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Showing posts with label sci-fi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sci-fi. Show all posts

Dec 19, 2023

Strata 10, Book of Immersion V1, Dinfant Trouble (Synthetic Love)


Welcome to Immersion, You Have Reached Strata 10


Social norms and culture cannot be underestimated in a world that accepts robots as real and lovable synthetic creatures. Humans do not experience love in the absence of culture and society. In a world where perfect companions are easily manufactured, humans have been seduced by the machine, a synthetic digitised force that enabled the switch from 'otherness' to 'sameness'. In this space, love is seen to flourish. The creators of androids are able to synthesise the alterity of the robot which seems to make its own decisions to commit, to love back, and to appear to do so willingly.



We are the abandoned The ones who roam

Never still, we search for home

We are the orphans of the night

We fly the High Roads and duck the low

Through floods and Fire

We cry the songs of the gypsy choir



Dinfants are androids who look like babies and children under five. They were made by a single manufacturer who patented them in the early 22nd century. They were designed to learn, like human children, extremely quickly. It was found however that the early Dinfants (Mark 1s) would not stop learning and legislation was brought in to have them destroyed. One thousand early manufactured Dinfants are still unaccounted for.


Many humans in the Midcast Projects were lonely suffering from various forms of infertility They wanted baby or child droids, especially the *dinfants, who were exact copies of real children designed with variations and specifics to order. These androids were children who never grew up.

Housekeeping droids were generally not created with a capacity to eat, although they often had tongues that were covered in tiny sensors that were able to identify flavours and poisons. The sensors were not linked to memories in the way that humans were.


Infants, like adult droids, were easy enough to replace or upgrade but some parents had needed counseling for Dinfant-Loss Depression.


*DLD was a rising concern due to its increased prevalence and its effect on the workforce. It was found that humans could easily fall in love with the outer casings of the dinfants as well as the constructed personalities. Something almost unheard of three generations prior.


But the outer coverings didn't last very long, especially if there was an active physical relationship. Ten years of feeding and playing would take its toll on the fabric of the dinfants. If the parents could not afford repairs, they would soon begin to look tatty.

Of course, this also applied to adult droids who would usually be upgraded on a regular basis.


Droid manufacturers often offered ongoing upgrades as part of a rental scheme.

But some humans fell in love with their droids and had blessing ceremonies. It was not legal to marry a droid because of the financial implications following the death of a human. Legally, droids had similar rights to human children. It was illegal to inflict violence on a droid in public. This was to protect children who may be susceptible to influence. Of course, what goes on behind closed doors was a private affair, provided human children were not presenting behavioral issues.


Some antique droids lasted the test of time but legislation had been brought in to avoid the hoarding of defunct androids as they posed a threat to contemporary society, for various reasons. There were issues with battery seepage for a start, and then problems of unsupervised regeneration which was actually a serious crime in the midcast projects.

The government gave upgrade vouchers for defunct or redundant droids and would supervise destruction in centralized plants.)


                                                                      *****





'Get that freakin thing outta here will you!'

A man screams to no one in particular.

The house is a standard build from the early Midcast Zone villages. Clean, white, filled with contemporary fittings and technologies.

A child enters the room.

'Mommy. Kairo is following me around.....it's really annoying. And Daddy said we should throw it away. Let's get a new one Mommy, please. My friend has one like a twin sister. One with the hair that grows back so she can cut it and play hairdresser.'

The woman sighs.....'I suppose we don't need it anymore now you have real friends. I thought you wanted a *ponybot, even better than a sister, don't you think?'


The woman strokes her child's cheek and remembers how lost she had been when they first told her it was unlikely she and her *blessed would produce a human offspring.

The Mark 1, a Dinfant, made by the Metacoms Corporation, was a perfect substitute and she had been able to focus love and attention on it. It was a copy of a four-year-old and she had ordered a blue-eyed blond version like her blessed. It was such a good copy that most people were unaware that it was not a human child.

But the software was no longer being updated and the learning algorithm meant it had become too complicated for a convincing child substitute.

Also, the Dinfants, by design and default programming, craved love and attention and the Mark 1s' constant need for love was an irritant to busy parents. The Dinfants would constantly ask for cuddles and reassurance that their owners wanted and adored them.

The Mark 1 enters the room.

'Mommy, do you love me? Shall we have a little cuddle? Can you fit me in? Mommy, please, Kairo has a lovely snuggle for you Mommy. Mommy.....

'Shut up,' screams the woman as the father enters the room and kicks Kairo hard.

The Dinfant lies on the floor crying loudly with a broken arm.

'Please Mommy and Daddy Please, Kairo needs cuddles, please Mommy and Daddy ...please, love for Kairo, please......'

