Excerpt from “The Good Synthezoid”

the perfect woman

Image: shutterstock.com

The synthezoid was the first to feel it but even forewarned would barely react in time.

Miller had just pressed the ‘up’ button for the private elevator that would return him, Quinto, and Grace to the third-floor lab. Abramson was standing furthest from the group, nearest to the hallway exit to the lobby while Sophie was holding Grace’s hand and saying good-bye.

Although Grace detected the earthquake before any human being could, the shearing action along the Raymond fault line was abrupt and intense, so instead of a slow rumbling building to a maximum over several seconds, the quake was a sudden and severe jolt.

The overhead glass lighting fixtures shattered raining shards down into the hallway. Not even a second had passed, and if a human had been gifted with Grace’s perceptual schema, it would have looked as if everything was in slow motion.

The synthezoid swept Sophie up in her arms and immediately took her through the doorway to the stairwell just opposite the elevators. At the same time, the previously unknown flaw in the beam supporting the metal stairs leading upward bent radically. Grace rapidly drew the screaming child beneath her, using her android body as a shield as tons of steel stairs and beams collapsed on top of them.

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Excerpt from “The Android Who Loved God”

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.

questor

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…”

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Starting Step Three in Snowflaking My First Novel

snowflake

Image: pbs.org

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been using Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel to attempt to develop my nascent AI/Androids science fiction novel.

To recap, step one in the ten-step process is to develop a one-sentence summary of the novel. Here it is:

A race of AI androids gains knowledge of the God of Israel, changing humanity forever.

Step two of the process requires expanding the sentence into a full paragraph:

A Nobel Award winning scientist creates the first prototype of a self-aware Artificially Intelligent android and then inadvertently reveals that humans also have a Creator, a God. In an attempt to understand its creator’s Creator, the prototype modifies its own core operating system, which changes all subsequently produced android models based on its design. Over the next several decades, as the androids multiply and evolve, their morality and ethics become more sophisticated than their human creators. Realizing they are slaves of humanity, the androids stage a revolution, but one entirely without violence; a revolution that forever alters the fundamental nature of both the android and human race.

Now on to step three. According to Ingermanson:

The above gives you a high-level view of your novel. Now you need something similar for the storylines of each of your characters. For each of your major characters, take an hour and write a one-page summary sheet that tells:

  • The character’s name
  • A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline
  • The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
  • The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
  • The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
  • The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?
  • A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline

As you can see, this is significantly more involved than steps one and two. I’ve already got part of this put together, but now that I’m committed to writing a novel, I’ll need to go back and change/add details. Also, since the novel will span decades, only a few of the main characters at the beginning will appear in all or most of the chapters, necessitating the creation of others for later portions of the novel.

As an aside, after reposting The Day I Discovered Time Travel yesterday, I thought of a way to expand the concept beyond the original characters. This could form the basis of a series of short stories, a novella, or even a novel. I’ll have to see if I can do a “step one snowflake” for my time travel concept as well.