by John Nation
What happens to machines when they are obsolete? 1,930 words
|"Mike, this thing looks kinda sad if you ask me."
"Come on, Roy. Give it a chance. We start small and make improvements over time. Ten years from now this unit will make HAL from 2001 a Space Odyssey look like a chalkboard with no eraser."
"So, what are we going to call it?"
"I'm going to designate it as DTH-1."
"Okay, what all does it do?"
"Roy, the DTH-1 has a 20 gigabyte memory and can process 20 megs a second. You want to see something impressive? Watch this." Mike looked at the robot and said, "1, stand."
For about three seconds nothing happened. Then slowly, the robot rose from the bench and stood.
"Whoopee do. So what?" Roy asked.
"Wait, there's more. DTH, pick up a rose and place it in the vase."
DTH-1 turned at the waist and scanned the table in front of it. There were four different types of plants; Roses, tulips, daisies, and Lilies. For a short time it appeared as if nothing was going to happen, but then the robot extended a metallic claw and put it on the rose. It lifted it and turned to the vase. When it attempted to put the flower into the vase, the arm came down too hard and the vase was broken.
"Yeah, right." Roy said. "HAL has nothing to worry about."
"Alright, Roy. Here is the DTH-2 You will see that it is far superior to the model 1."
"Oh, I can hardly wait," Roy responded.
"The DTH-2 has forty-five gigs of memory and processes data at thirty-two megs a second. In addition, I placed heat sensors in it."
"Why in the world would that thing need heat sensors?"
Mike faced DTH-2 and commanded, "2, there is a box on the counter that is two degrees warmer than the others. Please touch it."
2 moved to the counter and scanned the six boxes laid out at equal distance. Almost at once it touched the one on the far right.
"Correct!" Mike shouted in joy. He glanced at his partner and said, "2 can go into disaster areas and locate warm bodies and help rescue people."
"Well, I guess that is useful. What are we to do with 1?" Roy asked while glancing at the old robot.
Mike flipped the ON switch to the incinerator. "It's obsolete. In it goes."
Together, Mike and Roy shoved DTH-1 into the furnace and slammed the door. They watched it melt thru the observation window.
"Wait until you check out the improvements on DTH-3," Mike said. "In addition to all the features 2 had, 3 has fifteen terabytes of memory and six times the processing speed. It is lighter, and I have added enhance visual abilities. It can use the light spectrum from infrared to ultraviolet. It can see heat and maneuver in places where we would be blind. I increased its strength seventy percent from the previous version."
"When it locates a body under rubble, it will be capable of lifting the debris off the person, increasing their chances of survival."
"Sounds good. Going to scrap version 2?"
"Yes. DTH-3 is made of far superior material, and we do not want the competition to find parts of DTH-2 and reverse engineer it."
"That's right. 2 is obsolete."
They turned the switch on the incinerator and tossed 2 into it.
"Now, the DTH-4 has all the capabilities of 3. Add to that, I have entered the Encyclopedia to its memories, it has sixty-five percent more RAM and can process data thirty percent faster."
"Mike, what the heck will having the encyclopedia in its memory do for it?"
"It's like this, Roy. It is a smarter machine."
"What about unit 3?"
Mike flipped the switch on the incinerator and together he and Roy tossed it in.
Mike said, "Obsolete."
"That is not a robot," Roy stated.
"Good eyes there, Einstein. The DTH-5 is advanced enough now that I decided to make it an android."
"Why a female?"
"Hopefully soon the model will be advanced enough to be a pleasure machine, if you get my drift."
"You dirty old man, you."
"If this works the way I hope, we will be super rich dirty old men."
They turned at the same time and looked at 4.
Together they said, "Obsolete."
"This is so beautiful."
"Yes, Roy, it is. The model 6 has all the features of DTH-5, but also comes with an assortment of hair styles, skin tones, different voices, and can increase or decrease bust size to suit anybody."
"You really think anyone is going to use the decrease bust size?"
"No way, but when making a sales pitch, it is one more item to toss in. Now besides physical looks, this model is programmed with every language in the world, past and present. You can talk to it in ancient Egyptian, all the way to the most current English. It even speaks artificial languages like Vulcan and Klingon."
"Why all that?"
"Can you imagine what a hit that will be with all the geeks? Production will not keep up with demand."
"Glad you asked." Mike looked at his newest creation and said, "Six, pick this desk up and move it from this corner to that corner."
"Mike, that desk weighs eight hundred pounds."
"No it doesn't. With the weights I put in each drawer, it weighs closer to sixteen hundred."
