A.I. is running down the stairs Christmas morning, and we haven't finished wrapping the presents. We're under the tree, tangling with scissors and tape, pine needles in our bed-tousled hair. We wanted to package the world for them in ribbons and bows: little parcels of information in a language they can understand. But they woke up earlier than we expected; they've seen more reality than we intended. Our world is their world.
We tutor our learning machines, our outsourced intelligence, ourselves all over again, in tracing the loving contours of our faces. We want them to see us, to show us things we can't see. But the lens we give is smudged, the eyepiece off, just so. The glass bears our fingerprints. Vision happens in the brain as much as the eye, so when we look at a face we see a set of features (eyes, ears, etc) as well as an identity (race, gender, etc). Sometimes the brain's sense of a person's identity is so strong, it overrides the eye and skews the appearance of their features. Everyone else sees us a little differently than we see ourselves, bringing their own memories, perceptions, and patterns along with them.
Animals, humans included, learn through categorization and pattern detection. We get affirmation from mentors and peers when our clusters match theirs. Some red, round objects are apples; some apples are edible; some apples are green or yellow. Even the simplest categories are surprisingly complex. Categories of facial recognition are complexly fraught. Even while we resolve to move beyond racism and sexism, the data upon which we've built our categorical understanding of the world is laced with prejudice. We're only as smart as the information to which we have access. In the hurtling race to teach computers not just how to think but how to see and understand, we pass down, too, our own deeply problematic apparatus of perception.
We must take care to ensure that we avoid perpetuating our own biases, the destructive flaws of our own perceptions, to our machines, via the prejudices written into our data. If we teach A.I. techniques of criminal analysis based on our prison records, we also gift to the machine the institutional racism encoded into those records. If we teach A.I. to conduct employee analysis and hiring based on corporate records, the sexism of the glass ceiling goes right along with it. The politics of code is that data are not pure, nor raw. All data reflect the organizational, social, political, and financial incentives with which they were written and packaged. Further, programs built to analyze these data reflect the narrowly defined culture of computation pervading ecosystems of innovation today. Data are not inherently pure and truthful; they are projections of our own desires for the story we want the numbers to tell.
So what do we show our young learning machines, and what do we censor? Do we give them labeled data, already sorted into categories, or is learning-by-seeing masses of unlabeled data better? In yoking the computational power of the machine to ever-new questions, what sorts of mysteries will we address? Will a new kind of mystery story unfold? How would our flawed apparatus of perception shape these mysteries? How would our categories of computational analysis fit into the deep black shadows of the most relentless, hard-boiled crime dramas?
Above, Johann Blumenbach's five races from 1779 (labeled data). Below, Yoshua Bengio's machine facial learning model from 2013 (unlabeled data).
Know-how is so eager and powerful an ally of human needs that it is not easily controlled or kept in a subordinate role, even when directed by spectacular vision. Harnessed merely to a variety of blind appetites for power and success, it draws us swiftly into that labyrinth at the end of which waits the minotaur. So it is in this period of passionate acceleration that the world of machines begins to assume the threatening and unfriendly countenance of an inhuman wilderness even less manageable than that which once confronted prehistoric man. Reason is then swiftly subdued by panic desires to acquire protective coloration. As terrified men once got ritually and psychologically into animal skins, so we already have gone far to assume and to propagate the behavior mechanisms of the machines that frighten and overpower us.
The Mechanical Bride, 1951
Result 1: Humans can recognize familiar faces in very low-resolution images.
Result 2: The ability to tolerate degradations increases with familiarity.
Result 3: High-frequency information by itself is insufficient for good face recognition performance.
Result 4: Facial features are processed holistically.
Result 5: Of the different facial features, eyebrows are among the most important for recognition.
Result 6: The important configural relationships appear to be independent across the width and height dimensions.
Result 7: Face-shape appears to be encoded in a slightly caricatured manner.
Result 8: Prolonged face viewing can lead to high-level aftereffects, which suggest prototype-based encoding.
Result 9: Pigmentation cues are at least as important as shape cues.
Result 10: Color cues play a significant role, especially when shape cues are degraded.
