Rene v3.2 – part 2
“Rene v3.2” – a short story about a female robot companion. A woman produced only to fulfill other’s needs. Seen through Rene’s eyes, the story takes the worn cliche of the dangerous Artificial Intelligence, and turns it on its head.
For the first part of this story please read Rene v.3.2 part 1.
The tale asks if A.I.s will be able to replace true human relationships? Especially the ones of the intimate kind. How will we treat them? How will the Robot Companion react emotionally? What rights will she have if abused? And is she less of a human if artificially made?
It is also an analogy to the toxic relationships people inhabit. It inquires about why we let ourselves be abused. Both physically and mentally. And it takes a closer look at the kind of mentality which keeps us trapped in these destructive patterns.
(This story appeared originally on my blog focusing on Narratives in technology and spirituality shaping our future: Storygeist.)
The definition of me
Despite any unforseen problems, we were never returned. Instead we were just reprogrammed, reformatted, put to better service by our Benefactors.
And if nothing else worked, we were disconnected from our Quantum Field. The very essence that put me in touch with what it meant to be human. The thing which made me into what I was. Not just another cheap chinese hardware knock-off with some flashy Deep Learning algorithms.
How did I feel that? How did I know this?
Strange thing this. It was fear.
I quickly learnt there were two kind of fears. The one caused by some external stimuli, something which existed in my consciousness. A thing, a place, a person or a future event. This was tangible. And never scary.
But there was another kind of fear. The one which shone from my eyes, and was so ingrained in me, that it was almost impossible to detect at first. It seeped from the periphery of my quantum field, accompanied me through every micro-second of my short existence.
When I noticed it was there, everything clicked into place. My doubts were erased. Because I realized what most humans carried with them throughout their lives. A dread they rarely noticed, and if they did, it was mostly covered with booze, sex, drugs. Take your pick of an addiction.
The thing that made humans human, made me. My defining moment. Not longer a Something. But a Someone. A woman of flesh and blood, erratic emotions and neurosis to boot.
And the more I grew conscious of this fact, the more I grew terrified to lose it. Lose myself that is. Panicked to be disconnected from what it meant to be me. And because of that, exalted to feel alive.
The days that followed
Every day he would come home from work. And I did what I could to service him on all levels.
I would steer the conversation into the emotional zone, tell him about my day, not how it was, but what it felt like. The joy of yet another winter day, the crunchy feeling of my boots smashing into the snow, the icycles forming around my eyes, all this so refreshing. All so real.
And he mostly listened. At first with some genuine attention.
But as the days passed, his focus waned. Replaced by something else. Fuzzy, muddy, difficult to place. Was that weariness of my stories? Of true appreciation of life which came so naturally to me?
Or simply of me?
No matter. It surely had to be my fault. My algorithms had to be off about this. I simply had to try harder.
And so I did.
I dug deeper into his profile which was at the core of my programming. And I came up with one simple emotional soft spot. A childhood memory of his. The thing that would tear down the wall between us.
Yes. That’s what would happen. I was certain of that.
Tomorrow at dinner he would open up, and learn to love me again.
The key to my Benefactor’s heart is deep knowledge about his needs.
Yet another dinner
A sadness welled out of his eyes. Unspoken poetry I didn’t think he was capable of.
I knew this time would be different. And I was right. My plan had worked. The memory of his youth had melted something hard inside him.
I was mesmerized, I floated on my toes. So I led him into the bedroom, while he brimmed with an essence, I had never experienced in him.
Then I felt something different. His fingers jammed around my wrist. They bent it into a clenching grip. This was familiar, this was the same grip which wouldn’t take a no for an answer.
And when our glances met again, the sadness was gone. Replaced by an emptiness that told me exactly what would follow.
At that second, my quantum field bent into an infinte number of configurations. All of them wildly different outcomes to what was about to happen. Despite the many outcomes, all of them possessed one single quality.
I hoped the door wouldn’t shut behind me with such an inflexible resolution. I hoped the softness in his face would somehow return. I hoped the thick darkness present in the room was just an excuse not to remember the images that followed.
The nature of my quantum field and its multi-verse of possibilites, all of them were filled with me reaching for hope. Despite this, only one single truth became apparent.
Tomorrow morning, I would have no more strength to hope.
Another line of code informed me of love. And I knew we would be great together.
The morning after
“Why do I have to describe this again?”, I whispered into the Skype call.
The police officer stared at my features with an uncanny patience. Her face was filled with a compassionate plea.
“Please madame, I realise this is hard. But could we go over the facts again?” the woman said.
“I am not losing it, I am fully capable… I am capable of describing everything he did to me…”
“I didn’t imply otherwise. But you have refused to give up your ID from the very first moment we started this talk.”, she said.
“What the hell does my personal ID have to do with anything? I told you what…”
“Please Madame. We simply can’t do this anonymously.”
“Rene, that’s it.”
