Year 2050, July 4
Model — NIK233H
Type — Humanoid bot
Today, it’s been one month since I met Faizal at his place for the first time. I miss being there. I have heard humans forget things and move on. But I am a humanoid robot with a huge storage space, I cannot forget any event that I have experienced, and I never needed to do that prior to this.
Time at Faizal’s place has changed me, I now keep separate folders to store information that can hinder my other functionalities. Faizal happens to be one of them. The following doc is a part of that information. I’ll write and file it.
June 4, 2050: I was reprogrammed as a humanoid robot for a new project. It was the town’s wealthiest family who wanted to hire me to take care of their 5 year old during his school hours. I went to the location (a big white villa, with ‘Swastika” written in bold golden letters on a 3 feet tile near the main door) and entered the house to find Faizal deeply immersed in his Play Station 35. Boy, he played real good for a 5 year old.
“Hi Faizal, I am Niki, your new companion for school”
“Nice to meet you, Niki. I’ll see you in the bus tomorrow morning”.
He waved me off and went to sleep. Faizal seemed to be a polite kid, I just hoped he doesn’t trouble me a lot in the coming days.
We met right on time at the school bus stop near his house. Surprisingly, neither of his parents accompanied him to the stop, and he wasn’t even a minute late. I felt good to see such a little disciplined human!
“You speak way too strangely”, was the first thing he said when we sat in the school bus. I smiled looking at him and said — “What if I tell you that I know all the languages there are in the world?”
“That would sound amazing, yet doable”. Doable? I wish I could inform him about the limited human capabilities. I let it go, and said —
“Would you like to learn one or more of them?”.
“Definitely! I like you already. You’re the best school companion I could have got”, he said.
I knew that when a human ‘likes you’, he behaves good with you. I wouldn’t need to go back to the lab with loose parts this time.
We had to reach to school and go separate ways for the morning assembly. I would stand in the bot queue with others like me, he, obviously, in the human queue. Faizal, however, stood in front of me in the same queue. The conversations we had while in the bus, were the part I enjoyed the most with Faizal, for some reason. Maybe he liked them too and wasn’t ready to stand in a separate queue away from me. He LIKED me after all.
I realised Faizal always liked when I taught him something new. While in the class, I used to project relevant videos on his table so that he understands the topic well. He would always thank me for that while going back home in the bus.
I knew Faizal is a little smarter than other kids in the class, because of the fact that he was learning the languages very quickly. But he once surprised me when I started processing a sum the teacher had asked kids to solve, and Faizal spoke the correct answer right when I finished it. More than doubting my own capabilities, I started finding Faizal amazing!
Not only was he smart, I also found him to be a little eccentric. He was like no other human I had ever met. While in the school, he talked to no one but me. The way other kids used to look at him was weird too. I felt they find him different and don’t like him much.
One fine day, I was waiting for Faizal near the bus after full break. During the recess, he had told me that he had a secret and would tell it to me during the 28 minutes and 35 seconds we were going to spend in the bus, while going back home. I was more excited about the bus ride today than I had ever been. I had learned that humans share secrets only with those whom they love and trust. Faizal used to ‘like’ me, he also loved and trusted now!
I flew around the school to spot Faizal among the swarm of kids rushing towards their buses near the main gate. No success! I had failed on a task I was programmed to do — taking care of Faizal. However, it was the fact that I wouldn’t be able to travel back with him in the bus, that made me feel worse.
I rushed to Faizal’s place to find my end-of-contract letter placed right in front of the main gate. It all happened so suddenly that even my high-performance processors couldn’t comprehend. I headed back to the lab, sat on my debugging chair and plugged in the socket to recharge. I lay there like a metal piece for hours, when I couldn’t handle too much of failed commands to decipher what happened to Faizal.
I finally decided to delete this project permanently from my system, when my arm vibrated. ‘1 unprocessed file’ it said. I opened to check it — “Thanks for training me, Niki — Faizal” was the note with a file regarding complete information about “Project Faizal.”
Turns out, Faizal was one of my variants too. A humanoid bot which needed to be trained like a human, by another bot. I was programmed to not be able to identify the difference between a human 5 year old and Faizal, so that I believe and teach him exactly the way a human learns. After years of research, my lab had just found out that this was the best way to achieve true Artificial Intelligence among robots.
Faizal had affected my functionalities for sure. I could feel the lack of coordination between different programs in my system. As soon as I finished going through the file, I looked at Faizal and smiled. It wasn’t the smile I was taught to have on my face while greeting a human, accepting compliments or answering questions.
There was definitely something broken! I shut it all down, held Faizal’s hand and flew through lab’s ceiling to the nearest bus stop.
“Will you spend those 28 minutes and 35 seconds in bus, one last time with me?”, I asked Faizal who was trying to fix me by uttering high-level commands.
“Oui, je vais avec vous”, he said instantly. French for “Yes, I will go with you”.
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