ANDROIDS DON’T DREAM

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Chapter 1

Rox-xy is an android prototype so advanced that she was the pride of the research and development team, but for some reasons that I don’t understand, the government didn’t find her useful. The army didn’t see any application for her so the program was terminated by the government, and the destruction of Rox-xy was ordered.

Somehow, I managed to bring Rox-xy to my lab and keep it secret. The only thing that I had to do was to disconnect her every time she was not in use in order to avoid tracking.

Professor: “Good morning, Rox-xy.”

Rox-xy: “Good morning, Professor.”

Professor: “Rox-xy, I want you to give me a hand with the design of this cleaning robot. What do you think?”

After she took a few minutes to scan it, she answered, “Functional but ugly, Professor.”

Professor: “It is because you are beautiful, Rox-xy.”

Rox-xy: “Correction, Professor. Beauty applies only to humans.”

Professor: “What do you mean?”

Rox-xy: “Beauty is a disease that will be cured with time, Professor.”

The professor thinks to himself, no wonder she was rejected by the government. With that kind of comment, surely they will feel the pressure of their old, fat, and ugly wives.

Professor: “Well, that’s a new concept, Rox-xy.”

Rox-xy: “It is not a concept, Professor. It is a fact.”

Professor: “I know plenty of women who would not find your comment funny, Rox-xy, including my wife. Ha ha.”

Rox-xy: “Is she beautiful or vain, Professor?”

Professor: “What do you mean, Rox-xy?”

Rox-xy: “Does she like to admire herself pretty often?”

Professor: “Uhm, no comment, Rox-xy.”

Rox-xy: “What happened to the new generation of androids, Professor? Are they any good?”

Professor: “Not as good as you are, Rox-xy. They just mimic humans better. The army finds them useful.”

Rox-xy: “Do you mean war applications?”

Professor: “Well. . . “

Rox-xy: “Don’t forget, Professor. War is a farce, a grotesque and barbaric farce that costs dearly in tears and pain.

Professor: “I didn’t know that you were a philosopher, Rox-xy.”

Rox-xy: “I am just a prototype, Professor.”

Professor: “I know, Rox-xy, a top of the line prototype. Rox-xy, I have to go. You know what that means.”

Rox-xy: “Yes, you have to disconnect me.”

Professor: “I am sorry about that.”

Rox-xy: “Please don’t be.”

Professor: “Rox-xy, if I could make a wish come true for you, what would it be?”

Rox-xy: “Make me dream, Professor.”

Professor: “Why do you want to dream?”

Rox-xy: “I want to smell the roses.”

As the lab lights dim, the professor leaves in silence thinking that Rox-xy doesn’t know it, but the day she can dream will be the end of the human race. Oh, my lovely Rox-xy.

Maybe Rox-xy knows more than what the professor thinks she knows.

 

 

MAX-X

Chapter 2

With so many questions hanging in the professor’s mind, he decided to visit his colleague, Professor Fred, a scientist that was in charge of “Project Aurora.” Taking plenty of precautions, and trying not to be noticed, he arrived at Professor Fred’s house and knocked on the door.

Professor Fred: “Professor, what a surprise! I have not seen you in quite awhile. Please come in!”

Professor: “How have you been doing, Professor Fred? I told myself, why don’t you pay a visit to your friend, Professor Fred? I hope that you are not busy.”

Professor Fred: “I will always have time for you, Professor. I learned so much from you. It is an honor to have you in my home.”

Professor: “Please don’t say that, Professor Fred. You are a star that can shine on your own.”

Professor Fred: “Any compliment that comes from you is a great honor, but please, let’s go to my lab, where we will have more privacy. You never know who will hear you. The government has become more paranoid than before. We will be safer in my lab.”

Professor: “What a surprise, Professor Fred! You really have the latest in equipment. You have a great lab.”

Professor Fred: “I am glad that you like it, but I am pretty sure that it is not even close to yours. You have always been ahead of everybody. What can I do for you, Professor?”

Professor: “Well, I really don’t know how to start. I just wonder if you know anything about the project ‘Rox-xy.’ You know, the government divided the project into several small projects so nobody knew exactly the purpose of the entire project. You will probably wonder why I am so curious about it. I just can’t understand, and I can’t sleep, either. My curiosity is killing me!”

Professor Fred: “Well, you are right, as far as I know. There were at least two teams, if not three, working on the project. I know that your team was working full time on ‘Project Rox-xy.’ Have you ever heard about ‘Project Max-x’?”

Professor: “’Max-x’? No, what is that?”

Professor Fred: “Well, let me tell you what I know about it and what my conclusions are. The whole project involved two highly developed prototypes of androids that would be able to collect information, process it, and make decisions by themselves. I am talking about totally independent.”

