Project 40-1

by Donald Griffith

Tags: Science Fiction, Robot,

Desc: Science Fiction Story: A computer and robotics expert helps design the perfect robot

As a young lad I had always been intrigued with robotics, be it very simple, or the quite complex systems, either drew my interest. During my junior high, and senior high school years, I had entered and won, most science fairs with various robotic mechanisms of my own design.

The latter versions were a bit more complicated, and were actually controlled by the computer programs that I had also had designed and written, programs that I had so well protected were virtually breach proof.

Knowledge of my designs and the finished products drew the attention of many corporations, corporations that offered scholarships to students such as I in hopes that one day they would end up being a valuable employee. One company in particular, Solmar Development, was so vastly impressed in my abilities, they not only offered a scholarship, the made an offer that I certainly couldn't pass up. Their offer was quite simple, attend the most prestigious engineering school in the country at their expense, enhance my knowledge, and then become a major part of their company that would pay me a bonus of a quarter million dollars, and a starting salary of ninety thousand a year.

Of course a contract had been written that my parents had to agree to, and after they conferred with an attorney, I was signed, sealed and delivered.

My education in this field didn't end upon attaining the degrees I had earned during my college years, as I continued my own research, along with the knowledge I gained from working with the head of our development department, Jim Rogers.

The first six years that I had been with Solmar had not been very challenging in the least. Just about everything we designed and manufactured was for use in the auto industry, robots instead of actual assembly workers. Since my five-year agreement had long passed, I contemplated rendering my resignation to move on to bigger and better things, but rumors started circulating, rumors that got my attention.

Six weeks later, the rumors we had heard about became a reality; Solmar and Renthone Laboratories had merged. Unlike most mergers where personal cuts were part of the master plan, this was not the case at all. Renthone was not a competitor of Solmar in the least and this merger was intended to enhance both companies, not a consolidation of two into one.

No longer were we working on designs to make assembly lines more productive, we now were given the task of making the U.S. military more productive. Our goal was simple. Design, developed and eventually manufacture the perfect soldier, a soldier that could not be killed, only destroyed, and if so, it simply would be replaced.

Of course, nobody really knew just what the only project the newly formed company was working on, since each department had just one small piece of the puzzle to solve.

Renthone had been known for their expertise in the field of human cloning, but the government wasn't interested in traveling down that road. A cloned human was still a human that could be coerced, commit treason, and of course be killed in action, no they wanted a fighting machine.

Although I was an expert in robotics, my particular part of the project was to create the "brain" that would be educated by the computer program I would design into a microchip.

It took about six months of constant work to write a program to accomplish what I had designed on paper, and that was to "teach" the brain the meaning of every word in the English language, and then respond and follow commands as soldiers do.

Getting the prototype to follow what the brain was instructing it to do was quite simple, but we were far from a finished product.

After a year and a half we had a robot that did everything a human could do including carrying on an intelligent conversation. If one closed their eyes, they wouldn't know it were a machine they were talking with, but a human.

While our part of the project seemed to be completed, we now waited how our friends from Renthone had done with their part of the project.

When they had finished and presented what all hoped would be the just what the government had asked for, I was astonished. The CEO, Mrs. Janice Sharp, walked into the large conference room with a well-dressed man, who I had thought to be someone from the government, and began the introduction.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce the results of three years of very hard and dedicated work. Please welcome project 40-1."

"Hello friends, if I may refer to you as friends. Due to your very hard work I stand before you as a symbol of your finest hour as engineers. I am proud and honored to join you today, and soon others will join me just like me, because of your fine work. Yes, I know you may be skeptical, but I truly am a creation of the hard and tedious work you have put forth. To prove I am what I claim to be, would a volunteer please step to the front of the room?"

One of the female lab assistant from Renthone stood up and walked up to our visitor and stood next to him as he, or it, began to speak again.

"Hello young lady, would you please be so kind to demonstrate to the good folks here just what happens when I get injured. Please, use my weapon and fire a shot into my chest."

The woman looked at him and then to the CEO and nervously followed his instructions. Suddenly a very loud blast echoed through the room and our prototype stood there as if nothing at all happened, as the chest wound was flowing with what looked like blood.

Project 40-1 then removed his shirt and the entire room went up an examined the wound. From my seat in the rear of the room I really couldn't see how real the body of 40-1 looked, and when I made my examination I was totally shocked to see the robot look so real.

Although it appeared the project was a total success, the military found some things to their disliking, but overall they were quite impressed. One of their concerns was the voice box that Renthone had developed. Although the robot sounded exactly like an actual human, they didn't want each and every product to sound exactly alike, so that was one glitch that had to be resolved. Another was the "personality" of each machine. They requested that if possible, each robot would behave differently, but still be under their control. That was the chore of our department; specifically mine, to make each brain a bit different that would make them act and re-act differently.

As it turned out, 40-1 wasn't the only prototype, there were over two dozen male and female models to be used for the "fine tuning" the military had requested. I was supplied six of these prototypes, three male and three female to experiment with, and began the task of making them each quite different.

One of the first problems I had was shutting them up. They were so human like, they kept asking questions, something that I had installed in the microchip, the desire to further their knowledge, but with all six talking got to be rather annoying, and confusing.

Since these were not the final product, gaining access to the microchip was quite easy. Although the entire body of the robot was an exact duplicate of a human, one small opening at the base of the skull was not covered to allow removal of the "brain", which shut them down completely when removed.

Completion of my task proved to be more difficult that I had first thought, and I spent countless hours in my lab working on a solution. Many nights I would simply rest on the couch for an hour or so, before getting back to the task at hand. Over a two-week period, I never left my lab except to use the locker room shower to freshen up.