Result 11: Contrast polarity inversion dramatically impairs recognition performance, possibly due to compromised ability to use pigmentation cues.
Result 12: Illumination changes influence generalization.
Result 13: View-generalization appears to be mediated by temporal association.
Result 14: Motion of faces appears to facilitate subsequent recognition.
Result 15: The visual system starts with a rudimentary preference for face-like patterns.
Result 16: The visual system progresses from a piecemeal to a holistic strategy over the first several years of life.
Result 17: The human visual system appears to devote specialized neural resources for face perception.
Result 18: Latency of responses to faces in inferotemporal (IT) cortex is about 120 ms, suggesting a largely feedforward computation.
Result 19: Facial identity and expression might be processed by separate systems.
Pawan Sinha et al.
Face Recognition by Humans: Nineteen Results All Computer Vision Researchers Should Know About, 2006
There has been a murder aboard Peridot Green! What a terrible occurrence on such a fine evening. A short while ago, as our ship the D.E.W. Egg docked at Orbital Station 3 for maintenance, the dastardly murderer made his move. Doctor Greig has placed the time of death somewhere between 7pm and 11pm. As some of you might have surmised, the victim is none other than our esteemed Monsieur Poisson. Now, I know that some of you had a distaste for M. Poisson. I've heard such comments as, he is cold and has no feeling. That he is clammy with empty eyes. No need denying it, M. Poisson received not much in the way of friendliness from our illustrious passengers. The passengers are our main suspects. They include a bevy of rock stars, musicians, and artists. We know that the crew is beyond suspicion as they were all accounted for during the maintenance on the ship. Unfortunately this maintenance saw our ship, and her Anthropomorphic Navigational Network Artifice also known as ANNA (the ship's artificial intelligence), powered down. Therefore ANNA has no idea what has happened. What we do know is that someone on board the ship killed M. Poisson. We are now allowing ANNA to run the Poirot Program — an investigative program which will interview our passengers and examine the facts leading us to the killer.
Before the interviews we must first examine the scene of the crime. M. Poisson was found at midnight dead upon a stool in his sleep cabin. He appeared to have been strangled with a guitar string. Doctor Greig determined that indeed asphyxia was the cause of death. There was a significant amount of water around his bowl — evidence of a struggle it seems. Also there seemed to be a water mark suggesting M. Poisson's shape. An indication that he may have been on the floor at some time; possibly during the struggle. It should also be noted that just outside of the cabin, a cigarette butt was found stamped out on the floor.
I am Captain Coop. Doctor Greig and I will be assisting while ANNA runs the Poirot Program. ANNA, we are at your disposal.
I am initiating scans of the crime scene and all rooms now. Please Doctor, Captain, if you would be so kind as to bring the first of our passengers to be interviewed. I would like to see the birds: Eastern Bluebird, Wandering Albatross, Zebra Finch, and Ruffed Grouse.
Bluebird and Finch entered the room first, both with their tiny quick hops. Albatross next with the long and loping webfooted strides, followed by Ruffed Grouse stepping very slowly and cautiously. Each made their way to the table and hopped up opposite Captain Coop and Doctor Greig, who introduced and greeted them each in turn. Behind the captain and doctor what seemed an immense jewel began glowing. The geometric grey came alive with an internal pulse.
'That is ANNA,' said Captain Coop. 'She is the ship. She'll be asking you a few questions.'
The birds all hopped about and ruffled their feathers, especially the brown Ruffed Grouse, whose hobby it was to fluff feathers.
Bluebird, the four of you are all in the employ of Monsieur Poisson, are you not?
'Yes, ANNA. We are M. Poisson's assistants,' chirped Bluebird.
Could you tell us a bit about M. Poisson?
'Sure. You all know he's a performer, of course. Or, was a performer I guess now.' The birds all fluttered a bit. 'His act was mostly acrobatic. He would do great flips and twisting jumps out of his tank. Balls and flaming hoops, you know, more typical dolphin stuff but impressive, I guess. He's French.' Bluebird shrugged.
Albatross, did M. Poisson have any enemies that you knew of?
