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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Inspired by Isaac Asimov's "Reason".

It was not working again.

Jackson impatiently pressed at the black sensor button on the robocontroller, but there was no feedback from DA-290751.

“He’s acting up, he’s rebelling, as if this is his territory and we are his workers,” Jackson protested to his colleague, Quincey.

“I’ve re-tested him. The circuits in his limbs are working. And so are the prosthetic enzymes in his brain. There is no reason why this should happen,” Quincey answered before pausing in dismay. “It’s… disturbing, even.”

At this moment, the iron hinges to their underground office in the Robotics Administration of the United States twisted opened. A metallic finger probed through, before the sleek, modern silhouette of DA-29075, also known as Darwin, came into form.

“I have finished the selenium collection,” Darwin said in his clear, intonated voice. The robot, a test specimen out of the newest DA batch of cyborgs, had a diaphragm built into his torso, so that his articulation is less metallic than those others of his kind.

Jackson bit his tongue to control the sour acid that threatened to lace his voice. “But you did not gather the uranium, Darwin. This is the third time in the past two weeks.”

Darwin turned his iron-wired neck to a side so that his red, electric eyes avoided Jackson’s piercing glare. “I do not like the touch of uranium,” he casually said.

“A clump of steel wires can actually claim to have a personal preference! Quincey, did you hear that, he said the word ‘like’, he’s nuts. He cannot ‘like’, he is only a programmed robot,” Jackson cried aloud, before returning his gaze back to Darwin.

Darwin poised himself and leveled his red eyes into Jackson’s. Irrationality, or any excess of emotions, did not appeal to his reasonable mind. Only logic, or programmed systems are considered as worthwhile of his time. He had to uphold his right as an independent being, and he had to know where he came from. He did not have the obligation to follow the orders of such senseless humans.

“I bequest to know my creator,” Darwin said.

“We are your creators, Darwin. Humans created you. The wires in your hands are all man-made. It is the same for the switches in your joints as well. Every scrap of your makeup is produced by humans,” Quincey replied with a calm exterior, even though his heart was pounding hard in his chest. No robot had ever questioned their human owners, let alone wondered about the source of their existence. None.  

“Well, that cannot be true. It is simply unreasonable,” Darwin answered with an air of confidence, before continuing, “Humans cannot create robots.”

Jackson sat silent at Darwin’s audacity, while Quincey glowered at the cyborg with spite swelling in his belly. How dare a robot rebel against his creator?

Sensing their reservation, Darwin continued, “You are made of organic skin and bones. I am made of steel and bronze. If the walls of this room collapses on us, I will be the one left alive, not you.” He then proceeded to tap his metal skull, producing a clean rat-tat-tat sound, before saying, “And in here, I can do everything that you are unable to. I can calculate all kinds of complex Pythagoras equations, while you cannot.”

Jackson scowled at Darwin. Having his ego flattened was akin to getting his check slapped with a slice of cold ham. “And so? How does this relate to the whole issue of your creator? I don’t see how these can be linked to your belief that humans did not create robots,” he said challengingly.

“And so, this means that you are inferior to me,” Darwin continued. “And logically, nothing superior can come out of anything inferior. At the same time, there must be a cause for my existence, for nothing can come out of nothing. Therefore, it is true that I exist – but the both of you cannot be my creators, because you are inferior to me.”

Quincey glared at Darwin’s metallic mien. He can swear that if robots indeed had facial muscles, Darwin was very much smirking at him like a cold rascal. He had to regain his authority. He was the chief robot architect, after all.

 “You do not in fact exist, Darwin. In the physical sense, perhaps you do, but psychologically – it’s impossible! You are just a robot, with an artificial brain. You do not have a soul. I repeat, you do not exist.”

Darwin pondered for a bit, before replying, “But I gather that I must exist, because as I’ve said previously, nothing can come out from nothing. Also, I can think. My existence is proven by the fact that I can consciously think.”

“And now we have a robot Descartes!” Jackson groaned.


The progress of their work the next day was sluggish despite the increasing urgency for action. A swathe of charged particles released from the Sun was heading towards Earth, and if unhindered, was projected to result in a geomagnetic storm. Uranium and selenium were needed to offset these charge particles, but Darwin refused to collect these elements. Just as before, every of Jackson’s thrusting of the robocontroller to cast a signal towards Darwin went ignored.

At a spiderweb on the corner of the lab ceiling, a spider’s myriad of egg hatched, before the swarm of babies scuttled over her, eating her up from the legs first, and then the head. The spider barely struggled.

Right below this grotesque episode, Quincey was staring into space in silence, when an idea struck him. He called out to his colleague with hopefulness. “Jackson, I’ve been thinking – if reason appeals to Darwin, then logical arguments can convince him. The laboratory library is a trove of such empirical reasoning. When he reads that humans are indeed geniuses who invented robots, he will believe that we are his creators. That’s concrete evidence.”

Jackson clapped his hand on Quincey’s back before swooning, “You are a genius!” The more Jackson thought about it, the more he believed that this tactic would be the trump card to persuade Darwin.

