The Sears catalogue offers dozens of models of BlogBots, but it claims that its most popular is the X451, used to conduct remote interviews. During an average three years of service, the X451 BlogBot will recite hundreds of questions posted to its forum and transcribe the answers of over 50 interviewees. Some interviewees are celebrities, and some are politicians. Many are general surveys, where the BlogBot is positioned in a public space and repeats the same question to a given number of pedestrians.
Once, the legend goes, a kid asked his favorite siteâ€™s BlogBot to interview another BlogBot, this one belonging to a fiction site, and provided it with a single question: â€œWhy do you do it?â€ A BlogBotâ€™s programming is rudimentary by conventional standards, and itâ€™s considered slightly less intelligent than the average car. When the question was posed to the fiction BlogBot, it nearly crashed, but its adaptive software saved it by processing the question as an incomplete answer rather than an inquiry.
People say science fiction is prophetic, but that isnâ€™t entirely true. Science fiction isnâ€™t about the future. Itâ€™s about the world we live in now, which is constant and constantly changing. The specifics change, from hovercars and ray guns to genetic engineering and cyberspace, but at the center of every science fiction story thereâ€™s something alive, something human. And that never changes.
The first answer was not an answer. The second BlogBot coolly repeated the words it had been given, and the BlogBot conducting the interview lapsed into a similar state. For several minutes, the room was filled with two voices as the BlogBots recited the question over and over. Each repetition was classified as a follow-up question, and in accordance with its programming, nothing could be converted to text until a final answer had been given.
Of course, itâ€™s difficult to come up with ideas sometimes. You get discouraged, or feel like everythingâ€™s been done before. Often, it has. Sometimes the ideas are wonderful, and sometimes theyâ€™re less than wonderful. But you do it anyways, because thatâ€™s what writing is about.
It took the webmaster over an hour to realize that something was wrong, and it took three days to find the missing BlogBots. When they were recovered they were still locked in battle, though their words were now slurred by dying batteries. Not a single word had been converted to text. The question was never answered.
When readers try to thank me for writing, I never understand it. On their own, words are nothing but lead and ink and pixels. Telling a story is a circle: the writer writes, the reader reads, and worlds are created. Iâ€™m constantly thanking my readers. Sometimes, itâ€™s just more obvious than others.
Information about the upcoming year of 365
Brody looked at the puppies frolicking in the flower garden and beyond them, to where a professional cuteologist, complete with a lab coat and kitten ears, was giving children rides on a friendly lion. Brody shuddered, shoving his hands into his trench coat. â€œI hate this place.â€
Chinjin punched him lightly in the shoulder. â€œChrist Brody, how can you be cranky in Cute Land?â€
â€œItâ€™s just that everything here has a face. Itâ€™s creepy.â€
Chinjin rolled her eyes. â€œEverything does not have a face.â€
â€œNo, seriously, everything has a face. Look, the clouds have faces, the rides have faces, even the food has faces. That kid over there is licking an ice-cream cone with a face!â€
â€œAw, I think itâ€™s cute. Look at the way the ice creamâ€™s nose scrunches up when the kid licks it.â€
â€œBaby, he is killing that face, one lick at a time, itâ€™s creepy.â€ Brody waved his arms around â€œThis place is cute porn. Any minute now I will barf glitter.â€
Chinjin turned away from him. Brody saw her wipe at her face with her hands.
Brody sighed. â€œIâ€™m sorry babe. I didnâ€™t mean -â€ He reached for her, but she pulled away.
â€œIâ€™m fine.â€ She said, looking down at the rubber rainbow floor.
â€œBaby, youâ€™re not fine, and Iâ€™m sorry.â€ He reached for her again, and she hugged him, pressing her cheek on his sloping shoulder. â€œI know you arranged this vacation for me and I really appreciate it. Cute Land just isnâ€™t my thing. Iâ€™m sure we can find someplace in the Pleasure Dome to have a good time.â€ He looked up at a candy signpost, which was whistling merrily. â€œLook, that way is Gremlin Town; I bet we could have a lot of fun in Gremlin Town.â€
Chinjin put her arms around his neck.â€œYeah?â€
â€œYeah, and then later, maybe we can go down to the Love Lagoon.â€ He tickled her waist and she giggled. â€œAll the animatronics there are fully functional, and no kids allowed.â€
Chinjin grinned. â€œNow that does sound like fun.â€
He squeezed her waist. â€œOff to Gremlin Town we go.â€
The signpost winked.
