The year is 2345. I live in the city of San Diego because it is the best place in the entire galaxy. My name is Johnny 5-0, and I am a Smart Police Officer. I have been on the police force for over a hundred years. Recently I was retired due to age. I am 125 years old, but not once have I ever thought of myself as old. Being a smart cop I work 20 hours a day, seven days a week. I get time off to go home and charge my battery and maintain my human appearance. Keeping up a human appearance is important so that the lifers don’t mess with you. Lifers are people in our society who don’t like that there are machines that are smart robots like me, out of fear that we will develop to be even smarter than we are now. A robot can only feel what he is programmed to feel. Lifers don’t want us to any smarter. I live below ground because I like my privacy. Yes, it may be colder and, yes, it is kind of damp and clammy, but it is my space and there is no one down here to bother me. I don’t get out much these days. Ever since I was retired from the police force, my eyes have had trouble adjusting to the sunlight, so that is why I stay under ground. I like it here. I don’t really like to talk to people because they don’t really have anything interesting to say. It seems that people are more concerned about other people and their drama rather than their own responsibilities. Then you have the people who just talk small talk. You know, the people who talk about the weather, sports, or any other random thing that comes to mind. I am just fine by myself.
I don’t really need too much attention. It just takes me a little longer to recharge these days. I also visit the one I call the mad scientist more often. The mad scientist is the reason why I am still here today. He told me something that has been bothering me for the last few days. The scientist told me about robots like me being recycled. He told me my time was coming soon. Almost everything these days is recycled. Not like the 21st century, where they just consumed and threw away. They claimed they recycled, but really, they just made more waste. Recycling today is completely different. Everything from food, metal, and even sewage is recycled somehow. I have seen a few robots in the past get recycled and it has improved their life greatly. I have also seen a few robots that didn’t recover after recycling or, even worse, not make it at all. I was also told that after being recycled, I can go back to work at the department. Recycling is the best idea humans have come up with yet, besides me, of course. It only took humans 200 years to figure out recycling. The mad scientist didn’t specify what was to happen to me though. I am not worried about this because I trust the mad scientist will take good care of me. He has been looking after me now for over 50 years. Being a police officer, you get banged up quite frequently, and it is important to take care of yourself. I trust the scientist will take good care of me.
I am nothing out of the ordinary. I look like any other person on the street. The only difference is I use more energy, and I have metal, circuits, and mechanical pieces under my flesh. I can think and talk like humans. I am programmed, but I also make decisions like humans. I have a sense of humor, I can work, play games, run, process feelings, and even cry. I am every bit as human as my neighbor, only I don’t desire a woman and I can’t procreate. Not sexually, anyway. I have lived a great life, and I don’t think that recycling is necessary for me. Well, to the humans who developed me I have recently been labeled out of date, the worst label you could ever give a robot. We all know the end will come sooner or later, but for those of us who have the ability of emotion, it is not the best feeling in the world. Robots take it just as hard as humans do when they are on their death bed. Yes, I could run away and live on some remote planet with other outlaw runaway robots, but what is the use? They will find me and then do what has to be done eventually. I was one of the first of my generation. Our life expectancy when I was created was only to be 100 years. My bonus is that looks have not changed much since the day I was powered up. I’m going to be 125 and I just found out that I am one of the few remaining robots of my type. Thanks to my programs, I can feel pain, but only a small fraction of what humans feel when they are hurt. I hear pain can ruin your day. If you were to hit me, I would feel a slight pinch to let me know someone has hit me. If I were shot, I would bleed for a bit, and I would feel some pain so that I don’t forget I’ve been shot. All I am missing really is just a brain and heart, and I could be a human. The greatest thing I have in common with humans is that my time here will end one day.
It has been six days since I found out I am out of date and need to be recycled. I have found out some interesting news recently. My doctor told me that no major repairs were needed, but I would be getting an experimental upgrade.
“What does an experimental upgrade mean? Are you planning to put real human parts in me or something?” I asked the scientist.
“Yes,” the doctor said with a big smile.
I replied, “What is wrong with the way I am now? You said no major repairs were needed. Why me?” I tried not to get upset, but something about this experiment just didn’t seem right.
The doctor spoke softly and firmly, “If you don’t want to lose your identity, then you will do this for me.” You will be the first of your kind. You are going to be the new wave of technology.”
I cut the doctor short. “Why not just build another better, more sophisticated robot that can handle all of this and leave me alone?”
The doctor did not like my reaction and he shouted, “Because,” now his voice got softer, “no one can know about this. It is to be top secret. Besides, you’re the best of your kind, and I can’t spend forever working out the kinks of a new robot. You work and work well, so I am using you, and that’s final.”
What could I say? The mad scientist was the boss, and I am not human, so I must do as I am told. Most of the time anyway. I left the scientist that afternoon with a whole lot on my mind. Today, just another robot on the street and tomorrow, who knows? I will be the first of my kind again. Putting real human parts in robots is illegal, unless you have the government’s permission. Even then the crazy lifers, that’s what us smart robots call them, would destroy you as soon as they found out what you were doing. The lifers are the ones who are responsible for the changes in the world we know today. A giant intergalactic group whose sole purpose is to destroy all artificial intelligence in the universe. Ironically, my job as a police officer was to patrol and subdue these crazy people. I was created to represent a human in every possible way, so that I could do my job more effectively. Soon, I will have a real human brain and who knows what I will be capable of doing? Because I will be the first of my kind, I will have to be very careful not to let anyone find out or it’s lights out for me. Only time will tell.
Today is the of reckoning. The doctor is convinced that today is the day. It is now or never. I hope that those crazy lifers haven’t found out yet and ruin this experiment. The more I think about the possibilities of operating with a brain, the more excited I become. If the lifers do find out what’s going on and destroy me, I can only hope one of my circuits gets recycled into an electronic device they use on a regular basis, and I can destroy them all one by one. That sounds extreme, I know, but it would be for their own good. One hour to go, and then it’s lights out. Doc said I would only be out for three days. He offered me a new face, but I thought that would have been weird. I’ve been looking at this face now for over a hundred years. I’m no movie star, but I like me. Well, it’s time for lights out. Here we go.
“This is going to work. This has to work. Otherwise mine and all my father’s work has been for nothing, and I will have to start all over again. Assuming I don’t get killed after I am discovered,” the scientist kept thinking this over and over again in his mind. He was certain that this would work, and he would change the world forever and become a hero.
What the mad scientist didn’t know is that this robot had been followed for the last few weeks and that the scientist himself was in great danger. He had no idea that his life and all that he had worked for was going to disappear.
“Five, four, three two, one.” A lifer across the street from the mad scientist’s lab counted down over the walkie-talkie. The man sitting in his van smoking a cigar four blocks away pushed the red button. As the building exploded and the fire grew larger, the lifers watched and cheered. “That’s it for that one,” the general said proudly. “On to the next crazy guy who thinks he is going to change the world with another special robot.”
Archives: Fall 2010.