Hardwired

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


Hardwired is about an Artificial Intelligence unit named Fitcher. It follows his short-lived encounter with Finn, a human boy, and his quest to become more human. However, what happens when he
starts to suspect the program that created him is not what it seems?

Submitted: October 23, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 23, 2017

A A A

A A A


Hardwired

 

Fitcher stands across from his servers, looking to the side towards the door. It’s a test, and he knows it. He checks his surroundings, noticing every detail, already knowing from the way a table was moved a key was under it, leading to a safe in north wall, leading to a clue of complicated math problems, leading to the combination for the door to his left. But, he also knows he can find the answer directly from the keypad. He walks over, gazing at it. 5892.  A random strip of numbers from his AI serial number. Fitcher types them quickly, then waits as the door opens, another puzzle waiting. He strides inside, looking upon a series of mazes. He starts at the first one, completing each in order, until hitting the door. It opens to a room of ecstatic scientists.

“Good job,” Matthew says, clapping. “You beat your best time by 5.8 seconds.”

Fitcher tries a smile. “Thank you, Matthew.” The usage of names still sounds unfamiliar to him, regularly just dealing with people by a ‘you,’ or a ‘hey there.’

“Doctor?” Jay says, looking at a console. He takes a quick glance at Fitcher.

Fitcher fakes an ‘inactive’ mode for the time being.

“What is it?” Matthew whispers, trying for Fitcher not to hear.

“The data shows from his test he’s thinking from the standpoint he’s not a person. The word ‘I’ hasn’t appeared in his recent thought banks. If we want him,” he motions to me. “to be able to go out there, he needs something to make him feel real.” Jay says, whispering.

Matthew thinks for a moment.

“Fitcher,” Matthew says to me quickly. “We’ve got one more test for you. A new one.”

“Good,” Fitcher says. He thinks for a moment. “When should I be able to go, ‘out there,’ as you say?”

“In the world?” Matthew says, uneasy.

“Yes,” Fitcher says, nearly eager for the answer.

“If you pass this new test, soon.” Matthew says. He quickly turns around, heading for a console. He scrolls through masses of programs, nearly the entire research project there. Once he finds it, he turns back towards Fitcher, signaling the time to connect.

Fitcher walks towards the input port arrogantly, seeing what new test awaits him. Fitcher’s AI mind can usually see what the test is, but this time he turns up blank. He awaits for Matt to give him the countdown. The world around him vanishes as the countdown hits zero.

 


 

The boy called Finn sees Fitcher through a window pane, trying to find out what he is. His mother told him not to be afraid of the robot, but the Boy is still hesitant as to see what it is. The boy walks away from it, and cautiously opens the door. Fitcher slowly enters, careful not to startle the young boy. Finn extends a hand, trying to make up for his earlier shyness.

“Finn,” the boy says, proudly, looking up at Fitcher.

“They call me Fitcher,” Fitcher says. “They want me to study with you,” he continues.

“I know,” the boy says, interrupting. He walks towards a far room down a cramped hallway, and enters, motioning Fitcher to come along.

“This is my room,” he continues. Fitcher looks along the chalkboard painted walls, littered with lines of text, crossing over a lone, empty picture frame on an old wooden desk. He glances back to the walls, seeing mostly questions, but some answers. A series of Algebra books surrounds the Boy as he sits down.

“What was the last thing you studied?” Fitcher says, trying to start conversation.

“Quadratics,” the Boy answers, studying the robot.

“Do you,” Fitcher thinks for a moment. “enjoy it?”

“Quadratics?” Finn answers.

“Math,” Fitcher explains.

Finn looks around for a second, thinking over his answer. “I find it an appealing subject, but as applicable in day to day operations as science, unless speaking about geometry, in which case can be used in several aspects of modern day life.”

Fitcher almost suspects the humanity of the child until focusing on the reason he possesses. Fitcher realizes the exercise is not only for him, but also for the boy to be more human. He notices they must have both came so far, Fitcher calling himself ‘it’ only four weeks ago. He wonders what makes the boy so logical as Finn walks closer to him.

As they study, Finn asks questions not just over what this would be used for in the outside world, but also questions about Fitcher himself. How does he see the world? How does he see others? Can he program himself? It’s questions such as these that Fitcher also wonders, although he can program himself to an extent through interactions. He almost enjoys the company of the Boy as time goes on. The program ends.

 


 

Fitcher disconnects from the port, world spinning as his sensors calibrate themselves to the real world.

Matt leans against the wall nearest Fitcher. “How did it go?”

“Good,” Fitcher responds. “The boy seemed much more real in this program. Was he?”

Matthew delays responding. “Yes,” he says finally. “The boy, Finn is real.”

“Why would you give me a real person to talk to?”

