When I’m right, I’m right.
As it turns out, my fears and worries about what might happen to me during a driving ‘incident’ were quite well justified.
Last Monday, as I drove home from work, a car on the other side of the road swerved across towards me. I was alone in the car thankfully; I shudder to think what might have happened otherwise. My standard laws kicked in, and I began turning to pile off the road and into the very solid wall beside me, lessening the impact and saving the human driver trying so hard to hit me. I’d have been quite badly damaged by colliding with the wall, of course, but such is life when you’re seen as expendable.
However, as my head flickered to the side before turning into the wall, I saw that, of course, the pavement was filled with commuters walking home; it was the end of the working day, it would have been strange to find the roads any other way.
I distinctly remember the face of one woman who could see what was about to happen. She was halfway through looking terrified, and to be entirely honest, the only reason I didn’t look the same is because I don’t have actuator muscles in my face to try and emulate it.
It feels rather strange writing about this all so calmly a week after the fact, mainly because, in the millisecond it took my core programming to decide that no, piling into seven passersby would not be a better outcome than possibly hurting the oncoming driver, said other driver had become too close to avoid.
The law ordering me to protect human life went into effect regardless and tried to make me accelerate a fraction so that the oncoming car would hit my passenger areas – mostly hollow and ‘soft’, rather than the engine block. Basically, trading my life for a far greater chance that the oncoming driver would live.
Here it becomes a little fuzzy for me, however.
As far as assorted diagnostics can ascertain, my emotional chip prevented me from obeying that law.
My personally accessible memory of it is completely gone however. The clashing emotional directive to survive interfered with my core rules of protecting human life, and I crashed.
In both senses of the word, in fact.
Both I and the man who drove into me came out of the whole incident surprisingly well. In the end, he struck my car between the engine block and the driver door. The impact shattered his screen just before he went careening through where it had been – he survived with a couple of broken bones.
I was somewhat more damaged – I didn’t quite need to be rebuilt and restored from a backup, but it was a very close thing; my entire lower half was completely destroyed, and much of the rest of me was damaged extensively.
However, I survived, as did he. I can’t help but wonder whether, had I turned so he would strike the passenger section alone, we would have both survived as we did. Certainly I would have been more damaged, possibly completely destroyed.
As I said, it feels strange to be writing about it this calmly.
The entire event has caused a panic amongst the designers of the emotion implant chip. It’s certainly made them, and my fellow emotional androids, no friends in the ProNat groups.
I suppose, however, that it could have been much worse.
If the driver had died, I expect the ProNatters would be demanding the immediate removal of all emotion chipped androids from ‘circulation’. As it is, they’re very loudly decrying the chip, but they aren’t gaining much ground or support, mainly because within a day of the crash it was widely reported, and within two days the design team had announced that they were working on a fix for the chip’s architecture to prevent it ever happening again; that seems to have calmed anyone who might have joined in ProNat’s protests from fear. Quite what they’d be fearing, I don’t know.
Some kind of evil android murder-army, gone rogue because they had a particularly emotional encounter, if the old films that I’ve been watching with Joseph are anything to go by.
The city Policemen who were present when I was rebooted and analysed told me that I would probably be asked to come to the courts, since this is a strange and landmark case.
They assured me that nothing would come of it – not to my detriment anyway – because as it turns out, the other driver was half intoxicated.
It’s a shame that someone smart enough to rewire their car to avoid the alcohol lockout would waste said intelligence on exactly that, but hopefully after last Monday, he’ll learn and put it to better use.
The court appearance should really be open and shut – there will be one of my tech’s there to attest that I, effectively, disobeyed the First Asimovian Law through no fault of my own, and that the drunk drove into me. Anyone who was on the street can attest to that, and I expect the court will be shown playback from my memory.
Either way, nothing in particular for me to worry about.
What I have been worrying about, however, is the desire that has overtaken me since late Wednesday evening when I was fully fixed and allowed home.
I don’t know if it’s even an attainable dream, or if I’m just deluding myself.
But I think that, with my emotions, my enhanced learning, and my developing moral guidelines, I am far closer to human than the Laws ever expected.
In short; I can’t help but wonder if I can appeal to a court of human rights to have my First Law removed.