Let’s wrap up this overdue plot bunny.
Eventually, it was the problem that was the solution. I am not be any means saying that this whole situation was DAVE’s fault. I know when I’ve messed up. But Anthony seemed to think otherwise. Or, rather, he seemed to despise DAVE almost as much as he did me.
He did allow DAVE to chat with him some nights, though.
And I’m not above taking advantage of my son’s habits.
“Go away!” Tony snarled immediately upon seeing my face, even if holographic.
“Anthony! I just want to–!”
“If you’d just–!”
“Anthony! Listen-!” A rocket-dotted pillow slammed into DAVE’s core. It had a surprising effect on DAVE.
“Mr. Anthony!” The robotic voice cut through our screams. DAVE snatched the pillow off the ground and proceeded to plump it. “I will no longer stand for these outbursts of unnecessary sound and needless violence! What would Ms. Crumplebottom say?” He placed the pillow on the bed before placing Anthony on top of it.
Interestingly, Anthony hung his head. Up to this point, I hadn’t had the slightest idea that Anthony even spoke to his great-aunt.
A sweet, albeit elderly voice spoke from nearby, and it took me a moment of glancing around to realize that it came from DAVE’s audio output. “Oh, Tony, dear, whatever am I to do with you?”
Anthony’s shoulders slumped at the voice of the elderly Ms. Crumplebottom. “That’s not fair,” he muttered gloomily.
“I do not recall fairness being one of my functions,” DAVE replied.
I blinked at my monitor. Had that been a hint of…sarcasm? I shook my head and pushed the thought away. I had other matters to consider at the moment.
It took me a moment to clear my head and another to clear my throat. “I’ve spoken to your father,” I began quietly. Anthony’s shoulders tensed. I sighed, but continued. “He agrees that it’s a good idea, and…”I fumbled over my words as Anthony’s head shot up. His dark eyes shone with tears, but he was glaring fiercely at me.
“I’m not going away! You can’t just send me away! That’s not right! I’ll run away first! I’ll–!”
There was an audible click as Anthony closed his mouth.
I could only stare in shock. “We’re not…” I have greatly miscalculated…
My mind ground to a halt. That he thought Mortimer and I would send him away…was this how he had interpreted the unanticipated but rather small argument between us?
DAVE’s voice shook me out of my stupor. Anthony was staring determinedly at me with tears in his dark eyes.
I cleared my throat, but my voice sounded thick as I spoke. “We were not considering sending you away.” I made an effort to maintain eye contact with my son as I spoke. “I have been given an opportunity to, perhaps, create another artificial intelligence. That was what your father and I were discussing.”
Anthony blinked at me. I could only see confusion on his face now. Regardless, it was an improvement over the anger and betrayal dominating it previously. “Like DAVE?”
“…Somewhat,” I answered hesitantly. “A similar concept, but vastly different implementation. The idea would be to create an intelligence that could grow and change. DAVE is an incredibly advanced computer with adaptable capabilities based upon pure logic. I would be designing a mind with the intent for it to, possibly, arrive at false conclusions. DAVE could only arrive at such circumstances if he were given false information.”
Anthony’s nose wrinkled as he chewed the left side of his lower lip. And I stared for a moment. I’d never noticed one of my own quirks in my son before.
“Why’d you even want a computer that could be wrong?” he asked.
I shook my head. “Because this wouldn’t be a computer, but something closer to human. And humans make mistakes. Ideally, I would be programming a brain that could have preferences, could dislike, perhaps even hate or love. But forming false conclusions, or opinions, even from true statements, would be a start.”
Anthony stared at me a tad distrustfully. My heart twinged. “And that’s really what you and Dad talked about? Really really?”
“Yes. Really really. We were considering the pros and cons of me taking this opportunity.” I gathered some papers on my desk and shuffled them, just to have something to do with my hands. “However, we’ve been trying to get your input on the matter, as there may be a time in the future that the construction will remain here in the house. That hasn’t been exactly easy.” I raised an eyebrow.
Anthony blushed, but said nothing.
“I’m going to do some cursory research into neural development before I accept or deny the offer. After all, if the problem isn’t interesting I see no reason to waste my time on it. You have time to articulate your thoughts on the matter.”
Anthony picked at a loose thread on his bedspread. “C…can I help?”
I held my breath. “With what?”
He frowned. “With the research.”
“Of course. Your input may prove vital.”
Of course, I had begun the project well before formally accepting Dr. Funke’s offer. How could I not? It was fascinating. I had bits of code written to explore hatred and love, in short, how to make a computer irrational. It was difficult.
I had toyed with the idea of continuing with a prototype of DAVE’s AI, but Anthony convinced me to start from scratch, citing that there would be enough bugs without bringing in old ones. I’m not sure if he meant it as an insult or not.
As I had predicted, Anthony proved vital, but also insightful in ways I hadn’t imagined. The boy was brilliant. When he applied himself. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to instill in him the same kind of joy I had for programming. He found it dull!
But neural networks, that was something different. That small flashes of electricity that created thoughts was something that amazed him. And watching his joy of discovery. Well, it was enough. At least he was passionate about something.
Yes, Anthony was vital. I would be the first to admit I was never a normal child, and while Anthony was certainly gifted, he was closer to the mark than I ever was. Through studying him, and how his mind worked, I was able to set the grounds for something truly ground-breaking.
Anthony provided well-thought out summaries of the basics of neural science. And from that, I built a basis for a child’s understanding of logic and scientific rigor.
For his help, I made an effort to take Anthony out to the Winter Festival. It was merely a reward for his effort, but he seemed to quite enjoy himself. That I also found it enjoyable was a minor perk.
For comparison, I also observed Shaye with her own child. That resulted in data points with…questionable viability.
I continued building my database of child-like behavior through watching Anthony. It was incredibly difficult to model his behavior. He was such a contradiction. Formal and logical, polite when he needed to be, but cheerful and quite the showman to his peers.
He was sweet and clever, with a feisty temper I can only assume came from my mother-in-law. Or perhaps my sister, Medea.
And as much as his temper could spoil several moods, his charm could just as easily smooth things out.
Incredibly contradictory. To the extent that I’m not certain I can replicate it. But I now have an obligation to try. I am solely in charge of designing the heart and brain of this android.
Thanks for reading! ^_^