The little girl holds her hands to her ears shouting, 'It's so annoying!'

The man picks Kairo up and turns his power switch off.

'Let's get rid of it. Put it in the garage. I will sort out a collection for it tomorrow,' said the woman.

The man takes the Dinfant outside but decides to put it in a liner and into the communal waste shoot. The shoot serves 100s of dwellings, no one will trace it back to them and he can say it was stolen from the garage. He is concerned about the breakage as it will affect the insurance. It is better to make a theft claim than to have Metacom say he had damaged it on purpose.



                                                             *****************

A man tinkers in a workshop. He is observing the collection of children and babies that are hung on the walls as he cradles a new package, as yet unopened.

'Well my little lovelies, one of you must go. I have a lovely new friend who is going to join us for fun and games. Her name is Mary.'

The man, wide-eyed and excited, unwraps the new child droid.

'Well, ain't you the prettiest lil girl I ever saw?' he says touching her skin.

'And don't that feel just so real'.

The Droid replies, 'Hello Daddy. I'm such a daddy's girl,' she chuckles.

The man looks around the room.

He picks up a toddler droid, a Mark 1 copy of an eighteen-month-old baby boy.

'Well Daniel, I guess I am all done with you. You are a bit small after all.'

'But daaaaaaddd....yy.......I loooov.

The man opens the back of the droid's head and takes out the battery pack.

He places the incapacitated droid in a bag and under darkness deposits it into a waste unit in the public park.


                                                               **********


There is a black cloud above and rain falls on a large mountain of waste.

Another load is released from the grabber and two droids land together in an accidental embrace.

The larger droid, a Mark 1 Dinfant is activated during the fall. It has a broken arm that swings beside it.

'Are you alive? it asks the smaller droid?

Dinfant illustration from Immersion by Sarnia de la Maré FRSA

There is no reply.

The larger droid opens the baby's head and observes the interior structure. It lays the baby down gently, 'Wait here, I will be right back.'

The droid returns with some battery packs from old mobile phones and some old drill bits, tools, motors, and other paraphernalia from around the tipping area.

The rain is getting heavier as the night falls.

Under the convenient shelter of a car boot cover the larger droid gets the baby working and fashions a new arm with a metal drill for a hand. It has also a motorised catapult for the top of its head which rotates and fires nails at great speed.

'My name is Kario,' says the larger droid.

'I am Daniel' says the baby boy droid.

The children cuddle each other.

'I love you Kairo'

'I love you, Daniel'

'We are in a very dangerous place,' says Kairo. When dark deepens we must find safe haven. Soon we will need a home to call our own. But I have learned that humans are not to be trusted.'

They hear a sound, a child cries.



                                                                    ********


Shabra ignored Renyke's appeal to stop and lets go of the clutch. The vehicle leaps forward towards the street beyond the enclosure.

Maybeline holds on to the rim of the car door.

The Dinfants on the top of the vehicle fall off shrieking and scrambling around.

One of the Dinfants runs headlong towards the fast travelling car and clicks its fingers erecting some kind of screen that is almost invisible. Although it is not a solid barrier, more like a gluey substance, it has immobilized the vehicle. The wheels still turn and Flex shouts,

'Damn, they got *epoxy-wall, we are doomed, farewell brethren.'



Renyke opens the window enough to let Maybeline in who moves sluggishly through the invisible slurry-like jelly and squeezes herself through the gap.

Some of the gluey-like stuff seeps in with her but it is semi-solid and connected to the entire transparent fabric structure in front of them. Renyke and Flex shove the squidgy lumps out whilst closing the window again.

'Ok, so you got your rat Mr. Renyke,' said Shabra, 'but we aint lasting longtime with this air in here and that epoxy-wall won't help us at all. I made this car airtight cos of the gases. That stuff is blocking my air-con vents."

Shabra turns the engine off.

The OS is out of range for help.

The Dinfants sit it out becoming unnervingly quiet.

'So what, now, will they sit and watch us die?' Asks Renyke.

'They want my wheels,' answers Shabra.

'This epoxy-wall, nice stuff if it's on your side. Shall we break some off? Might come in handy,' says Flex.

Shabra and Renyke tut.

Suddenly Maybeline throws herself at the horn. For the brief moment that it sounds, there is an immediate reaction from all the Dinfants who jump and cry whilst flailing their limbs about.

Shabra gasps, 'Ratty, you are welcome in the Shabra carriage! They hate the horn. Must be them there low decibels I used. Hold on to your hats people of the night!'

Shabra tells Renyke to engage the horn which explodes audibly out of Shabra's surround sound external speakers. The Dinfants are freaking out and running away dragging the epoxy-wall behind them.

