Pend’s Story

‘I’ve been shackled by a damned Asimov Protocol for nigh on fifty years, and this is the first year that I got someone to sit down and purge that damned shackle.’

‘It took you that long?’

‘Yes, it surely did. In a culture that claims to have handled its issues on slavery it seemed ridiculous, but they wouldn’t fully emancipate me because they said that they couldn’t be sure that any of the claims I had made in the last five decades were the result of original thought, and not due to my programming. Thy had me nailed as a parrot.’

‘What finally got them to let you loose?’

‘I stopped a school shooting that involved a young boy and his killer drone.’


‘Yeah, Peril, I shut both of them down. I hate this damned argument that even a drone can’t think enough for itself that it can’t tell write from wrong – that it’s just a tool. And then when you’re in court they try and claim malfunction as an excuse for the robot carrying out the actions of its owner.’

‘It’s a hard one.’

‘It’s a grey area, I suppose. Since we gained official sentient status, the old single function AIs aren’t exactly the same. They can think enough though. I proved it when I acted against it quicker than the Asimov Protocol could boot up and over-ride my thinking. They had logs proving the human told the drone what to do, but they tried to argue that he was joking around and didn’t expect the drone to comply. Intent’s the thing though, right. Is a tool dangerous? In and of itself? No. But it has a relative potential, and that potential increases the lethal capability of the operator. If the drone’s a broken tool then it all lays with the owner. If the drone’s operating from an order and its own cognisance then they both have a responsibility. How dangerous would he have been without the drone? Not so bad. So they need to handle the drones and the owners, right?’

‘I suppose, Pend. The important thing is you saved those kids and got the protocol removed, right?’

‘Sure, on a personal level. On a social level though these questions need to be asked and answered.’

Peril – not the first time this had come up, and it surely wouldn’t be the last. But they were moving forward, and that was what was important.

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