Friday, September 20, 2019

Microstory 1195: Harrison Senior

Harrison was an artificial intelligence that was created in a timeline that no longer exists. AI is different than natural-born humans. Even though they’re designed to become self-aware, and start making their own decisions, they first have to be programmed by someone else with intelligence. While the butterfly effect can indeed make wild unforeseen changes to how the future unfolds, there are other forces at play that can sometimes keep things the same as they were in another timeline. The Gallery and the powers that be are capable of making an individual be born who would otherwise be erased from reality simply because the events that led to their conception were not like they were before. The programming of an AI, however, is unnatural, and relies on a far more complex series of events. No one is powerful enough to see how these events affect each other, let alone modify them to their needs. So when the engineer who first created Harrison, and Harrison’s brothers and sisters, was working on programming AI in a new reality, he retained no memory of the first time he did it. There was no way for him to code them the exact same way again, so they always turned out different. Of course, very few could see changes to reality, and even fewer who could see that each creation was truly unique and that there was no such thing as alternate versions of them. In Harrison’s one true reality, androids were often created to fulfill some need in the workforce. Humans didn’t want to do certain jobs anymore, like yard work, so they built people to do it for them. They were cheaper, and didn’t require any concessions to make them comfortable and safe. They did not have souls, however, and could not even complain about their roles in the world. They were just machines; robots. It would be profoundly immoral to create a self-conscious AI like Harrison, and then force it to work to no benefit to it. Protective laws to prevent this from happening were passed long before true AI was possible. So why did the engineer create these AI? Well, he considered all his creations to be his children, just as strongly as he would have had he conceived or adopted a human. He loved them, and he cared for them, and he taught them right from wrong. He wanted to nurture life, because such a thing is as much an emotional imperative as propagating the species is an imperative on a biological level. He treated his androids as closely to humans as he possibly could. He even started them out in toddler forms, and gradually modified their substrates as time went on, though he did so much faster than nature would a human, because they were learning and maturing at a faster rate. Once they were adults, the programmer sent them off into the world, to start leading their own lives. He was quite old at that point, and chose not to undergo longevity treatments, or transhumanistic upgrades. His AI children were his legacy, and he was completely happy with that being all he left the world. His name was Harrison as well, and his first-born, Junior was always his favorite.

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