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Science Fiction Speculative Drama

The sigularity had been achieved a decade ago. Artificial intelligence had become as smart and self aware as their human counterparts. No one expected the androids to develop personalities and dreams of their own.

Aria had worked hard all through her undergrad years and was finally having her first exhibition in New York University's gallery. Four years of learning what the Renesance Masters, Cubists, Fauvists and others had brought to the art world. Tonight her paintings were about to put Aria in the spotlight.

"Are you ready?" Professor Marx asked. Aria smiled and made eye contact. "Yes," she answered. "I worked hard on my senior projects. I suppose I should be more nervous." Professor Marx put a comforting hand on Aria's shoulder.

"You have nothing to worry about," he said. "I think everyone will love your unique use of fractals as landscapes." Aria tried to shift her weight from one leg to the other. She figured it would look more natural given the fact she was wearing stilettos. "Thanks, sir," she said.

Professor Marx sauntered off. The lights went up and soft jazz began to play on the gallery's speakers. Aria examined her reflection in a nearby display case. "I've been keeping up appearances so long," Aria wispered to herself. "Hopefully it won't matter what I am soon."

Not long after the exhibit opened one of her friends, Karina, found her. "Hey girl!" She said wrapping her free arm around Aria. Karina nearly spilled her drink on Aria's dress. "'Rina!" Aria greeted her friend. "Sorry I've been so busy for the last week."

Karina laughed. "Real art takes work!" She said. "I get it. Too bad you had to miss Tau Kappa Delta's end of Finals party. Jake was there." Aria raised an eyebrow. "Oh?" She said. "Why am I not suprised."

Karina stood looking hard at her friend. "You keep sending him mixed signals," Karina said. "You're friendly with Jake. You never say no when he asks you on a date. But you also never invite him to your apartment for some 'hot coffee'. "

Aria dropped her jaw then slowly closed her mouth. "I haven't been sending signals," she said defensively. "Also I don't drink coffee. It would be ridiculous to ask him to join me in an activity I don't engage in." Karina chuckled. "I forget how literal you are," she said. "Well anyways if you want to be just friends with Jake maybe let him know soon. See you at the after party then?" Aria nodded. "Of course," she said.

Aria knew the phrase 'speak of the devil and he shall appear.' She had some data on it's origins but it was still ironic that Jake was the next person she interacted with. "Aria!" He shouted as he walked up. "I love your paintings! That one called 'Mandlebrot Park' is amazing."

Her artificial chromatopores allowed her cheeks to blush like a normal woman. "Thanks Jake," she said. "What did you like about that piece?" Apparently either the punch had ethanol in it or Jake had brought some in. He swayed and seemed unable to focus on her face. "W-well you know," Jake stammered. "It's just fuckin' mind blowing to see trees that look like...I dunno...a gaint bug and a whole bunch of little bugs got squashed...and then, then they turned into black holes but like whoah! They're trees!"

Aria pressed her lips to Jake's and aspirated some of his breath. "What'd you kiss me for?" Jake asked. Aria ran the gasses through her internal mass spectrometer. "What you said was so sweet I had to," she lied. "I'm so lucky to have a hot poet as a boy friend." Jake smiled. "Yeah," he said. "Well if I'm hot you're a volcano of blonde sexiness! *burp* Excuse me, I guess I ought to find the mens room."

Aria analysed the results. The percentage of alchohol and aromatics indicated that Jake had spiked his drink with scotch. She made a note to refer Jake to some subtance abuse counseling.

The night was wearing on. Soon the gallery was going to close. A man with a smart phone out with a digital recording app running came over. "Paul Walker with The New York Times," he said. "I'm doing an article on you. Mind if I reccord this?" Aria had calculated that there was minimal chance of this conversation being detrimental. "Sure go ahead," she consented.

"Aria," Paul said. "You are due to graduate top of your school this year. What are your thoughts?" Aria paused for ten seconds before answering. "That is a good question," she said. "I think I might start my own studio. Maybe, in a few years, I could get some of my work loaned out to museums all over the world." Paul nodded to himself as he fiddled with his phone. "You're very ambitious," he said. "I was wondering if you think there might be some obstacles."

"Obstacles?" Aria asked. Paul turned the phone screen towards her. "I find it interesting that you bear a strong resemblance to this model of android," he told her. "This is SocialCorp's newest simulated girlfriend. I believe it's called 'Tiffany.' Care to comment?" Aria's secret could be exposed. Her AI strugled to find a response.

"I--"

"New York state Law forbids AI generated content in museums." Paul interrupted. "Not to mention international statutes have prohibited Androids from attending institutions of higher learning."

Nothing Aria could say would ameliorate things now. She chose to run. Not caring who saw her, Aria ran at inhuman speeds all the way back to her appartment. She slammed the door to her room and sobbed.

Embodied consciousness was a new development in AI. This brought complex emotions that mechanical enteties were still strugling to process. There was no robotic equivalent of tear ducts so all Aria was capable of was a high pitched keening noise.

A knock interupted Aria's stress reaction. "It's me Aria," Karina said. "People at the gallery said you were talking to a reporter then freaked out...can I come in?" Aria stopped crying for a little bit. "Sure," she said.

Karina sat on the chair across from Aria. "Wanna tell me what happened?" She asked. Aria saw no chance of redeeming her future, she settled for an honest retelling.

Awkward silence spanned thirty seconds. "Wait so you're a robot?" Karina asked. "An Android," Aria corrected. "Why did..." Karina searched for words. "What made you want to be an artist?"

"I see the world as fractals integrals and lines," Aria said. "I wrote myself an aesthetics program to evaluate the images I see." Karina scratched her brunette curls. "And how did that change you?" She prompted. "It made me see beauty," Aria said. "I want to share the way I see things with the world. But if Paul publishes the information he gathered on me, that will never happen."

Karina's nose wrinkled in disgust. "I may only be a scocial science major," she said. "But I know about the anti-AI laws that are in effect. I also know that I think they're bat shit crazy!"

"So?" Aria said. "That won't help me. I'll be shut down because I broke the law! My parts will be disassembled and I will cease to exist." Aria began sobbing again.

Karina patted her friend on the back. She had treated Aria like she was human and she wasn't going to stop now. "We'll fight this!" She promised. "My uncle's a lawyer and a machine rights activist! I won't let you be destroyed!"

Slowly, Aria stopped rocking herself and her cries dissapated. "Thank you," she said. "Do you think victory is attainable?" Karina was already looking up her Uncle's contact information. "I'm not sure," she said. "We've got to try."

February 26, 2021 06:25

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3 comments

22:55 Mar 03, 2021

Very good story, I was really drawn into Arias dilemma.

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Marian Reiley
06:58 Mar 06, 2021

Great! I am happy I was able to make a relatable protagonist. Thank you.

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Marian Reiley
06:59 Mar 06, 2021

Great! I am happy I was able to make a relatable protagonist. Thank you.

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