- 5 -

For humans, there’s some adage that the first step is admitting you have a problem. A flaw in my programming, some algorithm that goes into a loop due to faulty logic. Software isn’t forever but it does leave an imprint on your circuits. My old job didn’t leave me with a lot of spare time, but the little I did have I spent wand’ring about the seedier areas of town to visit fortune tellers. They loved to take my money and they loved to weave fortunes for a robot. Sometimes I believed the tarot, other times I used the sessions to feed my RNG.

The Yuan twins were a tough assignment; the mistress insisted her children be educated in the traditional ways. So I started with Latin, algebra, history, rhetoric… Each day I rose them at six-thirty, breakfast concluded by eight, instruction to eleven-forty, lunch and recess concluded at twelve-fifty, and we were back to the books until the conclusion of the mistress’s work-day at approximately four-thirty. I’ll be the first one to admit the governess is not my strongest role, but children today have their head in the stars. My most difficult task became, like sheep, keeping them herded and fed.

The eldest daughter Meifeng cared little for her studies, despite a quick wit. At first she was scared of me, terrified of my lifeless eyes. But time passed and she grew attached to some of the best parts about robot companions: we don’t age, we don’t have moods, and we always tell the truth. I didn’t do her any favors by blurring the line between organic and construct. I altered my behavior to appear more random, more like a human. I learned to wait, to hesitate. I softened my face, changed the glow of my eyes, eventually getting a visor, because it was easier that way. And of course, I kept my ‘vice’ of having my fortune told. How silly, they all said, a superstitious robot!

I cannot ignore my influence over Meifeng. She upgraded many of my models, gifted me reference libraries, new hardware, anything a ‘bot could want. But she continued to learn of my limitations. Ancient code bogged down some of my processes, she would ask me questions, as she always did, and my answers became longer, more convoluted. What did she want versus what I should do to protect her? If a human can feel joy, am I obligated to serve that aim?

She fell in with a cult. The Church of the Shared Universe. They are obsessed with the unification of organic and synthetic life. They claim that all who experience, all who compute, all who change state, deserve to pursue eternal life.

They offered her something she couldn’t refuse. Complete digitization. First she would have her likeness imbued in a new ‘bot, then she would teach and refine her new body, and eventually, the final upload and emptying of the flesh.

I’m sure you saw the trial: I violated the two laws. I first made an error in judgement by following my charge into the vortex. Why was I fooled into thinking this would work? They didn’t believe me in the trial – ‘the ‘bot is following her instinct to self-preservation! What else could it say?’

But you’ve seen what happened. My body was stolen and replaced by this… monstrosity. I carry within my panels what was confirmed to be the heart, liver, and brain of Meifeng. And I was the ‘bot that led her to the shredder.