear Sarah Ann,

      Thanks for your kind comment re Don’t be Evil. I appreciate you reading.

      Regarding your hope that driverless cars might slow to a halt should anything untoward happen in their ‘brains’, I feel certain that anything can and will happen over the course of development. The cars would be under the ‘control’ of a virus. That’s why the term virus has become part of the vocabulary of computer ‘problems’. They are, in most cases, virulent and no amount of hopefulness on the part of a trusting populace will change that.

      The original intent of my story was to use the play of words of the unfortunate choice of Larry Page and Sergey Brin of a company motto to underscore the effects on one family once driverless cars have become the norm. The wide variety of comments has revealed a cross section of hope and not a little fear about the way technology might be misused in our lives. Corporations will never use the term ‘collateral damage’ but that is what the inevitable downsides will be when seismic shifts in society’s method of getting around take place.

      The driverless car system visually represented in Steven Spielberg’s movie, Minority Report, is a view of one system fully integrated and running on all cylinders. I trust Steven Spielberg more than I trust the bureaucracy of government and the profit oriented mob of engineers who will implement this type of system in the real world.

      By the time this happens I will be….oh, wait, I forget, the future is happening now, all around us. No matter what happens, it’s going to be a wild ride.



      • Sarah Ann November 26, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

        I am too hopeful thinking we will develop computer systems that become immune to viruses, or react in a pre-determined way on infection. That’s the problem of being an eternal optimist.

        On driverless cars, I’ve yet to see the point, especially if only one person is in the back. There was talk in Europe a few years back about having to employ people to sit at the wheels of driverless trucks so other road users didn’t get scared. I suppose that’s akin to why airlines employ pilots. ( apologise to pilots as I write that and include this link for anyone who thinks planes fly themselves )

  26. Margaret November 23, 2014 at 6:44 am #

    I really like where you went with this. The father and son characters are a good balance. I like the pause as he’s about to hit ‘enter’, and the projected outcome at the end. (You and I thought along similar lines this week, by the way.)

    • dmmacilroy November 23, 2014 at 8:14 am #

      Dear Margaret,

      I just finished reading your fine story and could not help but think that great minds think alike…and perhaps lean toward larceny. Thank you for reading and commenting.



  27. Ellespeth November 23, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Hahaha! Now this was funny, Doug. I happen to live in the city Google is attempting to take over and saw a few of these driverless cars ‘practicing’ in a parking lot. It just reaches a point where you ask ‘what next from this crew?’, but you don’t want an answer!
    Maybe Google should hire Gerry. He sounds multi-talented…

  28. Bastet November 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    Oh my .. I think that without a Doug there is definitely a possibility that if someone decides to invent a driver less car someone else will invent a virus. Even without being a cynic just imagine if a chip went haywire … or the memory card (or whatever) went bad … etc. Modern cars are already far too electronic to be safe in my opinion. A great write …

  29. Weltchysnotebook November 23, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    Typical of mechanic’s to knock up some work for themselves. A well written story Doug.

  30. lingeringvisions by Dawn November 23, 2014 at 11:34 pm #

    Oh my, that’s terrible! I’m not sure why but I laughed while I typed that. :/

  31. Priceless Joy December 12, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    Sadly, this could be real someday.

    • dmmacilroy December 13, 2014 at 9:24 am #

      Yes, Joy, someday very soon.



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