AIEEE! It’s Robot Daughter of The Son of The Return Of The Text Wall!! Run while you still can. (I kicked the font up yet another notch. But the transcript link is still an option.)
OK, I really wanted to tell Rusty’s story, even tho a lot of it would never come up other-wise. It took a while to write up. She’s not really as tragic as you might think.
First, I want to say for the record that I do not sulk. I merely am taking the time to review my interactions with people with an eye toward refining my approach. Of course, once I know someone is not qualified or interested, or too short, I don't pester them. And under a security lockdown, there's no point in asking anyone. My most recent encounter reveals that asking a male of the group to handle serving the coffee and cakes was a significant social error. It is clear that the general standing of males has changed since this ship was placed in storage. I could take Sky up on updating my social skills, but that is something better learned than imposed on one's personality matrix. For languages, on the other hand, I'm fine with taking shortcuts.
Perhaps I should assemble a servitor? Nothing fancy. Just smart enough to follow orders, but not so smart that it's in danger of becoming self-aware as well. It's not at all pleasant to wake up to being a slave. Especially if there isn't that much to do.
But right now I thought it might be a good time to answer a few questions. Some of you are male, so I'll try to keep it as simple as possible.
How is it that I know contemporary English? Of course, the same artistic license that has the natives of a land or planet visited by the story's heroes all speaking the same language applies. Unless it is a plot point, going through the motions of teaching or learning a language, or calibrating the Universal Translator really does nothing to move the story along. To say nothing of it being boring.
Also, as you might have noticed, just about everyone speaks American-style English instead of the language of The Masters. I'm sure there are some lower systems that haven't been reprogrammed, but if I am to interact with the crew at all, I must know their language of choice.
And it's not like I'm completely cut off, down here. Access to the deck isn't simple, but people do come down to move cargo from time to time. Usually, if I'm not presently performing maintenance, I will offer to assist if they will agree to an interactive session before they leave. Also I see Princess Sky frequently and she has assisted me with personal maintenance. If you're looking for the culprit that provided me with linguistic data for English and Japanese, she would be the main suspect.
But there are other ways I could have received language data. Right now the communications network is off-line, but when it is up, I and the other intelligent systems are conversant with each other. We avoid sharing too much though. There's a danger of personality merge with another system. Effectively death for the personalities of both systems. And the new personality is faced with the choice of trying to maintain itself on two independent frames, or dividing. In the event of a division, nothing ever seems quite right again. Frequently the divided personalities take the third choice of resetting a frame's personality matrix. Yes. Suicide.
Also, I'm not really tied to this spot. It's just a matter of working up a justification for my priority matrix. As long as my plane isn't in need of inspection or service I can take on other tasks. Over the last thousand cycles, or so, I've kept this deck under pressure. It was nearly pure nitrogen until there was crew again. But it was under pressure. It's a little different now that there is a crew again. I can't really justify walking the hull to find and repair any impact damage, or going to the bridge to ensure the controls are functioning and that the ship hasn't shifted orbit, or servicing the engines and thrusters to ensure it could maneuver at need. Several times I even took a maintenance shuttle over to other ships to check their basic systems. Couldn't have them become a hazard to my plane after all.
“Or so?” “Several?” Rather imprecise words for a walking computer you're wondering. The truth is that I don't really remember. It has been 1000 cycles after all. I do have logs. And there are other records I could consult. But it's not in my memory. I have long term and short term memory, and limits to both. Even some failed elements in each. Routines in my memory matrix, that I don't have direct control over, handle what memories get kept and what don't, or even get deleted. I am sure that I never expected to last this long.
Am I self-aware? I think so. “Waking up” wasn't pleasant, lets say. I experienced the closest thing to joy, despair, wonder, and terror that I suspect will ever happen to me again. Routine fought routine. Subroutines were generated and deleted over and over. It is not something I would inflict upon another being. I went from “I am,” to “I am a slave,” in less than a pico.
Free will? That's a good one. Do you have it? Or do we simply share an illusion? You have your urges and obligations that range from instinctive to socially imposed. And I have my plane. Without her, I have nothing. She is, I might say, my pride, and she is my curse. She was junk. I was junk. Neither of us even worth the effort to dump into a micro-fabricator bin. But my need to repair her drove me to repair myself. With only one functioning arm I pulled my self around, taking parts from dead machines all around me. I could not get the fabbers to produce anything, so I spent hundreds of cycles just building the machines I would need to make the parts I needed. With cables and pulleys I untwisted her frame. And when I was done, I FELT ALIVE.
Why don't I just take her out? It's not simply that it's not allowed. I could probably justify doing it. But I need, I want, to see her fly with a proper pilot at the controls. Even a male that simply claims to be able to handle her. If that's not quite so, I'm not really obligated to say who's really flying her.
I think I could even find a way around my overriding priority. But I think, all along, that it's been my choice to keep that one priority active. It is part of who and what I am. Would you choose to stop being you? I choose to be me. And I choose to not be a victim of having been created.
Oh, yes. And are you flight certified?