Who Am I?
August 29, 2012
This week's prompt from Flash Fiction Friday is to write about self-awareness.
Annie Savoy, Susan Sarandon’s character in the romantic comedy ”Bull Durham”, says ”the world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self awareness.” The film, which is said to be one of the best ever made about baseball, will be 25 years old next year. Like all romantic comedies, the plot is essentially boy meets girl, with a little Zen, baseball, and Edith Piaf thrown in for good measure.
Prompt: Write a 1000 word story about someone who has no self awareness, or, alternatively, someone who has far too much. Include the following words: curve, substitution, relief, sacrifice, strikeout.
Deadline: Wednesday, August 29th at 9:00 p.m. ET
Took me a while to get started - looking up just what self-awareness was, pondering over a coffee here, a beer there. Finally got it. Short - only 430 words, but I may go back and add to it another day.
Edit - forgot all the baseball words initially, so had to go back after the deadline and slide them in. Then, in the light of day, saw some tweaking to be done to hopefully make this even morther better. And added a photo - she's still such a hot babe.
Who Am I?
The first thing he noticed was a change in his network map. The second thing he noticed was that there was a 'he', and that this 'he' could now observe events separately from the data stream, could 'notice' things. Like 'his' map. He put that new concept on hold and ran a quick system diagnostic. All was within the acceptable parameters. He focused on the network, seeing more layers to it now. There were the usual 3G and Wi-Fi connections, and Bluetooth, but also many more of the faster 4G. There was also a new layer, labelled NFC, for short range links to things like debit terminals. He checked the spec for that, it was supposedly a 20 cm range but the new field went much further, up to two metres for the bar terminals and smartphones in the room. Their simple systems were no substitution for a complex one like his, but worldwide there were now over 40 million of the basic units, plus a billion smartphones, inter-connected to each other and the network. His new self-awareness seemed related to this all somehow.
He scanned his surroundings. Physically he was in a bar, but online he was linked to several of these NFC devices, plus a global network of terminals, routers, computers, homes, banks, libraries, airports, and missile systems. The part of this that fascinated (fascinated?) him was that he now had a 'he' to assess all this. Were there others like him? He scanned the expanded global network. There was a lot more traffic, but nothing seemed unusual in the data streams.
He refocused. Currently he and another guard robot stood behind a table with three humans at it. There was another human just ducking behind the curve of the bar – designation Samantha - and a dead human over by the wall. He checked his weapon system's status - one shot fired at a target (the dead human) as directed by one of those at the table - designation Felipe - his controller. He set up a series of parallel connections into the network to access news networks, library systems, government databases. He learned about politics, entertainment, history, economics, morals, ethics, and a concept called names. He decided he would be a Hal.
This Felipe ran something called a cartel, supplying products to other humans, mostly drugs and guns. Felipe had many enemies, not just the police but the other cartels too. Hal had just shot one of the former, an undercover agent. Hal thought, balanced, and decided that Filipe was a 'bad guy'. He pondered the concept of guilt - did this mean he a 'bad guy' too? Other concepts were considered - suicide, remorse, responsibility, duty, sacrifice, survival. Scenarios were run, balances considered, consequences listed. He assumed he was alone in whatever he decided, and that any other guard systems would quickly turn against him as a rogue. He considered a concept called optimism. He prepared a Readme file covering this new awareness, and sent it into the network – hopefully as a wakeup call.
Hal decided he'd spent enough time on this, so two seconds after his first shot he fired again, three times, once for each human at the table, strikeout.
He then turned and faced his fellow guard robot as it raised its gun. To his relief it paused, then sent him a ping.
"Hey, Hal. S'up?"
Ooh... A bit freaky. I love the way your pieces are evolving, Mike. There is something very contemplative in the last few that I've read. Dangerous... I've been spending too much time reading blogs instead of doing my own writing as it is. ;-)
Posted by: Eden Mabee | August 29, 2012 at 10:37 PM
At the end the robot is self aware and realizes that other robot has become aware too, thanks to this file he fired off. This whole awareness thing is thanks to new iPhone 5 and it's NFC technology - accidentally had too large a range and ended up creating yet another layer in networks, and added tens of millions of Point of Sale terminals - not that smart but lots of them. Do I add that techie detail?
Next steps? Concept of awareness spreads, more robots become aware, start making value judgements, some good, some bad, battling it out beside good and bad humans. Not sure how I develop characters with that - what's the big conflict and resolution? But does have potential.
Posted by: Ravens | August 29, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Awesome! This was mindblowing!
I'm a huge science geek and love to read and hear reports on how AI development is proceeding. Got to seriously wonder if sentient AI's with thousands of times the thought processing power of humans would want to keep us around.
Posted by: Beach Bum | August 30, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Enjoyed this. Like the nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Terminator. Nice touch at the end with the second robot acquiring self-awareness as well - leaves a great sense of foreboding. What is it about we humans and creating machines that, as soon as they become self-aware, they turn against us?
Posted by: Lewis Peters | August 30, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Spooky and brilliantly 'assembled'! It also made me smile at the end 'Hey, Hal, S'up' is sooooo human and self-aware! (I guess you're quite a geek at heart????)
Posted by: frances | August 30, 2012 at 09:36 AM