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.

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Story tagged with:
Science Fiction / Robot /