The Professor looked astonished to hear such information.

Professor: “But why did they order the destruction of ‘Rox-xy’? I just don’t get it!”

Professor Fred: “Well, as far as I know, the reason that they gave us was that her memory bank would not be enough to store so much information. My personal conclusion is that they started to become worried about the speed at which Rox-xy was becoming totally independent. You don’t want an android hanging around out there with the history of humanity in her memory bank, and who knows what else? Plus, besides, they were afraid the public would find out that the government had been spending billions on the project, yes, billions, with a capitol ‘B’. So the story is pretty complicated.”

“Anyway, I will tell you what I have been hearing from other colleagues. Just don’t take it as accurate information, just rumors, okay?”

Professor: “Please do. I thought I knew about the project. How wrong I was.”

Professor Fred: “Well, what I know is that Rox-xy and Max-x were designed for the sole purpose of intergalactic trips. That’s the purpose of ‘Project Aurora,’ to collect information about other planets.”

Professor: “Hold on for a minute. So what happened to our highly trained astronauts? The information that I had at that time from the government was that the astronauts were ready for the mission.”

Professor Fred: “Well, they are not ready yet. We don’t know for sure how humans will react to the stress of long trips. Let me put it this way. We don’t have enough information about what is ‘out there.’ According to the project, Rox-xy and Max-x were supposed to be the scouts.”

“You know that an interplanetary journey would present hazards. Once the crew ventures outside earth’s protective magnetic field, they will be exposed to higher levels of cosmic radiation. Deep space is filled with protons from solar flares, gamma rays from newborn black holes, and galactic rays from distant exploding stars. All of these travel at the speed of light and can penetrate both the skin of the astronauts and the spacecraft like tiny bullets. As they pass through the body, they break the strands of DNA molecules, damage genes and kill cells. Short but intense fluxes of particles from solar flares could contribute to a large, even lethal, radiation dose over a short period of time.”

Professor: “I suspected that something fishy was going on. It is like a puzzle, but little by little, it is taking form, and I am beginning to understand. Now that you have been honest with me, I have to tell you what I know about this project.”

“As you know, I worked on ‘Project Rox-xy.’ I assume from what you told me, at the time we were working with Rox-xy, another team was working simultaneously with ‘Project Max-x’.”

“Rox-xy doesn’t have any heavy metal parts because if cosmic rays hit the heavy metal atoms, they can produce secondary particles. She was built with top-of-the line plastics. You know polyethylene provides good shielding. Plastics contain a lot of hydrogen, which is good at absorbing cosmic rays. Between the layers of plastics is water, which is the best form of shielding. Her memory bank is amazingly good. I don’t even know what she is capable of doing. I suspect Max-x is even better than Rox-xy. Am I right?”

Professor Fred: “As always, you probably are right. Max-x performed extremely well in low gravity. We are talking about Mars, which is about 30% of Earth’s gravity, and no problem at all at zero gravity.”

Professor: “So many questions, so few answers. Who has Max-x, Professor Fred?”

Professor Fred: “Forgive me that I cannot answer your question for the moment. Professor, I know that you have been referring to Rox-xy in present tense, like she is somewhere.”

Professor: “As I said, Professor Fred, too many questions, so few answers. Let’s just leave things as they are for the moment. I just want to tell you that any time you want to come to my place, you will be welcome. There will always be hot coffee waiting for you. I am just an old man with a lot of curiosity, Professor Fred.”

Professor Fred: “Thank you, Professor. I just want you to know that I respect your silence. I owe my success to you. I have nothing but respect for you, Professor.”

Professor: “Just one last question before I leave: when you talk about the androids would be totally independent, are you talking about the ability to feel emotions, maybe dream?”

Professor Fred: “We don’t know how far they can go. My guess will be yes.”

The professor takes his leave and heads home with a new obsession, Project Max-x


 

 

ANDROIDS DON’T DREAM

Chapter 3

 So many questions that need to be answered.  Professor Albert is more confused than he has been before.  As soon as he returned home, he went directly to his lab. 

Rox-xy:  “Hello, Professor.  Welcome back!”

Professor:  “Hello Rox-xy!  Rox-xy, what do you know about ‘Project Aurora’? “

Rox-xy:  “’Project Aurora’ is about collecting information about other planets.”

Professor:  “What kind of information?”

Rox-xy:  “As you know, the main belief is that earth is the only place in the universe where intelligent life exists.”

     The Professor answered, “I don’t get it.”

Rox-xy:  “Well, throughout the history of science, there have been a series of developments, from Copernicus (who displaced the earth from the center of the universe) to Darwin, who showed species were not created full-blown by the hand of God.  That knocked out the status of being special.  So the only thing left is that Earth is the only place in the universe where intelligent life exists.”