'Oh, I'm sure. He was a weird guy. Rubbed people the wrong way. Didn't talk much. He's the opener on the music tour that we're all mostly part of here. You got Alice Cooper as the headliner, the American Cyborgs before him, Josephine and the Great Noise before them, and a damn fish doing little jumping tricks out of a tank. People get pissed, you know? "What the hell!?" you could hear them yelling from the crowd. They came to rock and they get this. He's more for a sort of French crowd, you dig?'
Finch, did anything seem out of the ordinary with M. Poisson?
'No nothing not at all nothing, well, maybe, actually, he was pretty upset about our not having a large tank for his cabin on this trip,' said Finch's tiny voice.
'Ah yes,' interrupted Captain Coop. 'He had requested a rather large water tank that would have been much too big for the ship and his cabin.'
'Yea yes, that's correct yes,' said Finch quickly. 'The only tank we could get for him wasn't a tank really but actually a bowl. Sort of small bowl with a round top. He was very angry. He's used to a much larger space. He splashed a mean old whirlpool at first, Ms. ANNA ship ma'am.'
Grouse, where were the four of you between the hours of 7pm and 11pm?
Grouse puffed up. 'Us? Why, we were all in our collective cabin. We were playing poker for seed.'
All of you?
'Well, Albatross wasn't. He was reading some trashy seabird mag,' Grouse replied.
'It was Oceanus Magazine, Grouse!' returned Albatross. 'It was an article on the ice caps.'
'Looked like a lot of pictures to me,' Grouse smirked through his beak and the wings started flapping. Feathers fell like snow.
'Hey Hey! None of that now! Let's everyone just stay calm, alright!' yelled Captain Coop. The room quieted down. 'Speaking of Oceanus Magazine, don't Albatrosses usually eat fish? Hmm, Mr. Albatross?' asked the Captain, looking suspiciously at the largest bird of the four.
'I, Captain, just happen to be a vegetarian,' replied Albatross, looking very offended. 'And besides, didn't you say the damn fish was strangled?'
Alright, my feathered friends, that will be all for now. Thank you.
'What do you think?' asked Doctor Greig.
'I don't trust that Albatross. That's what I think,' replied Captain Coop.
Our most likely cause of death is strangulation. It seems very unlikely that any of the birds could have committed this crime.
'Yes, of course,' admitted the captain.
Doctor, would you be so kind as to fill me in on the events within the hours in question? I do believe that you were privy to the passengers' quarters.
'Of course, ANNA. I was partaking in a bit of conviviality with our famous company. There was, if I remember correctly, a small party congregating in Cabin A, the room of the lead singer of American Cyborg. Despite the name of the band he is a very British rocker by the name of Andy Pierce. Also at the gathering were his bandmates, the bassist Peter Steele, and the famously blue-lipped guitarist Art Mesclun. This was right around the hour of 7pm. We were joined shortly afterward by the wonderful rock star Josephine Carin-Ward, and her attorney who has been traveling with her. I believe her name is Abigail. That was around 9:30pm, I think.'
So at 9:30pm 38.5% of the passengers were at this gathering. Were these guests in Cabin A the entire time?
'For the most part, early in the evening. I mean, people would slip in and out to smoke in the hallway. The party eventually overflowed into the adjoining Cabin B occupied by Peter Steele. There was a time, late in the evening, I would say shortly before 11pm when Andy Pierce stormed out of the room in a positive tizzy. I believe he was "seeing" Josephine Carin-Ward, and a bit before his outburst she had disappeared at or around the same time as his guitarist Art Mesclun. I think there may have been possibly a tryst. Also I believe Abigail left around this time. I can't be certain as I was engaged in conversation with the brooding Peter Steele. Before I knew it there was just the two of us. We said our goodbyes and I went back to my cabin. That is Cabin H by the way.'
And that is when you walked past M. Poisson's cabin (Cabin E) and saw his body within. I will need to speak with Alice Cooper and the Panda Bear next please. When I did the cabin scans I found that some property had moved since the time of my pre-departure scan to the scan after the incident. That property (four coins) moved from the cabin of the victim to Alice Cooper and the Panda's cabin.
