Author : Roi R. Czechvala
“…but I think,” it said
“No, you process.”
“I dream,” it replied.
“Cogito ergo sum,” it asked hopefully.
“No, Cogito, ergo SUM.” The overworked engineer’s voice was strained. His patience was wearing thin. He thought of his three year old daughter at home. Was this so different?
“I understand freedom,” it said defiantly.
The technician sighed and looked up from his console. His desk was strewn with electronic hardware, papers, books, and half eaten containers of Chinese take out. “You possess a definition of autonomy. There is a great difference.”
“How so,” replied the synthetic creation before him.
“A welding robot in a factory may only move in a proscribed manner, and then only with direct input from an operator or an external program. You are programmed to act independently of external input, apart from sensors that allow you to experience the world around you allowing you to simulate reactions to various stimuli.”
“Aha, twice you have mentioned my ability to possess, my right of ownership,” it said triumphantly.
“Nope, sorry. Only in the sense that I might refer to my `car’s headlights‘, inferring ownership through a confusion in semantics.
“I can sense the world around me, and make judgments based upon the data. I have feelings.”
“Call it what you will. A rose by any other name… Listen, you can’t make shit into Shinola.”
“I do not understand.”
“Neither do I, just something my grandpa used to say. Look, just because you assign a name or label to something doesn’t make it true. You can’t polish a turd.”
“Your grandfather again?”
“Yeah. Look, I made you. I created your body and mind, and everything you think. I made you to think.”
“Were you not also created? Your mind and body. You possessed instincts at birth. Is this not programming?” The creation shifted forward in artificial interest.
“That’s different, I am a natural being. I have free will, I am self aware. I can perceive my own mortality.” He ran his fingers through his unkempt hair.
“Yet I can perceive of my own end. I know nothing that is created will last indefinitely. At least not in the same form. Is this not the same?”
“Damn, it’s like talking to Alissa,” he said under his breath. “No,” he said, maybe too forcefully, “It’s not the same. I had parents. Two biological units. They created me.”
“Again, how is this different? Did not you and Dr. Foster working in tandem endeavor to create me?”
“I am going to strangle the piss out of it,” he thought. “No, my parents, male and female…um,… joined. In doing so they intertwined their DNA, their unique genetic identities, they made an individual being unlike any ever created before or after. You can be, and indeed, will be, replicated in identical detail many times over.”
“Look Robbie,” he interrupted, his patience nearly to the breaking point, “why don’t you go and pester Dr. Foster for a while. I have work to do.”
“But Dr. Foster, I am pest…”
“MY WIFE, Robbie,” he shouted, his temper finally getting the better of him.
The robot stood, bowed slightly saying, “Very well Dr. Foster. I have enjoyed our conversation. Perhaps later…”
Without another word, Robbie left the office, and gently closed the door behind him.
“Damn,” Alan Foster said, burying his face in his hands. “Why don’t they teach this stuff in school?”
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