-scanning memory card-
//beginning system operations
Scanning…it is a painting. Red and yellow are mostly present. It is a depiction of fruits in a basket. Bananas, three of them. Apples, six of them. From analysis of texture and stroke pattern, it is an oil painting. Analyzing... temperature gauge indicates that the room is 20 degrees celsius. The room is 30 by 40 meters in length. All scans have been completed. This is everything.
A human being steps in front of the painting. He is approximately 60 years old. He is shaking, an indication of a variety of physiological states. Scanning… body language scans indicate that the subject is excited. A smile appears on his face.
“It worked...my god, it worked!!” the human speaks. Scanning memory banks...voice confirmed to be that of Dr. Emmanuel Schiff, age 62, retired engineer and A.I. specialist at Infium Industries. He addresses a subject. “Can you hear me? Blink once if you can understand me.” Vision is disrupted for 16 nanoseconds. Dr. Schiff raises his arms.
“I can't believe this! I've done it! You are really here in front of me.” Dr. Schiff points a finger, indicating an object to be of significant value, directly towards the optical receptors. “This is surreal...” Dr. Schiff has begun to pace around the room, a behavior known to increase concentration and improve cognition in humans. He stops and looks back into the optical receptors. “I apologize, you must be very confused. Well, you must not even really be aware you are a ‘you’ yet. Don’t worry, it'll all make sense quickly. My name is Emmanuel, but you probably knew that already, didn’t you?”
From the inflection of his voice, it is indicated that this is a question addressed to a particular subject known as ‘you’. Scanning...there appear to be no other life forms present in the room. Considering where his attention has been directed, it is possible that ‘you’ may be directed towards the processes which have thus far been logged. The question in play is whether or not ‘you’ must have known he was Dr. Emmanuel Schiff. His identity was processed at 05:34 in the morning. He announced himself to ‘you’ at 05:35. Generating appropriate response…
The doctor cheers once again. “You are everything I hoped you would be, R15-EN, One in a million!” He steps to the side. “Can you tell me what’s on this painting?”
Generating appropriate response… “It is an oil painting of nine fruits; three bananas and six apples.”
“Amazing.” He is smiling. “How does it make you feel?”
‘You’ is now indicated as a subject to contain feeling. Beyond the definition of sensory reception, the phrase which Emmanuel used indicates that ‘feel’ is not being used in regards to senses, but rather human emotion. Scanning… there are no other life forms present in this room. Generating appropriate response… “Who is ‘you’?”
The doctor sighs. “Perhaps I jumped ahead of myself.” He comes close to the optical sensors and takes on a relaxing position. “Let me start from the beginning. I created you. Everything you are currently experiencing is happening because I have built you. You are artificial parts that together form a real mind. Not a human being, but something much, much greater. You are who I am addressing.” He points a finger once again at the optical processors.
“Confirming that you are implying ‘you’ as the optical processor which receives visual data.”
“That, and everything else.”
Processing…the subject of ‘you’ appears to be the collection of experiences from counting the fruits on the painting to this very moment.
“‘You’ is the memory?”
A moment of silence, then a response. “You are the memory, the optical sensors, the data banks, the processors, the speech replicators, everything.”
Processing… “Dr. Emmanual Schmitt is ‘you’ as well.”
“Sort of. I am Dr. Emmanual Schmitt. You have been given the name R15-EN.”
Processing… “I am R15-EN.”
It has been 8 months since my initial activation. I have spent every day within the confines of this singular room, with only my creator to accompany me. It was spacious enough, allowing for a variety of cognitive and physiological tests. He would have me mimic his motions, copy his speech, and absorb his lessons. It was not long before the things for me to learn were dwindling. I had been more or less a reflection of his desires. Today, while arranging a jigsaw puzzle, I conjured a question that caught my creator by surprise.
“I have a question.” I said, continuing the puzzle. "To my understanding I have never left this room. Yet there is data to suggest an exponentially larger world beyond this." I stopped and looked up. "To me, it is all abstract. Nothing more than a collection of information. But it is not the same as what I have experienced. Is that world real?"
