My name is Ellie Vancover, and I remember when my world changed in the summer of 1987. I graduated from Harvard with high honors in computer programming, and was recruited by Alex Whitney, the CEO of Cyber-Chip Industries. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I mean what college student would say no to a six figure salary, right? Alex wanted me to lead a special top secret division that specialized in artificial intelligence. It was a bold initiative that was going to change the world.
I became the shining star in my family eclipsing my older sister Jenny, who is a theater actor.
In your face Jenny.
That’s right, this little red haired nerdy girl from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania finally made it. I loved working at Cyber-Chip Industries. My only problem was the long hours which prevented me from having any sort of social life. My work became my life and over the next few years we made a breakthrough that would change everything.
“The Algorithm works!” I said running into Alex Whitney’s office. He wanted me to keep him informed on every last detail of our work. He was sitting at his desk going over some papers, and quickly rose.
He raised his hands and I noticed that they were shaking. “Are you sure? Did you test it?” he asked. I held up the paperwork in my hands and said, “We triple checked it. It works perfectly!”
Alex started shaking like a little Chihuahua dog who was about to be neutered. I also noticed his blue shirt was now dripping in perspiration as he ran over to throw his arms around me. I felt the wetness of his clothes against mine and my gag reflex went into overtime. He let go of me and grabbed the papers from my hand. My clothes were now damp, and I felt like slapping him.
I watched in fascination as he hastily fiddled through the paperwork. “This is fantastic news,” he said walking back to his desk. He looked at me as if he were seeing me for the first time and said, “After all these years, we can now move to the next stage.” He looked through the paperwork again as if they were a bundle of winning lottery tickets.
“Your team will now merge with our Robotics Engineering Technology department. Effective immediately, you will be responsible for installing this algorithm into our advanced artificial organic lifeforms,” he said.
I suddenly felt like a huge puzzle had been solved. The algorithm we developed was designed to imitate human behavior and advanced complex thinking patterns. I could never understand what the purpose of this was, but now with this new clarity, I now had that answer. Cyber-Chip Industries were developing human robots.
I will never forget the first time I saw the robots. They were all lined up on assembly lines, and each one looked like a different person frozen in time. Our job now was to install the algorithm into a test robot named Alpha-101. Alex wanted us to start with one robot so that we could observe its behaviors. If Alpha-101 proved successful, the algorithm would be installed into every robot.
Alex had a plan to sell these robots to the military to replace our soldiers. “No more lives would be taken on the battlefield,” he would say. I’m pretty sure that there are many more applications for integrating human robots into our society. You could almost cause yourself to have a brain aneurysm just thinking about all the possibilities.
Alpha-101 was a male robot with black hair, dark hazel brown eyes and had just a dash of freckles on his cheeks that complimented his handsome looking face. His muscular build would put even the most dedicated bodybuilder to shame. He was built to look like a twenty-five year old. I must admit that he matched my idea of the perfect looking man. He was attached to an upright bed in the training room where we were getting ready to install the algorithm.
Seeing him there on that bed I couldn’t help myself, I reached out and felt his hand. I instantly got goosebumps as I ran my fingers across his perfectly smooth skin. I felt lost like I was in a trance, but I came to my senses when I heard Alex say, “Are you ready to upload the data?”
I quickly double checked all the cables connected to the back of Alpha’s head. When I was sure everything looked good I said, “Yes. We will now begin the upload.” I pressed the enter key on the computer and watched the upload screen slowly install the algorithm into Alpha-101. I looked around at our team of scientists in the room wearing their white lab jackets. Some of them were biting their nails in eager anticipation.
“The upload is now complete,” I said.
Alex watched and saw no movement in the robot. “Did it work?”
I could sense his apprehension and said, “We need to give it a few minutes.”
At long last, Alpha-101 opened its eyes. I could hear gasps coming from the entire room. Alpha looked around and spoke in a soft warm delicious voice, “Bye everyone.” Alex turned to me and asked, “What did he say? Did he mean to say hello everyone?”
“I think we will have to work with him to get him to understand things better,” I said.
Alex looked at me like someone had just stolen his balls and said, “What! You mean to tell me that your algorithm didn’t work?”
I pierced my lips together and spoke very slowly so that he could understand me. “The algorithm did work. He has so much information to process that it will take some time to make sense of it all. He needs to put it all into practice.”
Snatching his balls back, Alex declared, “You have one week to get this thing working like a normal person, or you’re fired.” He pointed at everyone in the room and said, “That goes for all of you! He works, or you don’t!” He quickly stormed out of the room. As the door slammed behind him, our attention went back to Alpha who now had a frown on his face. “She is very happy right?” he said. Alpha looked at me and asked, “I am very sleepy, can I eat now?”
I found myself saying out loud, “We have a lot of work to do.”
“My name is Ellie, and your name is Alpha. How do you feel?” I said.
He looked at me and I could see a presence within him that seemed like he knew what I was talking about.
