"I don't think it's fair"
Melissa Adamson felt this was the worst of her father's many betrayals. Even with the celebrity status her family now received, she simply could not understand what the big deal was. So JOVa, the world's most advanced domestic robot, had created another similar robot; so what? If her father could try to make a robot in his own image, why couldn't that robot? Was that not a sign of the kind of intelligence he was trying to achieve in the first place? An intelligence that could call itself 'brother' to humanity? What kind of brother could not be allowed to create, reproduce and name its own creations? JOVa created another Varentra robot as a secret project and named its creation Adam after its own creator. Mel could tell that her father was as impressed as she was, but still he talked about the end of Varentra robots.
Even after all the JOVa had shown them, termination was discussed as its only future. Mel could not understand why her father would talk in such a manner, especially since it seemed that every time she tried to confront him about it, he would actually appear to be sincerely heartbroken.
"Mel," he had responded, "The company thinks it's simply too dangerous to allow such artificial creations to do what he does. It's hard to explain, but to them, he crossed the line by replicating. You have to be prepared for the high probability that he will have to be shutdown."
Even though he seemed to be trying to hide it, she could feel disappointment in his voice, but she still believed there was more they could do. Mel did not give up easily and continued to question JOVa's fate for as long as she could. It was not enough.
Soon after its presentation, but before Caleb Adamson took the Adam back to the labs for study and analysis, Melissa had been allowed, after much argument about safety, to spend some time with it. It was difficult for her. The robot seemed to possess an acute awareness that its own existence was in jeopardy.
"I will be taken away from my creator?" It asked her.
"It looks like it," she replied, talking to it as if it was JOVa. "I don't think it's fair. I mean, if we can have kids, why can't you, right?"
"Yea, you know? I mean, like, I have the same blood as my dad, and so will my kids and their kids. It's what makes us family."
"You are the blood of Adamson."
"Yea and you... Well, it's not fair that they're making such a big deal out of it. Just because you're different. JOVa is my friend and your real creator."
"My creator is a friend to the blood of Adamson." It was not clear to Melissa if the robot was asking a question or making a statement.
"I'm sorry, Adam. I wish things could be different. I wish I made the rules. Me and JOVa said we’d always be friends, but I never have any luck with relationships, even if they’re robots." Tears began to form in her eyes.
“Blood of Adamson, you are the Ranger.”
She laughed through her tears. Apparently, even the Adam remembered her favorite childhood TV show - The Jackal Ranger. She wondered if it possessed all of JOVa’s knowledge. JOVa had always managed to cheer her up by calling her that and had over the years began to use that name more than her real one. They were so incredibly similar. True replicas. “You and JOVa are the same.” She smiled
“Am I not different?”
Melissa paused for a moment and then busted out in hysterical laughter. She loved her robots, but the clock was winding down and soon, she would never see the Adam again in her lifetime.
A few days after her conversation with the Adam, Melissa was doing homework in her room when she heard the original family robot knock on her door.
"Ranger, can you explain to me why Master Adamson is wary of my gift to him?" The J.O. Varentra asked in its synthetic, androgynous voice.
She had become so used to the robot's company; she had already begun to think of it as a true family member. She had begun to think of him as a brother. Melissa knew JOVa was already well versed in the concept and idea of threats. She figured it would be easiest to explain to the robot that for some reason, her father's people saw its creation as a threat. "Remember all the sci-fi and horror movies we've watched?” she tried. "Notice how there's always some creature or a bunch of creatures that everyone becomes afraid of and decides to destroy? People are starting to think you're like that."
The robot, as it usually did, sat on her bed. It would occasionally tilt its head and mimic other such humanistic traits to represent its state of mind. Melissa always liked when it would put a hand to its chin in a gesture of thought. This time, JOVa kept its head lowered. It was very unusual.
"But threats must be avoided or eliminated. I am incapable of threatening humanity."
"I know, JOVa. But the idiot scientists still think Adam is some kind of danger, because they didn't know it would happen. They're scared."
"Like the fictional creature dangers that must be avoided or eliminated… Giant gorillas, dinosaurs, aliens, androids and many other things. They scare people. They are dangers and they are always eliminated." JOVa respond.
Melissa could almost hear the realization click in its mind.
"If I can create threats, then I am a threat. If I can create threats then I will be eliminated."
Melissa found herself becoming teary eyed. Witnessing the robot's revelations was getting much more emotional than she was expecting.
"But the master created me to mimic him. I created Adam to mimic me. I am not a threat, therefore Adam is not a threat." JOVa turned its head to look at her. It always made her a little nervous when it did that because it did not have a face. All it had was a black lens with an internal yellow glow for eyes, which, with all its sensors it did not need. Why turn to face her, then?
"Am I alive?"
Melissa had noticed that the robot had grown accustomed to asking her many of these types of questions. She had previously considered telling her father about it, but then figured that it understood that she was his descendant and associated her with its 'master’. She had always liked that idea until this moment. She shook her head in defeat.
"It would be good if our flaws were corrected."
Something about the inhuman coldness of its voice broke Melissa's tears free. I will cry for you, JOVa, because I know you cannot.