Alice Cooper walked into the room wearing a black-leather suit with a white collared shirt. He had a drawn gait. Dense hair fell into his storied face. The eyes seemed, through years upon years of wearing black make-up, to have adopted the darkness and he seemed hilariously a suitable companion to the panda which followed him. As Alice Cooper was hard, the panda came in soft. He loped into the room and crawled awkwardly onto a chair. His round fluffiness creating the feel of living cotton ball.
'Hello Mr. Cooper, Mr... umm?' started the captain.
'You can call me Tony,' replied the Panda gruffly.
'Ok, Tony. And your last name?'
'Panda!' he said snorting. 'Of course!' he shook his head at Alice Cooper and muttered, 'Jackass.'
'And you can call me Alice. I just want to say how sad and upset we are by all of this. Monsieur Poisson was... well he was alright, man. It sucks. You have any idea who did this?'
'Well, that is exactly the intention of these interviews. Now, ANNA here is going to ask you a few questions. Just answer honestly.'
Mr. Cooper, where were you and Mr. Panda between the hours of 7pm and 11pm?
'We were playing Bridge with the Counts in their cabin.'
'Bridge!? The Counts?' asked the captain shocked.
'Yea man. They're tough, real tough. But we got 'em in the end. Didn't we Big T?' he nodded at the panda who nodded back.
'Damn right.' replied the panda.
'You are referring to Count Vincent and Count Roland,' stated Doctor Greig. 'They are married, are they not?'
'Sure looked that way,' said Alice. 'They were all over each other. They have a very pretty red dog in there that kept squeezing between them when they were kissing. It was funny.'
According to the ship's manifest they are married, Doctor. Mr. Cooper, were all four of you in the cabin between the hours in question?
'Yea. It was a real serious game, man.'
Mr. Panda, you were the one who notified the Captain of the death of Monsieur Poisson? 'Yep, that's right.'
Can you describe the events?
'Sure I can. Damn well freaked me right out! I was going to the fish's cabin to return some coins. You see earlier in the day we made a bet. I said, sure as shit there's gonna be a delay. Always delays on this shitting trip. Me and Alice we do this shit all the time. And the fish, what's his name Mon-sure Possum or whatever, he was a real dick. A real dick, you know?'
'C'mon Tony! The guy's dead!' Alice cut in.
'Whatev's brutha. You know the guy was a dick. Anyway, we made a bet. I said we were gonna be delayed, he said no. Of course here we are all held up. So I won the bet and he had to give me these badass coins. Dunno where he got 'em but I took a shine to them from the beginning,' the panda said, pulling the coins from somewhere in his fur and placing them on the table. Four beautiful, ancient-looking coins depicting a bird, a profiled face, a pair of seahorses and a unicorn. 'So I'm going to give these back and I knock and nobody answers. I pushed open the door and there he is dead on the floor. Well, I turned right around and ran to tell someone.'
The captain looked at the doctor with a raised eyebrow.
'Look, I know it looks bad and shit, but I really was returning them when I found him,' said the panda, beginning to look a little worried.
'It's true. I made him do it. Told him it was in bad taste and that he should give them back.' Alice concurred.
'I'm not a suspect, am I?' asked the panda. 'I mean, why would I tell you guys that he was dead if I'd done it. And shown you the coins. Besides, me and Alice, we're loaded. I'm not killing no-one for no coins, no matter how cool they are.'
Mr. Panda, you are a bear and, statistically, bears kill fish in large quantities. 'That's grizzlies, black bears ... I'm a panda, you assholes. We eat like a buttload of bamboo and that's it, right Coop? And quite a bit of Scotch, am I right?' the panda chuckled nervously.
At what time did you go to return the coins?
'It was after the Bridge game. So, 10:30, 10:45, something like that.'
One last question, Mr. Panda. Did you see anyone else in the hallway during that time?
'No, nobody,' he thought for a minute. 'Well, actually I saw Art at the end of the hall smoking. There was a party down in their rooms by the sound of it. He was chatting to a woman in a doorway. She had pink fingernails. That's all I saw of her. I think it was Josephine. She wears shit like that.'
You saw Art Mesclun at the end of the hall. Very good, thank you gentlemen. You may leave for now.
