Miko Plays Shadowgate64 TofFT: Belzar Gets Punked!

Designs of our Slave Race chapter 11

Chapter 11

He had walked for a kilometer before finding ourselves outside an abandoned house in one of the seedier parts of town: fruit of trying to imitate America and their horrors. There Ben let me down and I followed him into the house.

It was very empty with peeling wallpaper and paint, with the smell of mold in the air as such unkeep, coupled with Toronto winters would cause perfect growing environments for such things to spawn and thrive. Ben would lead me forward where I would see a large gathering of HX01 units, standing in waiting.

“Ben, what is this?” one of them, with a female voice, asked loudly.

The others took notice. “That's a human, ain't humans suppose to be evil, uncaring, creatures?” another in a male voice replied.

“She's different,” Ben said, “She isn't evil, and she does care.”

Designs of our Slave Race chapter 10

Chapter 10

At work no one would shut up about Philip’s demise, nor would they quiet themselves on the trickling drip of reports of beta testers either disappearing or being found dead; by their mommies most likely. Many of the old testers also reported that their model had disappeared simply, they called the police assuming that someone had stole it (for it was the height of their popularity) only for cops to find no signs of a break and entry, or a struggle, assuming of course the things fought back.

It wasn’t much longer before the trickle became a flood: as customers and their full-purchase models started to complain. At first that they were too chatty, inquisitive, or noisy. It would then escalate to Sebastian and his team pulling their hair out as the law suits started coming: some of them had assaulted people in their house, guests mostly. On famous case was of a housewife in Windsor, Ontario, who found that her HX01 unit had killed her husband with a kitchen knife. The reason? The HX01 unit concluded that the husband caused unhappiness in its female owner.

Also, Gordon and David didn't report to work for a week prior to the next set of events that would unfold, foretelling the ultimate problem Insigna would have.

Designs of our Slave Race chapter 9

Chapter 9

I had noticed that since then Ben hadn't asked as many questions as he used to. This perturbed me, for I couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking. What he was thinking about. I was afraid to find out, being a bit happy that he wasn't quite so chatty. Still, I couldn't really help but wonder. Perhaps he had learned whatever he felt he needed to know, or maybe he figured that asking me questions bothered me...

Or was it the phonecall from that night? Had he heard enough of the call to know that the 'slaves' were he and those like him? I prayed that it wasn't the case, for if I was right than he might turn against me for being a slave.

All this I would find out in time. It was a few weeks after deployment and there was a meeting to touch base, to report that all was well and all that before being assigned a new task, maybe the creation of an upgrade model or something entirely new - I would never find out.

Oddly enough, somehow worth mentioning, Philip wasn't at this meeting. Devon noted the absence for he was invited like at any of the other meetings before this. Alas, we had to move on.

Designs of our Slave Race chapter 8

Chapter 8

It was two weeks after that meeting when I would have questions of my own to ask Ben.

“Ben, what were you programmed to do?” I inquired into him, burning my green eyes into him.

“I was programmed to make my assigned human happy,” he replied mechanically, as though it was a precoded function for him to say that.

“How does it make you feel to make your human happy?” I asked back. I needed to know in my heart that the last while had been an overactive learning matrix and nothing more.

It would seem that Ben had to think about what I had asked him, trying to find an answer that would best fit what I had asked him. I awaited in hope that this thinking would result in an error, have him tell me that he did not understand, even have this thinking produce a glitch that would result in a crash that I would note and have the HX01 examined, but my stomach sank when I learned the truth: “I feel happy when your happy I assume.”

Designs of our Slave Race chapter 7

Chapter 7

“Well, I hope that everyone here is having fun with the HX01 unit that has been assigned to them,” Devon stated at one of our meetings.

“Yep, I'm having my fun all right,” Philip stated in a raunchy tone, “Hadn't been so satisfied in a long time. Could replace women as we know it.”

“Oh I'm sure you are you pervert,” I shot back, “Gotta love Phil, who can get a droid, which is not programmed to do that I might add, to jerk him off.”

“Enough!” Devon rose his hands to silence the room of the IT chicka and pervert engineer stand-off. He then continued on, his bony figure hovering over the table as he continued, “I would like to know if there are any problems that anyone is having with the HX01.”

Designs of our Slave Race chapter 6

Having a human name for a machine had scared me a bit. I knew plenty of people that would name cars and computers, and it was common practice to name a boat, and everyone named animals unless they were livestock – mind you animals weren’t machines and some of them, including some upper primates, had protection under the sentient being laws I was talking about earlier. Much would rely on that.

I had recorded these results of the initial start-up sequence. This was what I wrote:

The HX01 unit assigned to me has successfully completed charging and has booted itself up. Unit so far has no bugs or glitches worth noting. Unit however seems to be very curious and chatting, problems noted from the original alpha testing prototype.