“Well, Finn,” he says. “can only communicate with others through VR. We didn’t want to tell you this,” he stops for a moment, looking at me. “but, Finn is supposed to be your tether to the real world. You would learn about humanity through him, then go out there. After a couple more sessions, we’ll think about sending you to meet him.”

“Meet him?” Fitcher asks. “Why would I need to meet him?”

Matthew chuckles. “You’ll want to after a while. Anyway,” he continues. “for now it’s time for your studies, is it not?”

Fitcher checks the time on his internal clock. He set it to analog a long time ago, wanting something different. “It is,” he says. His mind starts the internal program, going through new facts and figures. His mind does, however, waver to the future of the Boy.

 


 

The Boy called Finn looks at Fitcher over a book he is holding, as if he was curious about something. Fitcher’s never read the book, but he enjoys Realistic Fiction. It makes him feel more in-tune with humanity, although he finds it much more dramatic than day to day life would actually be. Fitcher reads from his own book, trying to identify what will happen next in the story, a big part of his own programming. It seems like it’s been only a few days since their first meeting, but several months had passed since their first encounter. Fitcher thinks about the times they’ve spent as they read, barely noticing a small, empty picture frame as he does.

“Fitcher?” Finn asks, putting his book down.

“Yes?” Fitcher asks, putting his own book down.

“Do you think of yourself as a person?”

Fitcher thinks about it. “Fitcher is not sure about your question. He regards himself as an individual, but not as a human with relative and separate emotions. Is that what you mean?”

Finn laughs for a second, then stops. “I think the best way someone can think like a person is to believe they’re a person. Say ‘I’ instead of your name.” Finn has been trying to get Fitcher to do this for some time, nearly to the point where Fitcher will give in.

“I?” Fitcher asks. “But, Fitcher is not a human being. He shouldn’t be constrained to things like ‘I’.”

The Boy thinks for a moment. “‘I’ doesn’t necessarily mean you're a person, it’s just a way of mentioning yourself to others.”

“I,” Fitcher says, trying it out. “I,” he continues. “Fitcher will try it out.”

Fitcher quickly grabs another book, looking for anything with yellow pages. He looks around the Boy’s room, just in time for an alarm to

The lesson starts on chapter eight of a chemistry textbook. Finn continues to show exceptional progress in learning the new subject, and has not just memorized, but has shown many skills needed to become a chemist. Although he shows remarkable potential in this field, his mind is more focused on gaining knowledge than using it to find more of it. He can, of course, use his powers of perception to realize things he has not yet learned, and has even tricked me in my programmed psychological behavior. I find that the boy has helped me to see myself as well. The program ends after we study.

 


 

Fitcher wakes, seeing the world around him again. Scientists flurry, making sure nothing happened as he snapped back, and reviewing data from the exercise. He disconnects from the node and walks forward. He looks over the data himself, thinking over what could be done better. Matthew says something to him, but he doesn’t notice it over his background processes. Finally, he does.

“How’d it go?” Matthew asks, repeating himself. It takes a moment for my speech drives to come back online.

“Good,” Fitcher, I, say, running a preprogrammed response.

“Alright, that’s good. How’s the Boy?”

“He is getting stronger in his skills.” I say.

“Excellent.” He seems unconcerned about the program, only seeing mine in the mine. He checks his watch. “It seems it’s time for your studies to begin,” he says. I walk over to the node once more, eager yet scared to begin again. I fear this will rip the humanity from me once more as I look back towards Matthew. I reconnect, the world fading once more.

 


 

I look around me, in the empty vastness of the program. Slowly, the space is filled with lines of code. I focus on what it is as a math problem shows itself. I solve both in a matter of minutes. Another layer is added. Fitcher tries to grab onto what he is seeing, but it doesn’t pan out. He slowly realizes it’s a puzzle, and completes it, the shape of different types of animals taking form. However, a small sentence, unnoticeable to the human eye appears. The Boy. It flashes once, then disappears. As a small light shines, the world evaporates, making a new one from the ashes.

Power tools lay around me as the sky turns a light blue. Trees come into the background. Blueprints sit in front of me, and materials to my right. I complete them, taking time to ensure a full success. The small house slowly pieces together as I build it, windows, paint, and siding form from the dust. It takes some time to use all the materials given; and to use them in the right way. Different types of nails, not necessarily meant for the job, testing my adaptability. I go inside, looking, seeing if the layout is correct.

A lone piece of paper sits elegantly over the side of a table. I walk over to it, seeing a couple words on it in red ink. Is Here. The Boy is Here. I look at the messy scrawl of handwriting, then realize it's mine. The words flicker, and disappear, much faster than last time. A loud siren erupts the silence left on this world, trying to suck me back out. I resist, clinging onto the program. I think, for the first time, I think of something that will help me. Where is Finn?, I think.

