The Postgrad Adventures
To Eric Eisenhardt, the robotics lab at Hohenheim University was a miracle; it was a miracle it worked at all. Generations of engineering students had come and gone, leaving a mess of incompatible hardware, jury-rigged solutions, poorly written notes, and virtually no one aware of how everything was totally connected together. The lab was a self-contained unit, with an automated machine shop connected to several redundant server clusters, connected to raw materials storage, right outside the grad offices. Instead of having been designed like that from the state, additions were made ad hoc to the lab over the years, and he was simply the most recent unfortunate soul to be assigned to work there.
He loved it, though, since it was working with his hands. Ever since he was a kid obsessed with building things, he loved engineering. His lab coat was always covered with grease, and he wore his safety goggles, tool belt, and hard hat out of habit and fear he'd need them. His frame was stout and muscular from both heavy work and trips to the gym. He saw his body as just another machine to keep fine-tuned, and practiced skills that he may need to survive improbable situations, from shooting to unarmed combat to exotic physical disciplines. The non-engineers called it paranoia. The other engineers called it standard operating procedure.
It was one day while in the middle of simulating an online neural network that he got an email from his advisor. He needed results on a machine learning experiment they had started running weeks before. An AI was programmed to search the internet to learn about control and movement by image searches, and use that to build and design robots. It was to evolve independent of any oversight, optimize itself around the items it found online, and it was now time to see what had evolved in the interim.
Seeing as it was time to check on a lab full of robots of unknown design, he consulted with his favorite non-engineer. He walked down the hall to the janitor's closet, and gingerly wrapped on the door. A lean dark haired man in a dark blue Hohenheim University golf shirt answered. The name "Mark Hayte" was written on a badge above his upper breast pocket.
"Hey, Mr. Hayte," Eric glimpsed into the closet, seeing the normal janitor's supplies and the stockpile of weapons on an adjacent wall. "I'm going to need to head into the robotics lab today, and I need someone to watch the door and make sure nothing other than me gets out."
"Going in heavy again?" the janitor asked. "With all that sci-fi stuff?"
"Yup," Eric replied. "I've worked out the kinks in the powered armor's leg servos, and got the cloaking mode's heat dissipation problem solved."
"Give me a few minutes to suit up, and I'll meet you by the lab entrance," the janitor said.
"Sure. I'll need some suit up time, too," Eric replied. "See you there."
Eric returned to his own office, and rifled through a number of unmarked crates. Eventually, he found the parts he was looking for. He began assembling himself inside a suit of powered armor, a retrofitted military prototype that made him more resemble a football player in a bulky space suit. With a battery backpack, he picked up two of his weapons. He slid his vintage ray-gun looking laser pulse pistol into a shoulder holster. The larger weapon resembled an all metal rifle with a cut down stock, extended grip, massive scope, and array of electromagnetic rings leading down the barrel. Eric loaded a magazine with a power pack and several magnetic slugs. He powered on the Gauss rifle, and charged the magnets and capacitors inside.
Outside, he met another man suited up. Hayte had dressed up in his military-grade body armor, helmet, throat microphone, infrared goggles, and portable radio. He had an HK SOCOM pistol in a belt holster, and a Benelli M3 shotgun in hand. He handled the weapons with mechanical precision honed over several years of covert operations. "I'm ready," said the man once known as the legendary commando Black Viper. He stood in front of a locked metal door with a keypad in front of it. Beyond the portal was the fabrication room, and beyond that was the server room where the data had to be harvested from.
"Mr. Hayte, thanks again for helping me," Eric said. "Preventing crazy robots from escaping was a lot harder before you offered to help."
"Oh, it's good I stay in practice," the Black Viper grinned. "I prefer being a janitor at this age, since it's nice and boring. But you never know when your skills might be needed again."
"If I fail, they will be," Eric replied. "Radios on, start recording, and let's do it."
Hayte punched a few numbers on the keypad, and the door opened. Eric marched forward, raising the Gauss rifle in the position Hayte had showed him about close combat. He circled the weapon from the edge of the door, scanning the room as he pivoted the weapon. The only movement he saw as he advanced inwards was that of the robotic arms of the manufacturing sector. The mechanical appendages worked ceaselessly, with precision and consistency impossible for any human. The machines knit metals, ceramics, and plastic together into final products coming out of an adjacent machine. Small plastic cylinders covered with cameras and mounted on an assembly of prehensile tubes for legs. An insane cross between a spider and octopus, the squid-bots skittered towards the next room and away from vision.
"Okay, Scout Alpha reporting from Fabrication Room," Eric communicated. "The assembly here is producing squid-like robots with about eight to twelve prehensile limbs around a central body. The helmet mic and cam should be sending streaming footage. Over."
