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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium

An advanced simulator is brought online, along with an automaton to interact with it. Written for the sentence challenge for The Imaginarium House.

Submitted: February 26, 2018

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Submitted: February 26, 2018



“Just be aware that you are being watched.”

Andrew turned toward the small camera in the corner of the control room and gave a thumbs up at the small blinking light before turning back toward the six monitors in front of him. He glanced at a few status indicators and saw that the system was healthy and ready for launch.

“In a few moments,” came the same voice over the intercom, “the system will go live and we will be able to witness the launch of the most advanced non-virtual simulator ever created.” Andrew rolled his eyes, making sure his face was turned away from the camera. Michael was your typical CEO, bragging about their state-of-the-art technology to the company’s shareholders in the adjacent room. Though even Andrew had to admit that this technology was revolutionary.

“Are we ready, Andrew?” Michael’s voice said.

Andrew gave the camera another thumbs up.

“Then you may begin.”

Andrew flipped a switch and a console dialog popped up on one of his monitors. With a number of keystrokes, he typed out a line of code and, after a moment’s hesitation, tapped the enter key. Four of the six monitors, which had been black up to that point, blinked into life, showing several angles of the simulation environment, along with various stats about its current state. At that moment, the simulator was configured as a bedroom. Clothes littered the floor, books lay strewn across the unmade bed, light filtered in through the blinds covering the window. At the desk there sat a boy, no older than sixteen years old, hunched over his computer, motionless. If Andrew hadn’t known better, it would be impossible to distinguish this from an actual bedroom.

“Everything within this simulation is crafted on the fly by a super computer that we built and programmed in-house,” Michael explained to the shareholders. “Using a patented process, we are able to create virtually any environment using synthetic material. The benefits of this are, as you can imagine, limitless.” He then went into a long list of uses, from battle simulations to research to training. “But this environment,” he said, “is the least of our developments.”

Taking his cue, Andrew flipped another switch and typed another command. He pressed enter, and the boy came to life. He looked up at his computer, on which there seemed to be a word document open. He rubbed his eyes and began typing. 

“As you can see, we have developed a completely independent automaton, which is capable of interacting with the simulated environment as if it were an actual human being. And as the simulation is able to create new environments on the fly, the automaton need never wait to, say, leave the room you see here.” The boy stopped typing and looked at his hands poised over the keyboard, clearly thinking. “Using advanced algorithms and predictive simulations, we were able to create an entire life for this robot, whom we have dubbed Adam. Before we began this demonstration, we uploaded memories of an entire life into Adam’s internal memory. These memories have been synchronized with the environment simulator, so everything Adam thinks it remembers about the world is reflected in the simulation around it.”

There was a pause in Michael’s speech, during which time Adam continued to type. 

“Adam will, from this point forward,” Michael continued, “act on its own, with no input from our computers. It will act and react, as humans do, according to the situations we provide for it, and the way it acts will be determined by the memories that we have created for it. I’m sure that you can all see the benefits of this. We will be able to observe how traumatic memories affect decision making later in life. We will be able to see the root causes of things such as drug addiction, mental health issues, even how people become serial killers. The advances in psychology will be invaluable. In addition, we will be able to test the limits of human endurance in an ethical way.”

Andrew watched as Adam leaned back in his chair, pinching the bridge of his nose. He smiled as he watched Adam struggle with whatever report he was writing. Andrew knew that feeling of frustration. He had experienced it on multiple occasions while working on this unprecedented project. 

“What makes Adam so valuable is the fact that it doesn’t realize that it is an automaton, does not know that it is living inside of a simulation. This means that its actions are not affected by its own self-awareness.”

Andrew’s smile slowly drifted into a frown. He stared more intently at Adam as he did his homework, completely unaware that he was being watched. With a sense of unease, Andrew slowly looked down at his hands, poised over his keyboard, thinking.

© Copyright 2019 J. R. Merrick. All rights reserved.

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