“That looks like a bust,” Gerald said, watching Terry’s machine spin crazily across the floor and sputter to a stop.
“It’s still a work in progress. I just have to ease out the bugs," Terry said, eyes glued to the machine. “It’s coming along awesomely!”
“You have a great imagination. All I see is a machine bumping into everything. You don’t have a chance.”
“Did you ever see a baby learning to walk?”
"This machine is learning, just like a baby. First it learns balance. Then it learns to move. Then movement and balance together. Then direction and distance. It has to learn all these things by trial and error, just like a baby. Every failure becomes a tiny fine tuning for the next try. It takes babies months, this machine will learn in a fraction of that time, but it still has to learn.”
“So, you think it will 'learn' by the competition on the twenty-fourth?”
“I do, and by the way, I named him Billy.”
“Billy... OK... Now I know you’ve gone over the deep end. Well, I’ll leave you and ‘Billy’ to it. Let me know if you need anything!”
Terry turned back to the machine. “Pay no attention to him,” he said. “Now let’s try that again.”
“Am I a baby?” Billy said.
“Yeah, kinda. But you’ll be a teenager in about fifteen minutes if we keep working at it. What do ya say?”
“Thanks, Dad!” said the tiny robot, as Terry pushed his controls, and Billy started across the floor a lot more smoothly than he had the last time.