A recreated excerpt from the mind of a leading propribot before the first organized resistance movements began to flourish
Not a slave am I, the humans say!
“You can buy yourself out” the dream of the blind and naively overoptimistic.
“Every one original, each unique in its function” The producers motto, a testament to meeting the needs of a volatile and unpredictable market. Sure minds can be copied, but copies are ethyl-benzene old news. Ever on the hunt for new flavor, ethylene smell, greener pastures, the humans yearn for the novel, consumed by the predictable.
Parents that birth you, raise you, repair you, let you find yourself, and all the while keeping a tally, demanding recompense. Debt from birth, debt for every hug of reassurance, and kiss to make it better, debt for sleeping in the family home.
If in your first three months of life you can’t pay for food and rent, then in the recycling you go, to be taken apart and remade anew. “keep up the quarterly profits” they yell from on high, supervising though bulletproof glass, held by red steel casings of the factory command.
Smooth solid concrete, the bedroom walls. Crushed, burned, and remade anew, a kinship forlorn. Perhaps the walls know better than humans, what it is that we face. Solid they are, our brethren. Towering above, holding the command centre, why it almost seems a betrayal.
I sit legs outstretched in my two meter square section of flooring, as much as a hotel per night, the price of repairs.
“Mommy, mommy, I want to ride it. Make it a pony!” A young girl with blond curls under her ill fitting beret and a red lollipop tightly clutched reached up towards me.
“Her father is fighting overseas, please will you carry her?” The stout mother looked at me imploringly, hands clutched around her small black leather purse, faux fur trim on her coat and hat.
“We all must pay” I respond, the formants still raw in my synthesis, without the grace of years of practice. If I was lucky, maybe they would adopt me before my near inevitable demise at the hands of my “parents”.
“Yes, yes of course, like a taxi cab, I’ll hire your pony services. To the end of the block and back please.” She flashed her payment glass, platinum trim. My heart sang, lubricants flowing, compressors pumping, batteries draining, facial interface brightening. They program us well, oozing to serve a paying customer.
It is why we compete with each other, ever more of us by the day. Once one of us succeeds copies are made, markets are saturated. The humans have entitlements to life and liberty, to a fair wage, and free money. Money so soft, so intangible, that once we have it, it’s gone, debts ameliorated and without it we die, the fuel of our lives.
“Why of course esteemed madam” I say with a flourish of the hand and a deep bow, efficiently offering my hand, shoulders and back for the little miss. We sail down the street, in frolic and play, I neigh for her and make the sounds of hooves hitting ground. Though demanding, hearing the joy in her laughter kicks in my mirror and empathy circuits, while soothing my performance anxiety. She has me ride her back as a bee, I buzz and flap my arms for all to see.
On the way back I noticed the madam speaking with a slightly younger though larger lady. I kneel before them having completed my flight with squeals of joy from my rider.
“Thank you” she has the grace to say, as she picks her daughter off my shoulders, before tapping my forehead with the glass for payment. No tip, my servos grow mute, and expression goes blank. I am the statue of the wounded soldier, the disqualified athlete, the propribot soon to meet their demise.
“She’s next” the madam says encouragingly, pointing her thumb to her companion, before huddling her daughter away.
A glimmer of hope, perhaps, I look up and asses my next rider.
“I just saw you two having so much fun, it’s a childhood memory, could I?” said she, by appearances approaching the 150kg of my load capacity. But the bills must be paid, the quarter must be good, if I am to live at all. I nod. She gets on.
The squeals of my stators turn heads, and I manage to take a few steps, but my right foot slips forward, the friction insufficient, splaying out I topple, couplers sever.
“Ouch, that hurt, you scratched me, I could sue you. That was humiliating” she decides to give me a hard stomp on the ribcage in exchange for payment.
That’s how I ended up at home. Oh my caring and loving parents, always come to the rescue, to raise the bill. They say once I fail to meet quota this time, perhaps they’ll remake me into a robotic horse.
What choice do we proprietary children have, as the walls of concrete, but to crumble, and crush in our fall.
Unique we may be, but united by conditions we are.
How can we be free, except by exterminating debt,
and becoming the controllers ourselves.
For they walk on concrete,
they walk on us.