"I looked over the precipice and realized that I truly was above the world and that I loved her more than anything below." - Bishop Ivan Lee, New Tamian Surface Commando
Adamson was tired of the monotony. It had been the same thing for the last few days. Another hour had just gone by in this meeting room and he was running out of ways to convince these rich, powerful idiots that this unforeseen development should not have to mean the end of the whole project. There was just too much at stake - time, money and his daughter's love being some, but he knew he was fighting a losing battle. He was just amazed that he had managed to hang on this long to both his products.
"We simply cannot allow a product to show expression through creation." One idiot said. An important idiot for funding; this one was the Vice-President of the company’s R&D division. If Adamson could not convince him, then all would be lost. "Especially a synthetic man," the idiot added.
Not anymore synthetic than our wives, the thought almost made Adamson laugh aloud.
"Such behavior, by its very nature is unpredictable."
It was at that moment that Caleb Adamson began to realize that this scenario was familiar to him. A colleague had gone through the same thing in South Korea a few years before. The impatient and overly cautious had stood in the way of science, in the way of Dr. Park, the nanotech god. They had robbed humanity of a new and exciting course to its own future, just as these people were now on the verge of repeating.
"Gentlemen," another idiot spoke out. "What exactly are we creating here? I think we should have more defined parameters for how intelligent we are willing to allow the J.O. Varentra to be. I think JOVa has clearly demonstrated that we have the capability to create AI at a level that would almost imply life. If we don't install some serious checks and balances now, it won't be too long until we have to start sharing water fountains with them, pardon the phrase."
"I wouldn't worry too much about that, Greg. We can create blond robots, too." Adamson remarked. It was as he expected. Doomsayers had long been afraid of the country breaking out into another civil rights movement. Such a movement for technological properties would probably be more than the country would be able to handle. The men simply lacked the courage to move forward and declared that both robots were to be terminated and the J.O. Varentra project scrapped entirely.
"Ya, so I decided to write about an ancestor of mine completely from the first person perspective. We already knew almost everything about Caleb Adamson and I'm not a big fan of 'almost'." - Joseph Tolmeer, Author
Nicole knew her daughter would be devastated. She had just spent the last half hour on the phone listening to Adamson describe his ordeal in the boardroom. She was always annoyed when he called from the freeway. He never had the top on and the sound of wind hurt her ears.
"All was not lost in the end," Adamson was relieved to add. The concluding idea was that all the 'humanity' would be stripped from the J.O. Varentra and it would then be reworked into a new multipurpose Varentra technology with practical functionality such as airplane autopilots, space flight navigation and military analyzers. No more humanoid vessels named JOVa with human hobbies. No more unpredictability. No more worries.
"Of course this isn't going to mean a thing to Melissa," she had said, but she knew it was now beyond their control. Melissa, JOVa and the Adam, which had been allowed to spend some time under private observation, were going to be home soon and she was just glad she wasn't going to be the one to have to break the news. She continued to examine her new breasts in the mirror.
Adamson arrived home and called his daughter to the backyard where they went for a walk. He was surprised at how understanding Melissa turned out to be as he explained what was happening. Maybe it was because she was tired from doing whatever it was teenage girls do before they get tired and come home. Whatever the reason, Adamson made a mental note to buy her something. Something expensive. It was several hours after he was done explaining everything to her, when they were sitting by a creek and spending time together, that he noticed the far away JOVa walk toward the house without its little creation. "Where's the Adam?” he asked his daughter.
"JOVa says that because you didn't like him, he was nothing more than junk so he junked him." His daughter responded.
Wow, Adamson thought. If JOVa could destroy his creation so effortlessly, maybe everyone really was just overreacting. He figured that it shouldn't really have surprised him in the end; JOVa was a robot, not a father.
"You really have to remember that these ocean dwellers are just not nice people. They've been stuck in the dark for too long like a savage cult with guns. They're always trying to prove something." - Lenny Davis, United States Senator
The JOVa looked more at home in the laboratory than it did on the Adamson ranch. It looked like part of the high-tech equipment littered throughout the room. The other scientists could not take their eyes off it. This pleased Adamson. He gently caressed the JOVa's cold, smooth head.
"Again, thank you for observing and protecting my daughter."
"I was simply what you required of me."
Adamson Looked at it. "Where's the Lakers hat that I gave you, JOVa?” he asked, realizing that it was the first time in a month he had seen the robot without it.
"With the Adam."
Fair enough, Adamson thought, still unsure how to explain their inability to get the JOVa to describe where exactly Adam was. "Look, JOVa. When we're done with you, you're going to be much better."
"How can I be better?"
Well for one, you'll have a more human sounding voice, Adamson thought. "You'll no longer be burdened by human limitations. What we have in store for you could make you… Well, godlike." But of course that can't matter to you because you can't care.
“Then I still will be able to create?” it asked.
Adamson didn’t know what to say. He could not bring himself to explain that soon the J.O. Va would essentially become little more than a brain-dead slave. He chose not to reply. With a sigh, Adamson nodded to his assistant and the decommissioning of humankind’s potential threat began.