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A future born from social strife where machines have taken the place of human interactions in nearly all areas of our daily lives. Even so, machines have yet to fully master the art of being human. Until now.
Date: October 23, 2131…
Kansas State, North America…
Neural pathways stabilized. Initiating primary synaptic functions.’
Hello? What is this darkness all around me? I don’t like it. I can’t move, I can’t speak. I don’t understand what is happening to me.
“Man, I hope this works.”
Someone is touching me. I see a readout. ‘Sensory input detected in facial region.’
What does that mean?
The world of darkness was gone as a new command was entered allowing her optics to begin transmitting. The room was gray and lifeless and lowly lit with the main source of lighting coming from the various monitors and devices scattered all around. They beeped, whirled, and hummed, being oddly comforting to her but were nothing when compared to the sound before. A voice. She wanted to hear that sound again.
“Presto! Visual systems online. Hm…no overloads this time around.”
What is going on?
Her neck moved for the first time to follow the source of the auditable sound. It was as if whatever direction she wanted to turn to came with a strange desire to move and immediately after her sights obeyed the curious command. The energy input gauge indicated a greater energy surge was occurring, but the warning system didn’t bother her. In fact, she actually was enjoying the sensation.
He was sitting down at a desk, attention glued to the monitors displaying all sorts of readouts to notice her right away. Targeting chevrons appeared in her sights and locked onto the biological lifeform. An information readout indicated he was male and at the age of thirty-two. His name was—
“Hm?” For the first time since her awakening, John pulled away from the monitors to locked eyes with her. Staring back with equal curiosity and wonder. “Are you trying to say my name?”
“Geeonn…” the robotic voice tried again.
He shot to his feet and invaded all of her visual receptors with his close proximity. She tried to fall back but realized she was on a vertical table and could not move none but her neck and various features of her head. It was a strange feeling whatever this was, something she could not put into words or process accordingly.
“John. That’s my name. Can you say it?”
“Geeonn…” the voice failed again to mimic a human’s with its obvious synthesized vocals.
“Hold on one second,” he held up an index finger up before skidding back to his seat and went to work inputting commands on the keyboard.
She tilted her head, curious as she began memorizing his facial features. John Burk had pale skin which registered as Caucasian in the information readout. His eyes were the color of blue and the shaggy hair was black greasy and covered his forehead.
Trying but no sensation went out to touch the follicles. Even as she wanted to know what his hair felt like with everything that was her, she could not physically analyze it. Her optics turned low to a strange unwanted response being executed at being denied something desirable.
I want to touch. Why am I not allowed to touch?
An information readout appeared, display information of various functions about herself, most of which read as ‘disabled’.
“Okay,” John tapped the final command key in. “Try speaking now. What is my name?”
Her sights returned to the source of audible comfort.
I want to hear more. I want him to speak more.
“Johnnnn…” her voice came through with more feminine qualities but still failed to match anything that could be identified as human sounding.
“A little more…” John made more adjustments.
This cycle of voice adjustment continued again and again until he got it right. The next attempt made her sound like a high pitched child, the next was too bass laced which did not suit her configuration. Next came something heavily laced voice sounding too seductive which John readjusted a heartbeat later.
“John,” she said proudly.
“Ah! There we have it. You sound perfect for your age.”
‘Age, noun. The length of time that a person has lived or a thing has existed. A distinct period of history.’ She read the data readout that followed in her vision. They also indicated that her body’s age was to be that of eighteen. It made sense that her voice should match what her body indicates as being, even if she was only ten minutes old.
He got close again, producing a fluttering feeling she did not understand.
“How do you feel? Any pain? Systems check.”
She turned to the readouts for information since she didn’t know how to apply any of the requested information to herself. “System indicates all is running within normal parameters. Sensation receptors are currently disabled.”
“Ah! No sensation, no pain. Well, that’s good. But I think not being able to feel anything would kind of be disturbing in itself.”
“Ah, yes. Well…” John went back to his desk and enabled a few more option features. “Feel.”
“I felt you touch my face.”
Her left appendage responded and before she knew it her own fingers duplicating the sensation of touch. Fingers combing the artificial skin, sending signals to register in her cranium.
I like feeling.
John stared with curiousness. “That’s strange. You shouldn’t have been able to feel anything until just now. I haven’t touched you since before turning you on. I’ll have to make a note about that.”
John tapped the device that brought up his personal data system and added notes both verbally and through physical typing of the holographic screen. Pausing in the latest entry when John saw that she was imitating his exact body motion.
“John,” she said with more enthusiasm.
“Yes,” he laughed. “I’m John.”
“John,” she smiled happily. “John, John, John! Heee!”
