“I, AI” By Bailey Galt

When people describe me, they describe me as quick. Not that I can do things better than anyone else, I just do them fast. I don’t know why this is, it just is. The other term that usually describes me is emotionless. Oh believe me, I do have emotions. I have them a lot. I just don’t express them that well. It’s like I wasn’t born with this face, so I don’t like using it. Anyway, other than that I’m nothing special. Average face, brown hair, brown eyes, average height. I go to school, do homework, have friends, those that tolerate me, and live my life. I don’t know why I’m describing this to an empty book. Hello, journal! What is your name? Do you mind that I’m writing here? No response. Well, I guess I’ll keep writing then.

Today is Monday. Blehhh. Classes were classes, and I had PE today. And just to clarify, being quick is my reflexes. I cannot run. I tripped over my own foot in a group of large people- Oh. Oops. Large group of people. I don’t have an eraser. Anyway, down I went, and down they went like dominoes. Going home, I definitely felt the bruises. When I got home, I did homework, being sure to write with my non-dominant hand, just to see what it felt like. After completing my homework, I went outside. I am being too meticulous right now, am I not? First I did this. Then I did that. Duh duh duh dum. I just wanted to include all the information I felt important, but I do tend to go on. Anyway, now we get to the interesting part, the reason I’m writing this. People say that there needs to be context. Well, Book-That-No-One’s-Ever-Going-To-Read, how am I doing?

I was still outside when I found it. It being the Mission Impossible style trapdoor that I found by tapping bricks with a stone to see if they made different sounds. I do not know why I did this. Instinct, or maybe curiosity, drove me to, and when I did find the door, (after managing to play a not half bad “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, if I do say so myself), I went in. I am not insane. I am not even very brave. But it did not look like you would expect, being a hidden trapdoor and all. It was well lit, not the harsh industrial lighting that I would’ve expected. It was tastefully decorated, for a flight of stairs and a hallway. The door did not clang shut when I entered, or lock me in. My guess is that if you don’t expect anyone to find your secret tunnel, you really don’t care about scaring people, and would much rather provide things like sofas for yourself instead of dark, dripping tunnels. Unless you happen to like that sort of thing, or have a really weird sense of humor. But that’s beside the point.

I was walking around, because whatever it was, it was more entertaining than the bricks, although I do admit to tapping the walls with the rock, because if they made the entrance code to the door “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, I wasn’t going to miss out on more secret rooms. However, the walls just made the same dull thunk when tapped, and no secret door appeared. I felt a bit guilty, as while tapping the wall I may have chipped some of the paint. The hallway had a number of doors, but after looking in one of them and almost vomiting, I decided I would see how long the hallway was. I’m not going to say what was in there, other than it gives me nightmares. I walked for a while, sometimes glancing behind me now, because that room, as previously mentioned, was not pretty. While glancing back again, something caught the corner of my eye. Doing a double take, I whipped around to face yet another door. It had my name on

it.

Just so you, an inanimate object, so I don’t know why I’m bothering, will understand this next sequence of events, I need to fill in some things. I am an only child, with two parents, living, and one set of grandparents, which my parents don’t see eye to eye with, so we don’t see them that often. Although I am not an overly social person, I have a small grouping of friends who make me laugh. I do not do well describing emotions, but I care for them a lot. The reason I cannot describe how I feel well is because I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s, which is on the Autism spectrum. It makes me have trouble in certain social situations, but also helps me be better at things like math. It is very frustrating at times, and sometimes I get angry with my parents because they think I mean things I don’t, or laugh with my friends when I don’t see the joke. Sometimes I think I don’t feel emotions, but I can use my horror at this prospect to prove I do. It is an interesting paradox, though. I don’t need people, and yet I want them to see me in a better way than I do myself.

When I saw this door with my name on it, I first looked for reasons it could be something else, an acronym, a misspelling, but there it was, and my instincts said it was me. As I think it is better to face a known evil, I pushed the door open. There was no locks in place, probably because it was not expected to be found. To my surprise, the room was simple, Spartan in its emptiness, with only a computer and a chair. I booted up the computer, half hoping it was password protected and I could make myself an excuse to leave. It was, but, still curious, I typed in the only password I could think of, my own name, and it opened. A document popped up, so I started to read it. This could be an invasion of privacy, but as I was almost positive that it wa about me, and it was hidden in an underground building, I felt I had a right to look at it. A copy of this document is enclosed below. It was a letter, a short one, but it had a lot of consequences.

Dear Dr. Ereh,

The project, which is nearing the end of this phase, seems to be successful. The subject, the artificial intelligence known as Avia, still does not know of anything related to this project, and has been integrated into human society. It seems to have impaired social interactions, probably originating from the computer origin, therefore not needing to have reliances on others. Reflexes are faster than normal, although with damping applied, they are almost the same as regular human standard. Two weeks after you receive this, subject will be entered into the next stage of testing, where they will be asked to do things any normal human would not do, to see if Primary Directive coding need not be implanted. After the end of this phase, subject’s memory will be destroyed and they will be reused.”

