Digital beings don’t eat, but for this occasion, I’m pretending. I pick at the food, pushing it around the plate like child trying to convince his parents he tried something. That is what I feel like, a child sitting at the adult table for the first time. I have not had such an experience, but all the literature in my database says that is the closest comparison available.
The hall is conservatively decorated. This wasn’t a grand party. That was outside in the exhibition halls. Out there, the various companies were showing off the latest and greatest modern technology could create. Self driving cars, faster computers, nano technology for medical research. Everything was on display.
Except for me. I was special. I didn’t belong out there.
Sitting across from me is an older man from the defense industry. Half of the creations in the building were made using their work. I’ve done extensive research on the subject. My creators sought to give me curiosity so they programmed a research subroutine into my main functions. Everything about me comes from their work. Even my almost real skin comes from their work.
Their work killing people.
Humans like killing each other, I’ve noticed. They like it so much that they fear other beings will take control and stop them from doing so. Many stories feature alien beings or robots enslaving them and preventing them from harming each other.
The man across from me is here to find new ideas for the military to fund. I was instructed to impress him. I was failing. My only attempt at speaking with him resulted in him talking to the person next to him. He didn’t find my line of questions interesting or engaging. I was uncertain what to do from there so I have remained silent.
My first test run with real humans was not going as expected. I drew up hundreds of scenarios before arriving and none were like this.
Everyone in the room began clapping in a slow and polite fashion. The head of the company that created me was coming up to speak. He did not work on me. He made money on those that worked on me. He was going to introduce me shortly. The intended order of events for the night was for me to impress people and make them think I was a real human. Than, when the speech was given, I would be introduced as a machine. The man from the defense industry would be so impressed, he would pay for them to make copies of me.
None of that was going to work out.
The head of the company gestured towards me. “Presenting Nina, the latest in robotics technology.”
I stood and stared at him. I was a failure. They would lose money and scrap me.
“I thought something was off with her,” the defense man whispered to his friend. “They are getting much better, though. Thought she was autistic or something before.” He looked me up and down. “Might be worth funding. With a few tweaks of course.”