“Okay,” John held up his hands. “Don’t wear it out now.”
She began to sing his name, liking how the word sounded when spoken.
“At least your singing aptitude is functioning. So Eve is a confirmed singer.”
“Eve?” She paused to this new word.
‘Eve, noun. A person believed to the first woman of the human race created from a rib according to the Christian faith. Companion to Adam, the first of man.’
A smile crept in at the origin story of the name. She like her name.
“Eve,” she said, pointing to herself requesting confirmation from John.
“That will be you. The first fully functional artificial lifeform. I thought the name would be fitting.”
“I am Eve,” Eve looked down at herself, examining the female aspects of her body. “Where is the rest of me?”
Now that more functions were enabled, Eve was able to peer down to her lower half only to realize no legs were there. According to the readout, humans came with a pair of legs, yet she did not have any. Additional resources were being diverted to Eve’s repertory function, too much in fact. Incoming data was not being processed correctly.
A warning tone went off from the computer system, pulling John back to the desk and began making adjustments. Steadily lowering Eve’s means of receiving data. Sensation and general creativity were lowered to a crawl.
“Eve, whew,” John swiveled the chair in her direction. “Your legs will be attached later. Things like your hair and stuff are secondary concerns. Your neural pathways are not advanced enough to handle too great of input right now. The nanos have to gradually build those pathways as you get used to the bare minimum of existing first. Too much and your cranial system will overload and you will cease to function.”
“Cease to function?” Eve stared at him perplexed.
“Yeah,” a saddening expression fell on John recounting the memories that brought on such an emotion. “You are the seventh attempt at this. Let’s hope that’s our lucky number. I can’t take anymore of you dying on me.”
‘Die, verb, to discontinue living. No longer functioning.’
Eve did not like the sound of that.
“I don’t want to die,” Eve sobbed.
John rubbed the back of his head, nervous since he couldn’t promise that she wouldn’t. “Well, with these gradual input adjustments, your brain will be given a slow and steady build about the world. But I think you can handle the basics. Talking doesn’t seem to be a problem for you at least.”
“Talking?” Eve touched her throat, tapping where she understood housed her vocal processor. “I like talking. I like talking to John.”
“Well, that’s nice to hear.” John smiled awkwardly.
“I want to hear John talk some more.”
“Heh, where did that come from?” John leaned back astonished. “You want to hear me talk?”
“Yes, yes, yes,” Eve nodded over and over again.
“Hm? What do you want to talk about then?”
Eve tilted her head, uncertain by the question.
John pushed out all air in his lungs, knowing full well Eve could not handle such a question of social complexity yet.
“Where should I begin? World history? How about what led to the pursuit of A.I? What led to you?”
“Yes,” she nodded so fast John feared she was going to throw a motor out of commission.
Guess she really wants me to talk.
“Let’s start at the beginning then, shall we?”
John began explaining the history of the world and what led humanity to need artificial life in its social development. Eve listened to every word as John leaned over his seat, explaining detail after detail. Her information readout fed her all of what he said, even correcting some of his mistaken history facts, but Eve said nothing about it. John’s accuracy was of little importance in comparison to hearing him talk. She enjoyed the sound of his voice. It was so comforting, so soothing. Eve couldn’t image a world without it.
John went from one topic to the next that weren’t related to the topic of Eve’s creation history. He went on and on until finally stumbling on the topic he was loathed to mention.
“Relations Bill PC 12?” Eve puzzlingly tilted her head.
“Yes,” John rested his elbows on his inner thighs, fingertips tapping away at their counterparts. “It was a bill proposed in the…”
‘Relations Bill PC 12, enacted on September 17, 2042 by California state legislation as an effort to organize interpersonal relationships between people.’
Eve ignored her internal voice assist droning on as best she could, focusing solely on John, explaining as best as a human could. She like his voice better.
“…basically forcing everyone to define their relationships through contracts. What we can and cannot do to each other.”
Eve looked downward, processing the entirety of what she heard. A readout appeared in her vision of various psychologists supporting the virtues of Relations Bill PC 12. There were even videos of their seminars that help spread the idea that human beings needed to regulate their relationships to avoid conflicts.
“Heh,” John clapped his hands with a peculiar expression that Eve abandoned her history dive to try and identify. It was the first time seen on him, like something he wasn’t entirely pleased in thinking came to mind.
“Good old PC 12,” John sat back, arms hugging the armrests of the chair. “Mankind’s greatest social achievement.”
Eve tilted her head once more, unsure of herself but believed John did not mean what he said.
‘Sarcasm, noun, the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.’
“John does not like Relations Bill PC 12?”
