Prologue - Artificial Intelligence
Rapturous applause breaks out within the populated conference hall. A man, tall in stature, with silvery grey hair, wades in through the jubilant crowd. He brushes past each hand reaching out to him, running through them as if he were running his hands through a field of flowers. He nods and smiles from left to right, muttering a barely audible ″Thank you, thank you″. His grin is deep, his voice is gruff, but warm. As he reaches the main stage, he glides up the stairs as if he was taking his place on his throne. He turns gracefully around to greet all the blindly smiling faces; to appease them, to give them what they want. The floor opens up just in front of his feet, and a microphone pole rises out of the ground to meet his face. Like a magnet, everyone’s faces are attracted to the man, and they all await patiently for the charge to set them off. The man looks around, surveying each face, observing the gaze of each eye. He clears his throat with a strong ‘ahem’, and it resonates around the room, bouncing off the walls. And then he starts to speak.
″Ladies, gentlemen and friends. I know you have been waiting a long time for this. We all have, and we can tell you now that your patience has paid off. Eight years ago, we announced a project that would aid the joint forces of the police, the army and the navy. Entitled ‘The Titan Program’, this project aimed to provide artificial intelligent beings in assisting with those services which would help to protect our citizens from criminals. Many times, we have witnessed those who have been sent to protect innocent civilians being killed violently by others who wish to wreak havoc. And we, unfortunately, have been accustomed to observing those who are supposed to protect others abuse their position and also take it upon themselves to murder another person. We have been trying to find a solution to these problems, but we can only do so much as humans. So within our limitations, my company and I have developed a special division of artificial intelligent beings that will be able to carry out all the tasks that we see the police, the army and the navy provide for us. We will see fewer casualties within those services, and we will hopefully see a dramatic reduction in the amount of crimes committed as well. And we will all see this happening now.
″I am happy to announce that tonight we have the first line of artificial intelligent beings present. Not only will they be ready for active service within the next few months, but they will also serve in specific problem areas of the nation to target law-breakers and trouble-makers. They will be deployed in twos for medium priority crimes; in bigger groups for high priority crimes; and for minor crimes and other tasks, just one will be deployed to help keep the peace. Initially, each police officer would be paired with an A.I. for minor call outs, for questioning suspects and witnesses, for issuing warrants and so on. But we hope to gradually phase out the use of humans in the joint forces so that we can have A.I. serving all the needs that those services provide for us. I will now present the prototypes and then I will take questions. So without further ado, I present to you, the Alpha Alpha Unit and its pair, the Alpha Prime Sentinel.″
Applause erupted around the room as behind the man two walls parted like curtains to reveal a giant automaton, with human features, and a smaller A.I. with similar features by its side. The larger A.I. was at least ten feet tall, and was built with a heavy muscular frame. It had dark hair and dark eyes, pale skin and had an emotionless face. The smaller A.I. had the same features. The smaller one was wearing a dark grey all-in-one suit, and the larger one, the Sentinel, wore a black suit. The Sentinel’s chest was four to five feet wide, and its arms and legs were so thick it looked impossible for the thing to move.
But it did.
A gasp cried out from the audience.
″Now, don’t be alarmed. It isn’t going to trample anybody. It is perfectly safe and it is completely under our control. The larger A.I. is the Sentinel. It will provide as a shield for the smaller and more efficient A.I. beside it when it is to go out to serve in high priority areas. It will also provide technical services in case there happens to be a problem with the smaller one.″
Applause broke out again, and the smaller A.I. also came forward towards the crowd. The man smiled and chuckled as he glanced at the A.I. and the audience, affirming that the unveiling of the A.I. was a complete success.
″Now, I think it is time for the questions,″ the man announced as the applause died down. He composed himself and straightened out his grey suit. He gave another stronger clearing of his throat before he began addressing the crowd.
″Yes, you there,″ the man said as he pointed to the right side of the crowd. An African-American woman wearing a blue skirt and jacket with a red top stood up.
″Sarah Locks, of the Bionic Bugle. You said that the A.I. would gradually phase out the use of humans in the police force, the army and the navy. Wouldn’t you say that you would be putting all those men and women out of jobs?″
″We are not saying that the men and women of these services will be forced out of work. We thought about that when we came up with this idea. Instead, we have set these people up with the opportunity of working for the company, as it will be combining its workforce with the emergency services and the military. They will have the chance to train along with the A.I., and they will also train up younger recruits to get acquainted with the A.I. so that there will be generation of human-A.I. partnerships for the future of crime-fighting. We would also provide many with the task of looking after the A.I. as it were, by monitoring their movements at the BioTechnesis General Command Centre. All A.I. are fitted with tracking devices and are also equipped with a fail-safe shut-down system should the A.I. malfunction,″ the man answered. A Caucasian-looking woman of tall stature, wearing a red blazer and red pencil skirt with black court shoes shot up from the audience and motioned for her question to be answered.