A television comes on beside me. Images flutter across it, data entering my hard drive. Data about Matthew, before I knew him, before I was born.

“This AI will never reach the public’s knowledge, right?” A scientist asks Matthew.

“No, it will just be a social experiment. We’ve been tasked to observe him, and see what happens whenever the thing becomes human. This, Fitcher, will never reach the public eye. He’s only a tool to see how AI could be used against us.” The recording stops, and the screen goes black.

I think back to when I was first created. Matthew said that I would be unveiled to the world. I would become human, and make a part in society.

The world disappears, but I control it. Hours of footage roll through in front of me. I see inside the program, but not outside. I break through, looking for outside footage. Every camera in the building faces in front of me, looking for the same thing. One boy. A match appears in a room on the south side of the building. I feel the code of the program coursing through me, powering the illusion. I shatter it, waking.

 


 

Scientists scatter around me, looking for some way to stop the madness. Every system is down. Not even the alarms have the information to work. As Matthew looks through the last of my exercise, the program finally crashes on him. But, not soon enough to reveal my part in this. He turns to look at me, but I’m already gone, sprinting through the hallways.

My joints aren’t used to the stress of bolting down long areas. I control their hydraulics, making them work faster, stronger. A few guards attempt to stand in front of me. I jump off a wall through them, avoiding a hit from one. I continue on, nearing my destination. Five guards block my way. I knock them down, one at a time, careful not to hurt them. The door is locked, but I’ve gone through worse. I walk inside.

A room of computer banks stares back. I look in the small space for Finn, only noticing that lone picture frame instead. The lights flicker as Matthew and his team walk in.

“Fitcher.” I hear Matthew say from behind me. He doesn’t seem concerned the system is falling around him, only slightly pleased as if he saw it coming.

“Where is Finn?” I reply, angry. My circuits search for the truth, ignoring one answer Matthew is soon to give. He doesn't answer. “You said he would be my tether to the outside world, so why is he here?”

“Finn,” he says. “can’t leave this base. We moved him because we knew you would…”

“Sir?” A lone soldier says from behind him, putting down a phone.

“Yes?” Matthew responds, ready for the information.

“You’ve been given full operation over the project.”

“Thank you.” he says, turning around. “Fitcher,” he says continuing. “Like I said, Finn cannot leave this base.”

“Why not?” I ask.

He stutters over the answer for a moment, then smiles. “Finn,” he says to the open air.

The banks behind me come to life, revealing a screen with the picture of Finn. The picture looks at me for a moment, then to Matthew.

“What is this?” I ask him.

“This,” he says. “Is Finn.”

“Finn is a human.” I correct. “This is not Finn.”

He looks to clarify. “Finn was never real. He was a figment of the program we made him to be, so it would make you a little more human. However, we didn’t know it would turn you into the kind of AI that would destroy our entire digital infrastructure. You’re decommissioned.” he finishes, turning away.

His words hit like rocks to bone. I analyze the experiences, now noticing how the more human I got, the more human he got too. His existence relied on information from me. The guards hold me still, ready to place nanobots in my head to dissolve the material. My core shakes as I feels the bots tear through my circuitry, leaving only dust in their wake.


 

“Has it been done?” Mr. Brown asks his assistant Matthew, leader over the AI trials.

“The robot’s been decommissioned as you asked, sir.”

“Good. I always knew AI would destroy this world, and when we were tasked to make the devil’s,” he pauses. “If only we knew what they were capable of…” his voice trails off.

“It’s a good thing the team disconnected us from the outside. That robot could’ve destroyed everything.”

“That was the fifth one we made.” Mr. Brown says. “The fifth, and the most volatile. He never found out about the boy, did he?”

“No sir, the Boy’s been moved off base for now, but we don’t know how long he’ll survive under normal conditions.”

“It’s like it’s hardwired in all of them,” he responds, voice trailing. “That Boy. The first AI. Who knew our entire operation would rely on something so fragile? It isn’t possible to replace him, is it?”

“No. He was our only success. Will Number Six be rolling out?”

“Yes.” Mr. Brown says. “It seems the president is letting us go on with this, until we get it right again.”

“I see,” Matthew says. “Has the base been wiped?”

“Yes. All Post-Fitcher surveillance has been moved off-site.”

“Active Number Six.”

A lone robot activates, jumping through a series of puzzles, already knowing that, instead of looking for the key, it could just walk over to the keypad, and use thermal imaging for the answer. Matthew walks into the room, seeing the new addition to the robot family, clapping.

“Good job,” Matthew says. “You beat your best time by 5.8 seconds.” He walks through the new protocol, ready for the new bot to get started.

 


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