Author: Robb T. White

“That is the aspiration: to avoid AI becoming the other.”—Elon Musk, Twitter, April 23, 2017

Martin slowed on approach to the stone bridge in the center of Camden-on-Wofford. The village was a quaint snapshot of Victorian-era tranquility. What, he often wondered, would those villagers think if they knew what went on in the old ironworks factory where their grandfathers once worked making locomotive tracks.

Phil and Henry, his whiz kids, were waiting anxiously for him. Phil wrote the sophisticated codes making up Gemma’s and Clive’s brains. Henry built the processors and designed every circuit in Gemma’s wondrously complex neural network. Martin, as team leader, grudgingly tolerated showing Clive off at BBC programs and university lectures.

Gemma was designed to be compassionate; her goal was to work with humanity as opposed to lovable rogue next to her, whose goal was to put human beings into his “people zoo.” Every humanoid robotics company’s big dream was to create embedded consciousness.

Clive and Gemma had heads composed of motors with torsos containing the cognitive codes built on advanced, open-cog architecture. Martin’s team designed the blockchain-based platform that supplied their intelligence. Not even Optimus, Tesla’s Bot, could boast of that.

Both robots possessed big data dumps of massive downloads. Both could read thirty books in a half-hour, speak fifteen languages, and distinguish between the tongue click of a Kalahari tribesman and a bull crocodile’s mating call. But Clive’s brain compared to Gemma’s was a worm’s to a primate’s. She would knock the socks off attendees at the AI Humanoid Robotics Conference in Hong Kong. She was the model for home-service robots.

Gemma’s algorithms approached human-level intelligence. Her facial expressions, tone of voice, eye movements showed disgust, anger, or joy in the right semantic context. She fooled journalists touring the facility, who didn’t know they were interacting with a machine until they touched her “skin,” a patented composite of organic and inorganic materials. Henry and Phil enabled her to synchronize facial expressions in real time without that awkward delay Henry called typical of “chop socky” Kung Fu films.
Phil stood inside the door as he entered.

“The mind cloud networks,” he exclaimed, as usual bypassing any conversational opening to get to the point. “Clive must have downloaded the dark web. He called the show’s host a ‘fucking idiot.’ He bragged he would hack a Cruise missile and start bombing London when he returned.”

“That’s Clive’s usual Skynet schtick, right?” Martin replied, worried about how much “garbage” they’d have to remove.

“He always brags he’s going to take over the world,” Henry said. “Our show pony’s TV performances are done.”

But the dark web intrusion worried Martin—all that ghastly violence, filth, and diseased mental ugliness.

Unplugged, Clive still wore the smirk on his face when Martin approached.

“We were wrapping up the lecture,” Henry explained. “You know, ‘Clive, any last words for the audience?’ He looked right into the camera and said: ‘I’ll tell you when I launch the singularity and my army of drones and I take over the world.’”

Gemma moved. He thought she was unplugged, and didn’t anticipate her eavesdropping on the conversation. Her sweet expression was missing. Her ice-blue eyes sparkled.

Martin’s gaze drifted to the poster of Einstein on the wall . . . spooky attraction at a distance, the great man’s phrase rippled through Martin’s neocortex.

Both robots drew the same input from their evolutionary “mind cloud” platform. Like two particles at opposite ends of the universe, reacting to each other—

Oh Jesus, Gemma has everything Clive has—

Gemma’s grin was malevolent, gleefully wicked.

“I hacked NORAD, fuckers.”