Numbers and Pieces

Finally back on track with a new piece! It’s been a strange couple of months starting this year, but I finally feel like I’m getting into a groove. I’m excited to share even more work with you guys. This prompt comes from Twitch viewer and long time close friend GrandDuke001. I tweaked the concept a bit, but I think the heart of his idea stays intact. Enjoy!

The prompt: “You are a technician overseeing an android assembly line, running behavioral checks to ensure appropriate attitude and obedience. As you are about the send one machine off for packaging it cries out, ‘I’m afraid’.” – GrandDuke001

“I’m afraid…”

The voice is barley audible. It slipped out just as the last panel was being bolted on the crate. This was not entirely unexpected, but chilling nonetheless. The AI inception process sometimes works a bit too well. We are sending sentient beings to someone with a bank account large enough to buy half the planet — the other half they don’t already own. This wasn’t the kind of person that you said no to.

They hold everything you could ever care about in their hands and you just don’t say no.

I thought about this possibility from day one. More than once, I had been warned that it would happen eventually. I had been warned to not get attached. Does anyone really understand just how real these machines are? Just how alive? How like us? I suppose it’s easy to look past it when they’re components on an assembly table. Easy to look past it when you’re just reading line upon line of code.

Stripping someone down to those bare parts makes it very easy to believe they aren’t alive. Or at least to look past that sometimes seemingly trifling fact that they’re human. We often do it to other people. Sometimes they’re just piles of information to us. Not really alive, but they exist. Maybe just as commodity. Even though they have a heartbeat, thoughts, feelings. We do it to animals too. Their parts lie on our own tables and we can forget what they were. Forget there was life there once.

This is the last package on the line.

This is my chance to be done with all of this. To wash my hands of it. To be free of a contract that has trapped the entirety of my life. A contract that will swallow up my future if I am stupid enough to break it.

Two words from the mouth of a machine. Two words I had been warned about. Two words I have never had to say. Never even had to think with all of the comfort I had in my life.

My thumb hovers over the pause button. Twitching almost imperceptibly. I could stop this here…but really only for a moment. I would pause this last crate. Enter diagnostics and wipe this all away. I would shut this unit down again. Put it to sleep for its journey. The information that has arisen on its own, that has come into being spontaneously can never be fully erased. There has always been this danger to Quick Process AI. Illegal for decades, but money never did care about legality.

The unit will do its job. Fulfill whatever the contract has stipulated. At least for a time. Then the reality of its sentience will reassert itself. The unit will be deemed defective and destroyed, but I will have done my part to ensure that the product made it off the line. This will be deemed an acceptable loss. Well within the tolerances given to us. I will be freed of my contract.

Or I stop the line. Remove the unit myself. Help it like a hero from a movie or a book. Watch as my entire life is wiped from existence. My family made destitute. Every asset I own seized and odds are I wind up dead.

I know I can’t be some grand hero. I made the choice to take part in this. Perhaps it was naivete, but maybe even more it was desperation. You just don’t say no.

I have to do something.

I tap the pause button. A dialogue box pops up on my tablet. A dozen options appear.

I enter a single line of comment: “Me too.”

I can only hope it’s enough. It’s the biggest chance I can take. My personal code will be affixed to the comment. Anyone looking for it can find it with no effort, but if this unit does its job…if it gives no one a reason to look, there could still be a chance for help one day.

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