″Yes?″ the man prompted.
″Nina Corvino, of the Daily Technograph. How is this fail-safe operated? Does it have an automatic shut-down? Or is it carried out by manually?″ she asked.
″Each A.I. responds to their fail-safe via a password only known to that specific model, and it is only allowed to be authorised by the techers,″ the man replied.
″E-Excuse me, what is a techer?″ the woman continued.
″Oh, we have termed the people who will be at the BTGC Centre ‘techers’, or those who will be monitoring the A.I. from the control rooms in the Centre. They will take care of their designated A.I. and will be able to provide it assistance from the control centre,″ the man clarified.
″And will there be male as well as female A.I.?″ she asked.
″Yes, there will be both male and female A.I.,″ the man responded. The man then pointed to a man of Asian appearance wearing a brown jacket with casual denim trousers and a navy blue jumper, towards the back of the audience.
″Sanjay Kumar, of Tech Times. Will the use of fire arms be the primary method of law enforcement for the A.I.?″ he asked. The man looked up at every one’s eager eyes.
″No, they will not. We hope that the use of fire arms will also be phased out with time, and so we have uploaded each A.I. with all forms of various combative and defensive techniques, such as mixed martial arts, and they have also been integrated with a catalogue of acrobatic and gymnastic techniques that they will use with effective force against criminals. They have sensors that will detect how much force they will use against a human body, ensuring that criminals will not die from the force that the A.I. will inflict,″ the man answered.
″Just one more question, Director Kent,″ Sanjay Kumar said quickly. ″Can the A.I. talk?″
This drew murmurs amongst the crowd. The man smiled and turned around to look at the A.I. The smaller A.I. took long strides up to the audience and looked around. The crowd fell deadly silent, all eyes plastered on the artificial being.
″Yes, I can,″ the A.I. spoke in a soft, English accent. The crowd drew back their breaths, and then burst out in applause. The A.I. went back to its place and remained motionless. More people put up their hands for their questions to be answered. The man put his hand up to dismiss them.
″I’m afraid that is all for now. Thank you all for coming today and I hope you enjoy yourselves with refreshments provided at the back of the hall and I hope you all have safe journeys back. Thank you,″ the man said before he departed from the podium, flanked by members of his publicity team, applause starting up once more. He shook hands with various people as he moved around the crowd, saying thanks and laughing at passing jokes.
″Director Kent! Director Kent!″ a man shouted running towards him from the back of the hall. He was a tall, gangly white man with glasses and dark hair, and he had a large camera held by a lanyard around his neck hanging down over his grey blazer and black t-shirt, paired with khaki cargo trousers and black sneakers. He had a large black bag hanging down from his shoulder and it was swaying backwards and forwards when he stopped in front of Director Kent.
″Sorry, Director Kent, I just had to get a picture with you-I-I-mean of you, sorry, Sir. I’m Wally Graham,″ he introduced himself hurriedly while shaking Director Kent’s hand enthusiastically,″of the magazine Tech Times. I really enjoy your work, sir, and the work of your company, and I must say you have really outdone yourselves. I have been following your work for-″
″I’m sorry, son, I don’t have much time. Could we take the picture now please?″ Director Kent interrupted Wally.
″Oh, yeah, of course, yeah, uh sorry,″ Wally fumbled while he gathered himself together to take a photograph. Director Kent composed himself and stood silently as Wally took a picture of him.
″Thank you so much sir. Um, is it possible to get a picture of you with the A.I.?″ Wally asked.
″Not right now, but I’ll be there in a while. In the meantime, you may go over there and take some of your own if you like,″ Director Kent replied, motioning for the young photographer to go to where the A.I. were standing.
″Uh, really? Are you sure?″ Wally said, as his eyes grew wider with excitement.
″Definitely. Take as many pictures as you want,″ Director Kent said as he ushered Wally towards the A.I.
″Well thank you, Mr Kent-I mean Director Kent!″ Wally said whilst shaking Director Kent’s hand emphatically again. Director Kent smiled and backed away as soon as his hand was free. Wally turned around and began moving closer to the A.I. He marvelled at the size of the bigger one, and took a few steps back to take a picture of its colossal size. Then he brought his focus down to the smaller A.I. and stepped closer towards it. He gazed into its eyes for a while, and then brought his camera up to his face so that he could take a picture. He took picture after picture, and then brought the camera back down from his face. As Wally stared at the A.I. in amazement, he wondered what he must look like through the eyes of the A.I.