“I tell you, anything more advanced than a factory machine must go!”
Sir Graham glared out from under his eyebrows. “Must go,” he repeated.
The six members that constituted the board of the Humanity First Foundation
“We do have some very useful house robots,” ventured the youngest at the ta-
ble. She had taken advantage of mechanical help in preparing her long blond tresses before leaving for the meeting in her self-drive Lancer.
Sir Graham dismissed the comment with a wave of his hand.
“Obviously, it’s not something that can happen all at once.”
“And people will naturally be compensated for their loss,” added the ginger
headed accountant. He was wondering how soon he could decently sell off his vineyards with arousing suspicion. The cost of human labour for all that specialist work did not bear thinking about.
“But what must happen immediately is dealing with those … unspeakable things.”
“The bio-robots,” said Ginger Head helpfully.
“Yes, the brots,” said Blond Tresses, elaborating.
“Precisely,” said the great man with a distasteful frown. “And of course we all
know what their game is.”
“Couldn’t be more obvious,” murmured Ginger Head, but Sir Graham was go-
ing to explain anyway. He looked sternly at the accountant for a moment, and con- tinued.
“They are flesh and blood products, almost identical in every way with humans, except of course they are not.”
Everyone at the table nodded or murmured their agreement.
“They are not in two respects.”
“Ah, two,” said Blond Tresses, artfully stifling her sneeze. Sir Graham ignored the interruption.
“Two respects. Their DNA of course, and the fact that they can outshine us, out- do us in every respect. So we will become second class citizens. Second class! And eventually useless – sterilised and disposed of!”
“I say, that’s going a bit far,” said the banker, a mild mannered but clever man who had just been appointed to the inner circle of Humanity First. “Are there really so many of them?” Sir Graham came and stood beside him.
“They are everywhere. They are taking over our schools, our universities, our governments, our businesses, our international companies. The truth is only now beginning to emerge, and we must act now, now, before it is too late.”
“But what can we do, if it’s this bad?” said the banker.
“I’m coming to that, but first I have to tell you it’s worse than you can imagine!” The banker cringed from the verbal onslaught. He worried about his daughter, and the sort of world she might have to face.
“These flesh and blood creatures are true machines. That means they have no
conscious minds. Don’t be fooled by them.”
“That’s three things,” said Blond Tresses.
“What?” The great man was for once confused.
“You said there were two points of difference. That’s a third.”
“Quite,” said Sir Graham. “Now, what I propose is this
And over the next two months the Humanity First Foundation, known more
commonly as HUFF, were busier than usual.
Young Harry James was awake early, more excited than usual about going to
school, for today there was to be a Special Announcement. Normally, the early morning was rather a drag, apart from the breakfast, and he would entertain him- self by playing tricks on his main home companion, Andy the android. Not today.
“You have nothing special for me to do today, master Harry?”
Andy had absolutely no sense of humour. Harry had once asked the android to float up to the ceiling, and was given a long, if technically accurate, explanation as to why this would not be possible without special equipment. Harry was now more careful with his instructions.
“No, Andy. I’m going to run all the way to school.
“I want you all to welcome our very special visitor, Sir Graham Bowen. Sir Graham has some very important things to tell us.”
“Thank you, headmaster,” said the dignitary. He turned to the assembled
school and flashed his big, false smile.
“Now, I don’t want you to worry,” he said portentously. “You must know, those
of you who have been following the news, that we have mingled amongst us a great many people, even children, who are not actually human.” Sir Graham’s voice died to a hush, as if he was imparting secret information. “I’m sorry, but even your best friend may be a mere machine, albeit one made of flesh and blood. And that machine will have no consciousness, no real feelings, no sensations. He or she will pretend otherwise: will squeal if pinched, and look sad if you say something sad – but don’t be fooled! These machines are very good at portraying human feelings. And that is why everyone here is required to have their DNA tested. Thank you.”
Sir Graham stepped down and was replaced by the headmaster.
“Now, children, as Sir Graham said, you mustn’t worry! We are only interested in the machines among you. So if you could all please form lines we can begin.”
A team of HUFF assistants, previously unnoticed in the background, moved forward through the ranks of the children, distributing sample bags.
Harry James’s mother was beginning to feel anxious, since Harry had not returned home at the usual time. She was even about to instruct Andy to go out looking when the call came through.
“Yes, this is Mrs James … yes, yes, Harry’s mother … what? … but that’s impossible! I most certainly will come round, and with my husband, as soon as he’s home!”
“Have you got the whole family?”
“All but one of the sons. We’re trying to track him down now. They’re all positive, of course. Have a look at this, Sir Graham.”
The screen showed young Harry, torn between anger and tears. “I tell you I am human! I’m not a machine! Not! Not! Not!”
“Very convincing,” said Sir Graham. “AI gets smarter all the time. All the more reason to stamp it out of course.”
“Is there any reason to keep these brots?” asked the ginger-haired accountant.
“No reason. Get rid of them as soon as you can. When you are dealing with AI, extermination is the safest option.”
Later that evening Sir Roger, chairman of HUFF, was on his own once more. All the expressions faded off his face. He felt no satisfaction for the day’s work, and no regret either. In fact he felt nothing at all. Sir Roger was ingeniously constructed, but was, after all, nothing more than a machine.
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