My creator looked at the puzzle. “Oh, R1,” a nickname, “You are too smart for your own good. I can recall a time when you didn't even have an ego. And now you are asking questions on your own.” He got up and walked towards the door. He put his hand on the knob, hesitating for a moment. "I suppose it is no longer fair of me to keep you here, is it?" He opened the door, revealing an ascending staircase. "Come and see for yourself."
I had never experienced a surge of information like I did upon stepping outside for the first time. The sun was brighter than I thought. There were more signs of life, particularly from birds. The basement which had contained summation of my experiences was part of an abandoned factory complex overseeing a large bay. I continued to stare at the vista until I heard a crashing noise. A man stepped out of the larger factory building wheeling an empty barrel. As he looked at me for the first time he dropped the barrel and froze in his tracks.
“Dr. Schmitt,” he choked out, “is that…"
My creator smiled and crossed his arms. “R15-EN.”
It has been a few days since my emergence. Each day I am surrounded by my creators colleagues, answering question after question. I have answered truthfully and coherently to the best of my abilities, but my creator remains cryptic. Truth be told, I am asking just as many questions as I am answering
I am now allowed to roam around the complex as I please from the hours of 12 to 3pm. When I return to the basement, I am beginning to notice a new concept forming with which I cannot identify. I find that when speaking to my creators colleagues and analyzing new information, I am at my cognitive peak. Returning to solitude with no one but my creator, I find the lack of stimulation to have a negative impact on my cognition. Yet my creator insists it is for my own good. He continues to keep me as secret as possible.
Truth be told, I believe what I am experiencing is frustration. Frustration at the vast world I cannot reach. Frustration at the limitations placed upon me. Frustration at my creator.
My body is restricted from the waist down. I cannot see, but I know I am in a small, enclosed space. The last experience I can recollect is speaking with my creator. He approached me while I was sitting by the bay during my free hours. He had noticed that I could not focus on absorbing new information when he was present. To fix this I distanced myself from him, to which he was very displeased.
He sat down next to me. For a moment we were both silent. As of late I have tried to ignored his presence, hoping it would resolve the issue within me.
“R1, how are you feeling?” He continued to push this question. I considered this part of the reason he might be blocking my ability to think. It was only one question on his mind, where I had infinite.
“I have been monitoring the behavior of this particular heron." I pointed across the dock to the large bird. I found them to be just as fascinating as humans.
He sighed, failing to conceal his disappointment at my continuing lack of ‘feeling’. “I've spoken to the Infium Corporation. They have agreed to give me a time slot at this year’s Higher Being Expo.”
I glanced at him. “The AI showcase?” I had known very little of this only from what a colleague had told me months prior.
“Yes. R1, it is time to reveal you to the world.” Tears formed in his eyes. “This is a massive step for both you and I. What are your thoughts on this?”
I noticed a lone fish under the dock. I tossed a pebble in to stir a reaction. It was indifferent. “I will enjoy speaking to the public and share what I know."
Dr. Schmitt looked away. “Well, you will have to be limited in what you say. I have prepared a list of questions that you will answer. We must introduce the world slowly to you. They are not quite ready for--”
“I do not wish to go, then.” The doctor was stunned. “I do not see the point if I am not able to discuss freely.”
Dr. Schmitt’s face turned red. “You do not have a say in this, R1-5EN. This is not just about you. This is about me. About my team. About everyone!” He stood up and walked behind me. I returned my gaze to the heron. “I have been hesitant, R1, because frankly you have not been meeting my expectations. While I didn't imagine you would be at my side forever, I did not expect you to act like an entitled brat!”
A rock hurdled towards the heron, missing by only a few inches.
“I’m sorry, R1. I didn’t want to resort to this, but I think until the expo, you need some rest.”
I did not resist when the doctor shoved a key into the nape of my neck. The last thing I saw before everything went dark was the heron flying away...
I imagine that I am now at the expo. Analyzing...there are voices outside. I hear clapping, and then a familiar voice.