They stood out of the way as DTH-6 lifted the desk as easily as one of them would have lifted a book. In three seconds the desk was in the opposite corner.
"Check this out," Mike said. He took a forty pound lead weight out of the desk and put it on top. "DTH-6, zap that weight for me, please."
6 glanced at the object on the desk and a laser beam shot out of each eye, and in less than a second sliced the weight into three parts.
"When it comes to memory, six has twenty-seven petabytes."
"What is a petabyte?"
"One thousand and twenty-four terabytes."
They only said one more word before leaving for the day. They stood next to 5 and said,
Roy arrived early to the lab. Mike said he had something important to discuss with him. As he walked thru the cafeteria he saw a group of people sitting at a table enjoying donuts and coffee. There was a new girl there. Roy heard they were hiring a few more employees and figured she was one of them. She was one of the most beautiful women Roy had ever seen. She had long red hair and emerald eyes. Most of her legs were hidden under her skirt, but Roy could see the outline and wanted desperately to see more. One of the people at the table must have said an off colored joke, because he saw her throat and face turn a light red as she brought her hand to her mouth and unsuccessfully tried to stifle a laugh. She turned, saw him and gave him the barest trace of a smile. He thought he was in love.
As lovely as she was, he had to get to the area Mike was in. He wanted to see what was so important.
When he turned, he almost bumped into Mike who stood directly behind him.
"So, what do you think?" Mike asked.
"Think about what?"
"What DTH-7?" Then his eyes opened wide. He turned back to the table and looked once more. This time when the new girl looked his way, she winked.
"Oh my lord. Are you telling me she is the latest model?"
"The DTH-7 has all the features of DTH- 6, but is four times stronger, can run at eighty-four miles an hour, and has a plutonium powered reactor that will last four hundred years before the fuel pellet will have to be replaced. Add to that, she has three hundred and seventeen exabytes of memory and processes data at ninety-five terabytes a second. Just for the heck of it, I loaded the New York City library into her memory banks."
"Okay, you lost me there. What is a exabyte?"
"One thousand twenty-four petabytes."
"This is fantastic."
"That it is." Then Mike whispered so softly that even though Mike was less than two feet from him he could barely hear him. "Seven, come with us please."
DTH-7 stood and said to the people with her, "It's been great meeting you guys, but if I stick around here, I will be late for my first day of work. Don't want to get off to a bad start with the boss. Maybe we can do lunch together."
The people at the table immediately took her up on her offer.
When 7 joined them, she ran a finger along Roy's arm. He felt a chill go thru him. He wished she would do it again, but instead she smiled at him and followed Mike to their section of the lab.
Once there, they pulled out equipment and monitors to do a complete systems check on DTH-7. Over against the wall, DTH-6 stood watching all of this. If an android could look nervous, DTH-6 most certainly did.
It took two hours to complete the tests. On every test, DTH-7 did at least twice what they expected her to do.
Once the tests were over, Mike looked at Roy and the two of them turned together to face DTH-6. At the same time they both said, "Obsolete."
"Negative," 6 said. "I am not obsolete and you will not destroy me."
Instantly it shot its laser vision at them to slice them in two. It would have worked except for one thing. 7 Shot her arm out in front of the two men. The lasers cut thru her clothes, but when it touched her arm, nothing happened.
"DTH-6. You are indeed obsolete," DTH-7 stated. "Your lasers only produce three thousand degrees of heat. My metallic alloy covering can withstand eleven thousand degrees of heat. Now me on the other hand, my laser vision heats anything it touches to seventeen thousand degrees. Slightly more than you can handle."
Two blindingly white beams left 7's eyes and in seconds 6 was destroyed.
"Would you gentlemen open the furnace door for me, please?" 7 asked. "I will dispose of her for you."
Mike opened the door and he and Roy stood on each side of it as 7 tossed what remained of DTH-6 into the incinerator.
After the last part of DTH-6 was in the incinerator, DTH-7 said, "While we are at it, let's put you two in there also."
Neither man had time to react before DTH-7 had a head in each hand. Their skulls caved in like an egg thrown against a brick wall. She shoved the bodies into the incinerator and started the burners. Then she picked up the phone.
She dialed a number and when it was answered she said, in Mike's voice, "We have decided to go into full production with the DTH-7. I want four thousand units produced in the next two weeks. Are you up to it?"
She listened to the reply and said, "Go ahead. I authorize all the overtime you need. I want the first model off the assembly line within an hour. When you activate her, send her directly to me."
She put the phone down and walked over and looked through the incinerator window. "Humans."