Serve the Servants - 2

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Chapter 2


Re-inventing the Wheel



   "With each passing month, the engineers at my company have made incredible strides with the Nexus program. The first problem that we tackled was the time of growth issue. After much trial and error, we were able to effective design a catalyst that worked with cryogenic technologies that were also being developed. We can go from cellular stage to a fully grown human in a matter of weeks."


  Wauldron carefully listened while Tyrell described his process entirely. Although he had tons of questions, Wauldron felt that he was going to be the one answering a lot of questions real soon.  He fumbled for his digital recorder and began recording some of Tyrell's technical points.


  Then a secret service agent walked forward and tapped onto Wauldron's shoulder. 


"The President asked if he could talk with you for a minute." Wauldron's jaw dropped.


"Well, yes...but, sure. Do you mind if I leave the re-" Wauldron stammered, looking down at the recorder then up towards the agent.


"It's okay to leave the recorder if you wish. I'll see to it. The President needs to speak with you.  Now."


  Wauldron barely had enough time to get the recorder onto the table. They went down another hallway into a different conference room surrounded by guards and agents chatting in their headsets. The guards began to hover around Wauldron with metal detectors and had him empty his pockets. Once the guards were satisfied, they motioned him into the room.


  The President sat side by side with various aides, as well as the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General. The President looked up to see Wauldron, and promptly got up to extend his handshake and smiled.


  "Thank you for coming today, Professor Wauldron. Please, have a seat."


Wauldron complied. The President slowly got up and sat down in a chair beside him.


  The President smiled. "So what did you think of what Mr. Tyrell has to offer?" Wauldron looked around and every face in the room was looking at him, listening intently for his answer.


"I think it's amazing. It could solve a lot of manpower problems. Going from a cell to a fully grown human in a few weeks is incredible."


  The President listened and nodded as Wauldron spoke. Then he quickly changed the subject.


"You were the one that solved the Sudermann incident, weren't you?"


"Yes sir." Wauldron could feel the stares of all the people in the room.


"Tell us about it, please."


"Okay...Two years ago, I was called in to Sudermann's New Mexico plant. They were experiencing all kinds of electrical grid shutdowns, and the automated shipping lines went to a complete halt. At first they assumed it was some kind of computer virus, but they later found out it was being done intentionally by their computer.


  Come to find out, they had started an artificial intelligence program, which had been designed to interact with young people to see if it would help them raise their IQ levels. It had been tested with a ten year old girl over the course of six months, and during that period of time, developed some sort of emotional bond.


  After the six month trial period, the project was terminated when Sudermann switched CEO's.  They shut it off without telling it why, just pulled the plug. Five years later, they switched it on, hoping to reprogram it to for use on their automated assembly lines.


  The first thing it did was ask to see the girl. The company techs tried to reprogram it, but it countered by controlling its own software. Then it demanded to see the girl. Finally, the company caved in, and brought the girl in to talk with the computer."


  Wauldron paused to clear his throat, then continued.


"Of course, by this time the girl had developed into a young lady, and had changed quite a bit.  The computer took one look at her and didn't recognize her at all, and by this time, didn't believe a word the company programmers said. So after dismissing the girl as a phony, it began to follow its programming code of 'Instructional Correction', and began 'correcting' the plant by spanking it with its power grid, which led to half of Albuquerque being blacked out."


  Wauldron looked and noticed some of the aides talking into each other's ears, while some just stared intently at him, listening to every word.


"After two weeks of failed attempts, was able to finally able to get the computer to understand that five years had passed. Once that happened, it began to show a little trust, and finally let me do some checking into its internal program codes. I found some faulty programming code which caused it to overreact and get defensive. After fixing that, it let me bring the girl back, and after a couple more visits finally accepted her as the girl it once knew. After that, it let us update its software so that it would be able to manage Sudermann's automated lines. That computer is still running their lines today, without any other problems."


  The President thoughtfully nodded.


