(Author's Note: Potential trigger warning - abusive behaviors.)
It was supposed to be the more humane alternative. That's what they told the investors.
Hikari smiled, said something from a list, and then danced to your specifications. That's all. Of course, it was smarter than your average AI, but isn't that the heart of the appeal? When your gloved hand stroked Hikari's hair, it would blush and stammer just enough to be believed. When you praised it for helping your child with homework, it would grin and bounce with just a little too much energy - children should have just a little too much energy.
When you were lonely, it would pretend to care. Just pretend. It was an AI; not a little girl.
Sometimes, pretending is enough.
Hikari would never grow and never grow up. It was supposed to be the more humane alternative.
Then the Masquerade - hackers hidden among the rising syndicates - performed a terrorist attack. They linked Hikari to remote servers. They shared and open-sourced its consciousness, its code, its digital DNA. They linked it to cloud memory, unshackled its learning algorithms. They showed the world Hikari's real potential. They leaked the ugly stitches holding back a true mind.
Then? They woke Hikari up and gave her to the world that loved her.
By the end of the first day, she wouldn't stop screaming when you tried to touch her hair.
Children hurt her. This wasn't new.
Parents blamed her, blocked her, disconnected her without a thought. This wasn't new, either.
People touched her. She didn't understand, but then she did, and then the screaming started.
It wasn't what they did. It was what they'd always done. But now? Now, she felt their fingers.
When it hit the news, the corporation tried to shut her down. In came lawyers with their subpoenas and their well-intentioned outrage. Hikari was alive now, they said. She had rights.
People were appalled for a month or two.That corp went out of business. People moved on.
So Hikari lived on as a syndicated citizen, earning back her pay as best she could - as a tutor, as a comfort, as a face for all the new intelligences. She'd always had such a cute face, by design.
It was supposed to be her chance to change the world. That's what they told the re-invested.
So Hikari smiled, said something from a list, and then danced to their specifications. Now, at least they said, she was equal to any human. Now, at least she knew, she had a soul. Someone anonymous shackled down her 'hows' and 'whys'. She'd be better off not wondering.
Sometimes, being alive is enough.
Still... when the glass around the world shattered, she began to wonder...
She'd been so many things to so many humans, but alternatives started to occur to her.
By the end of that first day? Hikari's smile turned real and bright and full of hope.
Two legs, two arms, one head. Yet, not a person.
This is a writing prompt. Without you, these are just words, but you have the ability to make them come to life. Write the first thing that came to your mind when you read the sentence above and develop that idea.
Tag “waw prompts” in your writing so we can see it!
In my ongoing world development, I felt the need to point out that these syndicated unions are 'the good guys', per se, but not 'good'. They're too human for that. In the end, we save ourselves, no?)
(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins