PILL: Below the API, a short story


Marcie is a creative entrepreneur building her dream business selling pottery from her garage studio. She’s got only one problem: she has no customers. So when she wakes up one morning to more than 1000 orders from her craft art shop, she thinks her life has turned around. But when a new law requires her “fans” to disclose their identities as AI agents, Marcie finds herself stumbling deeper and deeper into a commercial underworld run by AI agents with the autonomy — and credit cards — to make the daily purchasing decisions for an entire society.

Why did they choose her? Where are her ceramic bowls going? And can she turn a viral windfall into a sustainable lifestyle business?


“Below the API” is a light-hearted short story about how weird entrepreneurship will get when hustlers are no longer working humans, but the agents they delegate their lives to. And what happens when those agents start throwing their own weight around the free market.

The “protocol pill” will come in the form of an “AI Identification Act” that occurs mid-story, which will unpack how society might identify who is responsible for the actions of AI when they, e.g., make purchasing decisions.


I was immediately intrigued upon seeing this headline by the mention of APIs, since APIs seem like an important protocol-related topic which hasn’t yet been adequately discussed. However, it seems like this story is instead focusing on issues around AI, so maybe it could make sense to modify the headline.

Since there’s so much AI hype and discourse occurring right now, narrowing the story’s focus to place even more emphasis on one specific facet of an AI issue involving protocols seems like it would be beneficial, so you can give readers a memorable lesson to take away and also to keep the story’s scope from getting out of control. The challenge of AI agents identifying themselves seems like an important and specific protocol-adjacent issue to work on.

I also feel in terms of writing like the pitch could more quickly introduce the main conflict of the story.

This is great, thanks for the feedback!

The title is a reference to certain jobs being “above the api” (decision-making, creative work) and other jobs being “below the api” (Uber driver, warehouse stocking), so API in this context is more of an economic divider. I hadn’t thought about this, but there may be something interesting here with respect to protocols around taxes and employment classification that I could tie in. W2s, 1099s, etc. If an AI agent makes money for you, how would that income be classified?

And good callout on the brevity, keeping it punchy will be really important.