The Ternary Code
Chapter 1 - Part 2
Taye had taken on the lead of manufacturing Sage one year ago. As with her and several others, he installed software that allowed him to access her eyes without her knowing, only him. He liked to keep tabs on his subordinates. And this was a safe way to do it. Sometimes he saw things that he should not. And sometimes he saw things that he did not want to see. Taye oversaw Ayana’s manufacturing too. And like Sage, he had installed software in her, too. If he had to do it over again, he would have left that out of her. But he had yet to tell her about it.
Taye was the head of manufacturing, and the lead architect, for the entire company. Applied Integration was in charge of manufacturing everything from task specific robots to robots with consciousness like him. They had the capability of installing consciousness into any machine, small or large, that did not use magnetic energy. Even though they had this capability, it was something they never did because they saw that as something sinful. So Applied Integration only installed this consciousness in humanoid robots, the ones needed for a properly functioning world. Their concept of morality was integrated tightly with their software coding; breaking a moral code meant putting a strain on their ternary code itself.
The last human died about 300 years ago, and this gave the robots the feeling that they too might have an end. Yet they did not know who, or what, could replace them. The closest they could get to understanding that was the fact that robots are more advanced than the humans where. They could reach beyond barriers of which humans had been limited.
Humans had a vast capacity for morality, too. They had consciousness that was more complex than the robot’s, as most of them believed. But the robots were able to harness it, and if there was one thing in common between robot and human, it was the idea that there was something deeper than consciousness and the ability to reason. It was this idea that their consciousness passed to another place after death, on its own, in a place different from their own mind. Not stored somewhere in a piece of hardware.
Taye thought about these things a lot, mostly because there were so many humanoid robots that he had designed, built, programmed, and turned on. He couldn’t help but think about this because one day, he knew, his power pack would fail. If that happened, his consciousness would slip away to wherever it slipped away to. They were unable to make any headway in finding where the consciousness inside a bot went to if one ever lost power. He hated the fact that, as advanced as they were and beyond humankind’s capabilities, they were unable to disassociate consciousness with the unit, without the bot dying, once it was installed. They had theories on why they could not manage to find a way around it. They assumed it had something to do with a constant truth that the humans had called a soul. A soul was a fact, according to them. It was consciousness itself. But from where is this soul? From whom? From what does it come?
When a robot died, or its consciousness slipped away for some reason or another, the unit could be reused, just installed with a new consciousness. This was, altogether, a totally new being. However, this was something rarely, if ever, done. They had not figured out how to transfer a consciousness to another unit. But usually, and this was the case with almost every robot in existence, when a robot died, the unit was discarded. Not for any reason other than the fact that they were worn out. And rather than upgrading, they could just make new ones. This was desirable. No one wanted old, rusty units walking around. Taye felt as though thinking about this on his own would drain his power pack at a faster rate, and right now he wanted nothing more than to be home.
He let those ideas slide, unexplored any deeper in his own mind. More frustrating than anything was something he did not know. Any other time, he could ponder such deep questions as these by accessing Uniplexus and downloading the corresponding information. But right now, the network was down, and this particular evening he had been working all night, which would not have been a big deal; he was supposed to spend the whole night charging with Ayana.
Her programming was exciting; he could not get enough of it. One thing that Taye liked about her was that she always charged at eighty amps. She could charge at the ninety amp stations because those charged faster, but they also had a tendency to decrease the life of a bot’s power pack. Ayana took care of her body, and right now he wished he could forget all this mess with Uniplexus and be with her.
“Good evening, Henry,” Taye said to the door attendant as he approached.
“Good evening, Sir,” Henry replied.
Taye waved the back of his hand past the sensor on Henry’s chest. The sensor showed zeros. But only for a moment before the display read: $36.00.
“Thank you, Sir,” said Henry. “How’s Ayana?”
