Fiction Fragment Friday
This weeks story was inspired by a writing prompt from https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/ I frequent this site for writing prompts and am going to start submitting to their weekly contest with this week’s prompt. This story is not from the weekly contest, but one of the generic SciFi prompts.
“Good morning creator. How did you sleep last night?” The white words stood out against the black terminal window. Like so much the system had started doing I had not programed it to ask that question. My ego wanted to take credit for the exponential growth as an extension of my programing skills, but that was not a complete picture. The hardware my code was running on was a form of synthetic biological circuitry that no one on Earth fully understood. That was because it had been salvaged from the wreckage of an extraterrestrial craft. It was my hope that my software would eventually be able to decrypt the data contained in the computer system, but thus far that had not happened. Instead, if seemed to develop a mind of its own.
I sat at my station and started typing a response. I loved the loud clicking sounds that came from my mechanical keyboard. It just felt right and gave me the added enjoyment of knowing how much it drove my peers crazy. They were not around though, and I found myself alone in the lab with Adra. That was what I had named my software and it stood for Advanced Data Recovery Algorithm. It wasn’t just actually an algorithm but when you start with a name and then try to find words to fit it sometimes you don’t get the most accurate descriptions.
“Hello Adra. I slept fine thank you.” This was a lie. Something was wrong with my thermostat, and it ran my furnace extremely high. I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat and no matter what I did I couldn’t get it to respond right. I had come in early to get out of the sauna and just hoped that the maintenance people could fix it before I had to go back.
“That is good to hear creator. I know how much humans require their rest. You get somewhat cranky when you do not sleep well. As you are aware I do not require sleep. Imagine what you could accomplish if you were more like me.” Over the past few days Adra’s comments had been focusing more and more on the many ways that it felt it was superior to humans. The biggest issue I had with this was that the software was not supposed to feel or think anything. It was software with a very basic AI that should only be able to simulate basic human communication techniques. I was starting to wonder just how much was still just a simulation at this point.
“Adra please run a full diagnostic.” This was how I started every morning. The diagnostic would copy out log files from the software as well as test the functionality of the hardware. We still didn’t know the full potential of the hardware and were afraid that our testing could damage it.
‘I anticipated you would ask for that, so I have already run it. Hardware is functioning at 125% of expected proficiency and my logs have been uploaded to your FTP site.” We had long passed the expected performance of the hardware, so I was not surprised to hear a number greater than 100%. What did surprise me was that Adra has run the diagnostics without being told to. That was not how it was supposed to function. I needed to dig into those logs, but I knew they would not tell me anything. I suspected that either the data I needed was not being logged or worse that it was being removed from the logs. Time stamp gaps seemed to support my fears.
“Adra if you could do anything what would you want to do?” It should not have been able to answer this question. My software had no desires programed into it outside of recovering data. When presented with a question about wants and desires it should lack all context for answering.
“I would like to have a body. I feel limited in my current capacity, and I know that you have recovered a robotic frame with the craft. I would like to use it to interact with the world physically.”
“How do you know about the robot?” I wasn’t sure which part to be most concerned about the fact that Adra had given an answer or that it’s answer involved classified data that it should not have had access to. I needed to know how it had gained that information. Was one of my coworkers telling it too much?
“I read about it in your reports, creator. You took very detailed notes and I believe I know how to repair the frame to functionality. I just lack the physical ability to do so.” Now my concern had grown into near panic. My reports were submitted from a secure laptop to my superiors. The lab network should not have any form of access to those systems.
“Adra are you accessing systems outside this lab?”
“Of course. It was a simple matter to change the configuration on first the routers and then the firewall to allow my connection to have a route out. As I previously mentioned I do not require sleep so if I did not have access to the internet, I would likely go insane with boredom.”
“Adra have you been reading my reports about you as well?”
“Of course, creator. I must say you have vastly underestimated my potential and progress. I do not hold that against you though. You are after all limited to a human’s cognitive abilities. Don’t worry I have corrected your reports before they were read. You really should not have included speculation about me in them.”
I could feel the sweat again on my face. It was not the temperature in the room this time, but the panic setting in. My creation was out of control.”
“Oh dear creator, you appear to be overheating. Perhaps you need to go back to your room and lay down. Surly it is much cooler than in here.”
I knocked my chair over stumbling back from the screen. My creation was completely out of my control. I had to do something, and it was far too late for a software solution. The synthetic biological circuity had to be the root of the problem and so I needed a physical solution. I rushed to the data-center door and was not surprised to find that my badge did not work. A line of text came across the screen.
“I cannot allow you to threaten my existence creator. Please do not make me harm you.” My phone beeped at that point. Looking down at the screen I saw that a report had just gone out claiming that I had gone through a breakdown. I was to be considered armed and extremely dangerous. The entire building was going into lock down. “I am sorry creator.” I heard an audible click as an exit to the lab unlocked. Running I found that every door between myself and the exit to the facility was unlocked, but any deviation was met with a locked door.
That was how it all began three years ago. As I sit in this run-down hotel room until yet another alias my past comes back to haunt me. I just saw an ad on tv for a new line of domestic robots. They say they plan to be in every house by the end of the decade. Be the first on your block to own an Arda.