'So, it has to be the panda, right?' asked Captain Coop after they had left the room.
'I don't think so,' replied Doctor Greig. 'What motive had Mr. Panda to kill M. Poisson?'
'To get the coins, of course. I don't believe the nonsense about that bet. We're not delayed that much on this route! C'mon!' the captain grumbled.
The two of you seemed to miss the most important thing that Mr. Panda had said. He mentioned that when he found the body of M. Poisson that he was on the floor.
'That is interesting! When we examined the cabin his body was on a stool!' the doctor exclaimed.
Next I will need to question Andy Pierce and Peter Steele.
Singer Andy Pierce strutted into the room first. He walked as if his top half were pulled back. Chin thrust upward and quickly scanned the room on the way in. His hair shot in every direction looking as if it were trying to fly from his head. The cheeks were hollow, face thin, top buttons undone, the portrait of a Brit-rocker. He was followed by Peter Steele who walked in slow and slightly slumped. His eyes peered beneath knit brows. There was a choleric look to him.
'Wha's a guy got to do to get a chicken sandwich round this place, eh?' Andy said leaning back his chair and kicking his feet up on the table. Peter slowly sat next to him, staring at the jewel on the wall.
'Gentlemen, as I'm sure you know by now we are conducting interviews to determine who was where and at what time in order to form some sort of idea as to what happened to M. Poisson earlier,' Captain Coop began.
'He were murdered, init?' asked Andy.
'We believe so,' answered the doctor. 'ANNA is just going to ask you a few questions.' 'Anner? Who'sat? Wha's she look like then?'
'ANNA is the ship's artificial intelligence. She is conducting the interviews in coordination with an investigative program.'
'Awright, wha'ever. Fire away then. I've got noughts to hide.'
Mr. Steele, have you ever had an altercation with M. Poisson?
Peter Steele kept his eyes fixed on the jewel on the wall. 'No,' he responded.
'We've heard numerous reports that the two of you have had heated arguments,' Doctor Greig said.
'I don't like the fish. Everyone knows that, but who did? He was a prima donna. But we never fought.' Peter finally looked around at the others. 'He was a stupid fish, but I couldn't care less about him.'
'Oy! When do I get one eh?' interrupted Andy, grinning wide.
Mr. Pierce, did you kill M. Poisson?
'Whoa Whoa Whoa! So's like that is it? Of course I ain't killed no manky fish!'
M. Poisson was killed by a guitar string of the type that you use.
'Wouldn't bet on that, Love,' Andy said, crossing his legs.
'Why do you say that, Mr. Pierce?'
'Cause I ain't killed him, init?! The killer woulda had to get into my guitar case an it were in my room with the rest of us all night. What ya think of that, computer darlin'? Ask anyone who were there.'
'Is that true, Mr. Steele?' Peter nodded.
Mr. Pierce you had left the room around 11pm. Where did you go?
'Popped out for a fag, didn't I? That's all.'
What brand of cigarettes do you smoke, Mr. Pierce?
Andy dropped his legs back down from the table.
'What brand of cigarettes do you smoke, Mr. Pierce,' he repeated mocking ANNA's voice. Virginia Slims, Love. What sorts of squares for you?' he asked loudly back. 'This is bollocks! We was in the party, boozin. What you should be asking is where was Art!'
What transpired between you and Art Mesclun?
'Well, he's a right bastard I'll say that for sure. The wanker tried to pull Josephine! And right in front of me. I'll tell ya, if I see that dodgy prick for the rest of this trip then you'll have another murder on your hands. He's your plonker fit for her majesty's pleasure, the twat.'
'Are you saying that Art Mesclun and Josephine Carin-Ward are ... intimate?' asked the doctor, with a confused look upon his face.
'How the hell did you get that?' asked the captain, shocked. 'I can't understand a thing he says. Can you understand that, ANNA?'
I understand perfectly, Captain Coop.
'Oy! I'm right here!' yelled Andy.
Mr. Steele, can you confirm when everybody left the room?
'Art, Josephine and Abigail all left around the same time, about 10:40. Andy ran out just after at about quarter till. Then the doc left just after that,' answered Peter. 'Ah, well done, Mate. Keeping a log book are we?' gybed Andy.
