A ROBOTS TALE
Uromys Rex sat in the dark, his now-defunct perambulators buckled and useless beneath him. They deteriorated some months before following a scarcely registered incident, first the right, then the left quickly followed. To be fair he was well past his service life and raw materials were of short supply these days and couldn’t be allocated to the construction of a simple service robot. Not the good stuff anyway.
He had no idea where in the vast building he was situated. Since the Government decided to pare back their expenditures and close nonessential departments, the personnel had left the building, leaving everything behind, including the service ‘bots, the maintenance crews locking down the structure, blocking all forms of entry (and exits) then cutting the power.
The result was unfortunate for the imprisoned robotic helpers, a dark and dangerous place to find themselves. The hundred or so remaining robots, unable to communicate because Li-Fi was down meandered aimlessly in the pitch black, now without purpose. Li-Fi, developed over twenty years previously, was the transmission of data via light, therefore much faster than the old Wi-Fi configuration. Of precious use, if there was no light.
Uromys Rex calculated the dark had lasted approximately 50,000 hours, 5.7 years, nearly half his expected lifespan, without proper maintenance he had succumbed to various mechanical maladies resulting in his present predicament. He couldn’t retrieve the relevant information that could shed some light on the catastrophic episode that left him unable to move, there was something that suggested a fall from a height, but it was hazy. His flash memory data was corrupt, probably from the fall, leaving him confused and strangely scared.
Every now and then there were noises in the distance, nothing discernible, nothing comforting.
He stared pointlessly through the darkness, reaching out on occasion to no avail.
Sometimes he would try to drag himself across the floor in search of succour, but usually like all the other times, he’d reach some immovable barrier. He didn’t attempt this so much now, the effort was particularly draining on his power cell and he surrendered to some strange form of self-preservation and/or capitulation.
Another distant crash echoed through the darkness, another unknown incident, it was more than probable it was one of his ‘colleagues’ tumbling from one of the overhead maintenance gantries, another lone wanderer searching blindly in the black for some sort of salvation.
More than anything else Uromys Rex felt a loss for companionship, the endless cyber chatter, being part of something of practical use. He was programmed to be a social unit, part of a larger component, all working together for the benefit of his masters.
He swung his head from left to right, a cursory scan for any more audible clues to what lies out there, everything was quiet again. Nothing to report, nothing to see, nothing to do, he shuffled into a more stable posture, pushing his shattered legs out from under him and settled in for another month of self-imposed dormancy, to hopefully spare himself the agony of loneliness, his systems slowed to sleep mode and he let the blackness embrace him, womblike.
Uromys Rex stirred, he drifted back online, time check. He was well over the allotted 720-hour sojourn, over 500 hours. Twenty-one days over the allocated downtime. Things really were not functioning in the correct and expected way, his internal clock didn’t appear to be accurate at all. Had the incident that had crippled him damaged his chronomatic circuits in some way? he struggled to recall. His despair grew.
It was a cruel twist that he and his brethren were ‘gifted’ with Artificial Intelligence, the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. These processes included learning, the acquisition of information and set rules for using the information, reasoning, using these rules to reach approximations or definite conclusions and of course self-correction. But it was more, they were becoming more emotional, not the passionless automaton workforce but an ever-evolving entity. To entomb his like, without the function to communicate was unbearable, his entire programming was as one in a multitude, all striving for excellence in their given duties. To be cut off from the others in his work group was like losing a limb. Only now, to compound his misery, he had lost two more and with it the ability for free movement, he recalled a human quote about a tortoise flipped over on its back, helpless. Uromys Rex didn’t know what a tortoise was, but he thought that this is how it must be like.
His power cell was waning, he calculated roughly, it would be dead in 52000 hours…….this was his best estimate, given that his internal timekeeping functions were not exactly one hundred percent. Anyway, it was still 6 years, give or take, with no expectation of recharge, repair or respite, he thought he might go mad!
To be continued…….