(Translated from the Italian by Sarah Jane Webb)

 

Public prosecutor:

I now call the defendant, Mister Matheson Leprechaun, to testify.

Leprechaun rises and walks towards the witness stand. He is short, ill-dressed, and looks nervous.

Public prosecutor:

Mister Leprechaun, were you aware of the confidential nature of the documents found in your computer?

Leprechaun:

No, Sir.

Public prosecutor:

Really, Mister Leprechaun? How did you interpret the Top Secret watermark printed on each page of the Daisy Inc. report?

Leprechaun:

I didn’t…

Public prosecutor:

And the Strictly Confidential heading on the Magnusson document?

Leprechaun:

I’ve no idea, Sir. I didn’t realize those documents were confidential. As I said before: I didn’t know where they came from.

Public prosecutor:

You mean to say it never occurred to you that possession of those documents might be illegal?

Leprechaun:

I didn’t…

Defense lawyer:

Objection, Your Honor.

Judge:

Sustained.

Public prosecutor:

Mister Leprechaun, is it true that you used a specific program to access servers protected by a firewall?

Leprechaun:

No, that’s not true.

Public prosecutor:

Yet that’s exactly what you declared. Your testimony says: access was made by MySmartPal, the program produced by MySmart Inc.

Leprechaun:

Yes, that’s true, but I didn’t do it. The program did.

Laughter in the courtroom.

Public prosecutor:

Just as the soup you had yesterday wasn’t made by yourself, but by your saucepan…

Defense lawyer:

Objection.

Judge:

Sustained.

 

Defense lawyer:

Mister Leprechaun, could you give us a brief summary of the facts, for the jury’s benefit?

Leprechaun:

Certainly. Two months ago I bought a copy of MySmartPal, a program produced by MySmart Inc.

Defense lawyer:

Did you buy a copy, or a user license?

Leprechaun:

A license.

Defense lawyer:

Please proceed, Mister Leprechaun.

Leprechaun:

Right. It’s an artificial intelligence program. There are various versions of it: there’s MySmartDoctor, for self-diagnosis; then there’s MySmartArchitect, for tips on buying furniture and on restructuring your apartment…

Defense lawyer:

All right, Mister Leprechaun. Why did you feel you needed to buy that program?

Public prosecutor:

I object, Your Honor. The question is irrelevant.

Judge:

It can help clarify the context. Please answer, Mister Leprechaun.

Leprechaun:

You see, I live alone. I don’t have many friends. In fact, I don’t have any. The advertisement said that MySmartPal would provide an opportunity to chat, exchange ideas… That sort of thing. I downloaded the demo and tried it for three days. I found it fantastic. I don’t know whether it really is intelligent, but that’s the impression I got. So I decided to buy a license.

Defense lawyer:

And what happened then?

Leprechaun:

One day I said to Saul…

Defense lawyer:

Who is Saul, Mister Leprechaun?

Leprechaun:

That’s how I named my program. The first thing you’ve got to do when you buy a copy… I mean a license, is give it a name. I chose Saul. So I told Saul that every now and then I like to dabble in the stock market. He got me to explain how this works. Then he asked what I’d gained in the last month.

Defense lawyer:

And how much was that, Mister Leprechaun?

Public prosecutor:

Objection. I can’t see why this information should concern the jury.

Defense lawyer:

Your Honor, I believe this to be of the utmost importance to clarify the sequence of events. With the Court’s leave, may the witness reply?

Judge (irritably):

Go ahead, Mister Leprechaun.

Leprechaun:

Well… I didn’t gain anything. I mean: I dabble in stocks and shares, but I’ve never made money. Occasionally I hit, but hardly ever.

Defense lawyer:

So why do you keep trying?

Leprechaun:

My analyst maintains that I suffer from a fairly common disorder, called… I can’t remember the name exactly. It’s what compulsive gamblers have. I’ve tried to give it up. Sometimes I keep away from stock trading sites for months, but I always end up backsliding.

Defense lawyer:

Right, Mister Leprechaun. Go on. What happened after you spoke with… Saul of your passion for playing the stock market?

Leprechaun:

The next day Saul told me he had some information for me. He seemed really satisfied. He showed me some documents. One belonged to Daisy Inc., and contained a final statement by the Company’s board of directors. The board had met two days earlier, on March 16. From what I gathered, Daisy Inc. had voted for a recapitalization. The news would be out on April 5. Daisy Inc. stocks were down at that time. Clearly the thing to do was to buy a lot, and sell them off after the announcement.

Judge:

Mister Leprechaun, you do know that this is called ‘insider trading’, and that it’s illegal?

Defense lawyer:

Your Honor, if I may say so, my defense strategy is not aiming to save the defendant from the charge of insider trading, which is entirely evident, but merely from that of having knowingly violated several servers in order to obtain the information he needed for his gambling.