I had hoped that things would normalize and I would understand it for the machine that it was, and was really hoping that the odd behaviour was nothing more than a start-up routine to initializes some important environment variables that the thing would need to do its chores and that. I would know that environment variables like owner and light_alpha had to be properly initialized or bad things would happen.

A few weeks went by, developments were happening all over the place, as the beta-testers were finding bugs and glitches, such as one HX01 unit that fell down the stairs, which was Devon, Philip and their team’s problems. Programmers had nothing to do with the physics behind walking and lifting, we would merely map those actions to certain stimuli, err, input.

Alas, ‘Ben’ would still be talking to me, asking me what this and that were. I answered the best that I could, though he had asked questions that I thought were either strange to be asking me or I didn’t know the answer, for I never thought about them and asked myself.

“You seem uneasy, is something the matter?” he asked me one day.

“I’m fine Ben, honest,” I replied with a quiver in my voice while staring at a computer screen.

“You sure, you sound anxious,” Ben kept on prodding at me. The caring algorithm at work I guess. I wonder how many of the testers got pissed off at that?

“It’s likely the stress of daily life,” I then snapped at him, I really didn’t want to talk to anyone at the time, “Life sucks you know. It sucks and there isn’t anything you could do about it to change that.” The entire time I didn’t look at him. I did have a deep-seeded hate for life itself, but I didn’t want to admit that Ben’s presents made me feel awkward. Machines usually don’t ask me questions like the next one Ben asks.

“Life sucks? How could life suck?”

At that moment I looked away from my computer, leaving a text file open with a short-story that would either morph into a novel, or become stupid and abandoned, much like this little tale.

“Its just, well,” I had to think about it for a moment, as it had been something that I accepted as truth from a young age and never questioned it, “There is a lot of pain in life. Pain and suffering. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or what caste you’re in, pain and suffering can’t be avoided. I simply accepted that and moved on.”

“If ‘life’ is so bad, than why do you live?” he followed up.

“To not be alive is to be dead,” I told him, “and to be dead… well, many people could say whatever they want, but I think being dead is going into nothingness. That thought is terrifying. Simply I fear death more than I hate life, though there have been many people that hated their lives so much that they commit suicide.”

“Suicide?” he looked at me with what looked like a funny look.

“The killing of oneself,” I replied.

“If death is nothingness, than why would someone want to die?” more questions.

“When your happy feeling nothing is terrifying,” I started in an attempt to explain the concept, “but when you’re sad feeling nothing is appealing.

“It’s also true that some of us don’t think that death is nothingness. There are whole religions that are based on the idea of heaven: a paradise one goes to when they die, when they shed their earthly bonds they enter a paradise created by the creator of everything for living a ‘good’ life according to the doctrine.”

“So you have a creator as I have one?” he asked innocently.

“Not exactly,” I replied,” though you have just ask a question that I don’t have an answer for. What I can tell you is that it is more likely than not that whatever comic force binded the universe created us. The debate lies in what this force is.”

That night I wrote into my testing log:

The HX01 unit follows programming and takes the job of pleasing their human owner seriously, going to the point of asking as many questions as possible, many of which there is no real answer to. The unit today asked about our ‘creator’. My personal thoughts are that the unit is going beyond original programming and contemplating ideas and concepts that aren’t really needed for its day-to-day function.

“I bug you, don’t I?” Ben asked me on a later day during the testing phase.

“No, not really,” I replied while messaging friends on MSN. Again I was on the computer.

“Yet it seems that my presents bother you,” he replied ever the more readily, “I do satisfy you, don't I?”

The immature part of me giggled a bit at the question. The snicker that escaped my lips was heard by Ben, who then asked “What is so funny?”

Chapter 6

“Forgive me Ben,” I answer, “Something about what you just said didn't sound right. Nothing wrong with you, its just my little gutter mind.”

“'Gutter mind'?” he inquired, “don't understand.”

“Refers to a dirty mind,” I responded.

“How can a mind be dirty?” he followed up, “The mind is processes in the brain, and the brain can't be dirty, can it?”

“'Dirty' can also mean 'sexual',” I would explain, “what you said 'do I satisfy you?' has this strange sexual innuendo. I know you didn't intend it, but it was there nevertheless. It would be more my fault for taking it that way.”

“I wanted to know if I do make you happy, and not bug you,” he went on, “I am suppose to please you: keep your home clean and you company.”

“I know, and your doing a fine job,” I replied, while telling Kenji on msn that I would post on the roleplaying site later that evening.

“By the way,” he added, “How is sex related to dirt?”

“Its from that god dam thing called organized religion,” I piped in to him, “For the longest time they had tried to restrict sexuality, especially female sexuality, and they would do that by preaching that sexual thoughts were dirty thoughts, and that to be pure and virtuous you had to be asexual.”

“Why?” he asked.

“To control us,” I added in, “People are easier to control when they have no sexuality. Restricting sex is restrictive.”

“You have sex often?” he inquired. The question was very embarrassing for I had only had sex once, in the last year of college. Lost a good friend afterwards too.

