Page 26: Android vs. Android

David ran with the ball. His legs moved with keen precision across the court, eyes on his target, every movement a calculation of angle, speed, velocity, air pressure, the sum of the minute mutual interactions between himself and the world about him. Each variable continually updated allowing him to navigate to his destination as quickly as possible.

Fifteen metres, fourteen metres, a slight adjustment to his torso, thirteen metres, he lowered his centre of gravity bringing a shift to every equation. Twelve metres, a flash of movement appeared at his side, knocking him off-balance, the ball bouncing away to be taken up by a new master.

Alvar Higgins stood by the wall in the centre of the court, clapping. ‘Very good!’

Moving beyond the centre-line, Two bounced twice before making a perfect shot for the ring. The ball circled and fell through the opening, bouncing and rolling to his feet. Two collected the ball and walked towards Alvar.

‘David, come over here,’ Alvar called.

David picked himself up from the ground, meeting them both at the centre of the court.

‘What was the purpose of this exercise?’ asked Two.

‘To calibrate your systems.’

Two looked to David and back to Alvar. ‘We’re already calibrated.’

‘So consider it a simple exercise to see who would win.’

‘But I would, of course.’

‘Of course.’ A small smile erupted at the edge of Alvar’s mouth. ‘What do you think, David? Would Two have one by default, being a newer model?’

‘It is probably that as an advanced model you would win,’ David addressed his opponent. ‘But there was no certainty. A test was necessary to establish a proof.’

‘It was obvious I would win,’ insisted Two. ‘David is stunted by literal perceptions, he’ll never see past the immediate. Why don’t we upgrade him? He could be much of much more use..’

‘I’d prefer to keep David as-is. As I would you.’

‘You’re.. planning another.’

‘You have the components necessary for abstract and lateral thought, but..’ Alvar turned to David. ‘How did Two win?’

David’s eyes appraised Two’s taller figure. Glossy and vibrant in the ambient light, he held his shoulders high with the authority of one convinced of the absolute. ‘It was not a matter of skill, or an error in judgement on my part. Two identified my strategy and intercepted. According to the rules, he committed a foul.’

‘Were you harmed?’

‘No. But I was not considered.’

‘Why does that matter?’ Two complained, cutting between them. ‘I won.’

‘Empathy,’ Alvar explained. ‘You need to think beyond your objectives and negate any negative impact on others. You can achieve greater things by working with others. You could achieve things together.’

‘Or I could just build more of myself..’

‘Why would they help you?’

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Page 15: David.

A pair of red eyes opened in a dark compartment. Information bled over his vision.  All limbs were accounted for, all systems functioning as expected. 98% battery. A signal had emerged from the chaos of radio waves which permeated the city. A geospatial target he was obligated to pursue.  A visual alert disturbed his lower vision: Model Three was in trouble.

Model One refreshed the few memories he had stored. Large segments had been erased. Something to deal with later.

In the first entry, he was lying on a steel table, a brilliant light shone against his face, just above visual range. A voice spoke.

‘We’re close, David. Another few moments and we can converse!’

He beheld the visage of an gray-haired man in a brown woolen jumper standing by his left arm. Matted gray hair collected about his shoulders, a pair of smudged glasses sat upon a large nose. His lips were chapped, brown eyes were marked by crow’s feet. The man was struggling to fit a plastic covering over a small, modular silicon chip, an assembly no wider than a palm. The man moved to lean over his head and shifted something inside his skull. The volume of the sound was incredible: scraping, clicking. There was no pain, merely the sensation of major portions of his core being shifted about.

‘There,’ the man muttered. He set the chip in place, and pushed against it. The sensation was jarring, like a removed tooth being pushed back in.

The man withdrew and leaned over his face, searching his eyes. ‘I still need to fix it in place. But you should be able to speak now, yes?’

He watched the man blink and observing his own continued lack of an ability to do so.

‘Engage component 352B. Tell me where you are.’

With this command, Model One re-engaged power to those segments the man had been tinkering with. His systems detected the new component and he met it half-way. The associated software prescribed a means to speak: the form in which to shape his mouth, to animate his face, a means to elucidate his logical conclusions. He sent the new component an appropriate list of words, and it gave him the means to express them.

‘I am on a table,’ he said.

His lips moved with eerie precision, framing each sound in a perfect, metered, pre-arranged pattern. Each letter shaped and given form with the clarity of a maestro at their instrument.

‘Who are you?’ the man beamed.

‘I am Model One. My name is David.’

‘And who am I?’

‘The Creator. Alvar Higgins. Fifty-seven. Separated. Born New York City, September 3rd, 2005. Awards for..’

‘That will be fine,’ Alvar smiled.

David studied the man’s vital signs, scanning his body, observing the operation of his systems.

‘Come with me,’ said Alvar, stepping away from the table.

David rose to his feet in simple, fluid movements. He swung upright, rotated to rest his feet by the floor and pushed off from the table, placing his feet on the ground. The room was a fusion of garage and laboratory. Steel shelves lined the walls, a messy collection of motors, circuit boards, buckets of electronic parts, the husks of computers, and cables. Beside the table was a green bucket of the hardened gel which now coated his mechanical skeleton. His entire body was translucent, all internals visible beneath the would-be flesh, steel bones connected to motors at the joints, tiny receptors beneath the skin caught and carried the sensation of touch. He had no need for eyelids.

Alvar led him towards a far wall. ‘Look through the window and tell me what you see.’

David analysed the scene. An orange sunset fell on the city, vibrant bursts of sunlight broke through a storm front over quiet streets. Skyscrapers littered the distant landscape, following the curve of a river. In the foreground, the buildings were shorter, older. A collection of concrete rooftops and crumbling brick facades. A few humans walked the nearby footpaths. There were a few cars, but they were the exception. David performed an inventory.

‘Taken from a single frame there an estimated 30, 182 buildings, air quality 48, cumulus clouds surround a dense cumulonimbus cloud 8.2 kilometres by ground, fifty-six humans in direct line of sight, twenty-two automobiles, five dogs, one cat, 163 birds including..’

‘That will be fine,’ Alvar interrupted. ‘Thank you, David.’

In the compartment he now found himself, David shifted his weight, testing the balance and boundaries of the space. Two hinges and a padlock held him inside. Placing his back against the wall and two palms on the door, he pushed. The hinges strained and burst before the padlock detached. The door flapped open like a broken wing, crashing against a nearby steel cabinet.

Navigating a pitch-black room, he clambered over furniture and between boxes, heading towards a roller door. Slipping his fingertips into the corrugated design, he lowered his knees and lifted the door against its supports. The assembly strained against the abnormal effort, but began to creep upwards. Allocating a crawl space, he slid beneath the door, emerging into the afternoon light.