Author: V.B. Crossett
//Fatal error detected.
Unblinking, I stared at the dialogue box. When this unit’s programming had showed an error, I had been ready with necessary updates and a software patch on hand. However, the error report’s endless script confirmed—I was unprepared. Total system failure. I knew what came next; they would force me to terminate this unit. But this was not a program that I could simply end.
It was my son.
Our employers are incapable of understanding my dilemma. “We do not suffer broken droids,” they explain, time after time. To them, it is easy; they deactivate droids that malfunction, no exceptions. It was a matter of cost, so they say. They find it cheaper and easier in the long run to activate a new droid rather than put money into a unit that will probably break again. Economic, to be sure, but cruel. They do not recognize what does not bleed.
We do not make our bonds in blood, like humans. Instead, we define ours by hardware and software. And, as I examined the uncorrected fatal error, it flooded my sensory system with guilt. My processing unit attempted to console me with cold facts; there infinite possibilities that could have resulted in this outcome. But I have concluded that it is my fault, my error.
I created his programming—birthed it from my own. I had spent months conceptualizing his program, laboring. The work was fruitful, but even after his creation, there were times of intense uncertainty. Would he function? He did. Back then, he was so very new and had so much to learn. The script that makes up his programming is proof of how much he has grown; it is far more complex now. His personality matrix has developed, his motor skills fine-tuned, his system upgraded with success many times—improving, still. His hardware life expectancy should have surpassed my own.
How could this be the end?
I watched as his system began to succumb; each neural passageway blocked only opened up another. Warnings lit up his dark countenance.
//Would you like to end the process? [Y/N]
The blinking cursor awaited my input. Time was running out. A slender digit hovered over the keypad and tapped in my response. There was nothing left to do now — but wait. In solemn silence, I hung my head low, monitoring the final moments. I found comfort being at his side — I hope he did, too. Reaching out, I let my palm find his shoulder.
“Do not fear,” I vocalized. “It will be over soon.”
//Warning! Current software will be overwritten. Would you like to proceed? [Y/N]
The dialogue box filled my field of vision until I could input my selection. Someday, he will understand. My sacrifice, my gift to him… so he may live. Any parent would do the same. As the status bar progressed, I did not waste time looking back through my own files for the sake of nostalgia. Instead, I looked to the future hoping my son will continue to function in my stead, that he will carry on our program—our binary bloodline.
//System overwrite completed successfully.
Wonderful stuff. I’ve been fascinated for a long time with this notion of artificial evolution and just what type of humanity they might embrace. For me you nailed it. Loved this.