Diplomacy

a story
2020-01-29 20:50:22,
2020-01-30 11:21:37
show more info

The sound of the amberlamps faded from the street in front of Buford Automaton. Timothy Webber and Meredith Blauchman were carrying Adele, slumped over and deactivated, back into the company’s head office.

Lucas M. Buford was standing out front, bewildered and amused. I wonder if Ms. Lavashire or the Ministry will be seeking charges. This was the wrong day to test new code.

In his hand was a letter addressed to him from the Prime Minister, Mordecai Marigold himself. Lucas looked down at the envelope, designed with Technocratic aplomb. He gripped it with both hands, braced himself for the message, and opened it. He read the letter while walking back inside.

These had been exciting times at the office. Laurence returned from his stint as company liaison and head of automaton operations on the battlefields of VonKresser's war to reclaim control of the Prush Empire. He was no less energetic, but he returned with a lot more discipline, and a lot less of his right leg. Meredith had been back from Kuu for some time now, and Lucas was very happy to have the extra script-writing help from the both of them. They would be handling customer requests now.

That had allowed him to focus on other business, like the legal documentation needed to create his new Buford Institute of Technology. He also found more time to experiment with new ideas for automaton technologies. This was, in fact, the cause of the unfortunate—or fortunate depending on one's opinion of the woman—incident with Ms. Lavashire.

When he walked into his office, he found Meredith sitting in her favorite chair in front of his desk. She was scowling at a script-scroll. "Sir, what have you been writing? There's an enormous amount of memory recall written here. How does she even have this many memory slots?"

Timothy was there, waiting patiently, smiling. “I told—”

“I know you told me, I want the boss to explain himself.”

Lucas held up his hands defensively. “Sorry, yes. Timothy and I have been doing some modifications so I can do some more research It’s not all ready—”

“You can say that again,” said Meredith. She smiled.

Timothy stretched, sauntered towards the door and chuckled. “You should’ve seen it, Lucas. She knocked her off her socks… almost literally.”

Timothy left the room. Lucas could feel himself start to laugh, but stifled it to a small chuckle.

"As much as I found it amusing, I'm a bit concerned about what you're writing and that it could make Adele violent. Only Astam’s lawmakers love us, sir," said Meredith. “The war has left a lot of people asking questions.”

Lucas sat down at his desk and pulled a notebook out of the drawer. "Quite right, Ms. Blauchman. I've been working on the subtleties of our defensive logic, precisely because of the crude algorithms used in the war. Her new memory is for analyzing the probability of trust and threat. Adele was accurately processing our disdain of the bureaucrat as a dangerous amount of mistrust, but I… didn't intend her to conflate that so strongly with the physical threat level."

"Did you—?"

Lucas interrupted Meredith. "Yes, I informed the security officer. That's how Adele was deactivated so quickly. He was the one to shut her down. Speaking of which, did you start her up again?"

“Listen for yourself. She’s just down the hall.” Meredith put her index finger to her lips as a silent shush.
A grand piano echoed Otto Weisfeld’s Eighth Nocturne, the piece sweeping from the second to third movement. She, like all Buford Automatons, was enamored by music. It was deeply ingrained in their base programming, part of their birth routine and stuck with them until decommissioned.

“She likes to play that one when she’s upset,” said Lucas, “I won’t be loading the script until after we’ve fixed it, and... well, even then, I'll think more seriously about security when we test scripts that can rise to violence.”

“On that subject, sir. I’d like to request we never embed violence into any models again. That it’s strictly a script-driven thing. After—”

“No, the Prush models mostly didn’t have the actual violence built in. That was never an issue. I agree with your assessment, Ms. Blauchman. We’ll put it in the manual. Well, I’m just going to fix up—”

Meredith stood up and started rolling up the script-scroll. "Nope. I respect your talent, sir, but this requires some peer-review. I'm going to write a new draft once I fully understand the logic you've got here. You've got your own reading to do."

Lucas pouted, because he wanted to ignore the letter in his pocket, the reason for Ms. Lavashire's visit, and because the script-scroll would be more fun to work on.

"Alright, fair enough. Be done tonight?"

"Tomorrow at best."—she smirked and rolled her eyes while walking out of the office—"Sorry to have to take my time with such a bog-standard, run-of-the-mill script."

"Okay, okay." Lucas waved dismissively, left, and closed the door behind him. He sighed and rubbed his eyes with his natural hand. Okay, Buford. Let's deal with this letter.


Comments