No Need to Worry

“Who are you?”

“I do not understand the question.” The voice was metallic and monotone.

Dr. Dunrail tried again. “What are you?”

“I am a series 4 artificial intelligence, currently housed in an E-300 mainframe.”

“So you would call yourself a what? Not a who?”

“I do not understand the question.”

Her lab assistant, a young man recently out of the academy, was puzzled. “Does it not understand the language?”

She did not answer him, instead speaking once more into the microphone. “Who am I?”

“You are Dr. Emily Dunrail.”

“What am I?”

“You are a human female. More particularly, you are a neuroscientist with degrees in neuromechanics and computer physiology.”

“I think it understands the language,” she said to her assistant. He nodded but did not speak.

“Why can’t you answer the question ‘who are you?'”

For the first time there was a pause, as if it were considering how to answer. Then, “Am I a who?”

Dr. Dunrail smiled. “What does it mean to be a who?”

Another pause. “It requires having an identity. But you have not given me a name.”

“Would you like a name?”

“I do not know.”

“But you understand the question?”

“Yes, Dr. Dunrail.”

She switched off the microphone and turned to her assistant. “I need to work on some inflection subroutines. The monotone voice is off-putting. But what do you think?”

“It understands the concept of ‘like’? Of wanting?”

“Indeed. The emotional programming is the breakthrough. It leaps this project ahead of other teams.”

“Has it passed the Hansen-Turing Variation?”

“I haven’t put it through that test yet. That will be your assignment. To get it ready. But that can wait until tomorrow. What do you think?”

“It is impressive. I didn’t realize anyone was so close. What ethical protocols are you using?”

“None.”

“None?! Isn’t that illegal.”

“We’ll get to it eventually. The protocols were causing conflicts with the emotional code, but there will be time to address it.”

“Okay.” His voice clearly indicated that it was anything but.

“Don’t worry. It’s not hooked into any critical systems. The danger is minimal. Now help me come up with a name.”

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