Sunday, March 31, 2019

To Love Is Human

Joy had been over for about an hour before she asked about the synth. We had take out and were playing video games- she was kicking my ass, as usual, which irritated me- and I knew the subject would come up eventually. I was kind of enjoying making her ask, to be honest. She obviously couldn't stand it any longer. 

"So when are you going to show me your synth?" she finally asked. Then she laughed. "Wait, that didn't sound right."
I smiled. "Oh, that? She's powered down at the moment."
"It's a she?" She arched her eyebrows, then frowned as a particularly tough opponent appeared on screen. "I mean, really? You actually refer to her as a she?"
"Well, it's not an it," I reply. "Er, she's not an it."
"Right. She's a regular female, just like me, huh?" She grinned slyly. 
"Well, I don't know how like you she is, but she has her moments," I said with a straight face, pretending not to see her sharp look. 

Joy and I were just friends. I mean, yeah, we flirted a bit- who doesn't?- but that was it. Just work mates. Her fiance didn't quite like her coming over after work to play games, but I guess he was more accepting of it after he heard I'd acquired a synth. Glad I could reassure him. 

"You know what I mean," she said, mashing the buttons in that way she had. It was fun watching her play. "She's not really real, you know? Don't you miss, like, real interactions? I mean, she can't argue with you, or disagree, right? Or is that the part you like?" 
"Oh, please," I said. "It's not like that. She's got a personality, of sorts. She's not a slave." And then I added mischievously. "Unless I want her to be."
She just laughed. "Eww. Too much information." 

Maia was kind of impressive to look at. Five ten, willowy, nice figure. The hair had been the hardest part. I went with blond. I was tempted to go with a partially shaved head, or dyed hair, but why complicate things too much? Not to mention they got pricey the more you customized them. No, blond was fine. And she did look amazing. 

Joy whistled. 
"Wow. I'd almost give that a go, if I were so inclined," she said. I laughed. 
"Well, if you ever decide to give 'er a try, or if Ian's not getting things done..."
She punched me. "Thanks, but I'm not quite that desperate yet." 

Later I was sitting on the couch with Maia watching a show and she leaned into me, putting her head on my shoulder. She didn't have a lot on, just a sports bra and tight shorts. Maia didn't really get modesty. I wasn't going to complain. And the thing is, she feels like a woman. The biggest hurdle for a lot of people is that they imagine rubbery skin, or they think it won't seem real close up. And they're right, with some of the older models. But the newer ones... Maia was just like any woman I'd ever been with- if you didn't know she was a synth, it'd be hard to tell. The only real problem were the eyes. They say the eyes are a window to the soul, and as advanced as these models were, they still hadn't quite gotten the eyes right.

Sometimes at night it freaked me out a little if I caught her looking at me. There was no soul to look into, to fall in love with. Was there? I pushed those thoughts away and put my arm around her, letting my hand stray a bit to gauge her reaction. Maia of course responded, and I was almost disappointed. A real woman, of course, might have a range of different reactions, and wasn't that the point? With Maia it was always go time. Her settings could be adjusted, of course, and there were models now that had actual personalities- were "alive", to a degree- but who could afford those? I almost wished Maia would demur, just once, so I could pretend I was with a real person. 

Nevertheless I drew her slowly to me, and as her lips parted I felt the same attraction, the same desire, that I had felt with other women. She was amazing, I had to admit. And yes, she was a she, regardless of what Joy thought. I thought about Joy and Ian then, and wondered what they were doing.  

Afterward we lay in a tangle of limbs. "That was amazing," she breathed. Her voice was even huskier after sex. Just like a real person. "You made me feel so good." Her fingers traced a line along my chest. I almost snorted. That's like the toaster saying, "Ooh, that feels so good the way you adjust my settings." Not for the first time I felt this tug of war, between simple satisfaction and the nagging feeling that I was doing something wrong, somehow. Shouldn't I be happy?  

"Aren't you programmed to feel good?" I asked. 
She looked at me then, her eyes soft and doe-like. 
"Yes. But aren't humans also programmed to feel good? Just in a different way?"
"Well, yeah. But there's an emotional component, as well. It's like... we're only getting half the picture if it's just physical. Does that make sense?"
"It does. True intimacy, it is said, involves both the emotional and the physical. I am prepared to try and meet your emotional needs as best I can, even if I am not actually human." 
"I know, Maia, and thank you. You're amazing, really. It's just... different."
"I understand." She paused a moment. "You are aware that I have role- playing protocols that can be unlocked?"
"Yes, I am. But that's not really the same."
"Why not?"

How to explain? And here I was afraid to hurt her feelings, when she didn't have feelings. At least not like that. 
"There's more to love than banging the toaster, Maia. Even if the toaster is playing." Ow, that sounded harsh. I ran my finger lazily down her stomach. 
"I understand. Although I think I am an upgrade to your toaster, am I not?"
Was that ...humor? I swear her lips may have quirked a bit. 
"You are not a toaster. I'm sorry." I pulled her close to me. 

"My role-playing and emotional components can be quite compelling," she whispered in my ear after a while. I shivered in spite of myself. 

"Would you like me to be more like Joy?" 
That's when I went cold all over. 


  1. And the plot thickens! :D Love this excerpt. Are you going to write more?

  2. Damn, this is really good! Also it reminds me a little bit of Humans, at the start- well, I guess more so had they gone down that road (which I sort of wished they had a little bit more?) Also, the toaster part cracked me up!!

  3. I like this - it is really good. Are you going to continue the story?


  4. "There's more to love than banging the toaster" is a fantastic quote, especially out of context, haha. This is cool, exploring the whole AI thing! I swear AI/robots/etc. keep popping up everywhere, but there's always so much to think about.

  5. Love this!! AIs are fascinating, and I love the idea that she's noticed his interactions with Joy and interpreted them.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  6. OK my brain went in two v. different directions:
    1. Turns out she's not actually a robot - she's pretending to be one! Dun-dun-duuuuun!

    or (and even weirder,)

    2. A weird noise comes from Maia's back and when she turns round there's two pieces of freshly-popped toast sticking out of her!

    ...sometimes I worry about myself! Lol. ;)

  7. This is good ! So, human vs AI, but just AI ? I'm on to the rest of the story ;)