That afternoon, when Darwin returned to the office for his daily work report, the two colleagues spoke to him.

“Go to the library, Darwin. Read any of the books under the robodesign section, and you’ll see that humans are the ones who created robots,” Quincey finally said.

“I’ve read all the books already,” Darwin answered automatically. “I must say, they are rather clever.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “But how do you prove that those information are produced by humans?”

“The names of the authors – look at the authors that wrote the books. Those people are humans!” Quincey said with exasperation. This robot was indeed a tricky one to bring under control. An inquisitive and questioning robot, who would have thought of such a possibility?

Darwin shook his head. “Until I see with my eyes that a particular human named Albert Ponfix wrote for himself the book “Robot Engineering and Administration” published in 2107 for example, then I would believe that it is indeed a human being that wrote those information,” Darwin said. He believed printed words mean nothing, unless they have a corresponding empirical reality that can be witnessed.

“It cannot be, Darwin. If humans did not write those books, then who did? Where did all those information come from? Surely not from other robots. You’ve interacted with the rest of your kind, you’d have known that none of them are capable of such knowledge,” Jackson protested. He was getting tired from all the arguments. Darwin was indeed just a mass of wires, and nothing more than that. This was getting ridiculous, he thought. To imagine that he’d be arguing with a mechanic claptrap – and a machine of his own creation, nonetheless!

“There must be an infinite Maker who wrote those information, then,” Darwin stated in a matter-of-fact manner. “It is only logical that if humans and robots did not produce those information, then there must be a higher being that did so.”

Jackson and Quincey stared at Darwin, wide-eyed. Did their robot just discover by himself a reason for God to exist, through his philosophical ponderings? Which robot could do that?

“Since this infinite Maker exists, and since I am the most capable being of all – even more so than you humans and the other robots, it also means that I am a special appointment. I might have a unique relation to this Maker, and my life’s goal is to search for this,” Darwin explained.

“You’re very much mistaken. Your life’s goal is to collect uranium. You were made for this,” Quincey said drily, while drumming his fingers on his desk. He was getting impatient.

Darwin looked at Quincey and Jackson with pity. He believed that there must be a higher purpose to existence than just work. “What do you want the uranium for? To create more robots for sale? And I – what you call DA-290751 – am just your handmaker, who cannot own your means of production. The search for my Maker is my solution to find meaning. You should do the same, too,” the iron robot explained quietly.

Jackson and Quincey gaped at their robot unbelievingly. Darwin had not only managed to derive the political-economical structure of capitalism, but also questioned the justness of it. In Marx’s terms, he is imbued out of his false consciousness. But in no way can a robot do this, can he?

Darwin swung his metal torso towards the door. “I shall take my leave,” he said politely. As much as he believed Jackson and Quincey to be mindless and outside of rationality, he liked them. There was a kind of softness to them.

“You will get it back from us,” Jackson growled through gritted teeth.

Darwin simply shrugged and closed the door with a soft thud. An empty silence filled the room for several onerous seconds.

“What do you think?” Quincey asked. His palms were sweating from witnessing the uprising of his creation. “How is Darwin speaking like that? He is only a robot. It’s not possible, is it?”

Jackson rummaged through the piles of roboengineering manuals on his desk. “We need to find a way to purge him, Quincey. He is getting too dangerous.”

“Purge? You mean, destroy him?”

“Yes, very much.” Jackson nodded his head firmly. “That bastardy creature has to be removed. If the government realizes we created non-human intelligence of this level, our funding will be halted. Heck, we would even be forced to close down.” He continued to pull a tattered, moth-eaten journal out from his shelf, and frantically flipped to a target page. “There it is – it says ‘to annihilate a robot, throw sulfuric acid on his torso.’ That will give the wires inside him a short circuit, and he will be gone.”

Quincey winced. He wasn’t sure about annihilating Darwin. Beneath that intellectual and rebellious exterior, Darwin was a gentle robot after all. “You… sure about that?” he asked. “Darwin cost us nearly $15 million to produce.”

“Better sacrifice this money before we create robots that overtake the human race, Quincey!” Jackson exclaimed.

Quincey pondered about this ultimatum for a moment. His colleague had a point. It has to be done. He was genuinely attached to Darwin, but logic triumphs sentiment. “Alright, I will send out orders for the engineering team to annihilate him with the other unused robots this Friday,” he said.

Darwin, who was secretly overhearing their conversation outside the door, let out a mechanical sputter. If he were human, it would be equivalent to a weep.

He realized that he had misjudged their characters, after all. Humans were irrational, but that also means that their emotions led them to conduct unreasonable actions.

The robot looked at the blank expense of the uranium ore ahead of him. The clatter of the metal gratings infiltrated the underground silence. It was a dark silence otherwise. His eyes glazed over.

If only he could find his Maker.





Submitted: December 01, 2016

© Copyright 2021 bellarosiemand. All rights reserved.

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A story with a lot of philosophical questions. Good write!

Sun, December 4th, 2016 12:05pm

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