2017 FFC Round 1
Group 25 - Romance, A strawberry field, A golf ball
RBR (Romance Between Robots)
Sparks fly between two strawberry picking robots.
Can they figure out what it all means and will it matter?
Can they figure out what it all means and will it matter?
Robot #5 heard a tight flurry of drums with a roaring saxophone darting in and out. After accessing an internal music database, #5 determined the music was “Tenor Madness” by Sonny Rollins. The music appeared to be targeted at #5 from across the strawberry field by Robot #2001. There was no other thing in or in proximity to the field.
#5 was puzzled. The song was a blistering heartbreak but it was full of beauty. What message did it deliver?
The fragile arms of #5 trembled for just a nanosecond while gripping the next strawberry as it hung beautifully, fully ripe at the end of the stem, and tugging it off lovingly. Never had there been music in the field before, never had #5 done anything but work in the field before, but now #5 felt the need to approach #2001.
#2001 had watched #5 for a month. The field was huge, rows and rows of green bushes with bright red strawberries sunning and sweetening on the ends of the stems, getting the 8 hours of sunlight they needed each day. The sparkle of the sunlight hitting #5 was the only difference in the landscape, the only escape from the monotony of caressing the fruit - the only other thing to be caressed. The sparkle of #5 was warm and alluring and interesting. #2001 wondered what it was like to be alluring and interesting and sparkly, not just a semi intelligent service robot, another gray rule follower among millions.
Music piped to #5 was a thing #2001 thought might get #5 to look and determine if there was allure, interest and sparkle to #2001. Both robots were fragile. Both were second generation limited artificial intelligence devices designed to break easily. Previous robots had been too strong and damage resistant and humans worried that those robots could not be stopped if they attacked, so technology was used to manufacture more fragile robots that could easily be broken if they went beserk on, or near, a human. #5 and #2001 were big silvery hunks of easily bent alloy overtop of an upright, short rolling metal cabinet with arms and a personal assistant-type technology, that was constantly connected with the cloud of robots.
Suddenly a song, determined to be an electronic and instrumental, remix version of “Creep” by Radiohead, filled #2001. A definite anomaly was occurring. The music had to be beamed over from #5. Nothing else was in range to target and project music. The song was melancholy and angsty, and talked a bit about escape. Did #5 want to escape the strawberry field? To escape with #2001?
It was lunch time, both robots would power down and recharge completely in the sunlight now, rolling into an open field nearby with nothing in the area to block the sun from the solar panels on the robots.
Today #5 took the lead, another anomaly, and led #2001 out to a wide open, shadeless spot, about a mile south of the strawberry field. The two fragile robots rolled there slowly, conserving the little energy they had left after a long morning of work. Another week and the robots would be done picking strawberries in the strawberry field and they would be separated for a future project. It was impossible to know if the two robots would ever cross paths again.
Right now the robots were stationed side-by-side in the open field. #2001 shut down after setting an internal clock for 24 minutes, so returning on time to the field would be possible. #5 shut down, after setting an internal clock for 23 minutes.
As #2001 shut down there was a flash of light off #5, the artificial intelligence systems in #2001 said there was a dazzle and a chance for humans to feel touched and have desire, in that intimate, breathtaking moment. A moment later #5 registered a slight shine off #2001 and sensors said that conditions were adequate to ripe for romance. Then both robots were asleep.
After 23 minutes the head of #5 rose, the eyes opened and memories flickered of nice moments between #5 and #2001. There was, phantom, music again within #5. It had to be coming from #2001, still sleeping in the same spot adjacent to #5. In a millisecond #5 was directly in from of #2001 and reached out an arm to awaken #2001 to talk about the shine of #2001, the pleasing, mysteriously messaged, music and the conditions for romance. #2001 felt an alien pressure on the humany shell of the fragile artificial intelligence unit it controlled and shot out both arms, pushing with great might against the alien presence. #5 was struck in the chest and rolled back a foot, before rolling over a golf ball, tipping backward and landing on its back. Sparks flew from the eyes of #5.
#2001 registered that #5 had fallen on a rock and had internal damage and the hard drive in the unit was failing. It did not register why there was physical contact between the two units. Physical contact was forbidden and always bad, wasn’t it?
A robot always woke up by an internal clock, #2001 had never been disturbed in sleeping mode by something outside. It was a reaction to a new thing, to danger, #2001 had not meant to kill #5. As the fallen robot lay motionless #2001’s artificial intelligence metrics went in directions of sadness, remorse and great loss.
The mouth area of #5 was lit up and a staticy sound came out.
“I have an affinity for the way #2001 shines in the light, in the light… of the strawberry field” came out like white noise and struck #2001 in the middle of the operating system.
“#5, you have a lovely sparkle and I enjoy your anomalies,” beeped out of #2001. “I shall return to the strawberry field now and tell the field hands of your unfortunate mishap.”
#2001 rolled back toward the field and wondered how to forget.