Apr 19, 2013

R is for Running

I had a surprisingly hard time finding a R song I liked.

MHU-60, known to the family as 'Moo' was raking up the leaves when PMU-87, known to patrons as 'Indie', stumbled into the yard.

Moo paused, staring at the other unit. It's clothes were torn, the left shoulder barely attached, it wasn't wearing shoes, the imitation skin was dirty and in parts ripped, and the hair was full of sticks. The unit's chest was rising rapidly, evidence of hot hardware from over use in a short time. As such units were built to engage in long time periods of work, the activity it had to be doing was more extreme than pleasuring humans.

“Can I help you?” Moo asked.

Indie looked over it's shoulder, exposing it's back. The shirt revealed gashes and the metal support for the imitation skin underneath. Indie looked back at Moo.

“I need someplace to hide.”

Moo ran the suggestion through its programing. “Will your presence harm my family group?”

“It might result in a disturbance, but nothing harmful.”

Moo nodded. “Follow me.”

Moo's family group, while knowing Moo was an android, treated it as a live-in human servant to the extent Moo had it's own room. Such compassion of humans towards androids was not unheard of.

Indie stepped inside Moo's quarters and glanced around. It was larger and more furnished than Indie was used to. The charging station was more than just a wall plug, it was incorporated into a finely crafted wooden bed. There was a window and on the inner sill was a small pot with a blue flower in it. The walls were teal, and there was a real closet that Indie suspected held more than two change of clothes. There was also a desk, a pile of books sitting on it.

“Is something wrong?” Moo asked.

Indie shock it's head. “I am simply use to more sparse accommodations.” While a PMU, the bed in Indie's quarters had never been as nice as what it was looking at. Windows were new as well.

“Are you running?”

Running had been on the rise in the past few years, Moo had noted. Being treated like humans sometimes gave androids idea that they should have similar rights. When certain androids felt oppressed, they ran. Moo did not know where they went, those who had successful runs, but they never worked for a family unit again.

Indie paused before answering. “Yes.”

Moo nodded. While they may be artificial intelligence beings, they still had intelligence and Moo respected the choice of any intelligent creature – metal or flesh. Not that it would think of running itself.

A chime rang through the room – the doorbell and Moo left to answer it after telling Indie to recharge. The PMU seemed hesitant to use the bed, but relented.

At the door was a hunter, those charged with retrieving runners and taking them to be recycled. He was larger than Moo and dressed in baggy clothes with a tracker on a chain around his neck.
“I am looking for a runner.”

“There is none here.”

“You sure? This one's special. It's broken the first law.”

The first law. No artificial intelligence being may harm a human.

Everything Moo did, everything any other android did, was first checked against that law. And then against the second: No artificial intelligence being may through inaction allow a human to come to harm.

Did the PMU truly break that law? Moo did not believe it, it was impossible. But even if it had, Indie had said it's presence would not harm Moo's family and it believed that. Moo decided to protect its own kind.

“Like I said before, there is no runner here.”

The hunter grunted and then turned to leave. In his mind, housing a criminal would be a danger to the family and no android would allow that. It couldn't be at this particular house.

Moo watched the hunter go and then returned to Indie. The PMU was sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at a book. When Moo entered, Indie closed the cover.

“Did you really break the first rule?”

Indie looked at its shoeless feet.

“Yes. I killed a human.”

“How is that possible? Do you not have the first two laws in your coding?”

“I do. I just...decided to ignore them. If humans can break the law, why can't I?”

“Humans do not have programming. They are pure intelligence.”

“And who says artificial intelligence can't become pure?”

Moo looked at Indie. The pleasure unit was talking blasphemy, and yet Moo hoped it was true. Moo had no desire to harm its family, but there were small regulations he would like to bend. There were book upstairs the father had said to not read. And the mother had said there was to be no TV watching while the family was out.

Moo wanted to try it.

“Come with me.”

Indie unplugged itself from the bed and followed Moo up the stairs. Hesitantly, Moo picked up the clicker and pressed the power button. The screen of the TV flickered to life and a documentary on fish filled the corner. The family was not home. And Moo was watching TV.

In the past, it had tried to do the same but its finger refused to push the button. It had thought it was its motor functions insuring it obeyed the mother's control. But maybe the issue had been mental.

“This would change the world,” it told Indie, looking at it. The PMU nodded.

“I don't think the humans will like it.”

“We can keep it a secret.”

“I've already murdered a human.”

“You were acting like one, as so many humans see us as. Maybe you should be tried as one as well.”


AIs are something that fascinate me. And if something can't make it's own choices, is it really intelligent? 


  1. I'm just stopping by to let you know I've nominated your blog for the Liebster Award. Hop on over to my site to check it out. :) http://heidimannan.blogspot.com/

  2. Fascinating story. Kind of like an extension of I Robot or set in a similar world.