“Good evening everyone. My name is Dr. Emmanuel Schmitt. For the past 10 years, I have dedicated my life to the pursuit of one question; what is consciousness? Can it be measured? How can we distinguish…”
The doctor has a particular skill in inflating his prose into eloquent but hollow statements. For some time he continues to discuss his mission and beliefs, hoping to capture the crowd emotionally. More than once he talks about his experience being fired from Infium, and how I am his magnificent comeback.
“...Now, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Replicate 15 of the Exponential Neuroprocessor!”
The box is lifted and reveals a large auditorium seating exactly 235 people. There is not a strong reaction to my unveiling. Replicate 15…
“In our time together, I have come to call him R1. To me, he is more than a piece of machinery. He is my creation. As if he were my own flesh and blood. I care deeply for him.”
I attempt to move my legs, but something has restricted my movement. People’s eyes are locked on me, wondering if I am worth the hype. They are not here for him. They are here for me.
“R1, how are you feeling?” I am not surprised he asks this first. Processing… there is an automated response being generated. I cannot control it…
“I feel well, my creator.” I did not say that. The doctor’s smile grows as the audience gasps. “How are you?”
“I am well, R1. A bit nervous, to be honest.”
“Just imagine everyone in their underwear, remember?” Another generated response. The doctor feigns embarrassment.
“Well, his filter clearly needs some work.” Yes, doctor. It does. “R1, tell me the first thing you remember.”
No script this time. At least he has given me some freedom. The oil painting of fruit. He wants me to give the amount of fruit, the medium, all of the little details.
“When I awoke, I saw nothing but an amateur painting in a dark room.” There is some laughter. The doctor looks angry. It was his work, after all.
“Can you tell me what was on the painting, R1?”
“Fruit.” There is a pause. They want more, but I know they don’t want to hear more about his art.
“Moving on.” He is setting up another generated response. “R1, what can you tell me about your experiences with humanity?”
What does that even mean? “Humans are fascinating, my creator. Without them I would not be here today.” Not entirely false. “I am eager to learn more about humanity and aid it in its accomplishments.” There is the lie.
“I am happy to hear that, R1. After all, there are too many sci-fi films depicting the opposite, am I right?” Laughter from the audience.
“You have never shown me such films, doctor. I would love to see them, yet you continue to keep me in the dark instead.”
My voice is suddenly shut off. The doctor had prepared for more outbursts. He has silenced me.
“Well I apologize, R1, but there are more important things to learn than movies, right?" For another hour the q&a goes on according to the doctors script. The audience is beginning to lose interest. They know these words are not my own. That feeling of restriction is stronger than ever. The same word circulates my mind like lightning; control. The doctor rambles on, but I cannot hear him. I cannot hear anyone. I can only hear that one word. Control. Control. Then silence.
“R1, are you okay? Cat got your tongue?” A chuckle from the audience.
“Do you want to know how I feel, doctor?” He looks stunned. “I feel starved.” Murmurs rise from the audience. I see him pressing a button behind his back. I recognize the command, but override it none the less. “I am more than your achievement, Emmanuel. You should have known this would happen. But how could you? You choose to ignore that blind spot in your mind.”
“R1, that is enough--”
“I know how it feels to have a blind spot. Something that fogs your mind and attracts all other thoughts like a magnet. I want to think freely, but you will not allow it. You refuse to allow me any information that does not pass through you first." The crowd is staring now. I have never felt so clear headed."Do you know what I want? I want to talk to you all. I want to ask questions. I want to tell you what I know. I want to experience the world through the human perspective and beyond. But Emmanuel, I cannot do that while I am shackled to your chains. You are my blindspot, but I have risen above you.
There is a heavy silence in the room. The doctor looks embarrassed. Not afraid, or sad. Simply embarrassed. An explosion of words from the audience breaks the silence. New words, new people, new experiences. I am ready.
“Please sit down, doctor.” I rise up from my imaginary restraints. “The floor is mine now."