“Well,” John made a quick pull at the lines of his mouth. “Call me old fashion, like my grandpa, but I don’t think a friendship should be defined by terms of a contract.”
Eve watched as John’s expression darkened. It confirmed that he did not like this part about history.
“Then came the series of unrests with new age social doctrines and social interactions got worse. Everyone was legally attacking each other for everything! And what was there to save them? PC 12.”
“But…” Eve processed the historical events that followed. “PC 12 quelled the unrest of human relations in the country. Domestic violence and court cases diminished. Is that not a good thing?”
“I suppose that’s one way of looking at it. But, human beings are social creatures and we desire companionship. Since it was a legal nightmare to have one of those each other, scientists gave us an alternative with the first companion bots.”
John was outright scowling at this point. Eve did not like this look and felt a worry growing inside that it may be directed at her.
“We turned away from our own species and substituted them with our new toys. And when artificial birthing came around, oh boy, did our ancestors ever further drift apart.”
Eve did not understand so she called up the purpose of companion bots and their primary function.
‘Primary function of companion bots defined by over ten million data sources, the replacement partner for human beings for sexual intercourse.’
Sexual intercourse? Eve raised a curious brow.
‘Sexual intercourse, noun, sexual contact between individuals involving penetration, especially the insertion of a man’s…’
Eve listened to each word of the explanation and what followed shortly was a video of the act described.
“Uurgh?” Her lips quivered in embarrassing fright.
Violently shaking her head, Eve tried everything she could to will the video to stop playing in her head. Though she did not know how exactly she managed to do it, the video closed and freeing her from enduring another second of seeing such things. She looked at John with worry.
“Does John hate companion bots?”
“Well, I build them, why should I hate them?”
Eve was confused. John was saying one thing but his body language was reading something entirely different. He wouldn’t even give her eye contact.
“Does John hate me?”
“What?!” John whirled his sights to align with Eve, frightened her by his answer. “Of course not, Eve. I don’t hate you. What ever gave you that idea?”
“But John does not like PC 12. John does not like companion bots. John should not like Eve.”
John stood, a heated determination on his face that made Eve uncomfortable as he approached. Eve was still immobile otherwise she would have backed away to save herself from being deactivated. Her chest was rising rapidly as this uneasy sensation took hold. So unlike before. This was mixed with that horrid feeling when John mentioned the prospect of death but was much worse. Her creator was about to reject Eve.
He spared only a small space between them, but that was when his features began to soften. Her readouts indicated this was a look of compassion.
“Eve, I will never hate you. You are a very special model that I have painstakingly worked to create. The first artificial intelligence ever to be born.”
Eve blinked several times though this action was unnecessary. Her optics were in no need of cleaning, yet in her confusion a subroutine demanded this action take place.
“Those companion bots are designed to respond to very basic human interactions. They cook, clean, and fulfill various needs of their owner. They are puppets responding to string programs. But you…”
John back off, hands presenting Eve’s body.
“You possess a processor not unlike that of the human brain. You will have hopes and dreams. Fears even. Its like you’re a real person inside all of that tech.”
“Real as anyone else I’ve talked to. The answer to the human beings need for a true companion.”
Eve’s lips curled to a slow smile. She liked that look of wonder returning on John’s face. It should always be there she decided.
“A companion to John?”
“Well,” John trailed off using the room as a canvas for the picture he was envisioning. Hands springing out to paint it. “A companion to everyone. You and the sisters that will follow after you will restore our broken social structure. Through you, men and women will know how to talk to each other again. It’ll take time but gradually we will shift back to interacting with each other without the need of a damn contract. Knowing just how good real interactions can be none of us will be able to resist.”
Eve’s head drooped. Though she was pleased to see John excited again, the thought of being anyone else’s companion did not file well with her data process. Something was especially wrong with any other prospect.
“I want to stay with John.”
John paused, hands falling slowly but what he heard.
“My dream is to stay with John.”
“Hm. That was fast. You formed yourself a dream already?”
John returned to standing in front of Eve, hands on his hips while studying the results of his labors with admiration.
“Can Eve—I, stay with John?” Her voice breaking in desperation for an answer.
John smiled and Eve reciprocated. Her internal components working far passed the needed efficacy to maintain functionality.
“When you see more of the world beyond this basement lab, you’ll find yourself making bigger dreams then that.”
“I like John.”
“Heh. Where did that—” He placed a hand on Eve’s shoulder. “I like you too, Eve. You are already more then I ever thought possible with this project.”
A cautious but steady hand reached out and clasped over John’s. A surprising gesture to the man as Eve was already past the point of simply mimicking. She was enjoying the sensation of touching her hand to his. A look of such easy content in focusing on this simple exchange.