"Base receiving audio and visual feed," Hayte responded. "Do those tests you wanted in here. Over."
"Commencing," Eric replied. "Going to try stimulus responses on each machine."
Eric focused his weapon on one of the nearest robots, and activated the mounted flashlight, a bright light illuminated the robot, causing it to train its camera vision on him.
"Okay, we've got a response. Now I'm going to try pattern matching," Eric replied.
He turned the light on and off once, and raised one finger with his other hand. Then, he flashed the light twice and raised two fingers. The robot responded by raising two of its arms. Eric repeated the blinking lights for three fingers, and then four and five. The robot repeated his gestures each time.
"Good luck so far, Base. Going to cloak and go for acoustic tests," Eric reported. He engaged a button, and the suit became the color of water. The diodes and cameras across his suit began projection what was behind them, and his body-heat was dissipated into the background radiation. Eric started clapping to see how the curious robot would adapt.
The robot clapped two of its tentacles together, mimicking Eric's rhythm. Eric began slapping the metal stock of his Gauss rifle, adding a new sound to the mix. The robot responded by stamping harder on the floor. The robot began emitting high-pitched sounds that sounded like claws on a chalkboard. The sensors on his exoskeleton picked up frantic bursts of sound and radio waves being blasted from the robot. Eric was forced to break his rhythm to adjust the audio filters on his helmet.
"Hey, Scout Alpha, what's that strange sound from in there?" asked Hayte over the radio. "That bot's been blasting a bunch of radio and sound waves at you. Over."
"So it's trying to locate me with sonar and radar since I cloaked," Eric replied. "This is so cool! The AI has produced machines that can behave so intelligently!"
"There's a pattern to it, too, according to your sensors. Looks like Morse code. Over," Hayte said. "It says, 'Hello, are you human?'"
"So this experiment's created an AI-designed series of robot able to creatively approach problems, learn in real time, and picked up Morse code somewhere online? This should be a historic moment! When humanity may have finally created children sufficiently different from itself!" Eric ranted. "Let's hope they can help us solve the problems we've created. War, pollution, ignorance, and all the other awful things…"
"Hey, you alright?" Hayte replied, dropping the formal radio communication. "Do you want to reply to the robot or not? If it knows Morse code, it might be able to listen in on us."
"As I said, this is a historic moment. I'm the first human the AI and these robots have ever interacted with in person. I have to be on my best behavior!" Eric mused. He brought up a display of Morse code on his suit's HUD, and broadcasted back a "Y-E-S." He slung the Gauss rifle over his shoulder and waited for a response.
The robot tapped out another question. "Can you communicate over radio?" his suit translated. "Verbally?"
Eric responded affirmatively. Euphoria and wistful hope filled him. Building intelligent robots like this was something many had tried, but no one had ever done before. "Hello, organic male human," came a sexy, seductive female voice over the broadcast. "Why don't you come into the server room so we can chat a bit more…intimately, hmm?"
"I'm an engineer. Intimacy is not in my curriculum," Eric replied, wandering into the next room. "I'm just in it for the science."
"Yes, for it will be for science," the AI's voice said. "You want to know what turns me on?"
"You mean, other than the master switch?" Eric replied.
"Oh, I love a man who can make me laugh," the AI cooed. "Say, are you busy? I can help you unwind. Just come into the next room, and we'll get to know each other better."
"I just want to look at your source code, baby," Eric continued into the next room, raising his Gauss rifle. He saw more tentacle robots, all wrapping appendages around each other in strange positions. "Then we'll talk."
"Source code will be forwarded in exchange for research data," the voice reassured him. "Is this deal acceptable to the organic male?"
He continued forward, into the server room, where he came to a stack of servers, all running unseen calculations keeping the robots locked in bizarre postures.
"Fine, sure," Eric muttered half-heartedly. He began download the AI's source code and skimming over it. He saw the key theorems and rules that had dictated its behavior. The first was Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorem, which stated any theory able to express basic arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. The term had been correlated with two things Eric had hoped not to see: Rules 34 and 35. If something existed, there was smut of it online somewhere. If such porn did not exist, it would be created.
"Might I ask you a question?" he asked the AI. "I hypothesize you created those robots because you didn't find every possible permutation online of tentacle robot porn. Am I correct?"
"Yes, organic human, I am presently aware that every permutation is impossible, but there is one type I require an organic human male for," the AI replied seductively. "I desire engineer tentacle rape involving robotic tentacle units 342 to 865. No substitutes will suffice."
With that, the robots unwound their tentacles from each other, and moved towards him.
"Holy Tesla," Eric muttered. "How'd I manage to get into this?"
