The Rescuers

crash site

Image: ktoo.org

“So, you want to potentially fry the brains of several expensive Positronic robots, Noah?”

Professor Noah Abramson was once again sitting in front of the desk of National Robotics Corporation CEO Richard Underwood proposing another of his ‘crazy’ ideas to his boss.

“Well, hopefully not, Rick. On the other hand, if we’re going to lease our Positronic Search, Assess, and Rescue robots to various private and governmental agencies responsible for public safety, we have to know exactly how they’ll respond, not only to at risk humans, but to the dying and dead human beings they will likely encounter in an emergency or disaster situation.”

“If the SARs fail the test, then what?”

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Unedited Excerpt From The Upcoming Story “The Rescuers”

This is an unedited excerpt from the next story in my “robots” series. I haven’t actually finished it yet, but I have the plot all worked out. Just thought I’d give you something to look forward to. If you haven’t done so already, please read the first four short stories in this series. Links to them can be found here.

Remember, the story below is completely unedited, so there’s bound to be mistakes. Be kind with your comments.

The four robots were standing at the base of a cliff. It was night. There was snow on the ground. The area was heavily forested. The air temperature was 0.72 degrees Celsius and falling.

The testing scenario was based on an actual crash involving a twin-engined Lear jet that had gone down in the Rocky Mountain National Park about ten years ago just before midnight. High winds on the top of the bluff made it impossible to send in helicopters. The area was too rugged to send in ground vehicles. A rescue team had to go in on foot, but they couldn’t reach the aircraft until morning.

By then, the pilot, and four out of the five passengers were dead.

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My “Robots” Series So Far

So far, I’ve written four stories in my “robots” series. This series was inspired by the premise behind Anthony Marchetta’s anthology God, Robot, the idea that Isaac Asimov-type Positronic robots would have their prime directives changed from the The Three Laws of Robotics to what is referred to in the New Testament as the Two Greatest Commandments, located specifically in Matthew 22:35-40 and Mark 12:28-34, being based on Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.

I took a somewhat different approach than did Marchetta and his contributors which I believe is more “realistic,” if one can be said to be realistic when writing stories about intelligent and self-aware humanoid robots.

Since limitations in the WordPress theme I’m using don’t allow me to display a list of my blog posts, I’m writing this missive so I can include an easy to use list of the entries in my series.

I’ve noticed that some folks come here and read the latest story, but not necessarily all of the earlier ones. Since one story builds on another, the entire arc will make more sense if you read each of my small tales in order.

Here they are:

  1. The Robot Who Loved God
  2. The Maker Dilemma
  3. The Good Robot
  4. Uncooperative Neighbors

I’ll add to the list as I write more in this series. Enjoy.

Uncooperative Neighbors

lanning

Dr. Alfred Lanning, played by James Cromwell in the film “I, Robot” (2004)

“One day they’ll have secrets… one day they’ll have dreams.”

Dr. Alfred Lanning
played by James Cromwell in the film
I Robot (2004)

Six Weeks Ago

“You both have been called heroes because of the people you helped here at NRC in the aftermath of last March’s quake. How do you feel about that?”

Grace had been interviewed by the press on several occasions since her activation, but this was the first time George attended a press conference with her.

It was inevitable that, once the world realized there were two functional Positronic robot prototypes in existence, the National Robotics Corporation would have to release some sort of statement about them. After Professor Noah Abramson, NRC’s Vice President of Research and Development and Director of the Positronics Project, had convinced company CEO Richard Underwood that George would be as ‘well-behaved’ as Grace was typically when interviewed, he agreed to have both robots answer questions for the news media.

“I believe I can speak for Grace when I say that we are gratified to be able to serve human beings in any capacity required of us.” George and Grace were constantly communicating in “robotspeak” through their radio link and had agreed to take turns answering questions unless one of them was specifically addressed.

“What are your plans going forward?” asked the reporter from The Washington Post.

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The Good Robot

landonI told my seven-year-old grandson that I’ve been writing robot stories and he asked me to write one for him. I discovered that writing children’s science fiction is much harder than the adult variety, and had to settle for writing a robot story that included children.

This is the first story in my series that puts people in actual danger, invoking the First Law in both George and Grace. While you’d think a First Law response would be relatively straightforward, I’ve introduced a few wrinkles I hope you’ll find interesting.

Before reviewing and publishing the third submission in this series, I went over the first two stories again and corrected more typos and awkward sentences. I also made a few short additions as they occurred to me.

As always, I’m sure I missed mistakes in the current tale. After reading it, let me know what you think and what “English 101” errors you found. 

Thanks.

“I have just plugged the last tape of instructions into Robot X, Miss Bainbridge. The time has come to turn on its power switch,” declared Dr. Aiden.

“Are you sure it’s safe, Doctor?” cried Aiden’s lovely young assistant.

“Of course, Miss Bainbridge,” Dr. Aiden replied confidently. “Robot X will be completely under my control. It will be the forerunner of a whole race of robots, commanded only by me. With my army of mechanical men, I will rule the world.”

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The Robot Who Loved God

This short story originally appeared on the A Million Chimpanzees blog, the first BlogSpot I created. I’ve since launched Powered by Robots as an exclusive venue for my short story writing. To find out more, please visit my page. Enjoy.

The initial event that resulted in my most ambitious fiction writing project to date happened a few Sundays ago over coffee with my friend Tom. He mentioned a book he wanted to read, an anthology edited by Anthony Marchetta called God, Robot. This is a collection of stories based on the premise of Isaac Asimov-like Positronic robots that have been programmed with two Bible verses rather than Asimov’s famous Three Laws. These verses are recorded in the New Testament in Matthew 22:35-40 and Mark 12:28-34 and are based on Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.

I’m a long-time fan of Asimov’s robots stories and have always been fascinated by the interplay between the Three Laws and how their potentials shifted due to certain situations, rather than remaining hard absolutes. This allowed Positronic robots to be unpredictable and thus interesting, challenging the human beings who sometimes found themselves not in control of their creations.

I started to imagine what it would be like to write such a story. I went online, found Marchetta’s blog, and contacted him, asking permission to write such a story on my “Million Chimpanzees” blogspot. To my delight, not only did he consent, but he said he was flattered at the request.

What follows is the result of my labors. I’ve probably spent more time writing and editing this short story (about twenty pages long when copied into Word) than any of my previous efforts. I’m sure it still needs much improvement, but I’ll leave it up to whoever reads it to let me know what I could do better.

At the end of the story, I’ll relate more about my influences and a few other insights.

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