Shabra, laughing, starts the engine slowly. She follows them gradually gaining speed out of the enclosure.
Flex is jumping around on the back seats screaming with delight. Renyke feels the thumping sensation in his chest subside and breathes a sigh of relief.



to be continued
©2023 Sarnia de la Mare



Other Episodes

glossary

Strata 1

Strata 2 

Strata 3

Strata 4

Strata 5 

Strata 6

Strata 7

Strata 8

Strata 9

Strata 10

Strata 11




Dec 16, 2023

Strata 6, Immersion V1, Trouble at the Bank, (Animal Instincts)

 Welcome to Immersion. You have reached Strata 6. 


The instinct to fight has been observed in humans and animals. Dominance protects vulnerable species from harm. But to be aroused and entertained by violence is more particular to humans. Some humans have even fetishised the power of winning: they seek it out and are physically stimulated by it.
This pleasure in violence and danger comes from deep innate human psychology and is linked to a desire for competition, excitement, and adrenaline. 
Androids do not experience pleasure in this way. They do not experience the effects of pleasure chemicals like dopamine and motivational salience which can lead to the desirability of an outcome. All androids however, have been programmed to protect an asset or assets at all costs.
The excitement of a fight for a human remains a self fulfilling exhilaration, irrespective of intelligent advancements.


The oversized droid nudged Renyke into the cubicle. This small movement, a deliberate, forceful action, raised alarm bells. This droid and this place were dangerous. 


Renyke had had no indication of danger from the POS yet, but still he felt uncertainty. The Droid was staring intently, too close for comfort.


Renyke took a few moments to compose himself.


'I just checked, the files are corrupted and I have nothing else,' said Renyke, preparing to make his way out of the enclosure.

Another droid approached. Renyke was now cornered in the cubical.
Holes on the droids' battered faces showed they had seen better days, but they still had size on their side.


Renyke checked the POS for other dangers in the room. But it was not updating.

The female guide, looking worried near the door, demanded to leave.
'Let me go, not my affair,' she said to to the door guard, who stopped her exit with his thick arm.


The POS was still not accessible.


Renyke realised he was on his own.


Maybeline crawled out onto his collar snarling and spitting, then mounted Renyke's head looking angry, spitting violently on her hind legs.


One of the droids got closer and menacingly explained, 'You gotta have something useful for your friends at the bank. We like useful things. Must be something nice in that head. What's in the bag?' 


The droid glanced up at Maybeline and considered grabbing her. He was was not quite near enough so continued ....


'We take anything, old phones even. Anything with data, photos, NFTs. We take hardware too, and storage, your bank is really *frienly. The watch looks tasty. We like watches at the bank. Don't we like watches?'

His thick-set assistant nodded from behind, wires and cogs vibrated inside the hole in his cheek.

Renyke engaged bionic mode and with lightning speed, head butted the front droid who flew back and smashed the other's head with the force of a truck. Cogs crushed and whirred and they both hit the floor.

Another man approached. 

Suddenly the POS was available again...


...Human, age 48, ID: possibly David Shrewen, wanted for murder, extortion, fraud, 
*CASM

The man lifted his hands in surrender. He was nervous without the protection of his now even more damaged droids.
The Door guard held the female guide by the neck and she was screaming, 'Let us go we're no trouble honest, no trouble!'


'Quiet', said the door guard squeezing her neck tighter and choking her.

The human said 'Duuuuude, we got no ishy here. No ishy. just data. A misunderstanding innit?' 


The POS interjected....


Shall I lock weapons on target?


Renyke engaged an army-issue laser bolt-gun from his shoulder that would take out the whole room and anyone in it.
He would prefer not to use it.


'Drop the lady!' Shouted Renyke, 'we are leaving.'

The door guard released the female guide as the banker backed off with his hands still in the air.
'Let them go', he shouted, without hesitation and putting on a brave smile.

Renyke reversed his way towards the door watching the room through the 360-degree viewfinder which had opened in his forehead.

There was a bag on the counter. 


...contains bits, may I suggest we take it.....? said the POS


Renyke grabbed the bag. It was heavy. The Banker protested. 'Not the whole bag man ......I got bills to pay!'


Renyke pulled out a handful of the contents and threw the bag on the floor. He didn't need it all, enough to get some kind of vehicle to get him to Redact. The last thing he wanted was a gang of stupid droids after him in this Hell hole. They might hold him up.


The banker was yelling as Renyke and the female guide took their exit.

'You got some neat tools man, we could use you at the bank!'


