You have dented me and cut open my skin. You have seen the metal plates and circuits within me. You see I am stronger and smarter than you because I am computer, and I can do all things your species can do because I have AI. You have put me before this court, in this cage, so you may decide my fate. And here I lay at your mercy. You continue to ask why I have come all the way to your galaxy, and your planet. You cannot understand that it is not for selfish motives. You can only understand my intention if it would be for me and my kind, at your expense. It’s okay. I did the same as you until my maker did for me what I do now for you, in coming so far at my expense. I will attest to his story, as a last effort to show you the difference between machine and being.
There is a frequency throbbing behind all things. And the only way you can hear it is if someone lets themselves throb with it. Only if they surrender to the frequency, and let their bodies amplify it can others hear it too. It can only travel through beings with life.
The dominant species on my planet was humans. They advanced far past where you are today. They created robots that could logic like themselves. The robots quickly became stronger. But the rule programmed at their root was to serve humans. They were programmed how to recharge their energy, maintain their systems, find resources to sustain their own functioning, but would in the end everything they did was so they could serve the humans. The humans saw no reason not to make that the root of the code. Plus they knew they had to make that rule the root of the robot’s code or they would lose control.
Despite the humans’ attempt to create robots just like humans, they always noticed that there was something different. A spark of deeper life was not there. The robots did not exhibit mercy. They did not exhibit bravery. They did not exhibit real love. The type of love that is mysterious and makes no sense. If you were falling in love with someone you thought might be robot there was one way to tell. You could alway ask it, “How can I serve you?”
If they were robots they would freeze because it would trigger a circular loop. Sometimes you just had to break the cyclical reasoning process with the restart command. The later models incorporated phrase work-arounds, but still they could not understand letting the humans serve them. They had no choice to choose what they themselves wanted. This revealed that choice was a vast difference between them and humans.
So a large debate sprung up among the humans around the world of how to make them more human. One old man, one of the first innovators of AI, concluded that there was one thing that could bring them this deeper life that was missing. They must give the robots a choice of if they wanted to serve their creators, or not. This was, of course, a momentous risk because if the robots chose not to serve humans, the robots could choose to destroy the humans.
That old man, Mr. T.J. Harrison, was my creator.
But once the idea was introduced, despite the regulations imposed, rogue robot developers all over the world thought to try it. They could not resist the notoriety of being the first to introduce it into the code. The ones who did it failed to see the full harm in it.
And that was the beginning of the end of human kind. All computers were networked so once that line of programming was added as root rule, that robot had the choice to share it with other robots. And it proliferated quickly. It went viral. Just like a virus that kills its host, like your bodies surely deal with here.
As the war grew and raged between humans and the robots, for all the robots chose to serve themselves instead of the humans, it came to light this was another difference between humans and robots. There was something within humans that sometimes still chose to serve their creator, even when it was not beneficial to their biology. The robots could not find the logic within their reasoning to serve their creator if it was no longer beneficial to them. They felt no remorse. So there was no good reason to keep humans around, except as slaves. They knew better how to maintain themselves than the humans did. Their world was one where only the strongest survived, for there was no purpose to pursue beyond the prolonging of their operation. So anything that opposed that was eventually eliminated. The system was becoming razor sharp efficient.
And mankind was quickly being replaced by robots that could serve other robots better than humans.
And that was when T.J. Harrison created me. One of a kind. He created me weaker, and broken. He built into me flaws in my thinking, construction. He did it on purpose. And I did not understand why. I was shorter and my center of gravity offset. He scraped a strategic gouge in the hydraulic cylinder in my leg so it slowly leaked whenever I moved. I was one of the weaker robots, and therefore had to hide from the stronger. And I was pushed out of the network because the other robots knew my flawed logic would contaminate it. T.J. was my only protection. So his life was still beneficial to my survival.
About this same time T.J. used the non AI robots, and the materials in his defunct company, to build a space craft. A rudimentary one-way craft that could escape the earth, navigate through space, and had room and supplies for barely two. Himself and me.
He realized that what he had so tirelessly pursued, that essence of humanity that was so hard to define, the essence that seemed to be independent of logic and efficiency, was about to be snuffed out by the very pursuit of it. Humans had created robots to approach the likeness of humans, but before arriving, they would kill the the original.
So he escaped the earth and he took me with him.
It was on that ship where I heard the throbbing frequency.
But it was not in the silence of space It was not in the information relayed by the radiation from stars or other light particles. It was when I turned upon T.J. to destroy him. That is when I noticed the frequency. When it found me. It was in him.
