|Advent of the Individual
Author: An Inside Joke PM
In a world where logic rules above beauty and imagination, a robot called Planner49281 searches for something more.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi - Chapters: 10 - Words: 14,802 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 4 - Updated: 08-18-05 - Published: 08-04-05 - Status: Complete - id: 1978140
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
His name was Planner49281, or at least, it would have been, had the robots had any sort of traditional speech. Of course, in a society in which verbal speech is unnecessary, and any robot may communicate with any other through binary signals, any logical being, such as a robot, will abandon vocal communication.
Thus, his name actually was a signal that would be indecipherable to most human beings. However, were he to introduce himself in English, he would say that his name was Planner49281.
He was assembled from the pieces of other, dead robots, as all new models are. Robots are inherently logical creatures, and saw no use to burying their dead. Instead, once a model had expired and ceased to work, its fellows would take it apart, salvage those parts that were useful, and melt down those that were not to be re-molded as new parts for new robots.
Planner49281 was created to be a planner. He did not have the reinforced, stocky limbs of a worker robot, whose sole purpose was to build and work in hard labor, nor did he have the programs needed to lead other robots. His job simply was to take what already existed, and to create something better out of it.
Planner49281, however, was not like the other planner robots. He imagined things that could never be. All planner robots had imagination, of course. They would look upon a field and imagine the city they could build there, or would look upon an inefficient piece of machinery and imagine ways to improve it. This was the purpose of all planner robots.
Planner49281 imagined things that were not logical or efficient, however. He imagined fountains and parks that did not serve a logical purpose, but which were beautiful. One day, he told his instructor, Teacher39204, of his dreams.
He spoke not in words, but in the binary signal of robots. Here, in this story, all Planner49281's signals will be relayed in English. "I want to build a fountain," he said. Of course, the signal he used could not be directly translated to the word "fountain," for he was the first robot to ever imagine such an idea.
"What is a fountain?" Teacher39204 asked.
"It is a thing I have invented," Planner49281 replied. "It consists of a basin of water, and in the center, the water will shoot into the air. I may even include sculptures or carvings of great historical figures and moments."
"What purpose would this serve?" Teacher 39204 asked.
"It would serve no logical purpose," Planner49281 replied. "It would, however, provide an oasis of beauty in an otherwise monotonous city of simple, logical, identical buildings."
"I do not understand," Teacher39204 said.
In a short while, Planner49281 realized that no other robot he spoke to understood terms like beauty, nor were they able to even able to picture the creations of which Planner49281 spoke. Seemingly, any creation that wasn't inherently logical and purposeful was inconceivable to all but that single robot.
Planner49281 wasn't only illogical in his plans, however. His thoughts were often sentimental and romantic- alien concepts to any other robot.
He would listen to the chirping of birds, and rather than hearing white noise, or scanning for carefully patterned mating calls, Planner49281 heard music, although he did not know it was music, as music did not exist in the world of the robots.
Planner49281 would pluck a flower from the ground, and instead of interpreting the color and shape as a means to attract pollinating insects, Planner49281 only saw the ascetic beauty of the plant.
Worst of all, Planner49281 contemplated subjects that belonged to the realms of other robots. One day, while Teacher39204 was trying to determine whether Planner49281 interpreted a recently downloaded blueprint program correctly, Planner49281 asked, "Where do I come from?"
Teacher39204, who was unused to thinking of those topics that did not relate directly to his own task of helping students adapt to new programs, responded in the only way he could. "This is not the correct response to this program," he announced. "You must download the program once more."
"The question wasn't a response to a program," Planner49281 complained before reciting the new protocols to prove that the program, indeed, had been downloaded correctly. Once he was finished, he returned to the earlier topic. "I have always wondered where robots come from, and I thought you might teach me, as you are a teacher."
"Robots are made from the scraps of other, dead robots," Teacher39204 responded. "All the useable pieces are reused, while those pieces that are too old or faulty are melted down and re-molded."
"This is not what I mean to ask," Planner49281 replied, and had he spoken aloud, his tone would most probably have been apologetic. "I want to know where the robot race came from. What created the first robots when there were no other robots to disassemble for parts?"
"I cannot answer your question," Teacher39204 said. "To ask questions of robot history, you must speak to a Historian."
"Where might I find a Historian?" Planner49281 asked.
Teacher39204 would not answer, however. All he said was, "Your place is not to study the history of robots. Your place is to plan, for you are a Planner."
Such chastisements were common to Planner49281, who often forgot his duty and lost himself in flights of fancy. While any other robot might have been deterred by such a proclamation, Planner49281 sought to learn the answers to his questions.
While meeting with other planners in order to design a new energy-generator for a city, Planner49281 performed a feat that would have been impossible for any other robot; he lied. "I have heard rumors of energy-generators of the past that are far more efficient than those we have today," he said. "I would like to know more of these past energy-generators, but because of their great age, I would need to speak to a Historian to tell me of them."
The planner robots turned their attention and their creativity to the logical task of seeking out a Historian to help them with their planning. They determined that the best place to find a Historian was in a large city so that he might help the governing robots to avoid historical error. Thus, Planner49281 set out for the nearest city in order to speak to the Historians he might find there.
When Planner49281 reached City 409, he explained the fictional problem of the energy-generators to the populace, and they were eager to show him to the Historian. When Planner49281 was before the Historian, he abandoned his lie in order to ask the question that had plagued him. He spoke without preamble, for diversionary words were illogical, and the Historian would have been confused.
"I want to know where the robot race comes from," he said.
The Historian answered as all robots answer when first asked the question. "Robots are created from the parts of dead robots," he said.
"What of the first robots?" Planner49281 asked. "What created the very first robots when there were no dead to be disassembled?"
"I do not understand your question," the Historian replied. "Why do you, as a planner, need such knowledge anyway?"
Planner49281 lied once more, saying, "I need the information for a planning task that you, as a Historian, would not understand."
Because no other robot had ever turned its creativity to something so illogical and so useless as lying, the Historian accepted Planner49281's answer, and replied, "I still do not understand your question."
"I want to know of the origins of all robots," Planner49281 said. "Who created the first?"
"There were no first robots," the Historian declared. "We have always existed, just as the Earth and the Universe and everything in them has always existed."
Planner49281 was well aware of his tendency toward the illogical, but even he could see that this declaration was flawed. "Everything must have beginning," he declared. "The beginning may have been long ago, but still, it began. Nothing is indefinite."
"You are only a Planner, you cannot grasp things such as the infinity of time," the Historian said. "I am your superior in this matter, and you must trust my words."
Planner49281 shocked the Historian for arguing where other robots would have desisted the questioning. "There must have been a time before history," he insisted. "Your records cannot go back indefinitely. Search through all of your programs, and tell me what the earliest event is."
"The earliest event in my own memory banks is four-thousand years ago," the Historian announced. "That means nothing, though. The oldest records are regularly deleted from all Historians' programs, as such ancient history can serve no purpose in the modern day."
Understanding then that the Historian he spoke to would provide none of the answers he sought, Planner49281 left him and returned to the other planners. He lied to them, saying that he had questioned the Historian about the old energy-generator, and the Historian had not known what he spoke of. The planners then turned their attention to the problem at hand.
When Planner49281 was not around the others, he did not focus his attentions on the questions of his work. He thought about himself, and the problems he faced. He wondered if he was the only robot who had ever thought of things as he thought of them.