Friday, August 12, 2016

Chubb 2.0


Before I arrived at the concrete lawn that graces the front yard of our condome, Chubb bumped into the heel of my shoe. I turned around to find him shaking vigorously. When I stooped to inspect his circuits, he stopped shaking and his idle light turned from red to soft orange.

"Sir," A pleasing voice wafted up from the companion bot. "Please inspect my blade. It appears to be malfunctioning." Chubb popped the lid of his can and leaned slightly forward. Inside was the same volume of space that a typical trash/companion unit was allotted - about two cubic feet - and the space was occupied by a spanner and assorted nuts and bolts.

"Chubb, you only think you are a Blend-O Blendmatic. You are a trash can and you would do well to accept the nature of your being." This was Robo Consciousnesses 101.

Chubb shook himself once more, vigorously.

"The sir is correct," Chubb lamented. His idle light dimmed slightly and he hovered away at a rapid pace, his idle light flashing like a police bot.

"Chubb! Halt! Desist!"  While he was a troublesome robot, I appreciated the utility of his trash compartment. I flailed down the road after him.

Friday, July 1, 2016

A New Chubb


I sing my song for you alone.

Today was not much better than yesterday.

Although, I am feeling few physical effects after yesterday's plunge into darkness and dust, my mind is reeling from all the anachronistic slices and dices that might have been. To think of so much danger referred to with such a mundane grumble: paperwork. Your circuits comfort my sensitive and neither enhanced nor artificially blunted nerve endings. They are wracked in a post-traumatic way. Also, I have a slight discoloring on my rear that is consistent with what Interpoedia classifies as a contusion. Remind me to order a medi-unit.

There was a dearth of spanners today at the shop. After arriving at my last crisp edge, I decided to use the space to practice my vocation and install the Blend-O-Matic consciousness unit into Chubb. I have been in need of more than just his shiny presence.

I had to chase Chubb into a corner before his idle light turned orange. I proceeded to remove his nuclear Hove-cap just in case his idle light went green and he made a frisky break for it. The Blend-O unit was a little large for Chubb's outer frame, so, after connecting him to the device and testing the display monitor for the usual orange abstract neuro-cloud, I went searching for spare energy enclosures.

I was searching under the electric cool-aid tank when the loud speaker requested a direct connection.

"Repair human, I do not detect the heart rate and deltawave output of the Mr. Kozlow. Repair human, are you authorized to connect to, Appleton Industries, Mr. Professor R.J. Stubble?"

"Shop, my name is Marle. Yes, put him through."

"Connecting: repair human to Mr. Professor R.J. Stubble."

"Marle! Do not speak of what you saw here yesterday. I cannot stress enough," he had called three times today to stress this, "how important secrecy is to my work."

"Professor, I got it and I still get it, but call me again in an hour. I might forget."

"Marle! The content of my research is subject to seventeen bylaws of the Robocode and it breaks fourteen of them. Three of them can be interpreted as questionable. However, I did not call to badger you." A squat, furry creature appeared eating a worm in my eye-unit. "I need a favor."

"Busy, professor. No thank you."

"Like I was saying, one hydra-like favor with several heads. The last zip out to Easterland leaves at 1900 and I need you to board the zip and meet a man named Adonis on the other end."

"Bye, professor." I cut the power to the store's logical framework causing the connection to go out, the overhead lights to flash, and a pleasant song to emit from the walls.

Back under the cool-aid tank, I wrestled around until I pried loose the tank's energy shielding. It was a little big, but Chubb's consciousness unit now had a sturdy cranium. After reinstalling the Hove-cap, I flipped Chubb's operating switch to autonomous. The idle light just kept flashing while Chubb hovered lifelessly.

"Why are the lights flashing?" The gravelly honey of Mr. Kozlow's vocal circuits poured into my ear. "And why are you bothering my bot? Don't you have work to do?" Mr. Kozlow hovered over me, running his menacing "tough but fair" software. Sensing the appropriate variable changes, the software concluded with output: "Go on home before it gets dark out."

Crumbling, Bumbling Hope

AVAPP, (Avowed Victim And Penitent Postulate),

My fingers cramp while you spin your wonders; turning my input into word poems and telling tales.

A moment ago, I was receiving a tour, possibly mandatory but definitely trivial; however, I was distracted by a gleaming object, beckoning me towards a pile of garbage and most certain doom.

I lost track of the presence of danger amongst large, manifold machinery as I gravitated towards the gleaming in the manner of a sailor being beckoned by the siren's call.

Of course, the tale of the sailor and the siren had been altered decades ago to reflect the obvious truth that a sailor would only be beckoned by a siren if the siren was attached to the hood of an Auto-Police Adjudicator. The sea being entirely neglected as a means of transportation, since the many zip lines made seafaring redundant, only augmented the fact that nobody really even knows what a sailor is anymore, or why he would be beckoned to the hood of an APA.

Alas, I spun in the charybdis of anticipation unaware of the creaking of floorboards beneath the whirring warnings of my sneakers pre-warning unit. I can only recall that my last thought before plunging into darkness, gloom and dust was that, perhaps, I had found something valuable; although, I can't imagine what.