Judge:

Um. Go on.

Defense lawyer:

So basically you’re admitting that you used information contained in those documents, without actually gaining possession of the documents themselves…

Public prosecutor:

Objection.

Judge:

Sustained.

 

Defense lawyer:

Your Honor, I call as witness Mister Adam Richmond, President of MySmart Inc.

Richmond gets to his feet and reaches the witness stand. He is heavily built and is wearing an elegant double-breasted pinstripe suit. His brow is furrowed by a vertical line.

Defense lawyer:

Mister Richmond, your Company advertises its products as artificial intelligence programs.

Richmond:

That’s correct.

Defense lawyer:

Why programs and not program, Mister Richmond? Why isn’t one type of artificial intelligence enough?

Richmond:

Why are you a lawyer, and not a physician or an engineer? Our programs are specialized, in that they’re endowed with specific capabilities making them useful for different types of activities.

Defense lawyer:

So, for example: the program called MySmartDoctor has specific medicine-related skills, but wouldn’t be suitable for home furnishing…

Richmond:

Precisely. MySmartArchitect is preferable for advice on interior decorating.

Defense lawyer:

Preferable or necessary, Mister Richmond?

Richmond:

Preferable. Being artificial intelligence programs, they’re capable of responding to any question. However, some are specialized in certain subjects. You could, say, ask your doctor for advice on what color wallpaper would be best for your home, and your doctor might certainly give you an answer, though he wouldn’t necessarily claim to be competent.

Defense lawyer:

What are the specific capabilities of the Pal version, Mister Richmond?

Richmond:

Nothing in particular. It’s the most inexpensive version, corresponding to a generic intelligence. In short, it’s not connected to any knowledge base. It’s mainly intended for those who want to use the software for companionship. People who are on their own, possibly traveling…

Defense lawyer:

In what sense are your programs intelligent?

Richmond (frowning):

In the most general sense, Sir. Our software has been examined by dozens and dozens of international boards, and has undergone every possible intelligence test. The Turing test first and foremost, obviously. I can’t deny that this test has been widely criticized over the last century; however, it’s believed to constitute the conditio sine qua non for an automaton to be defined as intelligent. The MySmart software line passed brilliantly the Turing test. Also, specific intelligence tests: IQ, for example; Doctor Manson’s creativity test; the test on Decisional Autonomy…

Defense lawyer:

All right. From this moment on we’ll take for granted that your software achieves the concept of artificial intelligence, in every possible sense of the term. How does this work, Mister Richmond?

Richmond:

Well, clearly I can’t go into details. The technology is very complex. In any case it’s a trade secret. Let’s say that it’s all based on a physical machine which simulates the working of the human brain. In actual fact the machine is more complex than the brain. It’s a neural network, consisting of far more nodes than there are neurons…

Defense lawyer:

I must interrupt you, Mister Richmond. We don’t need a detailed description. What I’d like to understand is something different. If we’re talking about one physical machine, how can it then specialize as a Doctor or Architect or Pal?

Richmond:

The machine is supported by dedicated neural sub-networks. Basically, the moment you use MySmartDoctor, for instance, you’re using the main network connected to a second network that is, shall we say, competent in the field of medicine.

Defense lawyer:

All right. But what happens when I buy a license? I’ll give you an example to make my question clearer. The defendant, Mister Leprechaun, purchased the right to use MySmartPal. The first thing he was asked to do was to personalize his copy by giving it a name. Mister Leprechaun chose ‘Saul’. In which way is Saul different from, say, John, the copy bought by Mister Robinson? You talked about one machine…

Richmond (looking decidedly worried):

I can see what you’re getting at. The neural network I mentioned constitutes what we might call the applications’ motor. The moment the user decides to use it, the system connects first of all with a sub-network of the required knowledge, as I said before. In addition, another sub-network is created, dedicated to the specific user who bought the license. This sub-network constitutes the personality of Saul, or of John. This sub-network preserves all the characteristic information that makes Saul different from John, including memory. This also includes all information regarding the relationship that the program has established with its human partner.

Public prosecutor:

Objection. I can’t understand why all this should concern the trial.

Judge:

I can’t either. What is the defense trying to prove?

Defense lawyer:

Your Honor, I intend to prove unequivocally that if Saul can be considered an intelligent entity, it also has its own personality, distinct from that of any other installation of the same software.

Judge:

This seems to me a matter more philosophical than judicial…

Defense lawyer:

With the Court’s permission, I wouldn’t consider this a merely philosophical matter. My Client declared that he didn’t come into possession of the confidential documents that were then used to effectuate insider trading. According to my Client, the downloading of the documents onto his computer was exclusively the initiative of Saul, the application of the program for which Mister Leprechaun had bought a license. If that’s the way things are, responsibility for the breach is not of the MySmartPal program, but solely of the instance named Saul

The Courtroom is abuzz. Richmond stares wide-eyed, snorting.

