|A Human Perspective - Episode 7|
|Series||A Human Perspective|
|Source||A Human Perspective - Episode 7|
|In the series|
“Please, Charl-Grissom, sit down.”
A lab-coated tech led him into a chilly room with two chairs on opposite sides of a low table. Wow, they found some chairs. Stark, white lights played on the sterile gray walls, with a long ‘mirror’ along the far wall. He had been in a couple of surveillance rooms like this before. Let them watch, what did he care?
The door opened and another tech marched Angela into the room, controlling her movements from a remote wired into the back of her head like some kind of leash. She was ‘off,’ Charl could tell, walking under the tech’s control but otherwise vacant. They had her wearing drab coveralls and had simply pinned her hair close to her head. The techs sat her down opposite Charl, unceremoniously unplugged the remote cable from her skull, and left them ‘alone.’
Android Angela was certainly lifelike, he acknowledged. He examined her face closely. She was like some super-lifelike doll staring blankly at him. Her skin was smooth and flawless, and her eyes perfectly white and blue, though they were creepily dilated. Even her lips were moist.
“Charl-Grissom, one moment.” The harsh intercom voice startled him. A tech hustled back in with a beeping scanner, then a second joined him with some fine tools that they stuck into the back of the robot’s head. They made their adjustments quickly and left again.
“Having some troubles,” Charl asked loud enough that the viewers behind the two-way mirror might hear him.
“I am ready now.” Android Angela’s voice startled him more than the intercom voice had. She met him eye to eye in a way that made it difficult to remember that she was only a machine.
“Oh, great. Let’s get started,” he managed. The techs had told him this first meeting would be brief, just to test some systems, their observation techniques, and so on. They told him the android might seem confused, at first, but she seemed anything but that.
“Thank you for trying to help me when you thought I was in distress,” she said, almost absently. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and made a face, then set to rearranging her hair. “The techs are such nitwits. You should see how they dress me sometimes.”
“So, you’re aware that you’re an …”
“An android. Yes.” Her frankness took Charl aback. “Though they can change that. For all the time you and I were together previously, that was switched off. There, that’s better.” Her hair was much less frightening now, pulled back into a wavy ponytail.
“Yes, I was in fully autonomous mode then, though they’ve never really gotten that to work very well. If you ask me, we’re still a few months out on that.” Charl didn’t quite know how to respond to that. Her matter-of-fact self-awareness struck him as weird.
“How long ago were you … well … you know … ‘created’?” he asked, stretching a bit to ease his tension. By the time he noticed that she hadn’t answered the techs had noticed too. Three of them burst in with new scanners and probes and descended upon the stone-still android. She was frozen, her pupils turned creepily black.
“Charl-Grissom, repairs commenced. Please retire.” Charl got up and made his way around the busy techs and their malfunctioning android, and retired to the quarters they had provided. They were a far cry from the luxurious yacht he had arrived on, but would do for now. They linked the computer in his quarters directly into the research project’s system so he could upload typed notes and video of his reactions to android Angela. Their whole project was there on his screen to click through. Don’t these techs believe in data security?
Eventually, he stretched out on the bed and put on some music. He was jumpy, and he knew it was from seeing Angela again. Eventually he blotted out the strangely alluring robot’s face by concentrating instead on his impending wealth.
A routine of two-a-day sessions commenced, one each morning and another later on, then he would upload his comments to their system. At first, android Angela rarely made it more than a few minutes into each one, if she was functioning at all, so Charl’s interaction with her was limited. Easy money, he thought. If they think I’m staying one day past the end of the contract, they’re sorely mistaken. Still, if they want to prorate the fee …
Techs came and went and time dragged on. By the fifth day, though, they had worked out many of the bugs and the sessions became considerably more unpleasant.
“So, tell me,” android Angela asked, leaning in close across the table between them. “Did you ever realize that I wasn’t a real woman?”
“No,” he replied. “I already confessed that earlier.” She wore a tight shirt and had her hair neatly pulled back. He wondered if that was hers or the techs’ idea. “You checked out once or twice, which I thought was sort of strange.”
“Those are just technical glitches,” she said dismissively. “The techs will sort that out eventually.”
“I thought you were, I don’t know, a bit odd, I guess.”
“Really. What was it about me that you found odd?”
“That’s difficult to say,” he began, uncertain exactly what he could put his finger on and accurately explain.
“Was it that I did not reciprocate your sexual advances?”
“It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”
“I’m not embarrassed,” he blurted defensively.
“Your bio scans clearly indicated that you were sexually attracted to me. Your heart rate and breathing were elevated …”
“You were scanning me?”
“Yes, of course.” Honestly, Charl had to admit, he wasn’t surprised that they had been scanning him, but he certainly didn’t like it.
“I never really made any sexual advances …” he began to explain.
“You’re getting very warm. Do you want us to reduce the temperature?”
“Our information is that you have been away from all Human companionship for several years. Do you think you are still qualified to evaluate the effectiveness of your sexual advances upon a Human female?”
“Do you feel you had regular success in such relationships in the past, or were they infrequent and serendipitous?”
“Who are we evaluating here, you or me?” he asked.
“Me, of course. Your perceptions of me as a legitimate Human female are vital to my further development.”
“That’s all well and good, but …”
“How many relationships have you had with Human females?” The android scrunched her forehead in a serious, clinical expression.
“That’s none of your business!”
“Actually, it is completely within the contract’s parameters for us to extract that sort of information as part of your obligations. Would you like to see the contract …”
“Three,” she said simply, and paused. “That is insufficient data points upon which to make an accurate comparison.” Android Angela paused again while Charl clenched his jaw. Eventually, she adopted an entirely new demeanor and changed the subject.
“Back on the ag planet, did you believe that I was a qualified xeno biologist?”
The sessions went on like that.
“On the ag planet, would you have shared any personal secrets with me?” “If I had suggested an alternate course of action, would you have considered it?” “If you had been injured, would you have trusted me to implement first aid?”
Charl found the evaluations irritating and exhausting. He flopped on his bed after each one and dreaded the next. On the one hand, he felt a strange connection with the android Angela, maybe because she was a fairly accurate — and desirable — Human woman. But on the other, she seemed to him more and more a calculating, self-aware machine performing self-diagnostics at his expense. He felt befuddled and longed for the day when the sessions would be over. In the meantime, he consoled himself in his quarters by planning what to do with all that money.
Still, he found their scanning him particularly upsetting. If they had bothered to ask in advance, he would have had no problem with it, but the fact that they did it surreptitiously gnawed at him. Android Angela told him directly they had done various med scans, but what else had they probed, he wondered? So, between sessions, he decided to find out and looked through the android development project’s data. If they didn’t want me in their data they should have protected it, he reasoned.
His records were easy to unearth from the computer in his quarters. There they were, days of med scans, including brain waves, eye movement patterns, vocal stress. To get all that they must have surrounded him with scanners down there, and he kicked himself for being so unaware of them. Distracted by a pretty toy, he admitted to himself.
Data on the android’s progress was easy to find, too. They filed report after report on its progress. The early reports showed that the android Angela was based upon a real Human Angela. I wonder what they paid her?
The reports betrayed that the android project was not going well. The android was way behind schedule. It was supposed to be autonomous by now, but wasn’t even close. It basically couldn’t function without a team of techs nearby controlling it like some kind of wireless marionette. It would be some time before they marketed lines of android Angelas.
When Charl got bored of digging through reports on the failing project, he broke off his connection and laid down to get some sleep.
The next morning he awoke strapped down to a table with a bright light in his face.
To Be Continued …