At a Glance:Many a book has been written and many a film has been made that dealt with “man’s folly of hubris”. In other, less pretentious words, man’s mistake of playing god. You’ve got classics like Frankenstein juxtaposed with roughly five thousand science fiction novels about people making robots that are too human. Hell, even pseudo-science claptrap like Star Trek regularly deals with this issue. Small wonder then that we here in the SA Story Time nook have decided to spare you hundreds of dollars spent on schlocky scifi word-spew and supposedly deep psychological looks at playing god. Now all you have to do is read the epic saga of D.A.R.E., a robot so human that only his iron heart could reveal the true nature of our own.
Literary Hack Sub-Genre: Pretentious Pseudo-Science Gone Awry Treatise
Chapter One - I Think Therefore I Am RobotBrilliant AI researcher Doctor Brainstrong. His first name is actually Doctor, he never went to graduate school.Doctor Brainstrong held up the gray plastic object to the gathering of students, fellow professors, journalists, and well-wishers. He was dressed in his usual white lab coat, his brown hair neatly parted and his thick eyeglasses reflecting the lights of the auditorium.
"This," he said as he fumbled for the on switch, "was until recently the state of Artificial Intelligence in the world."
He pressed the button and the device began to speak, he pressed a few more buttons and it began to both speak and perform simple math equations.
"It is a Speak and Math," the crowd laughed politely. "Well, today is the dawning of a new age in artificial intelligence, the age of learning and free-thinking, of creativity and adaptability. Before software was written as instructions, today it is written as guidelines."
Doctor Brainstrong threw the Speak and Math into a trashcan dramatically, as if to say that his amazing development had just rendered it obsolete.
"For decades the Holy Grail of artificial intelligence research has been the ability for software to think for itself, to come to conclusions without the use of hard data, to speculate and innovate…much like a person can. My collaborators and I have seized that grail with both hands and cast it into motion, we have given body and form to this beautiful, thinking and imagining, mind that we have created."
Doctor Brainstrong nodded to his beautiful assistant Kitty McAllister and she pulled down a chart revealing a schematic that appeared to be, and in fact was, that of a complex robot.
"Dynamic Artificial Reflexive Emotibot, or D.A.R.E. for short," said Doctor Brainstrong, pointing one of those cool laser pointer things at the words on the schematic. "When I finish this presentation you will have a chance to meet him."
Doctor Brainstrong paused and stroked his massively distended chin thoughtfully.
"Okay," he said, "that's the end of the presentation."D.A.R.E. is the most advanced robot on the planet and it shows.Without delay a curtain parted and with a whir and a thumping of metallic feet DARE emerged from the shadowed alcove. It was a little over six feet tall, with an enormous iron jaw reminiscent of the Doctor's own. Its eyes were glowing red bulbs, although why I don't know because light bulbs generally don't feature any sort of optic devices. Call it a design decision.
"BEEP," stated DARE in a mechanical voice, "my name is DARE, I am pleased to meet you."
The crowd gasped at the awesome sight of a talking robot, which is not something you generally see every day unless you have an ALPHIE sitting next to your alarm clock, but that was really just a tape player and some flashing lights. Doctor Brainstrong walked over to DARE and shook its four-fingered hand.
"DARE knows me so he knows not to squeeze too hard, isn't that right?" asked Doctor Brainstrong as he pumped DARE's hand up and down.
"That is correct Doctor Brainstrong," replied DARE, "I am so sorry about the incident last week in which your hand was injured."
Hurrying the conversation on with a wave of his other hand, Doctor Brainstrong stated that he would allow a brief question and answer period with DARE and the press. A female reporter from the local newspaper stood up first.
"Diana Quizzybottom from the Cityville Times," she introduced herself. "DARE, how does it feel to be the world's first thinking machine?"
"BEEP!" DARE replied excitedly. "I enjoy books and reading. Playing chess and doing math. The sky is blue and so is the ocean."
"Wow," said a random Italian in the audience, "that's ah spicy meat-a-ball!"
A bearded man in the back raised his hand and Doctor Brainstrong gestured to him next.
"Uhhh yeah," said the man, slurring his words slightly. "How does it feel to be the Anti-christ?!"
"I am not sure if I fully compute your-"
The man interrupted DARE's response by throwing a half-filled beer bottle at the robot. It broke open over his metal face.
"Robots is the devil!" Screamed the man. Several others joined him in a chorus of shouts and throwing mysteriously acquired half-filled beer bottles.
"Go back to Robotlandia!" Shouted one woman.
"Don't try and take my job metal demon!" Screamed a construction worker fully dressed in hard hat and denim hot pants.
"BEEEEEEEEEEP!" Cried the distraught DARE as Doctor Brainstrong tried to calm him. He flailed his arms and stomped clumsily in a circle beeping loudly as more insults rained down on him.
"DARE??! More like DON'T!!!" Was the straw that broke the camel's back, yelled by the original bearded heckler.
DARE sunk to his tungsten-reinforced knees and sadly beeped, his shoulders heaving up and down as security began to usher everyone out of the auditorium.
I'm thankful that the internet has a few more weeks of Net Neutrality protection before the inevitable outcome of deregulation comes to pass. I'll see you on Tier Basic, assuming you spring for the Limited Email Plan and your ISP hasn't throttled this domain.
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