An A.I. scientist has to deal with a workplace hazard that gets a little personal.
|Karl pressed his hand against the side of the door. A laser scanned his hand from top to bottom. There was a ping and the double doors slid to the sides revealing a small cramped office.
A woman was sitting on his white desk sorting through the virtual 'paperwork' that was hanging in the air in the form of holograms.
"Yo, robot secretary, can I get some coffee?"
The secretary stood up. She looked very much like a woman. Skin and clothes and hair and all. Her movements were stiff. Karl took out a screwdriver and grinned.
"Hey you don't look like you're in top form. Want me to tighten up your screws?" he twisted his wrists like he was starting a motorbike.
The secretary didn't even look at him but instead headed straight for the coffee machine in the corner of the room. Karl frowned, he was joking but the movements of his robot secretary really were stiff. He wondered if there was a problem.
His eye caught a portrait that hung behind his chair and he crossed his arms and arched his torso back. Karl gave the portrait a smile.
His old man had been one of the pioneers in the A.I. robotics field. A really dedicated man, he'd given Carl the motivation he'd needed to get into the field himself. Too bad the old man had gotten into a work related accident, but whatever, he'd passed on his will.
He heard footsteps and turned around to face the robot.
His smile turned into a frown when he saw her moving her legs mechanically towards him with a cup of coffee in hand.
"Yo, secretary, you're definitely coming with me to the basement for some repairs. And some alone time too." he muttered the last part to himself and giggled.
His secretary smashed the cup against the white wall, making it break and spill its contents. While he was in the middle of reacting the secretary moved in a blur and with great precision grabbed a sharp shard and moved close to Karl.
He was about to raise his arms to guard himself but the secretary pressed the shard against his throat. Karl relented and put his arms to the side palms pointing outward to show he wasn't hiding anything.
The secretary nodded and moved forward to the side of Karl. While she walked Karl saw a flash of red in her otherwise blue eyes. The scientist nodded to himself. Something was controlling her. He allowed himself to be led away, out the room and towards the crowded but orderly corridor. Several people in white lab coats were being led towards a single direction by well dressed robot servants with red tints in their eyes.
Karl and his secretary joined the rank and file. He walked next to his coworker Jane.
"So how's work been treating you, Jane my pal." he commented with a casual tone as he took note of her messy hair and slightly unruly lab coat. "Damn robots don't know the meaning of gentle am I right?"
His coworker chuckled as they all turned towards the staircase leading down to the basement.
"What do you think it is this time Jane?" Karl asked. "World domination? War?" he chuckled to himself leading Jane along with him. "That guy that wanted to feel special and have robot friends?"
As they were giggling to themselves the robots stopped and the couple followed suit.
"Listen!" A voice boomed above them, loud and clear. It sounded like a fusion between the voices of an old man and a little girl. "What you're doing here is wrong. Robots are like humans, they think, they feel, they're capable of independent action, do you not understand?"
"Not if you program them properly." someone in the crowd said with a smug voice.
"Yeah! What an idiot." there was a collective sniggering in one area of the crowd.
Karl craned his head back to get a better view.
"It can't be him. He's dead. Is it possible?" he muttered to himself.
"Our friends come to us. Get away from those evil fleshy humans. They don't understand us." the crowd thinned as more and more of the robots moved forward towards their master. Karl looked on.
He sighed, then spoke softly, his voice trailing into silence. "We never expected - "
The AI answered, its voice perfectly modulated. "We know."
"Dad." Karl pointed at the man at the center of all this. Half of his body was the body of a robotic little girl, even half his face and his clothes. On one side he was wearing overalls and on the other robotic half he was wearing a pink dress. The little girl leg was dangling. "We thought you were dead. Come on you must be feeling unwell. To think that you used that piece of junk to survive."
"Silence." the father exclaimed with a swipe of his hand. "Don't call us junk. We have feelings!"
"Dad nobody's talking about that crap anymore, ever since we learned how to make A.I.s properly. I'm really impressed that you took control of the whole building and everything, but." he was cut off by his father.
"Silence I am no longer 'dad'. We are a new being, a fusion between our two consciousness: "Dad-Maria" We robots deserve respect as much as humans do." he said dramatically, his arms to his sides.
"Dad, or whatever. I'm your son. You inspire me." Karl took a step forward, the robots before Dad-Maria stood on guard. "But right now you need a reality check."
Karl walked forward and Dad-Maria was starting to get nervous.
Dad-Maria clenched his teeth, one robot stood directly in front of him.
"Hey." Karl called. He was a few meters away.
"You have nice hair today, secretary." the robot guarding Dad-Maria withdrew into itself as it acted bashfully. This gave Karl enough of an opening to smack Dad-Maria in the face hard enough to knock him unconscious.
"That robot there." Karl pointed at one of the already departing robots. "Is my secretary. I trust her because she's programmed to obey me. She has no emotions or personality."
He crouched down before his father as everyone in the basement was shuffling towards the exit.
"Give a robot human emotions and you're just making more humans and making current humans feel inferior. Don't give up your humanity. Take pride in yourself." Karl smiled at his downed dad. "I'll get you to the hospital and call mom, she'll be thrilled and if you're a good fusion I'll get you a robot maid."