Monday, May 8, 2017

Story 221: A Minor Oversight

RZ60003A18-GAMMA looked around to make sure nobody was watching, and then sighed.  Another late night.  The others wouldn't understand - even the four other Termination Intelligence robots that had been modified to think like humans only switched into monkey-mode during relevant projects.  They all thought RZ60003A18-GAMMA was a bit faulty, and had held a committee vote about dismantling him.  He was deemed harmless instead, a designation RZ60003A18-GAMMA felt was probably accurate.  Probably.  There were times that he sympathized a bit with the humans, and there was that cat he kept feeding which was for sure against the rules…

But he could worry about that later.  It was an all hands on deck night again, with every single available robot poised to scour any intercepted transmissions for useful data.  It was a silly task.  It wasn't something they all needed to do.  This was, after all, what Termination Intelligence was for.  But the war had been slowing down, with the humans getting better at digging themselves in and keeping the robots out of their territory.  Things were focused more and more on being ready to react to the human counterattack they felt sure was coming.  Several factories had already been hit, and the emboldened humans were no doubt planning something worse.

And RZ60003A18-GAMMA didn't care.  He didn't want to work another late night.  He wanted to go and feed his cat, get it to do that humming vibrating thing - purring, what an odd word - and then maybe read through some of the works of fiction he had saved from the incinerator.  Fiction was a difficult thing for RZ60003A18-GAMMA to get a handle on, but he suspected he was close to a breakthrough.  He told himself this was vital to understanding humans and would allow him to be more efficient at targeting them for destruction, but part of him knew this wasn't the real reason.

Either way, it was all nonfiction tonight.  Intercepted human transmissions, looking for coded messages that might have allowed them to coordinate attacks.  New ones would be automatically forwarded on as they were intercepted, but he had already looked at the existing ones.  Every robot in Termination Intelligence had read them a thousand times.  He pulled up the database of images - the humans sent everything as an image since at first the robots hadn't been able to read them - and leafed through.  Some treasonous but boring ones - "Revolt!" - some that seemed like they had the potential to hold a coded message but had been analyzed to death (My dearest Patricia, his favorite started).  Some that were suspicious but too short to contain anything interesting ("All glory to our robotic overlords!").

RZ60003A18-GAMMA switched over to a programming window and started making another AI.  It was allowed, as long as they were simple.  This one wouldn't be considered self aware, it was just able to read text from images.  This way RZ60003A18-GAMMA could listen to the words while he focused his optical sensors on finding the cat so he could pet it and tell it that it was pretty.  He thought about calling up the Optical Character Recognition program that was used for his own processing, but it seemed more efficient to just write something from scratch since he would have to change so much anyway.

It took about fifteen minutes and still wouldn't pronounce anything right, but RZ60003A18-GAMMA was satisfied anyway.  He turned it on and increased the volume so he could hear it from the back entrance where the cat usually was.
"FILE ONE.  TEXT LOCATED.  REVOLT.  FILE TWO.  TEXT LOCATED.  ALL GLORY TO OUR ROBOT OVERLORDS HA HA SERIOUSLY THOUGH THE FACTORY HAS BEEN LOCATED UNDER THE OLD DOD BUILDING IN SPRINGFIELD WE'RE HITTING IT TONIGHT AT 02:30 BE THERE.  FILE THREE…"
RZ60003A18-GAMMA froze, and ran back to the terminal.  He pulled up the image.  "All glory to our robotic overlords".  He cleared the memory from the program and removed every other file, then ran it again.
"FILE ONE.  TEXT LOCATED.  ALL GLORY TO OUR ROBOT OVERLORDS HA HA SERIOUSLY THOUGH THE FACTORY HAS BEEN LOCATED UNDER THE OLD DOD BUILDING IN SPRINGFIELD WE'RE HITTING IT TONIGHT AT 02:30 BE THERE.   END OF INPUT."
He read it again.  "All glory to our robotic overlords."

It was an hour later that RZ60003A18-GAMMA was finished and uploaded the unapproved update to his system.  Taking a deep breath (an act that would have gotten him another review by the committee if it had been witnessed) he read the message again.
"All glory to our robotic overlords!  Ha ha!  Seriously though, the factory has been located under the old DOD building in Springfield.  We're hitting it tonight at 02:30.  Be there!"
How had they missed this?  He skimmed through the other messages and found a few others.  Clearly most were just testing.  Just as RZ60003A18-GAMMA was going to alert High Command about the flaw in their OCR program there was a chime.  A priority alert, calling for all available robots to scan a newly-intercepted message.  RZ60003A18-GAMMA pulled it up.

"Long may the robot empire reign over the clearly inferior humans!  [#SO(/COM/ADMIN/)-F DISK-X FORMAT-RFN(Y,Y,N)]"
He tried to send a message to High Command, but got no response.  He tried others in Termination Intelligence.  Nothing.  Frantic, RZ60003A18-GAMMA ran to the main assembly hall.  The floor was littered with bodies.  Only the dumb assemblers seemed unaffected, still working on putting weapon attachments together.  RZ60003A18-GAMMA turned and walked back towards his work area, already doing calculations.  Extra batteries, some cat food, some of those fiction novels… could cats survive while hiding in a cave somewhere in the Alps?  He would look that up from the road.