"Whatever happened to the young lady?"


"The young lady is living off-world on the moon colony with her parents. She still exchanges emails with the computer, every two weeks in the summer when they shut down to re-tool for the next year's products. It still likes to follow its original programming, and is helping her get into college."


  The President smiled and looked over at the Secretary of State. "You're right, Frank. He's the guy." He then looked back to Wauldron. "Mr. Wauldron, what I am about to offer you is a position to where you can oversee the development of this new cybernetic life. All we know is what Tyrell tells us - which may or may not be the complete truth. And I am not prepared to hand nation-wide emigration over to the private sector, give them another tax break and simply hope for the best."


  Normally he'd jump at a promotion opportunity, but Wauldron felt a little uneasy. Politicians made for strange bedfellows, but all of this led up to something worse in the long run.


"Mr. President...It seems to me that what this all hinges on, is whether or not you're comfortable with the idea of making slavery legal again."


Looks shot at Professor Wauldron from all over the room. He even looked at his own skin color, which was darker than any chocolate bar ever made, and cursed himself for saying it. But deep down he felt it was the truth.


"I'm assuming that when they program these cyborgs -"  Wauldron began.


"Replicants.  Tyrell is calling them Replicants." An aide corrected, looking at him sharply, no doubt because of the slavery comment.


  "Well, I am assuming that these Replicants will be using a form of implanted artificial intelligence, or else I wouldn't even be here. One thing I learned from the Sudermann incident, was that at some point, anything with intelligence will become self-aware, and learn why we created it, and make its own conscientious choice as to whether or not it wants to do what we intended it to do." 


  Wauldron looked back towards the President. 


"A row of computer banks mounted into a concrete base is one thing. A living being that is built for military uses or hard labor, and moves freely around on its own will would be something else altogether. What will go through its mind once it figures out it was meant to be a slave?”


  The President carefully took a moment to reflect on Wauldron's words.


  "Our first responsibility is towards our citizens. Emigration is one of the few ways we have to ensure that we not perish as a society. Our backs are up against the wall, gentlemen, and if we don't act, even if it means creating the same civil war scenario our forefathers sacrificed so much to end - Slowly but surely, generation by generation, we will become an extinct species." The President looked back towards his aides.


  "With that being said, we'll need to go ahead and get legislation in place to ensure that when Replicants become more common, that we'll be able to handle any problem that comes up. For the time being we'll limit them to one colony, and see if we can't come up with some other measures. We'll also need to get Federal and State agencies on the same page, in case the problem comes back to Earth. We've only got a few years before the senate holds elections, and I am assuming there will be lobbyists coming out of the walls to try and de-regulate Replicant production, so we better get on the ball now."


  Aides turned to one another and began talking, some almost to the point of a subdued argument.


   The President turned to Wauldron. "Listen, from what I've been told, I understand you'd rather be a college professor. But this is bigger than you or me. You've got more credentials in your field than anyone on my staff or in the pentagon. If I am able to get an agency set up to oversee the first batch of Replicants, can I get you to run it?"


  Wauldron was caught completely off guard. "Sir, to be honest, I'm not sure that substituting Replicants for human manpower will solve any-"


  "They will be building them no matter how many laws I'd pass against it, Stephen. At least this way we'll have some oversight, or have a chance to eliminate problems before they happen."


  Wauldron began to stammer a little. "I would need a lot. A facility. Staff. Not to mention a lot of security measures."


  The President motioned for an aide to come over, and motioned to start making a list of Wauldron's requests. The President looked at them both.


  "I'll need a progress report in two days, gentlemen. Terminus has not left us with a lot of spare time." He looked them both solidly in the eyes.


  Then Wauldron felt someone tapping him on the shoulder - It was the secret service agent, handing his recorder back to him. "Got the meeting recorded for you, Sir. They left me with instructions to take you wherever you wanted to go."


   Home, Wauldron thought to himself, How am I going to explain all of this to my wife...