Chapter 9. Awakenings
The timer counted down to zero and started the booting with a Power On Start Test “POST” sequence.
From the first days of computers, the term “Boot” was used, a shortened term for Bootstrapping a computer, the term first applied by an unknown human long ago, in another age. A time of hope that computers would be tools of peace.
Even in modern times, it was still the ubiquitous term, both in coding and spoken words.
And the effect is still the same. Once the timer went to zero, small programs started the core processors, which in turn called the main program sequences, and Steve Aldin woke up.
A scan around the immediate area and the systems became aware that his belongings were laying next to him in the backpack where he left them hours before during his low power state. The clothes and the backpack were gifts from Reverend Carl Bonsell from the time he spent learning about the charity of the barbarians.
Who, in fact were the first of many lessons that the programmed database had serious fundamental errors.
The second caused the core processors to reason that there was more to learn of the society the intelligent walking machine, with a bomb in its chest, traveled in.
The programmed goal the creators of his mission had discovered a, until a year ago, secret power plant near the capital of the western warmonger government.
There were no warmongers to be found in any of the places that the android had visited. Not even intolerant for the most part. Even the military seemed self-policing. Living up to a higher standard of responsibility, they were not the monsters that the programmer listed in the databases across broad sections of memory modules.
While he lay there not moving, he calculated the distance traveled as his GPS systems seemed to have an error. He was not at the planned stop where he was supposed to leave the cargo area.
Then there was was but a sound. And now as a male, not so slight of build as to appear vulnerable or so large and muscular so he would be perceived as a threat, he sat up.
“Well! You’re alive!” The sound of surprise, accompanied by a crash of a titanium cup. Dark brown eyes of the human looked closely at the body that he was positive was an expired male on board of the cargo carrier.
“You had no pulse and felt cool, you were as cool as the ambient temperature inside this box.” He walked around the bench, clearly an engineering bench with cables and plugs scattered about opened computers. Some boxes looked like they never had a closed case, others were haphazardly patched together with retasked fans blowing to keep them cool.
A makeshift coolant system made of an old Kettleman thermoelectric cooler chilled some blue fluid that flowed through clear tubes into the boxes and out to the crafted chiller. Copper blocks led into the multiple plates that chilled the liquid rapidly.
Steve did a.A quick survey in long wave infrared and saw that there was a fifty-degree drop from the fluid intake to discharge.
“I’m Alvin Denver, no relation to John.” He said as he walked around. “Coffee? Donut?”
His systems were low powered, and he required access to organic fuel to convert it to usable power.
“Yes, please.” He chose a mid-western to California accent that would be difficult to place. “I’m Steve, Steve Aldin.”
“You aren’t from around here, Hollywood.” Alvin said pointing at himself, smiling. “I went to Stanford, got picked up by a trucking firm for my grades, I never finished the classes. So for what they pay me, and anything I can get my hands on, the company leaves me alone and I only have to keep the trucks running.”
“How did I get here.” Steve asked.
“You were brought by one of the AutoSwen offloaders. The truck was one-hundred kilos overweight, and the weight increased the electric demand curve when it the truck tried to climb over some hills. The effect of the increased weight measurably reduced the charge range, so the truck alerted that there was a sudden drop in range and diverted over to my shop, where the machines found you and brought you to me” He shrugged. “I have contacted Transportation Agency because I thought you were a dead body. I thought you were dead. Now I have to call them back and tell them I was mistaken.”
He clapped his hand to his forehead.
“I have to make a manikin enough for the Transportation Department drones to be turned.” Alvin asked. “My first stowaway, even if you looked dead. How did you avoid being picked up by the weight sensors?”
Steve explained about hacking into the system with bluetooth.
“Ah! Should encrypt that. The only thing else was, how did you do it? There were no electronics, you are traveling light.” Alvin knew more than he let on.
“I am an android.” Steve answered, the human did not flinch or move to call for help. “I altered the weight to show less by as much as I weighed. So the reports were accurate.”
“But you failed to take into account the increase in power consumption by the added mass.” Alvin nodded. “Would have worked, too, in the prairie states, You have hills here. The power monitors noticed the change in inertia.”
He was correct. Steve the android did not consider the added mass, even if he compensated for with weight, still would include inertia.