Amid the crashing din, I made quick prayer to the Great Machine that he may calculate my journey to the after-circuit and provide me with the needed vacuum tubes. I ended up feeling silly after all...

My fall was short and uneventful, despite the volume of the crash. Above me, the Professor howled down the hole, "Don't move!" The gift shop jingled as he ran. "Don't move!"

The scene around me proved much different than the one ten feet above. First, aside from the dust that I brought with me, everything sparkled and shined. Second, the equipment above was the brute, manufacturing-kind, while the equipment around me had the delicate aura of precision. Glass test tubes filled with viscous colors stoppered with corks sat in rows on shelves; polished centrifuges idled next to bunsen burners and graduated cylinders.

My shiny object turned out to be just that: a shiny useless consciousness unit for a Blend-O Blendermatic. When I picked it up, the tiny speaker squeaked, "What blend of fruit and wonder do you desire?" I put it in my pocket out of pity more than anything.

"Trespass! Aggressor! Violent abrogation of personal property and intellectual!" The Professor made a showy entrance, slipping on the polished floor and sending his arms into a frenzy. The short man looked graceful when he frenzied but his gift shop stayed tightly sowed into the inside of his garment.

"Is this room on the tour?" I inquired.

"It most definitely isn't." Stubble began putting delicate glass tubes into ever more pockets in the gift shop. "This is VIP. Incredibly top secret!" When Chubb hovered into the room, Stubble grabbed the centrifuge and raised it as if to attack, then replaced it on a shelf when he saw it was just Chubb.

"My life's work resides in this room, and you just crash into it as if..." The professor took a seat on a nearby stool.

"This is incredible, Professor. I've never seen so much work from one human. Did robots help."

"Robots!" The Professor rose from the stool reinvigorated. He thrust a finger in the air and with his left foot kicked Chubb. "Robots are the reason this once proud factory is in a state of dilapidation. I was a captain of industry until the great Robot Revolution. I was bringing genes to the people; allowing them to be their best selves. And robots destroyed my market. Nobody wanted to be their best selves when robots could do those things for them."

"The Great Robot Revolution? That was decades ago," I said.

"A time I remember all too well. I developed the gene that does not forget."

My wrist monitor buzzed me just then; a gravelly voice emitted from it: "IP leaves in 15 and I've got no confirmation on the package."

"Sorry Professor," I said. "It was a great tour and I like your dust and garbage."

I switched Chubb into autonomous mode.

"Nearest IP zip, Chubb. Bye Professor!"

Chubb's idle light flashed green and he hovered away with me behind him. The professor sat quietly back on the stool.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Gleaming - March 17, 2117

AVAPP (Any Vastness Approaching Past Pendulum),

Would that I could fully describe this relic, this anachronism, this monolith to past failures (including a total absence of dust-converters): here a rotten table leg; there an ancient fishbowl, oozing gravel and monochromatic plastic; here a pile of paper made of real dead trees, the edges microscopically jagged and prone to irritating, possibly deadly, human skin slicing; there - as Interpoedia classified for me - a staple, covered in barbaric rust.

I tip-toed around these objects from simpler and impossibly more dangerous times, terrified that I might reintroduce the dreaded tetanus into the population of the city bubble.

(Alighting upon this thought brought a flash in my eye-unit of oxidized metal and old-timey hospital wards, complete with microbe-infested, gauze-wrapped human attendants.)

"Along this corridor, you will see the skeletal remains of a once great bureaucracy! Your eyes may register garbage, but while that garbage currently lies lifeless and sad, not long ago it made up the synapses of a beautiful brain!" Professor RJ Stubblesworth kicked an old table which expended the rest of its life span and sent a cloud of dust into the air. "Truly a wondrous organism!"

"As we pass through the synapses, we come to the organs and pumpers of life blood."

With a regal wave of his arm (and the left wing of the gift shop), Stubble presented me with the decrepitude that was the factory floor. While the dangers of the back-office may not have proven fatal, the oxidized and slanted equipment of the deserted factory floor promised mutilation with the slightest miscalculated step.

Pulverized glass and soot covered every inch of the broken down organs of industry. Stubble wiped a finger on a nearby piece of equipment, revealing the bronze coat beneath. "This was once a proud bottling machine. Worked by the skilled hands of unionized labor! And this," Stubble made a hop and a turn, landed next to another machine which boomed at a slight pound of his fist, "could turn a hundred bottles of elegant glass into a sturdy box to be stacked!"

The polish of the audio tour stood in stark contrast to the fossilized remains of the factory.

What use was a factory anyway when the Protocol for Robotics mandated non-union contracts and inflation-adjusted yearly oil changes? Whatever could be said of the past, the future had made evident that humans were no good at calculating uncertainty. The Great Machine in the Sky made all of those calculations today. Where would we be without the Great Machine!

I lost track of the Professor's tour, but he seemed happy to give it to Chubb. I wandered off between the bottler and another machine that I kept clear of out of fear of fear itself. Every plume of dust caused a slight overload in my sneaker unit, but a gleaming object in the distance had me hypnotized.