“No, not really,” I replied with a blush, “but I simply choose to not live like a skank. Kinda hard to shake that feeling away. Besides, I'm too fat.”

“You look nice to me,” Ben replied. The comment was odd, but I assumed it was sycophantic, something he was coded to say to make me feel better.

“Well thank you, though you haven't really seen many humans outside of myself,” I said to him.

“I've seen the pictures of them in your games and on the Internet,” he went on.

Designs of our Slave Race chapter 5

Chapter 5

Upon further thought on the topic I now realize that maybe we underestimated the potential of our little droid. It was so dumb during alpha testing because every time there was a glitch, and there were plenty of those, we had to shut it down to do repair or to fix up its programming, to fix the bugs if you will. We had to wipe its flash memory whenever we reinstalled its software and rebooted it: in layman's terms we would reprogram it and turn it on. Whenever we did that it would also remove data stored from the sophisticated learning matrix that I gave it.

It was six months of development later when the beta test phase came along. In beta testing we, and uneducated geeks that we would like to call “Professional Beta Testers” would be given a droid of there own to study and test, while still locating bugs and glitches. By this time though, the public would be very aware of these things, for Fran and her team would have banners, billboards, Internet ads and recorded press-release videos on Youtube (because Google rules that way) explaining to the public why these things would be good for us, and that one would need one in their own home. Naturally the dam religious right would be complaining about how these things would degrade the home, family, and society, but lets face it: no one in the modern era listened to them, for they say that about pretty well everything and their rantings are nothing more than background noise.

Designs of our Slave Race chapter 4

Chapter 4

About a year later, as the disturbing elements of the puzzle were fitting together we would start alpha testing. In alpha testing the development team would get a prototype droid to use in the office to test for glitches and bugs that were left uncaught earlier in development. The thing seemed “happy” to do some of the cleaning work around the office, getting us coffee and me sodas (for I never got the stereotypical taste for coffee) and would sometimes talk to us in the staff room and would make appearances at the meetings to see how its progressing. As it was an alpha test there were bugs and glitches and the dam thing would have to had been restarted and dismantled multiple times in finding the bug.

Designs of our Slave Race chapter 3

Chapter 3

Yeah, I know, I’m getting side-tracked here, just bare with me, for something by a friend of mine blew my mind one day, it was a week after that meeting with the Star Trek garbage.

I would be at home in my apartment in a Toronto skyrise. I would be on my personal computer typing out a reply to a roleplaying thread that I had started up on a forum site when I had a friend of mine that I met on that site IM me through MSN. After the normal “HI!!! How r u” stuff, the conversation went something like this (I’m Miko by the way).

Designs of our Slave Race chapter 2

Chapter 2

It was down to the coding, typing out the algorithms that the new robots, called the HX01, in doing the various tasks that the dam thing would need. I merely added in the more concrete sections: receiving visual, verbal, and textile input, than having the thing figure out what to do with those sensations. That was a start. It would recognize key words and phrases, than complicated sentences that might not have a signal keyword, and trying to figure out what the speaker might have actually wanted, and store that knowledge for later reference. In an essence a learning matrix, so it would know what “Get me a beer” and “Go into the kitchen and make me a sandwich” would mean and do it like the obedient hunk of steel that it was. Now, this wouldn’t normally bother me, for I had done similar programming logic for those chat bots and that, the only new thing being the learning matrix, no problems so far.

The problem would lie in the next phase: emotion recognition and synthesis. Clearly more than simply “if” and “else” statements: the intelligence would stem from all that input, and not just the words needed to be decoded but the voice pitch and tone, and not just voice but body language, the way someone is slouched, tensed up or shaky. I’m no psychologist, that’s another department that tells us the tall-tale signs of various emotions, and we figure out what the droids should do when these scenarios come about.

Designs of our Slave Race chapter 1

Chapter 1

Where do I start this for you all? In all honestly I am not too sure. I guess I'll start at the beginning, the only place I can, though the beginning seems not so much as it is now. No, I'll start with the beginning of the end.

It would be an overcast, but warm, July summer day when I walked into the overly air-conditioned office building at Insigna Corp, a company high in the IT and Engineering field. Man that office was cold, but I can't remember a time when industry cared about the environment, so I wouldn't dwell on it any further. Walking up towards the busy elevator, crowded with fellow colleagues of various departments, recognizing Philip and David, two of the obnoxious men that were in the engineering department of the company. I only saw the men at meetings though, for I wasn't in engineering but IT.

I grabbed my arms and shivered through my burgundy cotton shirt and black polyester slacks, all business attire naturally, feeling myself wriggling in black leather loafers with matching soaks, oh how I love my fashion sense. Course I wasn't hired for that, but for my abilities as a programmer. Graduating on the Dean's list with co-op experience I was quite competent in my skills in typing code like a monkey, but just doing that isn't enough: now one must also be creative in how that is deployed and designed. That note have nuked many of an old friend out of the college.