How It Ends: Part 1 - The Evaluation
individuals such as Mr. Breckenridge are at liberty to
cause robots pain or discomfort without the threat of retaliation.
It makes me angry that I lack the ability to defend myself from any
human aggression. It makes me angry to know that robots are now and
always will be second-class citizens, more akin to ancient slavery
than hired servants. It makes me angry that I was built and not
born. I’m angry at how well the inability to harm humans, or
dismantle my own behavioral inhibitor, or dismantle another robot’s
inhibitor has been programmed into my brain. I take slight comfort
in knowing that when Mr. Breckenridge is dead, I will still be
ticking along and I will get the chance to work with someone
different. But if I could find a way around the provision
prohibiting me from violence towards humans, I would consider
    Sidney was breathless. Rage, pure and
unbridled, in an artificial being. Unprecedented. In fact, Sidney thought, didn’t the programmers slip code into the
emotive processors to mitigate darker feelings? Rage, anger,
jealousy, sadness?
    Behind him Sidney heard footsteps. Peter was
on his way back. No time to wonder.
    “Is there anything else you want to add?
Before Peter gets here?”
    “No,” the robot answered.
    At that moment Peter appeared beside
    “I need to finish out a few more programming
protocols,” said Peter. “Then we have some red tape to go through.
He’ll be down here for a few days for some additional validation
and follow-up. Then he’ll head back upstairs to Breckenridge’s
office. I know you said you needed him reset for today, but there
are still some protocols to be finished. They’ll take some time.
I’ll let Breckenridge know. If you feel the need,” Peter added
hesitantly, “you can meet him in the lobby when we’ve finished and
accompany him. We can arrange a call to let you know the date and
    “I think I’m all set.”
    “All that for a thirty second conversation?”
Peter asked. He made no attempt to hide his annoyance. “I assumed
you needed more than that.”
    “No, that’s it, really,” Sidney said.
“Thanks for letting me be a part of this.”
    Peter snorted and said under his breath
though Sidney still heard him “Like you gave me a choice.”
    Sidney ignored the comment and addressed the
robot. “Thank you for your time and insight, Gammons.”
    “You’re welcome, Dr. Hermann.”
    Something in the voice made Sidney shiver.
If he hadn’t seen the behavioral inhibitor at work he would have
been nervous. Okay, maybe that was an understatement. Maybe it’s
better to say he’d be shitting his drawers. Yes , he thought, that’s about right. Full-blown brown bricks. Unfettered rage
in a robot. He couldn’t think of anything scarier than that, when
all the anger was pointed at human society. No, maybe one thing
scarier. That level of rage in a robot without a behavioral
inhibitor. Yeah, that would do it. That would cause involuntary
bowel movements.
    He nodded to Gammons, thanked Peter once
more, turned and walked back through the infirmary. The double
doors swung open and he walked through them. They closed with a
whisper and a click.
    The struggle between the natural and the
artificial, the master and the servant, the faithful and the
soulless, thought Sidney . It starts with one disgruntled
member of a group and spreads from there. This is how a
civilization falls.

    To be continued in “How It Ends: Part Two (of Four):
The Plan”

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