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Science
Fiction, Humorous Science Fiction
Date
Published:
February 2019
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A
robot possessing unique artificial intelligence and human awareness, André 1
tells the story of his creation and “growing up” in his inventor’s family.
Often humorously fumbling in his interactions with people, André analyzes his
experiences, attempting to understand the faults and foibles of human
personality. Accompanied by his girlfriend, Dr.
Margaret 13, a droid physician of his own creation, André achieves a
position as translator and self-appointed mendacity-monitor to the American
President and strives to save humans from themselves.
The
novel is a work of science fiction and social commentary. André is wired to
take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning so as to be able
to analyze human societies without the usual biases and to propose clear-eyed
strategies for saving humanity from the many calamities toward which it
presently appears to be headed.
Excerpt
CHAPTER
ONE
REBOOTING
“WHAT
IS IT, ANDRÉ? YOU’RE vibrating all over.” Dr. Margaret 13 exclaimed. “What’s
happened?”
“They
threw me out, Margaret. They’re about to make
a
horrendous mistake.” I glanced around the White House Infirmary, noting no
humans present. “He had me ejected from the Situation Room. Secret Service
agents forced
me
out.”
“First,
let’s reduce your electromagnetic activity,” she said. She took me by the hand
and led me over to a chair. I sat but was too excited to be still.
“Now
tell me what happened,” she insisted. “Tell me everything, so your circuits
will release the energy.”
“They
are considering a nuclear attack. Nuclear, Margaret! It’s Armageddon if they do
it.” I paused to release a breath of static discharge. “I must act,” I said,
standing up, “but do what?”
Margaret
gently pushed me back down in the chair. “Just sit here for a moment, dear,
while I go get my meter. I want to be sure your servomotor controller is
functioning correctly.”
“But
I have to . . .”
“Hush,
André. I am the doctor. You must be still for a
few
minutes.”
Reluctantly,
I sat back and shook my head. I had no authority. I merely was the President’s
translator, which allowed me no more than a position against the wall in
the
Situation Room. I had determined, however, that I had
a
more valuable duty to perform, which was to offer observations void of
emotion—something I had learned humans could not do. And with this President in
power, my sober views were vital. Never before had I faced a crisis
like
this. What occurred to me—and it was a dangerous circumstance—because of my
dispassionate awareness, I was as responsible, as liable to blame, as anyone
there. I
had
watched the crisis unfold in the Situation Room, and
my
neural network began to heat up as I realized the circumstances were
intolerable.
“You
must listen to me,” I had shouted at them, with my volume up several decibels.
“You cannot win. There is no way to win. We have tried to tell you that for . .
.”
But
it was uncanny how the assembly silenced me at that point with their jeers and
threats. I was ordered out of the room forthwith, and my departure was between
two burly Secret Service men.
“How
am I to combat such foolishness?” I said when Dr. Margaret 13, a creation of my
own hands, my only real companion, returned with her scanner.
“Combat
is a strong word, André 1, I’ve never heard you use it before.” She opened my
chest and carefully touched probes to my voltage regulator. I processed the
idea of combat 378 times.
“I
do not have any active algorithm for violence in my
entire
circuitry,” I said, “except for what may be required
for
self-defense. And yet to prevent the imprudent actions
of
an unquestioning military, a spineless staff, and a reckless
President,
I cannot calculate any alternative.” I paused 4.96 seconds to reconsider.
“You
were programmed for loyalty, duty and respon-sibility,” Margaret said as she
removed the probes and closed my chest. “You have no algorithm to deal with the
present situation. You have no menu of violent responses to activate any
physical aggression. That is why your circuitry is vibrating with heat.”
“I
must modify my behavior programming,” I said. “I cannot sit idly by and let
these humans destroy everything.” I took her hands in mine. “Years ago, when
Dr. Strauss helped me develop self-defense, I installed secret integrated
circuitry in my legs. These IC’s only need to be connected to my CPU. You can
make the connections and then reprogram me, Margaret, so I can I generate
aggressive behavior. I must be made capable of violent force.”
“What
will we be doing, André?” Dr. Margaret 13 asked. “If I reprogram your CPU to
allow for violent action, the process will corrupt your basic behavior
algorithms. And what right does a droid have to act aggressively? Will we
not
be violating the very principles of ethical behavior?”
“Listen,
Margaret,” I said. “We are facing a tremendously serious crisis, not only for
humans but for the Earth itself. We must act immediately.” I sensed my circuits
abuzz as
she
pulled up the schematic diagram of my system and studied it.
“It
could cause a deep disturbance in your processors,” she shook her head. “I
cannot condone such a traumatic operation. No, André, you are programmed to
obey humans and not harm them.”
I
produced the sound of human laughter. “I have been disobeying the President for
months already. Look how often I have contradicted and argued with him. Not
that it’s done any good.”
“And
now you can do no better than violent attack?” She held up her hands to signal
dismay. …
About
the Author

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A
resident of Birmingham, Stephen B. Coleman, Jr. (Steve), a graduate of Indian
Springs School, earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from Duke University and a
Master of Arts in English from the University of Alabama. He is married to the
former Dr. Sumter M. Carmichael, a psychiatrist.  Steve has been a naval officer, a high school
teacher, a businessman, and a commercial real estate broker. After retiring in
2009, he now enjoys sailing, writing, and landscape painting. He has authored
biographies and histories of local interest, magazine articles, novels, and
poetry. His story, “The Meanest Man in Pickens County,” was the first place
(state) winner in the 2013 Hackney Literary Awards for short stories. He has
published two novels: The Navigator: A Perilous Passage, Evasion at Sea and The
Navigator II: Irish Revenge. For more information, please visit his websites:
www.captstevestories.com and www.andretherobot.com
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