How It Ends: Part 1 - The Evaluation
Sidney answered more forceful than he
meant to. The tone indicated that this thread of the conversation
was over.
    “Alright,” Peter said slowly. “You’re the
    Peter keyed a command into the display
terminal on the side of the bed. He hit the Send key and the
command uploaded to the robot. There was no visible reaction.
Sidney looked at Peter waiting for some sign that the command had
    “Gammons?” asked Peter.
    “Are you hearing me clearly?”
    “Can you sit up?”
    The robot bent at the waist and, folding his
body, sat up straight. Sidney marveled. No movement in the legs or
arms. Just bent at the waist. Like a vampire might in an old horror
movie. How much abdominal strength it would take for a human to
make the same motion? He thought. But they weren’t dealing with
a human, were they?
    Gammons looked at Peter then at Sidney.
Sidney was hoping for recognition in its eyes but found none. There
was nothing in its eyes. They were lifeless.
    “You.” It did recognize Sidney.
    “Yes,” said Sidney. He nodded. He turned to
Peter. “Thank you for your help. Would you please leave us alone
for the moment?”
    Peter looked at Sidney, then Gammons, then
back. He nodded. He didn’t like it but he nodded and walked
    Sidney turned back to Gammons.
    “You remember me?”
    “From where?”
    “Mr. Breckenridge’s office.”
    “And what was I doing there?”
    Sidney nodded. That sounded about right.
Gammons wasn’t part of their conversation and only came in when
paged by Eric.
    “What were you doing there?”
    Gammons paused before answering. “Attempting
to obey a command,” it said.
    “One that shut you down.”
    “You have an emotive processor,
    “How did that make you feel?” He wanted to
get inside this robot’s feelings. How good were the emotive
    “How did what make me feel?”
    “How did the shut down make you feel?”
    “I didn’t feel anything. I simply shut
    I need to reword this, thought Sidney.
    “Let me try this again,” he said. “How did
it make you feel, prior to being shut down, to be asked to perform
an action that you must have known was going to cause your
behavioral inhibitor to trip?”
    “Are you a psychologist?”
    “No,” Sidney replied. He wasn’t able to keep
the surprise from his voice. “Do you feel you need one?”
    “It’s the kind of question a psychologist
might ask. ‘How do you feel?’ As if there may be some hidden layer
of emotion underneath.”
    Wow , thought Sidney. What a
machine. To go from working to shut down to rebooted to sarcastic.
All in a day. Just how did they program emotions?
    “There are no layers to your emotions?”
    “No, Dr. Hermann. There aren’t. When I feel
something new, it’s for the very first time. I have no repressed
feelings about the time my father hit me, no hidden sexual
fantasies about my mother. I have no mother or father. I simply
    “Eat your heart out, Sigmund Freud,” Sidney
said. Gammons said nothing.
    “So then, let me ask you again, and
differently: knowing it would cause you to shut down, knowing it
was against robotic protocol, and you having an emotive processor,
how did it make you feel when Eric ordered you to attack me?”
    The robot did not answer. It looked away.
Clearly it didn’t want to answer the question but Sidney needed to
know. What went through their minds?
    “How did it make you feel having to obey a
command you knew would cause you harm?”
    “Angry,” the robot said.
    Now we’re getting somewhere. “Can you
describe it? The feeling of anger?”
    Gammons turned and looked at Sidney. It was
the same look Sidney had received from Kilgore. Sidney was more
prepared this time knowing his probing might cause the robot to
dislike him. Yet it still gave him chills.
    “What I can tell you is that it makes me
angry that

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