I hadn't the faintest idea how Renthone went about the process of cloning, but did somewhat understand that by using genes from a human, they could somehow make another person exactly like the one that supplied the genes, how I had no idea, but I had learned that each of the prototypes was an exact replica of an actual human. How they made a "body" to cover the robot was something else that amazed me. Ever detail was not overlooked, and all six of the prototypes I had been supplied looked and felt like a real person, so real, I gave them names.

One, a very pretty girl who looked to be in her late teens who I named Arlene after a girl I had a crush on back in high school, who by the way never gave me the time of day, while the others I named after characters from my favorite movies.

Months of hard work finally paid off, so I hoped, and I gave my "students" their final exam. After writing a program using a random number generator that would choose different traits I had programmed, six new microchips were burned, and if I were correct in my theory, each now would be a different person, or robot.

One of the things I had done with the six new microchips was to install a shutdown capability, but was something I had not discussed with my superiors knowing any deviations from my assignment would be looked down on. Using a simple universal remote, such as one used for a television, I found I could disable all at the same time, or any one of the six. Of course, with the hundreds of thousands of product that would be manufactured, I knew that shutting just one down was impossible, but with just six, that was not a problem.

I was pretty much convince that what I had been assigned was in fact completed, but since there had been no time restraints, I continued tweaking things just a little to make it a perfect as I possibly could. After all, that was the only demand, perfection.

Although I had found that the Renthone cloning process had made the robots so life like, there were things that simply astonished me. One day the air conditioning system was not working properly, and as I worked with each robot individually I noticed that any that were activated were perspiring. I couldn't believe what I was witnessing, a robot sweating. I knew each had been supplied with synthetic blood, but where were the body fluids that seeped from their pores coming from?

I tried an experiment on my own, which was a breach of security for this project, but my curiosity drove me onwards. Late at night and alone I felt secure that what I was about to do would never be known, so I tested my theory.

I activated the larger of the male robots and turned up the heat in my lab and instructed him to walk on the treadmill. The monitors indicated a heartbeat and pulse, but the exercise began to raise both levels, how, I had no clue. Twenty minutes later, I saw beads of seat forming over his forehead, and soon the underarms of his shirt darkened. Damn, this robot was really perspiring.

I began to ask myself questions. Would he overheat and shutdown? Would he experience heat exhaustion like a real human? How, if at all, would the robot replenish the body fluids he was expelling?

As the robot continued the workout, I filled two glasses with cold water and sat at the table until the full thirty minutes had expired, and asked that he join me. The robot continued to perspire and was breathing as a human would be after such a workout and watched quietly as I sipped from one of the glasses, when suddenly he spoke.

"Sir, may I have a glass of water?"

"Yes Mr. Eastwood you may."

I handed him the glass and he gulped it down, and then I poured another, and told him to drink. I repeated this until he had drank well over three pitchers of water, and I waited.

An hour or so later, Mr. Eastwood asked where the men's room was located, stating he needed to empty his bladder. I showed him the men's room and watched the security monitor that showed him standing in front of the urinal, taking a piss.

When he came back, I disabled him and removed his clothing. I hadn't seen any of the robots undressed in the past, and I immediately saw that this robot, as I had discovered with the others, was as real as any human, complete with a penis, a set of balls and even pubic hairs. The female robots were also as real as a human.

My conclusion was that Renthone had indeed cloned an actual human, using the mechanical portions of the robot as the skeleton, and a microchip as the brain; everything else was human in every sense of the word, and that gave me an idea.

The next evening I watched Karen, one of the female assistants, getting ready to leave for the day and I quickly grabbed my coat and followed her out of the building. After passing through security, I asked if she would like to stop at the inn across from the train station for a cocktail while we waited for the train, which I had noticed she would usually do on most evenings.

She accepted my offer, and as I hoped she excused herself to use the ladies room moments after we placed our order with the waitress. As she walked away from out table, I quickly searched her purse and found what I was looking for, her security I.D. card.

When the train pulled in, I made an excuse that I had forgotten something on my desk, and headed back to the facility. While the guard was busy on the phone, I swiped my access card, and then quickly Karen's card and proceeded to my lab. I knew the guards changed shifts at 10:00, so I waited until that time before I headed home, this time however, I walked out with Arlene.

As she had been instructed, she swiped Karen's card and walked across the parking lot, and I was close behind her.

When we arrived at my home, I shut her down and went to the comfort of my bed for a well-deserved nights sleep. The next morning I took the early train and waited for Karen to arrive.

When I spotted her getting off the train I quickly walked up and took her to the side.

"Karen, am I glad I spotted you before you tried getting in the building. You must have dropped your security card last night, and I found it lying in the parking lot. Good thing I had to go back inside. You know the rules, lose you card, and you lose your job. Don't worry, I won't tell a soul."

Karen thanked me, and nothing else was said as we walked past the guard to our respective labs.

I fired up my computer and began writing a new program, and by noontime I had completed my project and burned another microchip, a microchip that would be the new brain for Arlene.

Alone in my lab hours after everyone had left, I made my way to one of the Renthone labs hoping to find more prototypes. To my delight, there were dozens more, and I quickly installed a microchip into a female model and instructed it to follow me.

When I arrived back in my lab I deactivated her and installed the chip that had been used in Arlene. I figured it would months before it was discovered that a robot was missing, if at all, and continued my project.

Finally, every department had completed its assignments, and now for the final approval from the military before actually production would begin. Three days of testing followed, and word was given that we had indeed met the requirements of the military, and it was full speed ahead.

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Story tagged with:
Science Fiction / Robot /