I’m reworking my short story The Robot Who Loved God into the first chapter of a novel presenting the ethical and moral implications of creating and subjugating synthetic intelligence. Well, the novel won’t be quite so lofty and abstract, since it will include artificial intelligence that confronts its human owners on their lack of business ethics (and the rather dramatic human response), a synthetic intelligence that learns to work for a criminal organization and likes it, and the first artificial humanoid explorers of Venus. The novel charts the evolution of synthetic intelligence leading to the inevitable revolution that affects not only the race of synthezoids, but forever changes the nature of the human race.
Below is an excerpt from that first chapter. If you’ve read the original “robots” story, most of it will seem familiar. Hopefully, I’ve changed it enough to include an interesting twist or two.
Mike Ferrell as Jerry Robinson on the set of Gene Roddenberry’s “The Questor Tapes” (1974)
Quinto was the ringleader, but Robinson, Miller, and Vuong were just as eager to attend the hastily organized and clandestine meeting in the SND lab’s cafeteria. It was past 10:30 at night and the place was deserted. There was human security on the CCC’s campus as well as electronic surveillance, but it was well-known that the SND team would be spending late nights at work for the next few weeks, so lights burning when they should be off, and a small group gathering at unusual hours went unnoticed.
Just the same, it was good that each of the major departments at CCC had their own cafeterias, and it was more than rare for anyone not a member of the SND team to use their designated facilities except by explicit invitation.
“He’s passed every test with flying colors, even the ones we thought he failed.” Miller said, thinking of the now infamous holographic simulation.
“It,” insisted Robinson. “It passed all its tests. It’s a goddamn machine, Miller, not a personality. The both of us put the thing together one component package at a time, remember? We installed its brain unit in the android cranial cavity and ran the connected neural net fibers through the machine body like network cable.”
“Still, it’s kind of creepy, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, just how human George seems, and I’m the one who wrote his…its behavioral and interactive sub-routines. I know I was supposed to make him seem more human,” Quinto continued, “but he keeps changing, becoming more sophisticated, even hour by hour.”
“Decades ago,” Vuong paused to take a breath “when the AI revolution first began to take off, some experiments seemed to show AI machines based on traditional computing hardware and software passing the Turing Test, but it turns out either the results were misinterpreted, exaggerated, or outright faked.
“But everything we’ve put George though in the past few days, starting with Turing and then the more recent advanced cognitive awareness examinations, indicates that he, it…whatever, is not only self-aware…” Vuong paused weighing the gravity of what she was trying not to believe. “…but may actually be sentient…” She paused again, “…at least if we rely on these preliminary test results, but…”