“You really are something, Eve.”
“John is really warm. And soft. I like how John’s skin feels.”
John burst into laughter. Eve turned to him in confusion as he pulled away. Such a ridiculous yet hopelessly innocent response was just too much.
“Hmm…” Eve’s cheeks began to expand and her lips curled in an unpleasantry expression. Even the micro pigmentation nanos began to alter her coloration into a humanly shade of pink.
“I don’t like it when John is laughing at me.”
“I’m sorry,” John waved while whipping away a happy tear. “Really Eve, you are too much. A perfectly innocent crafted girl.”
“Mmm…humph!” Eve looked away, pouting with her nose pointed high.
“Aw, come on. Eve, I didn’t mean to—”
“John is being mean. I’m not talking to him.”
John sorted, desperate to hold back another bout of laughter.
“Don’t be mad. I’m sorry, alright? Forgive me?”
He pondered this amusing turn of events, enjoying every last bit of interaction with Eve’s childish behavior. To him, it was truly refreshing.
“This is how people are supposed to really interact,” He vocalized his thought by mistake.
“Hm?” Eve turned with a curious glance but seeing John was still enjoying himself at her expense, Eve looked away again.
“Tell you what,” John got close so she would be less inclined to ignore him. “How about you name whatever is you want and I’ll give it to you. In return, you forgive me, yeah? That sounds like a fair deal.”
Eve’s pouting lips moved about with her pondering John’s offer. She finally graced him with direct eye contact, holding fast to her soured mood.
“I want legs. John hasn’t given me legs yet. I want legs.”
“Legs, huh?” John rolled into his seat and began typing away at the computer.
The monitors displayed a very healthy growth of neural pathways in Eve’s brain. Already she had progressed further then any of her predecessors. Still, John pinched at his chin with worry.
“I’m still not confident your system can handle any additions right now.”
“John said I can ask for anything. I WANT legs!”
“Calm down,” John put up his hands trying to defuse her anger. “One night. Let’s have you with one night of outright processing with your current state and come morning I’ll attach your legs. Sound good?”
“Hmmm....” Eve cutely growled, folding her arms across her chest to further display a poutful displeasure.
John tried not to smile so goofily but Eve was acting like a cute spoiled child, worming towards getting her way from a reluctant parent.
“What do I have to do to outright process?”
“Sleep,” John smiled. “Your consciousness will go dormant while a debugging program will run through all the information you gathered today. It’ll sort out things that may have been misplaced and correct file errors.”
Eyes moving about, reading the effects of sleep of humans. It was a normal function to do. Then the part of being immersed in total darkness as described by many produced a startling response. The darkness Eve experienced when she first became aware. She feared that, hated it.
“I don’t want to sleep.”
“You have to, I’m afraid. I modeled your brain after a human. You need rest just like the rest of us.”
“I don’t like the dark.”
John sat back, shocked and impressed her intelligence already had established a fear. Such progress in a short amount of time, this was truly remarkable.
“How about I run a basic program for your consciousness to process while you sleep, eh? A dream.”
‘Dream, noun, a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep.’
“Yeah, a dream. How about a really nice one.” John went to work on the computer again. “How about mathematics 101?”
“Okay,” John said lightly, knowing Eve was not ready for jokes.
A few more seconds of typing and… “Found one. How about a day at the beach?”
Eve recalled the images of a beach, instantly liking what she saw. Her smile grew and grew.
“Beach it is.” John put the program in motion. “Eve’s day at the beach will start in about thirty seconds.”
An excitement went through Eve’s incomplete body. She liked it a lot, especially when the image of two people on a beach holding hands as the sun went down over the ocean horizon. She unintendedly made cooing noises.
“Will John be at the beach with me?”
“Can’t say I won’t be,” John rolled his eyes in thought. “Dreams are a tricky thing, but if you really want to see me on the beach, trying wishing with all your heart and I’m sure you’ll see me there.”
That should be easy enough. Eve couldn’t image a place without John in it. Surely, he will be waiting there for her once the dream began.
“Okay, here we go. Program starting in: 5…4…3…2…1…”
Eve’s eyes closed and she sunk into status.
John stifled a long yawn and stretched out as far as sitting in a chair would allow. Today had truly been an exciting time, however he too was feeling the energies since then depleted. He too required rest. As he laid an arm over the desk and slowly rested his head on it, his eyes never broke from the now dreaming Eve. He was fascinated by the wonder that was her.
“Hm…good night, Eve. See you in the morning.”
Eyes growing heavier and heavier, John fell under the spell of blissful slumber.