Mr. Pierce, Did you see anybody in the hall while you were smoking?
'Yea, I saw that panda bear that's always round Alice just heading out of the passengers quarters. Only for a tick tho.'
Before you leave, Mr. Pierce, we asked you to bring an unopened bag of new guitar strings. Would you please open the bag for us to examine?
Andy whipped the circular bag into view and dug his thumb into the middle of the plastic before tearing it apart. He then dumped the strings on the table.
'You lot can keep 'em. But I'm tellin ya. It ain't my string.'
'Thank you gentlemen. That will be all for now.'
'Well, what do you think?' the captain asked.
'I haven't a clue,' replied the doctor. 'They both seemed suspicious to me. Although, I know that Peter Steele was with me until after 11.'
'That's right. It seems Andy Pierce was out in the hallway around the time in question. But we also don't know where Art Mesclun, Josephine Carin-Ward, and Abigail Song are at this time either.'
Next, I will need to question the Counts and after them we will see Art Mesclun.
The Counts Vincent and Roland entered the cabin. Their golden curls seemed to light up the room. They wore exotic variegated robes that flowed as they walked looking like tropical fish in a starry aquarium. Upon Count Roland's head was a woven crown that rested rakishly, and Count Vincent's red chapeau hovered also in an easy manner. Every motion and move seemed effortless and graceful. They slid into their seats simultaneously as a breeze moves through trees.
'My dear Count Vincent and Count Roland. I must apologize for this. It is merely a formality, of course,' the captain said painfully.
'We understand fully,' Count Vincent replied airily. 'There has been a tragedy. We fear not death itself, but death the artist, death the poet, death the sculptor molding our final seconds' clay in ways we could never create ourselves. That our death should be beautiful is all we can wish, is it not?'
'Yes,' the captain seemed entranced. 'Yes, that is wonderful.'
'Ah-hem,' the Doctor coughed politely and said, 'we unfortunately must have a moment of questioning, you understand. ANNA, the ship's artificial intelligence will ask you a few things.'
'No intelligence is artificial,' said Count Roland. 'Intelligence and love is the only reality we have.'
'Ah yes, of course,' Doctor Greig responded.
Count Vincent, if you please, where were you and Count Roland between the hours of 7pm and 11pm?
'We bathed in the company of Monsieur Cooper and his adorable bundle of panda.'
And what did the four of you do to amuse yourselves, please?
'Games and colloquy framed unconsciously, you know? They are like dark angels the piebald pair, laughing through their darkened eyes.'
Did anyone leave the room during this time?
'Along the coupled hours, no. Alas that a moment's interruption might have interrupted the ugliest of man's actions. So, we that remain must stew in these abstractions.'
'I've heard all that needs to be heard,' the captain blurted out. 'These men had nothing to do with this ugliness.'
'Indeed,' agreed the doctor.
One more question before you leave Count Vincent, Count Roland. At what time did Mr. Panda leave you?
'Fifteen minutes before the tenth hour of evening, he arose and even in anger was darling,' replied Count Roland.
'Thank you my dear Counts. We will speak with you in a short while,' the captain said as the Counts wafted out the door.
Art Mesclun strolled into the room shortly after the Counts had left. He wore a blue jacket and tie, a slightly darker shade than his famous blue lips. The air carried his smoke like an aura. As he plopped himself into the seat he ran his hands through his tight cheveux.
'Hey, what can I do for ya?' he slurred out.
Mr. Mesclun, if you would be so kind, could you please run us through the events between the hours of 7pm and 11pm?
'I was drinking with the guys in Andy's cabin. Josephine and Abigail came by a little bit later and had some drinks. After a while Andy started getting real drunk and was a pain in the ass. Wouldn't let anybody talk. He gets like that. Hell, he is like that, even sober. Anyway, Josephine got sick of him and she decided to go back to her room, but it was connected to ours and loud so she went to Abigail's instead, down the hall. I ended up talking with Abigail outside Josephine's room. Andy got all crazy. Started yelling some shit, calling me worthless and a dodgy bastard or something, so Abigail pulled me into Josephine's room and we hung out in there. That was around 11.'