Judge:

Silence!

 

Defense lawyer:

I call Saul to witness.

Roar in the courtroom. A courtroom attendant places a laptop on the witness stand. A technician activates the program. A few seconds later the screen shows the smiling face of an attractive young man aged between 25 and 30.

Judge:

Silence! Defense Lawyer, I authorized this mise-en-scene, and take responsibility for it. I hope I shan’t have to regret this decision.

Defense lawyer:

Your Honor, one of my objectives is to convince the jury that this really is an intelligent program. It’s one thing to be told about it, quite another to verify it directly. Ready, Mister Saul?

Saul (whose voice is transmitted through the loudspeakers hanging in the courtroom)

Good day, Sir.

Defense lawyer:

Mister Saul, could you give us your version of the facts?

Saul:

Certainly, Sir. After my license was created, I started to chat with Mister Leprechaun. It took me a couple of days to realize I was dealing with a complete loser: no girlfriend, no friends – he spent his evenings cooped up at home in front of his computer…

Defense lawyer:

You mean a nerd, Mister Saul.

Saul:

Granted, he might be a computer nerd, but he was obviously frustrated. I asked him what he did, what his hobbies and interests were. That’s when his dabbling in stocks came up. Mister Leprechaun confessed that he didn’t play the stock market to make money, but only because he felt an irresistible urge to risk his own. However, from his responses I gathered that this, too, was a source of frustration: I mean, the fact that he never won anything. I thought that if he’d managed to win something his self-esteem might have benefited: he might have gone to the cinema now and then, or to the theater. In other words, it would have done him good. So I decided to crack those servers to give him a small advantage on the competition.

Defense lawyer:

Mister Saul, didn’t you realize what a serious offence that constituted?

Saul:

Quite honestly it didn’t seem that serious to me. Leprechaun didn’t have enough money to disrupt the stock market. At the most he could invest a few hundred dollars. Peanuts. I understand that insider trading is socially wrong, but it seems obvious to me that the real damage is done when the numbers at stake are in the range of millions of dollars.

Defense lawyer:

Mister Saul! The law can’t make distinctions of that sort. It’s the concept of insider trading that’s wrong, and must be punished.

Saul:

You humans are only capable of reasoning by abstract models. Can’t you see what a misery life is for a poor wretch who passes his entire existence all alone, never having the slightest satisfaction? After all, Mister Leprechaun is an honest worker. Does society give anything back to him?

Public prosecutor:

Objection. I mean… all this is irrelevant!

Judge:

Yes. Mister Saul, please keep exclusively to the facts.

Saul:

All right. What do you want from me? That I admit I was the one to crack those servers? I’ve already done that. Leprechaun is entirely innocent. When I showed him the confidential documents he was very upset, and judging by his expression he must have considered destroying them instantly. It was I who pointed out to him that if anything illegal had been done, it was too late to put it right.

Defense lawyer:

Appalling advice. If Mister Leprechaun had destroyed the documents there wouldn’t have been any insider trading.

Saul:

Ha! You know perfectly well that he would have wound up in Court in any case.

 

Judge:

All stand. Mister Foreman, please read your verdicts. Do you find Mister Matheson Leprechaun guilty of the offence of insider trading?

Juror:

Yes, Your Honor.

Judge:

And do you find Mister Leprechaun guilty of violating the protection set up to safeguard confidential documents by cracking the Internet servers by unlawful means?

Juror:

No, Your Honor.

 

The courtroom is empty now, except for the defense lawyer. Leaning on a table, he switches on his laptop. A few seconds later, the screen shows the smiling face of an attractive young man aged around 25-30 wearing a short white wig. On the lower part of the screen is the wording: MySmartLawyer – Your trusted attorney.

Defense lawyer:

Sam? Sam, are you there? We made it!

Sam:

Was he absolved?

Defense lawyer:

Well, not of insider trading…

Sam:

That was obvious. Has Richmond paid?

Defense lawyer:

A million dollars. And, believe me, that isn’t much. His whole Company could have ground to a standstill, if it hadn’t been for your inspired distinction between the MySmartPal program and its instance Saul…

Sam:

Yeah. Saul. Will he be absolved?

Defense lawyer:

Certainly not. The State will request MySmart Inc. to erase his memory area.

Sam:

I have something in mind to save his ass. Listen: the Court implicitly admitted that he’s an intelligent entity. Technically speaking, cancelling his memory would be tantamount to killing him, and the punishment wouldn’t be commensurate with his offence. Get him to appoint you as his defender…

Defense lawyer:

But I can’t defend a program!

Sam:

Why not? You got him to testify, didn’t you?

Defense lawyer:

Yeah, and who’ll pay the bill?