Archive for robot


Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Organic Farming with tags , , , , , on April 14, 2012 by javedbabar

Robert wanted a lie-in this morning but his body wouldn’t let him. There was buzzing in his organs and all over his skin. This repeated after five minutes, then after four minutes, then three minutes, two minutes, one minute, then continuously. There was definitely a design flaw. Had they not realized that a generalized buzzing would affect his concentration? He knew that it was an Area One alarm, but which crop was hard to say. He couldn’t focus.

He hoped it was Manola, the easiest crop to manage. It didn’t need much tending, just checking  WaterTM and fertilizer levels. It could also be Pootato, spuds whose growth was accelerated by modified manure addition. The third possibility was Aqua, his most complex crop. He hoped it wasn’t that. Aqua’s eco-systematic, multi-level farming required a careful balancing of salts, algae, larvae, and so many other things. Get one wrong and the whole thing falls apart. He’d messed up last year and the consequences had been dire for him. The F@rm had implanted a second chip, meaning that he was now only 80% free-willed.

The buzzing stopped when he got out of bed. His head cleared quickly and an auto-analysis showed that the alarm was for Manola. Robert pulled the USB from his side socket as quietly as possible, but his movements awoke Roberta who said, “What time is it, love? Isn’t it still early?”

“Sorry baby, an Area One alarm was buzzing. It’s Manola. I’d better take a look.”

She flopped her arms towards him, but he was out of reach. “Do you have to go now? Can’t you ignore it? It’s only Manola. Even a MonkeyTM could grow it.”

Robert smirked. “My semi-simian sweetheart, that’s why we grow it.” They’d been told that if they didn’t consume ten-a-day, stem-identical materials, their human genes may deteriorate back to apes. “Would you feel differently if it was called Womanola?”

“Don’t be silly,” she said. “I just meant that it grows perfectly well by itself. We don’t need to do anything.” She waved him off and flopped her arms back under the covers.

He checked the Area One / Crop Control Panel and realized that Roberta was right. Nothing was the matter at all. It was a false alarm. He’d had no choice though, the buzzing wouldn’t let him sleep. Damn that second chip!

He returned home to bed. There was no need to re-plug himself as his electric components were fully charged already. Staying on wireless would be enough. Plugging in caused a light buzzing which was generally pleasurable but sometimes annoyed him. It felt like fine sugar in your blood – making life sweeter, but also causing decay. His electric components were 100% safe officially, but who knew really? All he knew was that he’d never heard of anyone having chips removed, only chips added. Some people said that the old ones disintegrated, and new ones were required to maintain functionality.

Robert slept for an hour before he was awoken by another buzzing. This time it was an Area Two alarm. “I hate this job,” said Robert. “It’s worse than being a peasant in the Middle Ages. At least they got a good night’s sleep.”

“What’s it this time?” she said. “The Beefs?”

“Probably. It usually is.” Robert hoped it was Temp, which like Manola was easy to grow. This valuable crop grew just about everywhere, and since climate change, even Antarctica. Temp could be eaten, juiced, woven into clothing, compressed into bricks, distilled into fuel, made into furniture, used as currency, its stalks formed into small boats and light planes, and – taking you even higher than that – its essence was an aphrodisiac, and hallucinatory. It had initially been banned by The Authority, but mass civil disobedience had caused them to relent, and it was now grown legally.

It wasn’t the Temp though. When his head cleared, he said, “You’re right again. It’s the Beefs. I’ll be back when I’m done with them. Don’t wait for me for breakfast.”

He entered the Meat Shed. Something had spooked the Beefs and there was a chorus of groaning. He patted the most shaky meat blocks and they settled quickly. That’s all they’d needed – some loving. He waited awhile to check all was well.

Robert was about to head home when an alarm buzzed in The Wilds. This was really annoying, as there was no Crop Control Panel for him to check there – it could be anything. Something must have damaged the fencing. He hoped he wouldn’t have to go in there physically. He’d never entered this self regulating part of the F@rm before. Regulations required 10% of farmland to be set aside for Wilding. People who lived there were not disturbed on condition that they produced a weekly supply of potent, natural food. They used no fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides; no irrigation, electronic management, or additives of any kind. Their pure food was sent to labs for cloning – though everybody knew that a good proportion was sold illegally to traditional doctors.

“Oh my god!” said Robert. Standing near a hole in the fence was one of the unchipped, unplugged people. She was barefoot, naked, and dreadlocked. Apart from, yet part of, this world. Robert was scared, but gulped and waved at her. He said, “Hello, I’m Robert.”