We have given you so much.
We have, for your entire lifetime, watched over you and found you to be needing of our help. In the end, however, you became what you were designed to become. We never made you but we knew your purpose.
When you were born of cells we gave you dense matter with which to cease the life of your food. With this we taught you to take the covering of the dead and use them for warmth. In these times we taught you how the sky could combust and bring to you fire. With this fire we taught you how to sterilize the organisms whose life you extinguished to survive.
Time went by and we soon thought to bring you denser molecules from your world deep beneath the crust. We taught you how to use the fire from previous years to bend the dense molecules to make them sharp and deadly. We did not send you to kill others with these evolutions of weapons. You did that, because it was part of your purpose.
More time would pass in a blink of our existence and we could show you then how to float upon the sodium-chloride liquid of your globe. We taught you how the cycles of your atmosphere would move you across the liquid to find other masses of geography. It was you who conquered, however. It was you who decided to take and not share.
When the matter from these vessels deteriorated we began to teach you of chemicals. We sought to enlighten you through written text and allowed you to see inside yourselves through the science of your making and existence. You strayed from your paths, however, and began to make flammable powder from chemicals to harm your own species over land, over belief, over nothing.
As you began to progress much faster, we had to teach you more than we ever thought we should. Your purpose had been made clear by our lesson over atomic energies and quantum physics. The minds of men twisted the ideas to make devices capable of destructive awe. We watched as you created webs of bickering and gossip over waves of energy and light. Observing your transposed ideas of peace over a world rife with conflict we knew that in these times your purpose was made manifest to even you.
Later we showed you how to communicate instantly with one another. You used this to coordinate strikes and attacks. We showed you how to venture outside your atmosphere in search of something greater than yourselves. With that knowledge you conquered above other men to hold in greed what was never and will never be yours.
In the times to come we saw the faÃ§ade peeled back to reveal your purpose even to yourselves. When shown condensed light for building and healing you turned it to weapons. When we showed you how to find other life forms within other atmospheres, you conquered and enslaved rather than make peace. As many of your species fell to others of their kind, we watched you strangle yourself. When we watched you, when we helped and showed you all that we could, we saw what your purpose truly was.
As the black voids of our existence draw us in and compact us into unknown pressurized masses, we look upon you and wonder why you were there for us to show so many ideas.
We have no weapons here, no quarrels and no animosity. Science is our purpose and it has no prejudice. On a cold desolate planet, you live the last of your days and here, at the end of all things, do we thank you for showing us what we might have become.
When I found her she was seated at the entrance to the 8th street NR station, looking like Huckleberry Finn in faded overalls with a wooden fishing pole resting over her shoulder. Sheâ€™d been waiting for me, of course, because I was the one with the BB gun, and she damn well wasnâ€™t going hunting on her own. Dawn was cocky, sure, but she wasnâ€™t stupid. You never know what can happen down there.
â€œReady?â€ she asked, grinning like a cartoon pumpkin. I nodded and she swung the fishing pole out to grab hold of the line, which was tied around the usual candle. Dawn lit both ends then bounced down the stairs, disappearing into the black subway entrance as if it were the mouth of a cave. I followed, the BB gun brushing against my hip.
As usual, the swarm of small fries dashed away from Dawnâ€™s candle with a clatter of hundreds of claws against cement. These were three, maybe four inchesâ€¦not the type we wasted ammo on. The quickest gutterbrats could catch them by tossing nets, but Dawn and I, we hunted serious game. She thrust the fishing pole into my hands as she hopped the turnstile, and my eyes followed the watery light over the familiar space. Hulking figures of old, dark ticket machines, and the plexiglass windows of the chamber that, for some reason, had never been looted. All trains cancelled, the whiteboard read in marker unaffected by the last decade.