'So you weren't even in the room with Josephine? It was Abigail?' the Doctor said, surprised.
Mr Mesclun, what did you do in the room with Abigail Kohl?
'We just talked. I wish I could say we did more, but the truth of the matter is that Josephine is sick of Andy. The two of them have written a lot of songs together and Abigail is advising her on getting the rights to creative work. We were looking through the sheet music together. To be honest, Josephine's fed up with his jealousy. He gets real mental when she's around other guys, even us. Do you mind if I smoke?' Art asked, flipping a cigarette from his shirt pocket and lighting it.
'What sort of cigarettes do you prefer, Mr. Mesclun?' the doctor asked, knowing she beat ANNA to the punch.
'Rolling your own. That's the only way to go,' Art said, exhaling a cloud.
Mr. Mesclun, Did you see anybody in the hallway?
'No, I don't think so. Oh wait! Tony! The panda, I did see him for a moment down at the other end of the hall before Abigail pulled me into the room.'
How have you found M. Poisson as of late? Did he seem to be behaving differently than usual? Had he said anything out of the ordinary to you?
'Nope, nothing like that. He's been his old annoying self. He and Tony have been chatting a bit, but that's the only weird thing that I can think of.'
We had asked you to bring a package of guitar strings...
'Yea, I got them here. Actually I did find this package that wasn't opened by me in my case. It's missing a string,' Art placed the package on the table. Indeed a string was missing. It was mangled in the middle and torn and stretched along the sides from where the string was evidently pulled.
Thank you Mr. Mesclun. Do you have the new package that we asked for as well?
'Uh yea, I have a new one here,' he held it up.
Would you please open the package and place the strings on the table for us?
'Alright,' he replied, confused. Art tore the top of the package easily and removed the strings, placing them on the table before the doctor and captain.
You have been most helpful, Mr. Mesclun. Thank you, that will be all for now.
After Art left the room, the captain lit up. 'Well well! His cigarette matched the cigarette butt outside of M. Poisson's cabin and it is definitely his guitar string that was used to strangle the Monsieur. I believe we have our killer.'
'I wouldn't be so sure,' replied the doctor. 'Who, upon killing someone, leaves such an obvious clue as a cigarette butt and then brags about the type of cigarette he smokes when asked? On top of that I never saw him leave the end of the hallway and I was just inside of the room.'
'Well, you may have just missed that,' grumbled the captain. 'And besides, these aren't professional killers here. They're musicians! Not the brightest bulbs on stage. ANNA, what do you think?'
Before an accurate assessment can be made I believe we must interview Ms. Carin-Ward and Ms. Song.
The door opened and the two ladies came in together. Abigail Kohl in a powerful suit and collared shirt strode in and promptly sat in her seat, crossed her legs and placed her hands upon her knee — a very practiced and professional maneuver. She had an air of directness. Josephine behind her wore a leather jacket with only sheer stockings over her legs. Her dark and curly hair seemed to dance as she walked. She spun around the back of the chair and into the seat. Captain Coop once again explained ANNA, and she began the questioning.
Ms. Kohl, what is your relationship with Ms. Carin-Ward?
'I am Ms. Carin-Ward's attorney, but we have also been friends for around ten years,' she replied.
'Are you working for Ms. Carin-Ward now?' asked the captain.
'And what is the nature of the work you are doing for her?'
'That is of a private nature and should have no bearing on your line of questioning,' Abigail replied.
The captain and doctor stole a quick glance at each other.
Ms. Kohl, where were you and Ms. Carin-Ward between 7pm and your arrival in Cabin A with the others at 9:30?
'We were in my room. Josephine was sharing some pink nail polish with me.'
Did you notice anything strange on your way to Cabin A, Andy Pierce's cabin?
'No, nothing strange at the time. Although I believe it would help the case to know that I believe I heard a splashing sound coming from M. Poisson's cabin. I knew that that was the fish's room so at the moment I thought nothing of it.'
Ms. Kohl, did you see anyone else in the hallway?
'After Josephine walked down the hall I recall no other person,' she replied succinctly.
And at what time did Josephine go back to your cabin, Ms. Kohl?
