September 16, 2014


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

Nthanda Ben Inoue squinted his eyes and said, “So even though I can build a robot that would take care of all my enemies and let me live my life in peace, I can’t?”

Izuma Kohut, his best friend, “no-we’re-not-boy-friend-and-girl-friend!”, said, “You can’t build a robot.”
“I can, too!” He waved at the pile of junk sitting on the lab table. Even though they were freshly-minted grad students – and two years younger than any of the other students at MIT, which put her as a legal adult and HIM as “jailbait”. He added, “I’m pretty sure that I can create an artificial intelligence that can move.”

“Rolling on treads and weighing seven gazillion metric tonnes is not the science fiction dream of an AI robot. They’re looking for Sonny.” When he rolled his eyes back into his head and faked passing out she reached over, grabbed one of the longer hairs on the back of his neck and yanked.

“Hey!” he screamed, coming up and knocking over the lab stool. He scrambled away from her. “You’re a menace to society! I’m calling Campus Security!”

She shortly fell off her own stool laughing at him. He reached over to make sure she was all right and she pointed up at him, laughing harder. Flushing crimson, he headed for the door then stopped abruptly, turned around and said, “You know, someone is gonna invent AI and give it legs or wheels or treads to make it mobile. Might be someone benevolent – and it might be me.”

She called after him, “Yeah, but if you create an evil AI, I’ll create the superhero to battle him!” She was talking to a closed door by then, but scowled as she stood up, brushing herself off. Now they wouldn’t talk for weeks. It was the pattern of their relationship. He hadn’t talked to her for a month after she turned eighteen and stopped their…intimate friendship cold. She told him she couldn’t afford to go to jail if they had an argument or broke up. He’d gone off in a huff and hadn’t texted her or called her for almost six weeks. They’d been in the same classes, but he hadn’t dared miss those. He HAD sat across the room from her no matter where she sat.

She looked at the pile of junk on the lab bench. There was nothing to hint at any kind of robot mobility mechanism – but that just meant he’d hidden it somewhere. He rarely threatened without cause or back up. On the other hand, while she may not have his mobility skills – he had taken National Grand Champion during National Robot Week – she was typically better at the brain part of the robot. An off-hand comment she’d made – “Change the paradigm if you want to beat the others. For them it’s all – buzz saw, chain saw, electrocute. Why don’t you do something, I don’t know, different…” He’d made a robot that drowned the opponent.

She studied the junk, sighed, then got to work.  

Names: ♀Japan, Albania; Tumbuka (S Africa), Hawaiian


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