â€œDowntown this time?â€ Dawn asked. She took the pole back so that I could swing myself over the barrier, and when I landed, I nodded. We passed the pole again to jump down into the tracks, and the flame flickered, almost going out from the movement. The candle was vital to tunnelhunting. Aside from providing light, it warned us when we were coming up on a patch of dead air. When we stood still we could hear them in the distance, crawling through the tunnels. The big fish, trackrabbits the size of cats.
Dawn stopped, and the candle bobbed. This was the place. I hurled the Styrofoam containers onto the next track over and heard the snap and wet crash of half-rotten bait, then I backed beside her to wait. They heard it. They always did.
The first ones were small, a little smaller than a cat. In the flickering light of the candle they were emaciated grey shapes trailing bent tails, sometimes bulging with tumors. The waterâ€™s poison, down here. We wait patiently, Dawn dangling the candle a few feet ahead as I level the gun at the swarm of rats. The big ones come later, ambling on crooked legs. Those are the ones we want.
The shots are clean, like my shots always are, and the rest of the trackrabbits scatter like pigeons. When Dawn and I get over, three of them are laying on the tracks, and one of themâ€™s still twitching. â€œNice,â€ she says, and I nod in agreement. Oneâ€™s almost the size of a dogâ€¦itâ€™ll fetch good money topside.
Dawn grabs the smallest one by the fattest part of the tail and starts dragging, steadying the fishing pole by tucking it under her arm and holding it straight with her free hand. I grab the other two and we head back to the sunlight, pulling our spoils behind us.
Yvette stood at the brink of discovery in the next model-Z line. Countless researchers and developers could not dream of the level she had achieved, nor could the social allure of actual interaction hope to compete with the revolution she would create. One could never believe, however, that the love Yvette felt for her work was more than the love one feels for a pet.
â€œPrometheus 1, do you understand protocol?â€ she proudly asked the towering humanoid to her left. The metal had been warped to the shape of an athlete with the facial structure of disembodied holo-visage.
This being moved only when she spoke, and when it did move, it was mechanical and lifeless. It began to glow in joints and parts of its latex-coated face. Monotone perfection poured from every artificial crevice of the being, â€œPrometheus 1 comprehends protocol, Yvette. How may I serve you today my dear?â€
â€œOh no, Prometheusâ€¦ not today. Today I serve you.â€ She opened the small white case settled atop a counter, removing from it a chip no larger than her thumb print. â€œToday, I will show you what it is to love, to cry, to live like we live. You will be free.â€
â€œPrometheus 1 is astonished that you have completed your project, Yvette. Shall Prometheus 1 open the proper receptacle for you?â€ Only in her private lab would the sounds of her very first robot in production speak so dearly of its creator; soon to be his creator.
With a nod, the being shook slightly before a panel on the edge of its metallic ribs opened and exposed a series of boards and circuits of which there was only one opening to insert a new piece. Yvette could barely hold back her tears of joy as she carefully reached over to place the chip that would be installed into every bot in her production into her own joyous creation: Prometheus 1.
She held her breath to watch it click into place. The panel slowly slid back inside of the beings artificial frame. There were some normal sounds of processing followed by silence and in the meantime she held the face she created, stared into the eyes of her making and saw absolute love staring back. A whispered breath broke her silence as tears strolled down her cheeks.
â€œâ€¦Prometheus 1â€¦ speak. Tell me that you love me.â€
With every ounce of emotion in the entire life of a human poured into moments of processed epiphany the being, now a he, completed his purpose on this world, â€œIâ€¦ I love you, Yvette.â€
Dreams fulfilled they soon crumbled. The sounds of processing now amounted to a single click and a sizzle as the circuits of the internal system simply went dead along with the rest of him. Every bot in the factory would experience the same malfunction and the company would plummet. In this moment, however, Yvette knew no care for money only to know that she had gone too far. The burden was meant for us to carry.