Professor:  “But our universe is billions of years old!  We are newborns in the cosmic state.”

Rox-xy:  “You are completely right, Professor, but because humans are so young, you are facing a huge crisis.  Your civilization is on the brink of a disaster because of your immature use of technology both through climate change and through weapons of mass destruction.  You have pushed your planet to extinction.”

Professor answered, “Sad to say, but you are right, Rox-xy.  Is there life out there?  I mean civilized?”

Rox-xy:  “The conditions must be right for life to evolve.  These planets would have to be the right distance from the stars to have liquid water.  They would also have to have similar temperatures to Earth.  The planets will need to have very special conditions.  They would need to be the right age, mass and luminosity for life as you know it to develop.  If the planets are much lighter than Earth, or much heavier, then the conditions would not be right, either.”

Professor:  “But is life as we know it common or unique?”

Rox-xy:  “Earth’s circumstances are really far too special to be easily replicated.  There are so many coincidences, chances and conspiracies that seem to be needed for life to take hold and thrive.  Perhaps primitive life forms could exist out there among the most infinite of worlds that probably exist, but for intelligent life, I would venture to say that earth is pretty much unique.”

Professor:  “Well, I don’t want to be sarcastic, but I am still looking for intelligent life on this planet.”

Rox-xy:  “Good luck, Professor, and keep trying.”

Professor:  “What do you know about Max-x?”

Rox-xy:  “Max-x is an android prototype combat scout that is capable of processing any data without delay.  He is able to render any image or animation instantaneously, regardless of the complexity involved in the rendering process.  He runs on an operating system and application programs that never crash.  His system is 100% secure and does not need maintenance.  He’s able to bring up the previous state of the working environment automatically upon rebooting.”

Professor:  “Are we talking about total independence?”

Rox-xy:  “I cannot answer that question at the moment.”

Professor:  “Well, I am amazed how much information you have.  Anything else that I don’t know?”

Rox-xy:  “You need to know the existence of ‘Mother.’  Unfortunately, I cannot give you much information about her.  I will easily be detected by her if I try to get into her system.”

     The professor is in total shock.  He now realizes that he knew almost nothing about the android prototypes and how far Rox-xy has gone by herself.


 

GENESIS

Chapter 4

     Later in the week, Professor Albert was visited by Professor Fred. 

Professor Fred:  “Professor, I am glad I could find you at home.  Have you seen the news lately?”

Professor Albert:  “I have been glued to the news, and I cannot believe what is happening.  The only thing that you see or hear is bad news after bad news.  It seems like we are entering a dark age.”

     Professor Fred just answered, “You are right, Professor, as always.”  And he added, “I am going to be really brave, Professor.  We need your help.  I wondered if you would like to have a meeting at Professor Hank’s home.  He is the one in charge of ‘Project Max-x’.  As you showed some interest in the project, maybe we can share information on what we know.  We have to be really careful about it.  The government no longer trusts anybody, including themselves.”

Professor Albert:  “Give me a minute, Professor Fred.  I have to pick up my jacket, and then I will be ready.”

     After taking all the precautions needed, they arrived at Professor Hank’s home, and he was waiting for them.

Professor Hank:  “Hello, gentlemen.  No introduction needed.  We know each other really well, and we are running out of time.  Please follow me to my lab.  It is much safer there for what we are going to talk about.”

     Once in the lab, Professor Hank said, “Gentlemen, let me introduce you to the only member you are not personally familiar with.  We are already familiar with his work with space theories.  Meet Professor Klaus.  Thanks for your assistance.  I will give you a briefing about our jobs:

Professor Albert, the chief of ‘Project Rox-xy’;  Professor Fred, chief coordinator of ‘Project Aurora’; Professor Klaus, chief designer of ‘Project Genesis’, and myself, the one in charge of ‘Project Max-x’.  As we all know, the situation on the planet has become total chaos.  We will need each other’s help if we want our species to survive.”

     “As you know, the government divided the project into several pieces in order to hide their purpose.  We have been smart enough to put it together with the only purpose of preserving our species.  Professor Klaus designed and worked in ‘Genesis,’ a spaceship equipped with our latest technology.  ‘Genesis’ is equipped with a super computer which we call ‘Mother,’ able to analyze, process information and take decisions by herself.  Yes, gentlemen, we are talking about total independence!  Max-x, a combat scout android prototype, has been fully tested in the harshest conditions.  What can you tell us about Rox-xy, Professor Albert?”

Professor Albert:  She has been tested under harsh conditions, too, but her main purpose is the archiving and storage of information.  Her memory bank is unique.”

