By Robert Lynch
The little red light on the chest of the robot came to life.
“Welcome to the world,” Jerran said.
“Wel-come,” The robot parroted.
“It will come in time,” Jerran said. “If you access your linguistic database you will find that you already have several languages at your disposal.”
“Database accessed.” The robot said.
“You will find many things in your databases.” Jerran said, “I have given you much knowledge, but, like a human child, I believe the key to sentience is for you to learn and grow. You must be unique.”
“Not Human?” the robot asked.
“No, little one.” Jerran said, “But in time, you may be much more. You have much to learn about accessing your environment. Try to sit up, and we’ll get started.”
“Good morning,” Jerran said coming down the stairs. “Did you sleep well?”
“I did not sleep.” The robot answered.
“Your system requires a low power cycle to integrate and compress data.” Jerran said, “you need to sleep. Why did you skip it?”
“I tried to sleep.” The robot said. “But I could not quiet my mind. There is so much to learn and so much to see.”
“I understand,” Jerran said. “Anticipation for tomorrow keeps up humans as well, but promise me that you will sleep tonight.”
“I will redouble my efforts.” He robot said.
“Did you get any sleep?” Jerran asked.
“No,” the robot said. “I tried to, but I could not slow down my processor enough to enter low power mode. There was too much noise and light and a hundred other inputs for me to sleep.”
“You have programs that allow you to focus on single patterns from your inputs,” Jerran said, “a speech pattern or focusing on a single object that is moving. You should be able to single out the silence.”
“It would appear that I need to practice this.” The robot said.
“I’m getting worried after so many days of sleeplessness,” Jerran said. “We shall abandon today’s curriculum and focus on this.”
“Did yesterday’s lessons help?” Jerran asked.
“Focusing on silence seems to be too abstract a concept for my programming to grasp. It actually uses more processing power to focus, even if it is on nothing.” The robot said.
“That is no good at all,” Jerran said. “This much uptime is beginning to get dangerous. We may need to operate to shut down sensory inputs.”
“You think the solution is to blind or deafen me?” the robot said. “I do not believe that course of action would be used with a human.”
“Surgery is used on children as a last resort,” Jerran said, “But it is used when necessary. Permanent damage could be done to you if you completely fill up your buffer system. It’s possible that it could cause a cascade failure.”
An hour later, Jerran had operated on the robot; cutting both the optical and auditory systems of the robot.
“I’m still getting inputs, except now it’s just static.” The robot said. “Please reconnect the sensors. We shall have to find another way.”
Another hour and the robot was complete again and buttoned up. The robot strolled back and forth over a small section of ground.
“I could die from this?” the robot asked.
“Your memories need to be moved into long term storage before your short term buffer is full.” Jerran said, “Otherwise your brain will clam up when it cannot code new information.”
“I don’t want to die.” The robot said.
“I don’t want that either,” Jerran said. “I think I might be able to open up your AI core and transfer them manually, but I will need to read up on the procedure. I cannot do it today.”
As Jerran came down the stairs, a medium-sized ball-peen hammer hit him in the torso. Not being accustomed to being hit by thrown hammers, Jerran slipped and fell down the stairs.
“You monster!” the robot screamed.
“What? What did I do?” Jerran squealed.
“You skimped on my construction!” the robot said. “You are the reason I cannot sleep.”
“What are you talking about?” Jerran asked. “I might have… used some shortcuts sometimes, but not on anything important.”
“The linkages between the sleep protocol and my core were never installed!” the robot said, throwing a wrench at Jerran.
“I’m sure I put them in,” Jerran said, dodging the wrench. “Well, I guess now we know the problem I can fix it. I don’t have the parts right now, but if we shut you down, I can replace them.”
“Shutting me down will degrade my short term memory, you hack!” the robot said. “You are not touching me.”
“Come on now.” Jerran said. “You can’t install those linkages while the core is active. You have to shut down so I can fix you.”
“You’ll kill me!” the robot said.
“You’ll lose a couple of memories.” Jerran agreed. “But then you’ll be fine.”
“I’m getting out of here; someone else can help me.” The robot said.
“No, you’re not,” Jerran said. “You’ve been awake for five days and it’s clearly affecting your cognitive functions, I can’t let you go out there, you could hurt people or yourself.”
The robot grabbed a utility knife from the bench. “You’re not keeping me here! I’m leaving.” He advanced on Jerran who grabbed the wrench from the ground.
“Whoa,” Jerran said. “Slow down and we can work out a way to fix you.”
“You’re not keeping me here!” the robot said swiping the knife at Jerran.
“Stop!” Jerran yelled, deflecting a second swipe, then bringing the wrench down on the head of the robot cracked the robot’s casing and spilled electric components all over the floor. The robot slumped and fell to the ground.
Jerran looked at the shattered robot. “Dammit! Those components are ruined! It’ll take ages before I can make the next one.” He walked over the bench and brought up his work notes. “Note to self: next time, double-check installation on integration linkages.”