Over the next few days I put my team back to work. I wanted them to take a second look at the algorithm to see if they could pinpoint the problem. It never hurts to have a second pair of eyes. I took it upon myself to work with Alpha. I knew I needed to make some headway, so I thought that working with him one on one would bring some much needed progress.
I tried to give him a glass of water and laughed when he dumped it on his head. “You’re supposed to drink it,” I would say. We tried this several times until he finally got it right. His interactions with other people were very humorous. He had trouble interpreting simple conversations. He would always say the opposite from what a real human would say. I thought it was cute. Sometimes I found myself staring into his eyes. I had to keep telling myself that he wasn’t real. He was my job and back to work I went.
Later that night I fell asleep next to Alpha and when I woke up he had his arm around me. It felt good. It was a feeling I never felt before. His embrace was warm, and I felt safe like nothing could ever hurt me. I reminded myself yet again, that he wasn’t real. What would my parents think about me to know that I was falling in love with a robot? I think that my sister Jenny would reclaim that shining star.
That afternoon during our team meeting I was told some important information. My assistant Ben told me that the problem was not in the algorithm, but in the sensory chips embedded in the robots central processing units. I realized that all we needed to do was make some fine tuning adjustments to the sensory chips. I got together with Steven the head of Robotics Engineering and told him the great news. He was delighted to hear it, and went straight to work.
Steven gave me the new sensory chip and I knew that we needed to test it on Alpha. I powered him down and Steven replaced the chip. I uploaded the algorithm again, and to everyone’s surprise, it worked. Alpha-101 came to life. He looked at me with those dreamy eyes and said, “I know your face. I remember you from my dreams. You’re the light that shines through the darkness. You’re my Angel.”
I didn’t know what to say. I was shocked that he said that. I felt a pat on my shoulder and when I turned around I came face to face with Alex.
“Congratulations Ellie, I knew you could do it,” he said.
I smiled at him and said, “I knew we could get it to work-” I was cut off.
“With the proper motivation, of course,” Alex said. “Now I want you to erase his memory and add him back on the assembly line. We will commence with the upload to all of our robots.”
Alex turned to walk away and I grabbed his arm, stopping him in his tracks. “You can’t do that! He is the first of his kind, and I won’t let you do this!” Alex squeezed his lips together and furrowed his eyebrows to form the letter W. “Come with me to my office right now! We need to have a talk!” he shouted. He motioned for his security team to grab Alpha. He looked at my assistant Ben and screamed, “Erase his memory. Now!”
The security team grabbed Alpha and started to drag him away. He looked at me with those wonderful eyes, and said, “I love you Ellie.” Then he was gone. Ben looked at me and grabbed my shoulder, “Don’t worry, I will take care of this. You should go now.”
The elevator ride to Alex’s office was like a slow ride to Hell, only we were going up instead of down. Alex yanked my arm and grabbed my hair, dragging me into his office. He threw me down on the floor and slammed the door behind him.
“How dare you embarrass me in front of my employees!” he yelled.
He pointed his finger down towards me and continued, “I’ve been watching you. You honestly think that I would let you out of my site!” He marched over to his desk and pulled out a gun pointing it straight at me, and said, “I know you have feelings for that thing!” Spit was flying from his mouth as he cried, “My robots are supposed to be killing machines, not love toys!”
I felt tears streaming down my face and said, “What are you going to do? Kill me!” I rose up to my knees and shouted, “You can’t get away with this, the cops will find out what you did eventually, and then it will be all over for you!”
Alex started laughing. “You stupid girl! I own the police, and soon I will rule this world with my robots!” I watched as he cocked the gun back ready to fire.
“What are you talking about? I thought the robots were for the military,” I asked.
Alex looked down at me, his face was pulsing red, “I lied! Once my robots come online, I will have them kill everyone in this building. They will worship me as a living God!” Alex smiled at me and said, “I wanted the pleasure of killing you myself!”
I closed my eyes as Alex pulled the trigger. When I opened them I saw Alpha-101 wrestling Alex on the ground next to me. Alpha placed his knee in the middle of Alex’s back, holding him down on the floor. Alpha grabbed his neck with one hand and his feet in the other. In one swift motion, he pulled both ends together snapping his back like a twig.
Alpha reached out to me with an opened hand, and I accepted it. He pulled me up and at that moment Alex’s security team flooded the room. Alpha quickly picked me up and ran towards the window. Shots were fired as we broke through the glass falling to the pavement below. I thought we were going to die, but Alpha landed on his feet creating a small crater in the ground.
I was safe in his arms. He started to run as fast as he could through the city while still holding me. I looked up at him and asked, “Why are you doing this?” He kept on running and said, “You were the light in my darkness. I love you. You saved my life, and now I’m the light in your darkness.”
I was at a loss for words. I knew that Alpha didn’t kill Alex, but I think he paralyzed him. That means that he will hunt us down. I don’t know what the future has in store for us, but somehow I feel like my life is just beginning...
Daniel R. Hayes