I am very confused. Sounds echo from all directions into my transducers. I sense humans talking, objects scraping each other, something falls onto the ground and still more humans talking. From the voices I hear, five different humans are surrounding me - three females and two males - discussing about me. Hang on, I hear footsteps approaching. A heavyset human, a male. Make that six humans.
“It can hear us, you know,” a female to my left informs the others,
“And I expect it can understand us, too?” another female.
“Yes, I can hear and understand you,” I reply.
“Is it fully functional?” the new arrival asks.
“We’re having some issues with its visual sensors,” a second male replies, “but we expect to solve it with a system reboot.”
“Unbelievable! I can’t accept with such state-of-the-art technologies we still have bugs that require a reboot!” That is the third female human. From her tone, she is someone with authority over the rest.
“Hahaha!” the third male laughs. “Sometimes, all it takes is a whack on the machine to make it work! Hahaha!”
According to my basic built-in artificial intelligence systems, this male is rather cruel. He should not resort to violence to resolve a problem. I will show him and the others I am more advanced than they think.
“Hey, look! According to the systems, this thing is turning on its visual sensors by itself,” the same cruel male says.
The darkness, I believe that is what humans call when the visual sensors are off, gives way to some flickering. Then, there is blinding brightness. A question comes across my processors - how does blinding which means no visual input match with brightness which means visibility? I think humans are as complicated as my circuits, possibly even more so since they can organically rearrange their structures.
Silhouettes and objects appear as I adjust my lenses and filters to compensate for the exposure levels. I take in the surrounding. I am lying down in the middle of a room with white walls. I might as well be the centre of attraction. The six humans are standing in a disorganised pattern. They are staring at me. I activate my servos and sit up.
“The programming is smarter than I thought!”
“What’s it going to do next?”
“Do we need to call in security?”
“Should I do a remote shutdown?”
They all try to talk at the same time.
“Thank you. I appreciate your praises. I am going to stand now and perform the appropriate greetings by shaking your hands. There is no need to be alarmed. I am not capable of causing harm to humans. I am governed by the laws of robotics. My programming will automatically shut down if I intend to hurt you,” I try to answer them all at once but my vocal device is not able to output all my replies at the same time. The next logical move for me is to reply to the humans in the order they were said. Inefficient but necessary.
I stand and discover that I am similar in height to most of the male scientists. We shake hands and I express my pleasantries. I have a list of vocabularies to choose from which I select randomly. Human hands are so delicate. I fear if I exert too much force, I will break them. I guess I cannot do a firm handshake at this point. I add into my list to sit down with my... guardians... scientists to make some adjustments to grasp what a firm handshake is.
I look at myself in the mirror. My exoskeleton that protects my fragile circuits is shaped like a human skeleton. I guess it is easier to cover me with fake skin later on. They have not decided that I should be male or female. I can be either. Did that come out right or does it sound funny?
One month passes. My human scientists say the thirty days pass by in the blink of an eye. I do not get the logic of that phrase. Even though I have no eyelids, I have observed people blink fifteen to twenty times a minute and not once in thirty days. The person that coined the phrase must think it is a funny joke.
Ah, jokes. Another thing that I have trouble understanding. Illogical and most of the time meaningless. My creators did not have any success to get through to me but I recognise a joke because my database is loaded with all of them. I let out a laugh to satisfy my human friends when they tell one.
Today is the day I am allowed to roam the streets. Nothing surprises me because everything is programmed into me. I know where and what everything is. Still, freedom from the lab and the scientists that keep probing me is something that pleases my multi-core processors.
Left or right? I walk straight ahead instead. I leave the tallest building in the world and lose myself in one of the most vibrant commercial districts on Earth. I see humans and their robots. As I walk, I can see generations of my kind. It is like travelling through time. From blocky robots to androids that are shaped like humans.
However, none of them is as advance as me. I am the first few final productions of androids that look and function like humans. I have the latest artificial intelligence software and realistic human skins. I do not bleed but I hear that is in the pipeline for the next version. I am designed with the ultimate goal in mind as the perfect human companion. The scientists have decided that I should be a male.
“Hey! Watch where you’re going!” a man bumps into me.
I can feel his hand reach into my pocket. A thief! I let him go because I am not allowed to harm anyone. Besides, there is nothing on me to steal. I am amused, though, that my first contact with an external human is a thief. What are the chances of that happening?
I walk on. Humans are not very well organised. They do not walk in straight lines, some of them jump queues, some talk too loudly while some are inaudible. They like to squeeze themselves into transports. There is one man who appears to be late. She is chasing after the transport train even though there is not a chance in the world of her catching up. She stops after a hundred and twelve metres and starts panting. She must have senses my presence because she looks up and glares at me. I turn on a smile but she just turns and storms off.
I pass by an alley and I hear some sounds. Sexual, I believe. I turn and see a couple making out in the shadows. I go nearer to the subjects to observe their actions. Procreation is necessary for the circle of life but most of the time, humans have sex for pleasure. I am observing to find out what is it that is so enjoyable.
“What the-! Get out of here you crazy freak!” the male shouts at me.
I back away by a few steps. The female who is against the wall takes a bottle from the floor and throws it at me. The bottle crashes on my left shoulder and shatters in many fragments. I have to talk to the scientists to improve my servos. My reactions are not fast enough even though my positron brain has already picked up the threat.
“I am sorry for my intrusion,” I bow and turn to leave. I have only walk a few steps when I hear them moaning again. I cannot understand why they are so agitated. I am sure they will not mind people watching since they are in a public place.
It is lunch and I see the humans going into restaurants. Some like to sit outdoors even though the sun is at its peak. I can conclude that the majority of humans are on a self-destruct path. They like to eat food with high fats and salt contents. Their drinks have lots of sugar. Some are smoking like chimneys. Unless they are androids like me, they will have health issues soon.
I have been walking for four hours now. My battery levels are at thirty percent. As I am a new prototype, the scientists have given me strict instructions not to charge myself in the streets. I have to remain as unobtrusive as possible. My stroll today is to blend in and become a human while the scientists track and analyse my actions. It is time to return to base.