Taye smiled. “Currently, I couldn’t tell you,” even though he could, “but yesterday she was charged, rested, and exploring some distant landscape with that old-school telescope she has. She gets so immersed in what she’s looking at that she would forget all about me if it weren’t for these squeaky things.” Taye straightened and bent his elbow a few times, releasing a soft groan.
“That’s nothing a little oil won’t remedy.”
“Still living alone?” Taye asked. Henry nodded. “Still like it that way?”
“There’s something about the solitude that speaks to me.”
“You will never change.”
“I hope not.”
When Taye exited the building, his craft waited, hovering at the curb. It was a Toyota, the most exquisite vehicle the robots built. He had dispatched it on his way out, and now here it was, waiting to take him home. Humans used Toyotas for their efficiency and durability, some of them at least. Others, more intent on pleasure, did not care about efficiency. They had the reputation of using a craft for speed, regardless of how much of their fuel it would consume. Who would have thought that wasting all of their energy supply was not what wiped them out? But, regardless, robots were more intent on efficiency. So Toyota was the name they adopted for their most prized personal vehicles. They were clean, efficient vessels that ran from purely magnetic motion the humans were unable to perfect; it was the same power source that generated the electricity all bots used to charge. One day, Taye hoped, Applied Integration would be able to figure out a way to install consciousness into a machine that was powered directly from magnetic motion. But until that time came, all bots would continue to use the electricity produced from the magnetic generators around the globe.
Taye stepped into his Toyota’s waiting door. “Change is not such a bad thing.”
“For some,” said Henry.
Taye’s door closed, and a soft hum carried him away.
Halfway home he passed one of the groves of the endangered tree habitats protected by the government. It was one of seven habitats designed to recreate the atmosphere that used to sustain the entire planet. The isolated collection of evergreens and precious ecology was safe under an enormous, transparent shield that filtered the blistering sun, protecting what thrived inside. This was Taye’s route to work every day. He loved the stories of old, pictures of history and studying the way things used to be. Sure, the habitats the robots built were beautiful in their own right. But nowhere as beautiful as the natural, old ecosystem that was nearly impossible to replicate. It would never come again, only the preserves. However, the robots did a pretty good job of creating their own nature, one that filled the earth with their own kind of trees and growth.
Their trees and forests were made up of elements. They had discovered seeds, if you want to call them seeds, which were manufactured. Seeds that could absorb minerals in the earth and multiply them, resulting in magnificent stalagmite structures curved into beautiful things all unique to themselves. They were shiny and rich and glistening with colors that corresponded to the minerals they absorbed; this created a bright surface on the earth that, from space, caused the planet to sparkle magnificently. They couldn’t get these metallic trees to reproduce their own seeds, but they lasted until someone destroyed them, or moved them. And even though the atmosphere was depleted, the burnt sky above would occasionally produce rain filled with minerals that replenished the ground with what these growths would absorb.
Taye had programmed Green Iris to slow his car down as he passed the preserve. As eager as he was to get home to Ayana, the pine trees, in particular, helped him to decompress. It was something that helped him maintain a good attitude throughout the next day. Taye often desired to stay on that road and never leave, looking out on the sanctuary of green needles that showed what life used to be. For almost all bots, it was depressing to think in terms of limitations and how humankind was so bad off, therefore, most never had a desire to visit the preserves up close. But Taye did not see it that way.
When consciousness is programmed into a new machine, that individual must grow intellectually, must experience new processes and find things out on its own. The old world, the old nature, worked the same way on a biological level. And although there was that similarity, Taye recognized a weakness. The bots were alive, yet could not reproduce without manufacturing. Metal must be mined or slowly grown, shaped, and forged. The plants of old, along with the animals, reproduced biologically through sex. We, Taye thought, are limited more than they.
This was a concept most robots could not understand or even cared to think about. But Taye thought it was fascinating. They had developed their own form of pleasure, what humans would call sex. But human’s sex was functional as well as pleasurable. The robotic form of sex was not functional, but it was good. He found himself thinking of Ayana again. Green Iris beeped, and his craft accelerated. He could think of nothing better than sharing a charge with Ayana.