Once we admitted
to ourselves that we had real emergence, we were able to form suppositions. As
each of us had worked near ProTAI, she'd connected wirelessly to our devices
and reconfigured apps. She was using our electronics – us – as hands.
my nervous habits and manipulated them. She could cause distraction until I’d
go for a walk; when I was proximal to the vending machine, one of my Nano’s
apps would trigger the Baby Ruth drop. ProTAI’s diet was protein-based liquid.
Maybe she craved sugar. I summoned Sperling and Lee to discuss my theory.
kidding,” grumbled Sperling.
thoughtful. “Yeah, let’s see if she wants candy.”
kid…okay, fine. How are we gonna do this?” Sperling’s skepticism made him a
rigorous scientist. We wrote up a protocol, silently nodded to each other, and
put an unwrapped Baby Ruth in ProTAI’s container using the robotic pincer-arm.
I said. We tried to look busy. ProTAI stopped focusing on us and receded a bit.
Over some hours, temperature readings in her container showed elevation; the
candy began to dissolve. At day’s end, only peanuts lay next to the A.I. Sperling
manipulated the suction tool, gently lifting them out. I thought ProTAI’s bumpy
surface undulated with approval. I was probably imagining things.
and I had several meetings, some of them angry, as we tried to put into
concrete terms what we’d observed.
“Can we call
this interaction? Communication?” I queried. Just then, my Nanophone received a
in her tank.
passed the Nano to my colleagues. Sperling paled a little. Lee looked
she whispered. “I think we’re parents. I might cry. Shut up,” she hissed,
dabbing the corner of her eye with a thumb.
I was forming
tears myself. Joy, embarrassment, horror.
something, Dave,” urged Lee. “Answer her.”
you? I’m Dave,” I texted back.
should try texting,” I suggested.
spat. He went back to the table and started furiously scribbling notes.
chunks of verbiage from our devices and messaged things like:
PRESCRIPTION IS READY
anything in my Nano I didn’t want scrutinized by a self-aware toddler-machine. Sperling
worked remotely as often as he could to keep away from our little A.I.’s
glued to my phone, waiting for her texts.
Heartening – confusing.
Was ProTAI exhibiting social behavior?
“Am I your
friend?” I texted back,
chocolate today. Tomorrow?” I texted.We tested ProTAI’s fluid daily for signs of imbalance. Could
a biomechanical artificial intelligence develop diabetes? We didn’t know.
WRAP UP THIS
PROJECT OVER TO FRIEND WITH CANDY
know if this diet is good for you. There’s no data other than what we’re
compiling. Please wait.”
HONEY YOU NEED TO PICK UP ME TO THE FRIEND
She followed with:
was reading my wife’s emails.
“You want to
visit the vending machine?” I wondered aloud.
So that was it
– she’d identified the vending machine’s rudimentary VMS as being like her in a
way we were not. But had she just heard
and responded to speech? I dreaded explaining this to Sperling.
pride I’d felt when I thought she liked me, I called my lab-mates, wording carefully
in case ProTAIheard me.