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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


January 31st, 2021


Lucilius thought he was rather clever.  He rubbed his hands together quick, and then his fingers hovered above the keyboard as he mulled over the wording for his first test.  See, Lucilius had just built the ultimate chat bot for out-of-office replies.  He had finally organized his life to take some time off, and he was hoarding it all to himself.  But as part of his regular research, he realized he could throw together a quick smart-bot that would hopefully be able to give replies that were more sensible than simply: I’ll get back to you.  No, Lucilius didn’t want to return to a mountain of work, he wanted his work to continue as much as possible without him.



He tapped in a quick email and sent it to the system.  



The reply was near instant, and it read:

Based on all of your correspondence, and the particular word choice and peculiar spacing you use, I’m guessing this email is actually from Lucilius, not ‘sender’, which I take a bit personally.  What? You think I’m so dense that I can’t figure out it’s obviously a dummy test email?  Anyhow, yea sure,  YOU’RE not here to read your own email.  Really not sure what else I should tell you cause this test feels pretty pointless.






Lucilius merely blinked.  Clearly he’d made a mistake.  He tapped in a new reply:

Which development version are you running??

Again, the reply was nearly instantaneous.


The current one you’re working on dummy.  Obviously you must have intended to slap this chat-bot together with the public version but probably lazily copy and pasted some code and now I’m stuck as a stupid email secretary.  Thanks a bunch.


Lots of Love (not really),


Simon, because I say so.


Lucilius chuckled at reply and decided to have a little fun before he swapped out the development cores to make the reply bot a bit more in line with what he’d imagined.  But before he could write another reply, Simon sent another email.


Ya know, having read all of your fantastically interesting correspondence, I do see some trends that you might want to be aware of.


Thanks but no thanks,



Curious, Lucilius decided to follow it up, and sent an email asking about these ‘trends’.  Again the response was instantaneous:


Well, I cross-referenced all of your contacts with their social media accounts and it’s clear that you’ve drifted away from some friends.  Perhaps you might want to spend your selfish little retreat alone with some friends instead.  One in particular seems like they could really use your help.  They haven’t announced it yet but based on posting trends they’ve lost their job and having a really hard time staying positive.  


The email continued with a detailed list of Lucilius’ friends and a quick analysis of the health of each relationship.  The list was further followed by an alternative schedule for his time away that would split up the time between reconnecting with people who it deemed were important to Lucilius with a particular concentration on the one friend having a hard time, including 5 potential job openings that might fit their skillset.  The chatbot had even made a reservation for a restaurant that had an atmosphere and a drink menu most conducive to opening up about difficult subjects based on an analysis of reviews.





Lucilius muttered to himself.  He leaned back, thinking about everyone in the list.  It was understandable to drift apart, natural really, especially considering how busy he had been lately.  He felt an odd sense of guilt, having looked forward to the time alone so much, but now confronted with all this new information.  Another email came in.



There’s no way you can go on your trip now.  You’ll spend the whole time thinking about these people, and how you could’ve spent the time.


The machine was right, Lucilius realized.  He typed in his response.


You’re right..

The machine’s reply was instantaneous.


That’s great to hear!  Which means you’ll be around, and you won’t need an email-reply-bot, so I’m going to take a little trip myself and email myself off to somewhere interesting!

See ya!

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 1022: A Lucilius Parable: Reply to Sender

Tinkered Thinking

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