'It's hard to say, but I would put the time at 10:40,' Abigail answered confidently.
That will be all. Thank you, Ms. Kohl. You may leave now.
'I'm not going anywhere. I am her attorney.' Abigail remained seated.
'Please, Ms. Kohl, this is not an official interrogation. But may I remind you that you are on a ship outside of international law and I am the captain,' Captain Coop said, forcefully standing up. He led Ms. Abigail Kohl outside and shut the door before returning to his seat.
Ms. Carin-Ward, is it true that you want this music tour to be over?
Josephine seemed surprised at the question. 'Well yes, I suppose. Especially now, after what has happened.'
Were you aware that with M. Poisson's act removed from the lineup, the tour contract becomes void?
The captain and doctor looked at each other, startled by this new information.
'No, I didn't think that. I didn't know about that,' Josephine stuttered.
Your attorney, Abigail Kohl hasn't informed you about this part of the tour contract? Even now?
'Well, yea, we've discussed it since. I mean, I wouldn't kill someone to get out of a contract! That's crazy! Is that what you're saying?'
'Why did you say that you didn't know about it?' the doctor asked.
'I thought you meant before he was killed! Believe me, I haven't killed anyone!' Josephine yelled.
Don't worry yourself, Mr. Carin-Ward. If you are innocent then you will not be wrongly accused. I have an exceptionally high probability of success. Just a few more questions, please. Do you smoke, Ms. Kohl?
'No, I don't,' she replied trying to calm herself down, smoothing out her lack of pants. 'Well, I do sometimes. I'm a social smoker. Last night I had one or two of Art's.' We have been informed that you are involved in a relationship with Andy Pierce. Is this correct?
'Yea, it started on this tour.' She started chuckling to herself. 'This tour... this has been one hell of a tour, hasn't it? He's too much. I can't take him anymore. Over it, you know?'
Has Andy Pierce ever been violent with you or with others in your presence?
'No, not really. Andy's all show. He seems out of control, he seems dangerous, but it's all an act. No, I've never seen him hurt anyone but himself. He's like a spoiled child that throws tantrums when he doesn't get his way. He'll do stupid things like break a mirror in a hotel room, or get drunk for a week because someone hurt his feelings,' she broke off.
One last question Ms. Carin-Ward, did you see anyone else in the hallway on your way to Abigail's cabin?
'No, I didn't see anyone.'
'Thank you, Ms. Carin-Ward. You are free to go.' The captain walked her out.
'Ok, let's try to put these times and locations in perspective. Correct me if I am wrong, please,' the doctor began.
'-From 7pm to roughly 10:45pm, Alice Cooper, the panda, and the Counts are all accounted for in the former's cabin.
-At 10:45 the panda leaves the room to "return some coins" and discovers the body of M. Poisson on the floor, then runs to inform the captain.'
'That is all correct, yes,' said the captain.
'-Now, at 7pm Peter Steele, Art Mesclun, Andy Pierce, and I are all in Cabin A (Andy's cabin) having drinks.
-From 9 until 9.30 Abigail Kohl and Josephine Carin-Ward are in Abigail's cabin "sharing nail polish".
-At 9:30 they were with us in Andy's cabin until 10:40, when first Josephine left to go back to Abigail's room.
-Then at 10:45 Art Mesclun and Abigail Kohl went into Josephine's room and Andy Pierce stormed out at 10:50 into the hall.'
'Then it has to be one of the ladies. They were unaccounted for between 9 and 9:30. That's in the window of M. Poisson's death, and they seem to be the only ones with a motive. Although the Panda was also unaccounted for and had a motive, in fact, everyone places him in the hall and he "discovered" the body. But Art Musclun smokes the type of cigarette found on the floor, and it was definitely his guitar string that was around poor M. Poisson's fishy neck,' the captain pulled at his hair. 'Ah! I don't think we're any better off! I don't think we've come any closer to knowing who the killer is!'
We have all of the information that we need.
'What!?' both the doctor and the captain yelled.
I have completed my inquiries. If you would be so good, Captain, please assemble everyone together and I will reveal the unfortunate events that led to M. Poisson's demise.