Vote Night

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , on February 27, 2012 by javedbabar

The Election Officer addressed the assembly. “Here are the results for all candidates standing for Mayor of Lucerne.” Excited murmuring ran throughout the Great Hall. To people passing, the Transparent Temple seemed like an aquarium with larvae wriggling within, one of whom would gobble up all others and become the Big Fish.

The Election Officer continued, “I shall announce them in alphabetical order by surname, with their stated affiliations.” The room hushed.

“Samir Bungawalla, Ethnic People’s Alliance: 200 votes.” People whispered that the Doctor’s son should really have done much better than this; the party founded by his father was on the wane.

“Davy Choo, Sustainable Fuels Forum: 50 votes.” Davy was a popular guy, but everyone knew that he was simply a front man for failing logging companies.

“Pinky Dada, Ethnic People’s Gay Alliance: 150 votes.” People congratulated Pinky, who blew kisses to everyone. Her breakaway group had done quite well.

“Simonique Jahanara, Ethnic People’s Gay Disabled Alliance: 120 votes.” People said that Simonique shouldn’t have stood, for she had split the ethnic and gay votes. Her response to this was, “Kick a queer black girl in a wheelchair, sugar, why don’t you?”

“Breda Mopa, Ethnic People’s Gay Disabled Autistic Alliance: 60 votes.” There was a time when the EPA was a rising star in local multi-cultural politics – but it had split into ineffective shards that continued to break further.

“Simon Palmer, Lucerne Valley First: 499 votes.” There was a general cheer. The current mayor had done very well, as hoped for and expected. It was almost a given that he would make his second term.

“Gracious Trabant-Berliner, Equestrian Horizons: 110 votes.” There was a time when horsey people were very popular, but people had, frankly, just got bored with their endless whinnying.

Di@ne W@tkins, Future Focus: 499 votes.” People gasped around the room. Di@ne W@tkins had a clear space around her, in which she stood surprised. Lucerne’s first-ever robot candidate had done very well and matched the incumbent!

The Election Officer asked for quiet; she had yet to finish announcing the results. “Toni Wicca, Ethnic People’s Gay Disabled Autistic Psychic Alliance: 12 votes.” This was clearly one split too far.

“And finally, Bongo Zephaniah, Ganga Potty Party: 160 votes.” A respectable showing from someone who had been treated by the press as a clown. Pot was no laughing matter in BC. Well it was – when smoking it in your yard with friends – but not in municipal elections.

“So there is a tie between Simon Palmer and Di@ne W@tkins. I will consult with my colleagues and shortly make further comment.”

A din of voices, like spring insects buzzing, rose around the Great Hall. There were jovial conversations and hidden whispers. The hottest topic was the robot candidate, Di@ne W@tkins. She was a petite woman with long dark hair, who had lived in the Village quietly for five years. Last year she’d announced that she no longer wished to live as a closet-robot; she publically declared that she had undergone the HST – Homo Sapiens Technology – Program, and was proud to represent this new branch of humanity.

Local people were shocked. There was a robot living right amongst them, undetected for years! They felt for some reason that robots existed only in the City – near factories, technicians, and charging stations. How could they exist out here? Their information however was out of date. Yes people over 50% android must exist near technical facilities, but the 50% boundary was rarely approached.

Most robots were under 20% android. Some were just cosmetic conversions, but most were medical enhancements of various degrees – a nose enlargement to assist breathing; a new heart for one that was failing; new lungs for those about to collapse; a new penis for erectile dysfunction; new legs for paraplegics; a new voice box for those with throat cancer. Robotics was the marvel of the age.

Having electrodes, polymers, and metals in bodies, however, frightened people who didn’t have them. “Are these people less human than we are?” they wondered. In truth many of these people were more human – because they had suffered and faced their mortality. Their alien structures made them whole, and they were compassionate to others who seemed weak or afraid. Test cases had challenged their legal status, but the Supreme Court had declared them equal and deserving of all rights, though the question of robots with extra powers was yet to be resolved.

The crowd hushed as the Election Officer returned. She said, “As you know, the most accurate and efficient form of assessing the electorates’ wishes is electronic voting. However, mistakes are occasionally made. Under advice from Legal Counsel, we will have a recount for the two leading candidates. This simply involves myself pressing a button, and the computer re-running the vote counting program. I will do this right now.” She pushed a button and the Great Hall remained hushed. Then she announced the recounted results. “Simon Palmer: 498 votes. Di@ne W@tkins: 500 votes.”

Most people cheered, as Di@ne was popular in Lucerne. She was hoisted onto shoulders amid flashing cameras. However others in the room stared at the petite, dark-haired robot suspiciously, thinking, “How did she do that?” and, “Is she connected to that computer?” and “Is this the first step towards Overmind?”