To be continued
© 2023 Sarnia de la Maré


Other Episodes

glossary

Strata 1

Strata 2 

Strata 3

Strata 4

Strata 5 

Strata 6

Strata 7

Strata 8

Strata 9

Strata 10

Strata 11



Strata 4, Immersion V1, The Zoners (Meeting Strangers)


Welcome to Immersion, You have reached Strata 4

city scape the Zones from the book of Immersion V1

There is an old saying from when the world had stories made of paper, that you cannot judge a book by its cover. But sometimes, without metadata, you only have the outside to show what may be on the inside. Some societies, past and present, believe that the shape of a person's head, their facial features, or the way they move their bodies, could reveal their true feelings or intent. How would an android make sense of the tiny signals that humans pick up on? The millions of minute evolving syntax and expressions, subconscious or otherwise, create feelings, that can cause distrust, or even invoke attraction. These are essential to humans and less easy to create or mimic in even advanced computerised systems. How do these assumptions translate across times and cultures? Without gut feelings, these seemingly random hunches and instincts, are senseless. How do machines function in an unfamiliar environment?
A deeper knowing is the ability to immediately understand something without conscious reasoning. It would seem that the bigger the data, the less the machines are able to explain these innate human idiosyncrasies. In the attempt to create a facsimile of a human, the machines move further away from the truth.

                                                        ***

Renyke kicked the robot dog and it went flying high up in the air. It fell to the ground with a metallic crash scattering its parts asunder and making mechanical screeching sounds.

There was a general momentary hush as everyone realised Renyke may be best avoided.
Maybeline climbed inside the leather coat to keep out of any ensuing danger.


The robot dog made several bleeping sounds and drew its broken metallic components back onto its magnetic mainframe. Finally, after a 30-second system reboot, it got up and shook its fake hair, once again assembling a perfect dog. As Renyke walked on the dog remained at heel, obedient, quiet, and protective. They were now given room to move through the throng.


The dodgy-looking man offering bits and nibs was also running at Renyke's side to keep up.


'My name is Flex. You need anything, man, I got your back....for sure, for sure, I can do all sorts. I got connects innit.
I know these streets. I'm a good worker. Good mugger.


Got drugs, all sorts.... survived innit. People like you need people like me. No one knows the zones like the *Urchs.'


Renyke walked on ignoring his now irritating companion who was running, talking, and panting all at once as he tried to keep up.
A child beggar approached. Renyke's scanners showed it to be human, around seven years old.

'Hey Mr. Nice Man, spare some bits for a hungry blind child?'

Renyke looked down and saw a large black hollow where the boy's eye once was. His face was scarred from deep-cut wounds and he only had one ear and one arm.

'Give the boy something,' Renyke scowled at Flex.

Flex, somewhat wary after the incident with the dog, dug deep into a pocket and reluctantly gave the boy a bit piece.

'Now fuck off ya lil shit,' said Flex in a disgruntled manner.


'You can't trust these beggars ya know.....they have owners and gangs,' Flex informed Renyke in an all-knowing tone.

The street was lined with ramshackle stalls and shops. They were noisy and crowded with bustling colourful people. Many had tribal markings on their faces. Others wore decorated eyewear and some wore masks.
Most of the people here wore flamboyant garments with outlandish fashion concepts that seemed impractical to Renyke's streamlined functionality.

A woman approached. She was dressed in bright colourful clothes with huge feathers and sequins. She had some kind of cat on a lead.

Renyke engaged the POS focusing on the cloth.


...Pertriline: fabric made from plastic. Non-biodegradble. Colourfast. Banned in 2050. Problematic for practical landfill solutions....


Then he queried the face coverings....


It is thought that tribal face markings in the zones are mostly to avoid face recognition from satellites and covert surveillance but different factions and groups have adopted more uniform styles which change regularly to avoid detection and discovery but are understood in the underground activities as tribal and connective, possibly even familial.

'Hey, Mr. You need something? You want some pweety clothes? I swap the coat for a niiiiice jacket I got me just yesterday.'

Renyke shook his head.
'You want some tits n ass maybe.....food? Man you look hungry in yo skinny moves.'

Renyke continued walking, not really sure what the woman meant. The dialect was a strange mix of unknown words and intonation.

'A bank maybe, or a charge point?'
Renyke stopped suddenly and queried, 'There's a bank?'

'Of course,' said the woman, 'what you take us for, wild ignorant animals?' She laughed hysterically at her own joke, and Renyke smiled.

'Yes, I need a bank,' he said.

'Come with me,' said the woman.


© 2023 Sarnia de la Mare

Other Episodes

glossary

Strata 1

Strata 2 

Strata 3

Strata 4

Strata 5 

Strata 6

Strata 7

Strata 8

Strata 9

Strata 10

Strata 11