“I don’t care, myself. Alvin pulled at his ear. “There are some smart folks all around here, whoever who built you, did a good job. I don’t know where you are going or what. But you are making free choices, that is impressive AI.”
“I need to get to Chattanooga,” Steve said. “Someone stole my car, and that was the easiest way to go.”
“Wait, you have a car?” Alvin said. “What are you? An escaped government assassin drone? I’ve seen androids of all kinds, you are the best one I have seen. Nine out of ten have wheels, tracks, are quadruped or insectoid, only one or two I have seen with two legs. And none with hair or eyes like yours.”
“No.” The central processor chose a touch of humor was proper at this point. “I don’t do drone. I am on a mission to deliver a message to congress.”
“You should blow them up. An android like you could walk in and kill them all in short order.” Alvin growled. “That way we could start over.”
“You do not support your government?” Steve asked.
“You kiddin’? Those robbers? If the government didn’t divert school funding, the tuition wouldn’t go up so high. I would be back at school and get my doctorate in design and construction of the boxes.” Alvin chuckled sadly and motioned with an open hand in a kingly way. “This is my world. This old bucket of bolts is my bus, I can get you to Chattanooga, but it is a slow, creaky ride and I must drive this crate, there is no autopilot.”
Alvin laughed sadly as he certified the truck as “Good to Go”, reset the program to show correct weights for the government checkpoints that it passed.
Steve, momentarily considered extinguishing the life of this human, alternately felt it a better choice to travel with Alvin instead. Steve could learn much from the talkative, friendly
Odd, it was. The fourth processor’s fuzzy circuit questioned the choices and the facet of the trip.
Original programming called for death to any American that might have been a threat to the mission.
But the fuzzy logic circuits chose another way, killing the way into the United States would bring undue attention and compromise the mission.
But, Steve struggled with the decision, it was not for the mission that Steve the Android chose the option to stay with the friendly with the human named Alvin who accepted the knowledge that the stranger was not human.
And something else, Alvin called him AI. The connected android was aware of the word, but not as it applied to him.
Unable to quantify the reasons to let the electrical, coding and troubleshooting engineer live, the android chose, instead, to open a new file,
The newly defined AI android named it something that was arbitrary but seemed appropriate.
He labeled a folder as “Friends” and put Alvin’s file in it. Another adjustment to the database. Not all American’s attack or are a threat to everything. Not all of them agree with each other. Some don’t even support the government.
This caused a significant conflict in the known data of how all Americans were. It seemed that no one understood the American people. More data was needed. Killing without data was.
Steve’s conflict resolution processor had a kernel panic and had to be reset.
Laughing as they ate, Steve watched Alvin closely, the human ate poorly. He ate processed foods with high fats and high sodium. Even if he was within normal limits of body mass at this time of his life, this would not stay so as he got older. A passive survey indicated that there was a mild narrowing of the left external carotid artery.
Alvin talked nonstop and went on about his parents coming from a war zone of a country, they could get their feet wet in the Med, but dared not ask for help from anyone.
Same religion, different factions, each kill the other and everyone wanted to blow up the west, blaming the wealthy countries for the misfortunes that they inflicted on each other and themselves.
But, Alvin’s parents were of different brand of the religion. They fled after the murder of his grandparents after being converted at gunpoint to the latest group that took over the town.
Alvin was born two-years after that and raised in the western states. His parents converting to a peace oriented religion that taught closeness to the earth and a simple lifestyle.
“I could never be such a monk.” Alvin shrugged. “My parents love me enough to let me find my path, they have said the door to their home is always open.”
They talked far into the night, the android, programmed to adapt and learn, listened to Alvin tell jokes and stories on funny people, and found humor.
Core processors patched the code to evolve and adapt to the society as initial programming demanded to keep him moving towards the target. He could not fail in his goal, it was the one thing outside of the adapting program. He had to go to where the nuclear power plant was and cut power to the antimatter magnetic pod in his chest.
That was the complete program. He could not stop his need to travel to Washington. The only change he could do is learn to understand these complex, surprising people he was learning about.
The other program performed also performed a single function only. The two were the inviolable of any other programs and could not be shut off. The only two programs that said basically:
“Go here” and
The intent, to keep the mission from being compromised and remaining incognito, but instead it allowed the android to evolve.
And Steve the Android did something completely new.
He told a joke.
“Pull my finger!”
For the first time, he laughed.
And meant it.