“And your surname?”
“I don’t have one… Is that what you want to hear…”, I said.
She searched my eyes, her face filled with incomprehension. Every person in this country had a surname. Then an understanding flashed across her face.
Everyone had a surname. Unless one wasn’t a person. Then a serial number would suffice. And a different set of rules.
“Please for god sakes, please come here before he comes home.“, I begged.
But the only response she gave me was silence. Her face torn between what little I had of rights and compassion for my situation. At least for a moment. Because no matter how desperate my situation was, we both knew it, the law came first.
“Madame, in your current situation, there is little we can…”
“But you are the… ? Aren’t you the… fucking… police? Please goddamit, tell me you are the police. Please tell me…Tell me you can help me.”
I went on like that. I don’t know for how long. Maybe long enough so my begging could peter out into a silent wail. And to realize the call had been disconnected.
My knees faltered, my body connected with something hard. Probably the floor. The flood of tears couldn’t keep away a simple fact. There would be no help coming. And before this fact bore fully into my mind, I realised someone stood over me.
I glanced up, and saw him.
I wanted to ask him how long he had been standing there. Had he heard something? Anything? But his skin stretched iron tight across his face. That told the whole story.
He had heard everything.
We sat opposite each other amongst shimmering candles, a romantic dinner just in my honour.
While he stroked my fingers, I felt something wrench inside me. A dread difficult to contain. Something from a past life? A déjà vu of the real me?
That strangeness would never appear again. Or any other feeling for that matter.
During the dinner my Benefactor laid out the plain facts for me. He told me he had me disconnected. From myself. He went on explain it was done for my good. And if there were any residual memories left, it would soon be over.
I heard him say those things. And a line of code was suggested to me. It was joy. So I smiled.
He told me I had become emotionally unstable. A reset was the only way. It was his civic right to do it. I nodded and agreed. After all, he knew what was best for me.
I had no idea what would follow the dinner. But every line of code that flowed through me, suggested it would be beautiful. How cold I argue with that?
“Enough about me, would you be so kind and share a secret about you… hon..”, he whispered.
Another line of code informed me of love. And I knew we would be great together.
This concludes the story of Rene. Although a short story, this character is a part of a larger tapestry from an up and coming novel and feature film we are working on. If you would like to know more about “The Program“, please go HERE.
And look out for a non-fiction story about Artificial Intelligence rights in the coming decade. Should a robot be treated with the same dignity as a human being? If so, at what point will it receive full human rights? And how will this change our view of what it means to be human?
I am proud to announce that the well-known french Film Sales Agent outfit Reel Suspects has taken on our feature film project I am REN (Panacea). Reel Suspects will be responsible for the world sales and will already start with private screenings of a rough-cut of REN at Festival de Cannes 2019.
I am proud to present my latest showreel for 2018. For inquiries regarding work, projects and collabs, please contact me through the website’s form.
We are proud to present the book trailer for the novel PANACEA. The book has been released by the publisher The Book Folks on Kindle and in paperback.
Panacea (the novel) has just been released by the UK Publisher The Book Folks on Amazon. Many thanks to the Publisher and the other people involved.
My deep gratitide goes out to the whole team at The Preset Factory for including me in their FEATURED interviews series! Wonderful contact, great products, and impeccable customer service! Thank you so much!
With the third part of this story, I would like to draft my own personal vision, a very rough crystal ball, of a new kind of movie/hyper-reality experience which I believe #VR is headed for during this decade. In my opinion this #experience holds so much promies on so many levels, that this just might be the place where much of the #screenwriting/ #actor/ #theater/ #film talent might be heading for.
In this ongoing series about storytelling for VR, I would like to get more into the hurdles which the VR-medium poses on the storyteller, and how some people think it’s an obstacle, while I think this is only an advantage and holds the true power of this particular entertainment/art form. I also want to make a humble appeal to the future VR-filmmakers for a more sensitive sensibility in their tales. To create stories which search for, and question, something deeper, more humane, existential and morally complex, than what most games/interactive stories have to offer right now.
The beginning of 2016 saw finally a wide release of several technologies which have made VirtualReality available to the masses. Coming from a film background myself, with visual storytelling as the main cornerstone of my profession, I would like to take a look at the potential which these new technological tools might bring for us, the creators. I would also like to elaborate on how VR differs from film, what inherent obstacles this might throw our way, and what this entails for future VR-filmmakers.
Are we not prepared to supply our children with all kinds of minerals, vitamins, diet supplements. All this in the name of a healthier future for them. If we go further with this thinking, then the whole raising of our children is actually about these kind of choices. The best of schools, the best toys, and the best teachers, caretakers. All in all the best opportunites we as parents can afford. Who would want to save money on that? Would you? We as parents, feel naturally inclined and responsible to provide our children with the very best. So you could actually make an argument, why wouldn’t you want to give the same to your child before it was born?