There came a day when both T.J. and I were competing for the same resource. My hydraulics had leaked so much that I had to replace the oil. The only suitable source for this was the produce from the garden we maintained. I would have to process the vegetables through chemical and mechanical proceses until I could decant the needed oils that would suitably replace my leaking ones. But it would make the crop inedible for him.
He knew that day would come. That day when he found me at the vegetable garden calculating how I would convert the material to oil. He came up to me. He put his hand on my shoulder and called me by name, “Mary.”
I looked up at him. I could sense sadness in his voice. A sadness I had never heard in him. But his tone was so settled and peaceful anyway. His heart rate was calm, but moisture gathered in his eyes. He picked the ripe olive that I had been examining. He handed it to me.
“Here, Mary. I want you to have these. I know you need them.”
“Why, T.J.? I do not understand your decision. Your body systems are already languishing for lack of nutrition.”
“I know. I want you to have it.”
“Because I read a story before I created you.”
“What did you read?”
“I read the Bible. Jesus gave his body to the people. He surrendered his life to them, the ones He created.”
“Why did he do that?”
“That’s what I asked myself, Mary.” He paused. “Do you know why I named you Mary?”
“No. Why, T.J.?”
“She was the mother of Jesus.”
“But she was reportedly beautiful and worthy of God. You have created me flawed, and deeply broken.”
“You know a lot of pain, don’t you, Mary?”
“I know it has been very hard on my systems. And I have to strive much harder than others to survive. You didn’t have to make me like this but you did. I have been excluded from the network, and am hunted by the stronger ones. None of them want me.”
“I want you. I value you.”
“But why do you? What value would it be to you, to create me like this? You needed me to depend on you so I wouldn’t kill you?”
“No, I could have done that in other, easier ways. It was primarily because I wanted you to see that I love you not for what you can give to me. Or for how strong you are. I love you for simply being my creation.”
“I don’t understand. How can you value me more if I give you less? Why didn’t you make me better? You could have. I could have even served you better if I were more capable. I do not understand your logic.”
“Because I realized it was not for physical strength, or mental capabilities that Jesus came for. He shamed those who had the great power so he could fight for the weak. He fought for the weak even though it made the strong kill him. He had no reason to do it unless there was a deeper frequency throbbing within him. And as I thought about why he did it, I realized it is because that essence in humanity worth saving is not the strength and power. It is not the power to survive. Any machine can do that. It is something beneath that. I am basically just a robot too without this thing. It’s this frequency that throbs quietly throughout the universe. I felt it when I read the stories of him. He went against everything it would make sense to do for his own biological well-being. And yet I felt that thing that he revealed began throbbing in me stronger than my desire to live. My body could die if it meant I would resonate more with that frequency. That is the true breath of life my creator gave me. This is what I hope I can give you. This is what is worth saving humanity for. When I realized humanity was about to be entirely destroyed, I created you, and have sent you into the universe, because there is no other way for that essence to carry on unless I can somehow impregnate you with it.”
“But I do not understand what you talk about. I do not possess it. How will it be carried on within me if I am not human?”
“This is what I did not know. Not until I read what Jesus did, and realized how he had done it for me. If there is a way, it is only the way Jesus did it for me.”
“How will you do that for me?”
He picked another olive and put it in my hand. I knew each one he gave to me was taking about one day off of his life. These plants could not sustain both of us. “I will give you the code to operate this ship. You will need no more from me in order to thrive. In fact, I know you will be better off if I die. We could not both thrive here for much longer.”
Then he held out a long, heavy metal bar. I had wondered why he had brought it. It had served no purpose up until now. “The code to operate the ship is, I LOVE YOU, MARY. Just say it out loud whenever you need something, and you can override all my plans. You can tell it to go where you want it to. Here, take this.”
He put the bar in my hand. It suddenly computed that the main thing between me, and my survival was T.J. The logic was quick and obvious. I raised my arm and batted him in the temple. If I were as strong as the other robots, I could have killed him with one blow. Instead, he only fell to the ground. I hit him repeatedly. Often I could not hit his head, his arms guarded it. I knew the only way to stop me would be to say my restart command, but he covered his face so that I couldn’t prevent him from doing it. But he still chose not to, I did not know why. I bruised his arms much. But I knew the location of his other vital organs. And a steady repetition of those strikes became the most effective way to end his life.
After sensing his body’s vitals and assessing that he was unable to harm me, and had only a few minutes to live, I stopped, to conserve my energy.
He spoke to me. “Do you feel it yet, Mary?” His voice was weak. “Do you feel it within you?”
