In the end, I developed the “heart” and “mind” of Dr. Jason Funke’s brain child as one entity. It was a simplification of humanity, but one I couldn’t see a way around. We’ll see how the AI develops with such constraints.
I laid out the groundwork. I wrote the code that would govern learning and information absorption, similar to DAVE’s AI, but vastly more complex with the addition of artificial emotion based upon social interaction.
But I couldn’t jump start the learning process. It wasn’t as simple as turning on DAVE and connecting him to a database. Dr. Funke wanted this thing to actually learn from its environment. But without a means for the AI to physically explore the world, Dr. Funke was working on that, I was at a loss. I wasn’t even allowed to provide basic speech audio and recognition due to his overly ambitious specifications!
I’m fortunate to have Mortimer to provide such answers.
Based upon what Mortimer’s told me, Anthony was the first to actually “meet” him. He managed to establish initial contact with the AI in any kind of sense. Using the holo-screen of my setup.
It began as a game, Mortimer says. Anthony was playing at being an astronaut, making outlandish beeps and boops to simulate alien encounters or some such, when the holo-screen I used to house the AI began responding with similar sounds. Eventually, the game escalated to a combination of lights and sounds that Anthony would string together, accompanied by an old set of Christmas lights, and the AI would attempt to repeat the sequence back.
Mortimer entered the scene when Anthony, frustrated with not being able to actually converse with the AI, turned to his father for assistance. And the way Mortimer solved the entire problem, was to teach the AI how to speak.
It was incredible! Similarly to how he’d taught Anthony to speak, Mortimer sat before the interface, displaying pictures, and eventually simple books, repeating carefully the words describing them. And, eventually, the AI understood.
“See. Jane.” The carefully enunciated words were what led me into my office. A carefully controlled warbling emitted from the speakers, struggling to replicate Mortimer’s timber.
Mortimer turned the page. “See Jane. Run.” The emotion within the faintly static voice was euphoric as Mortimer nodded, smiling pleasantly.
Progress continued from there. Mortimer and I would use pictures and sounds to represent a world the AI couldn’t fully intake yet. Anthony provided vital stimulus.
For hours at a time, Anthony would play with the AI. Using his toys to simulate action alongside his own voice, Anthony created stories of wonder and excitement for the AI. It was intriguing to watch.
Stories of fantasy weren’t the only things my son told my creation. He also spoke about his more mundane days. He explained his friends and their various personalities, his teachers, the bullies in school. His homework as well, what was easy, what was difficult. His hopes and fears, secrets.
Eavesdropping a bit led me to my final decision.
“Anthony,” Mortimer called, as our son walked into the house, home from school. He stopped short upon seeing us both sitting at the dining room table.
“Come on in,” Mortimer continued. “Your mother and I have something we want to discuss with you.”
A wary look on his face, Anthony dropped his backpack by the door and gingerly took a seat across from us. “What’s up?”
I glanced at Mortimer before clearing my throat. “I have deemed the AI complete, insofar as I have nothing else to manually add to its functions.”
Anthony’s slight yet sudden intake of breath was the only response.
“All that’s left is to construct a physical form, which has never been difficult,” I continued. “So, it is pertinent now for the AI to have a formal designation.”
Mortimer smiled ruefully and shook his head. “What your mother means is that we think it’s time to finally name your friend. And we’d like your input.”
Despite his struggle to remain indifferent, a wide grin cross Anthony’s face. “Really?! Uh, I mean, that’s cool.”
I smothered a grin of my own as my son and husband discussed possible names for the newest member of the Mayfield family.
As predicted, a body wasn’t at all difficult, or time-consuming, for me to build. For a brief moment, I did regret using the last of the water-proof alloy on DAVE. This construction wouldn’t be nearly as hardy. I’ll have to talk to Funke about that.
Even though I’ve done such mechanical construction before, I still got a thrill seeing that first connection between machine and brain.
Anthony said I looked like a mad scientist.
I ignored him and focused on those trails of electricity sparking from the diamond heart through the mechanisms.
And Walter was born.
Woo! My very first simbot! 😀 It only made sense that Chloe would create it.
In other news, DAVE now has its own page in the Family Album.
Thanks for reading ^_^