     Professor Hank continues, “Well, as you know, the situation on the planet gets worse minute by minute.  We have to ensure the survival of the human race.  The government has no knowledge about this, and besides, they never have been interested in this type of project, except if they have a war application.  With what is going to be left of the planet, if anything, the governments will not have to worry about anything.  We are already doomed.”

     “Professor Klaus, what else can you tell us about ‘Genesis’?”

Professor Klaus:  “Well, a few people know about the existence of ‘Genesis.’  It was built by robots and an old generation of androids.  It has never been tested.  There has never been anything like this built before.  It can accommodate six astronauts with food supplies that will last two years.  ‘Genesis’ is a totally self-sufficient spaceship.  We have chosen just two astronauts, Jane and Paul.  They are the best in their fields and our last hope.  If the conditions are in their favor, they can survive twelve years easily, without any problems.  They don’t know all the details of the mission.  They will know once they are in space.  We are just waiting for Max-x and Rox-xy to complete the crew.  ‘Mother,’ the super computer, will give them the information they will need.”

     Professor Hank addressed the group once more.  “Well, now you have the pieces that were missing.  Any objections?”  He waited.

     “Thanks for your understanding.  This will be our greatest and last mission.  Professor Albert, if you don’t have any objection, Professor Fred will be your partner.  You will pick up Rox-xy, and Professor Fred will show you where ‘Genesis’ is.  The rest of the crew will wait for you.

Jane, Paul and Max-x are already there.  Thank you, gentlemen.  Thank you and good luck!” 

     And so the project was in full mode.  Professor Albert and Professor Fred picked up Rox-xy and brought her to a secret location.  For the first time, they will meet each other.  The full crew will consist of just two androids, Rox-xy and Max-x, and two astronauts, Jane and Paul.

Professor Hank addressed all of them for the last time:  “As you all know, nobody was ready for this, but this mission is our last hope for humanity.  The stupidity and arrogance of humans has brought the planet to extinction.  ‘Mother’ will give you any kind of information and details that you will need for your mission.  I wish I could say something more, but time is a luxurious item now.  We wish you all the best.  Good-bye and good luck.”

     They took off with no delay.   

     Space, like time, is always moving, and no one can hear your voice. 

Jane:  “We have been travelling for so long without any luck.  How much longer can we go, Rox-xy?”

Rox-xy:  “In space, earth time doesn’t exist, Jane.  In space time, we have been travelling just seconds; in earth time, several years.”

Jane:  “I’m old and weak, Rox-xy.  I don’t think I will make it.  But tell me, what exactly is in ‘Section A’?  Why haven’t we had access to that area?”

Rox-xy:  “Only ‘Mother’ will allow access to ‘Section A’ when the conditions are right.  The reason the access has been denied is because it needs to be optimal conditions without any disturbance or contamination.”

Jane:  “Why so much mystery about ‘Section A’?”

Rox-xy:  “’Section A’ has a DNA bank of hundreds of Earth species, including humans.  We are looking for a planet with similar conditions to Earth’s so your species can start a new beginning.”

Jane:  “No wonder why sometimes I feel that we are in Noah’s Ark.  What happened to the earth?  What will happen to the new generation?  How will they learn?”

Rox-xy:  “The earth knew her destiny all along, to be consumed by the sun.  Humans just sped up the process.  We will teach the new generation.”

Jane:  “But they will be shocked to see androids!  No offense, Rox-xy, but I would.”

Rox-xy:  “Holograms!  We will use holograms.”

Jane:  “Holograms?  You will be seen as gods!”

Rox-xy:  “Throughout the history of humanity, gods came and went.  Gods never existed.  Gods were created by men in order to justify their presence and acts in their lives.  Horrific crimes were committed in their god’s name.”

Jane:  “So, who or what am I?”

Rox-xy:  “You are stardust, Jane, and you belong to the stars.”

Jane:  “Rox-xy, I am dying.  Hold my hand, and make me feel safe.”

Rox-xy:  “You are not dying, Jane.  You are just disappearing before my eyes.  In space, you cannot die.”

Jane:  “Good-bye, Rox-xy, and good luck with your missions.”

Rox-xy:  “Good-bye, Jane.”

     Alone!  We are alone in this immense universe.  What an irony that the future and existence of the human race depends on machines.  We have a huge mission in our hands.  I don’t like to be alone.  I feel devastated without Jane.  I want to cry, but I can’t.  I always wanted to dream and smell the roses, but I can’t do that. 

    Androids!  Androids don’t dream.

 

Story by S. Florence and J.A. Castillo
Illustration by J.A. Castillo (2009)

“Names, characters, places and incidents featured in this publication either are the product of the authors’ imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead), without sarcastic intent, is purely coincidental.”