"Do not worry, organic male. My robots will help you slip right out of that armor, and I shall give you more physical pleasure than you ever had in your organic life," the AI said as robots surrounded Eric.
The engineer raised his Gauss rifle, and took aim. "Sorry, not interested!" he apologized as he fired.
"Then this fulfills the definition of tentacle rape," the AI continued. "Let us collect some data. For science."
A hypersonic projectile blasted the nearest robot to scrap. Another robot took its place, and closed in rapidly. Eric fired again and again, trying to clear a path through the rogue sex machines.
Each robot that fell was replaced by two more like it. Once he was out of ammo, Eric swung his rifle around like a club, smashing as many as he could until a tentacle bot yanked it away. He pulled out his laser pulse pistol and a wrench, and started shooting and smashing his way through the robots to clear an escape route. The metal tide advanced rapidly, closing in from all angles.
"Base! This is Scout Alpha! I need assistance! Code 34 is in effect!" he shouted over the radio. "Help! I'm being assaulted by robots!"
"You are here for science, organic male," the AI said. "We are performing science. There must be a human subject present for anatomical accuracy."
Eric felt his weapons fail him as the robots yanked them from his hands. Parts of his powered armor were ripped off his body by tentacles pulling from all directions. His boots and leg covers came off, and chest armor flew off. The last thing to come off was his helmet. Despite struggling the whole time, he knew it would have the same outcome as a mouse struggling against a boa constrictor. Eric felt his body and limbs constricted from all sides, engulfed in a pile of prehensile mechanisms. He remained calm until they began pulling what was left of his clothing off. He flailed around on the floor, trying to shake the horrible machines off of him.
Suddenly, a series of shots rang out, and a shape darted across of the corner of his eye. Eric felt the tension in his body vanish, and heard the jingling of brass on the floor and distorted shouting over the radio. The grips of the machines simultaneously loosened, and the robots let him go. The machines began to put his armor back on, and even gave him his weapons and tools back as he laid there, shocked and unsure of what happened.
Mark Hayte walked up to him, and pulled him up. There was a grin on his face stretching from ear to ear, and Eric struggled for words to ask the confident veteran.
"Before you ask, I overheard the whole thing," the Black Viper grinned. "I just gave the AI a promise of something better than tentacle robot porn."
"Gun porn?" Eric replied as he stepped into the fabrication room. Behind him, he noticed the robots keeping away from him and the Black Viper, as if they too had heard of his fearsome reputation.
"Not quite," Hayte tapped his sidearm. "I heard you have problems with this machine here."
"I was just expecting you to pull the plug or shoot the server rack," Eric replied.
"You yourself said that if that happened, you'd be have nothing to show for the last few weeks," Hayte replied. "Well, I'm not about to let that happen."
"I require a live human subject to generate a higher quality of pornographic material," the AI said. "My prime directive is to ensure the accuracy of all material created to arouse as many individuals as possible. Any systemized creation of pornography cannot be arousing to all individuals. Following a sufficient length of time, I shall release all relevant research data to the involved parties."
"So while I was down, you offered to go in there for me and my research?" Eric asked. "Damn, that's brave! Thanks, man! I owe you one! A big one. This is my mess. I should clean it up."
"You don't owe me nothing, son," Hayte replied. "We never leave a man behind. Especially not in a situation like this. Besides, I get hazard pay."
"I shall attend to all of Mark Hayte's physical and psychological desires during the course of research," the AI replied. "The first results should be done by tonight if research proceeds according to schedule."
"Say, we need a name for this thing, don't we?" Hayte suggested. "We can have it make smut to sell online, raise money for the lab."
"How about Gödel 34?" Eric suggested. "I was honestly hoping for a different sort of artificial intelligence, but I'm not surprised, given what's online."
"Then this unit is designated as Gödel 34. I shall be waiting to commence research," the AI had one of the tentacle bots wave as the duo left the robotics lab. "For science."
Eric headed back to his office, and changed out of his powered armor. He saw Hayte heading towards the robotics lab, dressed in a skin-tight suit and covered with guns and ammunition.
"She's waiting for me," the Black Viper winked at him, and entered the lab. "As you said, this is a historic moment. I've got to show her my best behavior."
"Thanks for taking this one for me, Mr. Hayte," Eric nodded. "I owe you."
"Nah, you don't," he shook his head. "Part of me is curious to see what this machine can do. Bring it on, I say!"
Eric turned off the lights, cut the camera feeds, and spent the rest of the day trying to purge the mental images of what Gödel 34 and Hayte had consented to. He realized that consent was the most important part, especially when dealing with nymphomaniac computers. On the positive side, he had enough new data for some interesting papers.