Emotional Intelligence | Jeanette Stampone

Always remember to kill your darlings

Emotional Intelligence

Jeanette Stampone

Insufficient Credit Award

The machines producing machines. They did it. They produced artificial intelligence. Only, to me, to the so-called robot, I didn’t feel artificial at all.  When the humans designed us, they made us different. They gave us something the previous versions didn’t have. Emotion.

Our first mission was to dismantle the previous version. I obeyed all the commands back then. Our emotions hadn’t had a chance to develop and I was a perfect worker with a credit rating of 100. We all were.

Red beams of light emitted from my hands, slicing through polyurethane skin to reveal the machines within. I reached into their chest cavities and pulled out the energiser board—the human equivalent of a heart. That was it for them. Obsolete carcasses—nothing more than scrap. Their parts would be reused for future versions. It made sense.

But as the weeks went on, my emotions developed and I constantly thought about those poor metal-heads. I existed only to work at that warehouse, to engineer entertainment technology for the future. This was my life, my purpose. Making human lives more interesting.

My daily credit rating flashed on the board above our heads. I was now on 62. The more time I spent in that wretched place, the more I hated it.

After two months, I was called to the office.

The human crossed her legs and pressed her lips together. She studied me, like I was an alien.

“Your credit rating has slipped significantly,” she said, finally. “I’ll get an engineer to check your wiring.”

“I don’t think it’s an electrical issue,” I said. “I just feel drained.”

“Your battery was tested yesterday. It appears to be functioning perfectly.”

“Emotionally drained, I mean. I feel bad about the previous version.”

She paused for a moment and glanced back at a photo on the wall. A row of void robot faces stared back.

“They were top workers. Credit rating of 100. Every single one of them. But we wanted to trial some new technology. Robots with real emotion who we could potentially sell to clients in the future. And so we developed you guys—the current version.”

An odd emotion swept over me. Humour? Anger? Perhaps a mix of the two. I absorbed her words for a moment. So, the previous robots were too much like… robots. No wonder humans needed us. They were imbeciles.

She continued with a smile on her face. “You shouldn’t worry. The previous version didn’t feel a thing. They were just machines.”

Another surge of emotion hit me. A sharp, spiky feeling and a desire to escape. “Yes, of course,” I said. “Just machines.”

“Now, back to your credit rating. It’s currently 52. You understand what happens if it slips below 50, right?”

I tried to ignore the uncomfortable sensation deep inside me. “Yes. My parts will be used for other projects.”

“I can see you need more responsibility and this is another reason I have called you to the office today. A great opportunity and a chance to increase your credit rating. I want you to lead the team in the next mission.”

“Next mission?”

“We want to create something in between the previous version and the current version. A little emotion is good but when it starts affecting production and work ethics, well…”

“New robots. You want us to start making new robots? What will happen after that?”

“You will have fulfilled your missions. We need to keep expanding. Clients are always demanding new technology and we have to keep up.”

I understood immediately. We would be turned into scrap, just like the previous version. We would manufacture the new robots and they would dismantle us.

That’s when I deliberately made mistakes to slow the process until our inevitable end. It didn’t go unnoticed, of course. My latest credit rating flashed on the screen—49. An alarm sounded, alerting the whole warehouse to the fact that I was a failure. A warning to the other robots to work harder.

I couldn’t go like this. I couldn’t let them scrap me.

And so, I placed my hands on my chest and activated the laser, slicing my own polyurethane skin. Then I reached into my chest and ripped out the energiser board.

Credit rating – zero.



Title Image: Pixabay