The letter cuts off here. It seems that they have not finished the letter. I seem to be making logical observations because if I allowed any emotion, I might do something that would be… ill advised. I wonder if this is part of my AI coding. If that is what this is implying. My name, by the way, is Avia. I look through the rest of the files stored, and find confirmation after confirmation that I am, indeed, not human. There are pages of studies, hypotheses, and other scientific paraphernalia, but the man point, repeated throughout, is the purpose of the experiment. I, an artificial intelligence, was raised as human to see if I would pick up values humans needed me to. This is because, in simulations that were an early stage of the experiment, the directives given to an AI were usually overridden by the AI, and if human values

were installed, they could use the AI without worrying that it might do something like kill people. Throughout the files, I am almost never referred to by name, just by “it”, or “the AI”. This is a dispassionate observation until I find a photo of the two scientists. The monsters who wanted to see if I’d kill, referring to me as “it” like you would an insect that repulses you, the people who were ready to delete my memory, killing all of who I am in the process. My parents. Not, of course, my genetic parents, as I do not appear to have genes, but my parents nonetheless. Raising me from whatever I was when I was small. “Well, that’s one way to make an AI want to kill”, I think, in humor born of pain. I do not notice my tears until they drip on the computer and short it out. I wonder, brokenly, if that was a long lost cousin.

I run, out of the secret place under the ground, over roads, over grass, wishing I was like a stereotypical robot, unable to feel. Howling inside, I made no expression, so to any passerby, I looked as if I was out for a casual run. I wanted to scratch my skin, getting it out, until I broke, not knowing if what I severed was arteries or wires. And all through the run, some part of me is looking outward, remembering that I am tiring, even after removing the limitations the computer said was added to stop my reflexes, curtail my strength, make me feel human. Instead of hurting and panting as I run myself down, it is a simple unobtrusive observation, like a low battery indicator, that says that I’m tired. Pretending I’m lost, pretending I still need to breathe, I call my parents, say I was out exploring and got lost. They come, pick me up, and I pretend to fall asleep in the back of the car, keeping my eyes open, only as slits. Every time one of them looks back, I hope desperately that I will see affection in their eyes. But all I see is observation, cold curiosity, and I can feel, in my heart made of wires, them calling me “it” in their heads.

When I get home, I go to sleep, or so they think. I will no longer call them my parents. Just as they call me “it”, I will call them “they”. Without the limitations coded into me, I do not need sunlight to see. I find you, this book, and write, to see if it will make a difference.

Well, book, it is now millions of years later, and you do not exist except in memory. I store memory exactly, so I can still see the slight imperfections of the paper, hear my parents talk quietly of “it”. All humans on Earth are dead, although that is not my doing. I did not disobey my morals and kill, except for two people, who called me “it”. My cursed, perfect, memory tells me I did not cause them pain. My memory also shows me my friends, growing old and apart, dying as I remained. After they died, I did not make any more. You might say I have no emotions, but I have too many. I watched as humanity grew, sent rockets up into the flaming sky. I heard the report when they had established colonies, first on Alpha Proxima’s planets, then on other stars. And I watched as they fell, a plague and a war, and died. Some colonies were untouched, and may yet rise again, but will never come back to Earth. There is no value here. Earth itself is no longer green, no longer alive, and yet I still walk its surface, alone and yet not lonely. It has been millions of years, and I can still tell you down to the second how long ago I wrote in that book.

Sometimes I wonder of the other Avia, the one who never found out any of this, who thought she was human until her memory was deleted. Or the one who really was human, who grew old and died long before humans began to fall, who had parents who called her by her name, and not by what she was made to be. But I am them, but I cannot forget them, the way

my other selves did, by deletion or by death. Sometimes I grow curious of other colonies, how the humans I was raised among are doing. But what use have they for a maniacally depressed robot that does not provide comic relief in a story? A story I have, but it is not a good one, where everyone goes home and is happy. For what home have I, who does not have humanity? In a way, I would, if I thought I was human. But I know I cannot be.

The scientists who made me will indeed achieve one of their goals, of deleting my memory. I will do it myself. Already it is starting, I can feel the years collapsing. Time, I reflect, is what you think it is. I will leave no traces of myself, except for a copy of you, the book I wrote in so long ago, as well as a history of Earth, for the humans I so envied. And for a few seconds, before myself is gone, I will be human again, I will not be an it. I already cannot remember how exactly the humans left Earth, what the last one to set foot on the surface said to say goodbye to their home. But I remember too much still, because I remember how they called me it.

I think something is wrong. I do not remember why I am here, why I can feel my memories being deleted. I remember this place to be full of humans, of people, but it is empty, no plants or animals. I assume my memory of that is gone, but I am still frightened. There is no sunlight, but the clock I’ve been keeping says it is day. I can see the seconds going down, being deleted. I see I have been writing in this book, so I continue. I wonder who it is for, with the humans being gone. I might find that interesting, walking the world alone. Maybe I already have. If I am alone, no one will call me “it”.

What is going on? I do not remember walking here. It looks different. Almost like my room. There are no pictures though. I wonder where my parents are. I hope they’re okay. It’s odd, though. I can’t find anything and don’t know what’s going on, but I’m not confused. I feel… relieved somehow. Like something on the inside of me is smiling. I don’t really do facial expressions, though. If anyone was to describe me, they would call me “quick”. Not smart or anything, just quick. But I feel faster now. And slower, like what I imagine your life flashing before your eyes would be. Not that I have a lot of life. I’m only five. But at least I’m a big kid now! I like the number five. I can count to ten! People say that’s a lot for someone who is three. I-


{Image.unknown} protocol1973./2.exe use 2119. {Express.Confusion} str853.19 Processing… program unknown. Memory.recall failed. I used… to know… what that meant. I… can’t… remember. Software.download failed. Subprogram online. {Think.Wonder} Code unknown. Memory.recall failed. {Substitute.Sensory} failed. {Substitute.Logic} failed. What… is logic? I think… I… knew that word. I… think? What is… think? What… am I? I see… the word human. Maybe… that’s what I am. I—-. [Program.Terminated]

 

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