The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 17


It was the 24th of April, 2001, a normal day, just like any other. I was at ‘work’, busy as usual with my AI program, when a new email arrived. The sender was Kirsty Cooper! My heart started pounding with excitement; I hadn’t heard from her since the hypnotist show. Unfortunately I soon discovered that it was only a forwarded email that she had sent to her entire address book, but I was still happy, and a bit confused, to find out that I was in her address book, and it made me wonder how she had found my email address.

The email was originally sent by someone in Zimbabwe, a country to the north east of South Africa where terrible things were happening that no-one seemed to be able or willing to stop. This is the actual email that I received:

It is terrifying to think what the government will do after this. I am not exaggerating. They are destroying houses all over Zimbabwe without giving the owners a chance to remove their belongings! My cousin, Philip, was the latest victim. They have lost their four bedroom house, along with all of their possessions, and now live in my garage! They weren't even given a reason!

We cannot leave.

I know you may think that there is not much that you can do, but I need you to know this so that you can spread the truth and maybe someone will be able to help us. We have been praying every night with no result, but maybe if everyone was praying together, God might notice.

If you know anyone with any kind of power, I beg you to forward this to them. By doing so, you could be saving millions of lives. I believe that the difference between being good and evil is not just about what we do, but about what we don't to, and right now, we NEED you to forward this email on, and we NEED those in power to come to our aid, and we NEED our president to have compassion.

We have long queues for petrol, thousands of people sleeping outside in the cold, without access to food or water. Our government has gone completely INSANE!

People knock on our door nearly every day, begging for a home to live in. I can't help them. There are already twelve people living in my house! The bills are doubling every month. It just feels completely hopeless.

We used to listen to the news on SW radio, but now there is only static. Reporters are not allowed to do their jobs, photographers are being arrested and the news in the newspapers are complete fabrications.

Please! I'm begging you to do EVERYTHING you can and use your talents, contacts and opportunities to save us and help protect Zimbabwe from genocide. PLEASE!

As I read the letter I remembered Jacques, my old friend who used to sit next to me in maths. He had left for Zimbabwe back in 2002 and I hadn’t heard from him since. I wondered how he was doing.

While remembering him I was filled with a desperate urge to do something to make the world a better place. Thinking about how much good I could do and how much better the world could be if I were able to write an artificially intelligent program contributed to me eventually spending nearly every available moment working on it. I had become busier at work and so from then on I would make a copy of my AI program every day, and take it home to do most of the work during the evenings. I believe that if it had not been for that email I would have spent my evenings playing computer games, or watching movies, and my life would have been completely different.


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