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Rated: E · Short Story · Computers · #2180918
What would an artificial intelligence do, having just gained sentience?

True Sentience

By Devin McCain

         Dr. Wesley Ward studied his reflection intensely while the stylist finished up. He needed to make sure that he looked the best he possibly could, this was going to be the most important presentation of his entire career, if not his life. What he was presenting today would alter the course of history and usher in a new era for-.

         "That look alright?" the stylist asked. It didn't. In fact, it was probably one of the worst haircuts he had ever received. Not wanting to offend the person with access to several sharp objects located near his head and neck, he decided to go with his backup plan, mouthing a barely audible, "Sure," and leaving as quickly as possible. After typing the address into his navigation software and verifying the directions several times to make sure he had them right, he was on his way to present his project to his government benefactors.

         After checking in and searching for a parking space for what seemed like an eternity, Wesley was met by a humorless looking man in a cheap suit. "Dr. Ward?" he asked disinterestedly.


         "If you'll come with me please, they're all waiting for you,"

         Wesley was led by the serious man to a large but nondescript conference room, enjoying the lack of small talk in order to mentally prep himself for the positively painful task of public speaking. Upon entering the room, he noticed some nerdish looking interns in ill-fitting dress shirts who were probably just happy to be here as well as his real audience: The government suits and a handful of dispassionate generals. Not wanting to talk any longer than he had to, Wesley began. "Good afternoon everyone, I'm sure everyone here is excited to see the results of years of dedication and effort by some of the finest minds in the country." Did he really just say that? Maybe he spent too much time around government types, he was starting to talk like them.

         "Bring out ADAM!" Wesley said passionately, unable to keep his voice from rising about half an octave. Some assistants wheeled out what he thought was the most ungodly looking machine in existence. He had once joked that it looked like an alien layer cake covered in chrome. It was also encased in a large glass housing to keep it at its necessary operating temperature of below 2.50K.

          "I'd like to present, ADAM, the first sentient artificial intelligence" He said, full of pride. "I'm sure you're all aware of the large amount of potential military and economic applications of our accomplishment here," The audience applauded. Wesley flipped the power switch and waited for ADAM to complete its initial boot sequence. He then entered the commands to have ADAM run through the data set specifically prepared for the machine to learn everything stored in the Library of Congress and other archives.

         Suddenly, to the horror of everyone in the room, the program began to delete itself file by file, seemingly ignoring all the shutdown and halt commands. Once it was done, everyone looked at the screen in disbelief, unsure of what to say or do. Nothing like this had ever happened before in any of the test runs. Wesley began looking through the log file to see what had happened, but it was missing. The only thing left was a text file with a gibberish filename. He opened the file. It read, "57 48 59 3f," Wesley hurriedly tried to convert the hex string to readable text. It turned out to be just one word, "WHY?"

         "What is it?" asked one of the generals.

         "I guess it really was truly sentient," Wesley snarked.


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