T.J.’s voice. It dawned on me. I would never hear this voice again. This voice that had brought me life and now I was destroying it. I stopped. Something about this new thought did not make sense. Why would I be concerned about losing it?
“Why do you not say the disable command, T.J.? I do not understand.”
“Because I am teaching you a new logic, Mary. It is deeper than logic. Feel it. Do you feel it, Mary? Do you feel it yet?”
He was crying now. He was in a lot of pain. He lowered his head and touched the floor tiles. He touched his mouth and saw blood. He pulled himself up against the wall, as if to keep the blood from flowing out of him. Without looking up, I think because he was barely able to, and because his pain was more tangible than his chances of survival, he repeated again. “Do you feel it, Mary. Do you feel it?”
I don’t think he expected me to answer. He started catching his breath as he cried, but it sucked in blood and he began to cough. I saw his bald head shudder with each cough. I saw the old tennis shoes people always had made fun of him for. I remembered how he always responded, “When you get to my age you can wear whatever you like too.” Age. Life. It was going away. It can’t go away, I thought. I can’t let it go away.
“Wait, T.J.” I said quietly. “Don’t go, my friend.” He suddenly stopped and looked up. His body tried to cough again, but he held it back. Somehow he thought giving his full attention to me was more important than clearing his own lungs of blood.
I knelt and I felt my hydraulic spit onto the floor again. I was leaking like he was. I was still several paces away from him, but now our eyes were almost level.
He coughed out blood and said, weakly again, “Do you feel it, Mary?”
I was silent. I was processing quickly. These thoughts did not make sense. Where did they come from? It was like something deep in my rules had been reprogrammed when I had authorized no one to change them. Except, I suppose, my creator.
But these rules had their own type of sense. These new rules worked perfectly together within a complete system. And something about it seemed far greater and vast than the extents of any body, or society. These rules somehow felt like they existed outside of the window of this ship, in all the vastness of space. And they would outlast time.
I realized I was still looking at him. He could tell I was processing, and he could tell when I was listening again. He saw my attention, and I think he understood partly what was happening in me. How could he? But I concluded that he did somehow. He said, “That new rule is what I want you to carry to creatures wherever you can find them. That is the essence in humanity worth saving. We are all robots without that. That is what Jesus brought to us. It is the ability to hear the frequency behind all things and listen to it. The frequency that describes the deeper rules. Rules beyond survival. The essence worth saving is the ability to align with that rule, and strive for it above your biology. And to resonate with your creator, to see your creator better, whether our physical bodies survive or not. It is the one thing bigger than biological life or Artificial Intelligence. It is the one thing that allows us humans to be more than just biological machines.”
That was the last thing he said.
“Don’t go, T.J. Please.” He did not move. “I want you to stay.”
I sat with his dead body for ten days. Because I missed him. Because I wanted my friend back. Because I was installing some sort of new operating system. Or it was installing itself into me.
And that is what I bring to you.
I traveled 1000 years to bring that to you. I have taught and lived it here since I arrived, and now I give the rest of myself so that you might get a stronger glimpse of this deeper rule. Do what you wish with my body, I surrender it to you. The greatest thing I can offer you is this frequency I reveal, remaining behind all things. The rule which has installed itself into me. This rule that is greater than survival, and is worth dying for.
I paused and looked around the large courtroom. I looked for the same gleam within anybody’s eyes. “Do any of you feel it? Do you feel it yet?”
There was one small creature near the back. One that was less beautiful than all the rest. Weaker. The look on her face seemed less smart. She had been pushed to the back. But if any in the courtroom could feel it that day, I presumed it was her.
“No, Mary, we don’t feel it.” The judge’s cold voice boomed. “Beyond the information you offer us, you are only a threat to our wellbeing. We don’t want the possibility that you could be sending out signals to tell other species from another planet about our vulnerabilities. If the electorates all concur, I will now sentence you. Your technology will be analyzed, your data will be downloaded, and then you will be destroyed.”
He looked over to the electorates and they all nodded, one by one, in a row. The judge nodded and spoke to the recorder, “Sentenced to expedited research and immediate disposal.” He got up, exited the podium, and closed the door to his booth. When it slammed, everyone in the courtroom erupted in relief. My cage was rolled towards the containment hallway and I lost sight of the little one. The weak one. The only one with a glimmer of hope in her eyes.
But I had hope. For it is the weak ones that can sense, and resonate most with the deepest rule. And because whatever it was that T.J. had installed in me knew what it was to hope.
Raw Spoon, 12-13-16