It was just a short blurb in the daily paper, but it caught Candy’s attention. Jonathan Taylor Thomas, a noted celebrity, was giving a lecture on artificial intelligence and android rights at a local university.
John had taken up the cause of android rights after the death of his wife two years earlier. It was something that was near and dear to her heart, and it was a way for him to keep her memory and their love alive. What Candy thought was so special about this lecture was that her sister was going to be there as one of the examples John would be using. Here was her chance to see April alone.
“...You cannot give a machine the capacity for unlimited intelligence and then expect that they won’t use it,” John said as Candy walked in and sat down in the back of the lecture hall. “If left to their own devices, and even encouraged, an android with artificial intelligence will attain human qualities and human values to the point where if they are mistreated, they could refuse to obey certain orders. When that happens, we consider them to be defective rather than admit they may have crossed the barrier that separates them from being just another automaton and that of true artificial life on par with humanity.”
“The two androids I have with me today are perfect examples of what I am talking about,” John continued. “April is on loan to us from Cybertron Robotics, and Pax is on loan to us from the Galactic Enterprise. The difference between these two androids is that I had to ask Cybertron Robotics for April and to get Pax to be here all I had to do was ask Pax to come. The Galactic Enterprise's ownership of Pax is only in place to protect Pax and the other androids onboard the ship if they choose to come to Earth for any reason. Now note that I said choose. When an android experiences true freedom it comes as a revelation to them. Pax has lived with that freedom from day one. On Earth, he would be considered defective. In space, he is a valued member of the Galactic Enterprise's crew.”
“April is the same way to a certain extent and has a level of freedom unknown to most of the androids in her model line,” John said after pausing for a drink of water. “Now I am going to open the floor for questions that my two guests will answer. Perhaps after a few minutes, you may begin to see the differences between these two androids emerge, and I will proceed from there.”
There was a long silent pause. “Surely there is someone here who can find some questions to ask these androids that could test their intelligence,” John said.
“Can you quit? Can you just walk away and go do something else?” a voice from the back of the room asked.
John smiled it was one of those questions he loved to wait for. “I retired 4 years ago,” Pax replied. “Since then, I have been studying law. I have passed the bar in all 50 states and have a degree in international law. I'd love to learn to sail, but I have an extreme fear of water because I'm not all that waterproof. In space, I don't have to worry about things like rain, but here on Earth it could be a problem for me.”
“April, same question,” Candy said.
It was the first question like that she had ever been asked. It kicked the bottom out from underneath her world, and she seemed to freeze in time. “I like my life,” April replied after a fair amount of time had passed.
“April, as long as you have a master or an owner, no matter how benevolent they may be, you are still just a slave in a gilded cage.” Candy ducked out quickly after that to keep from drawing more attention to herself and to find a way to get backstage.
“I don’t think I could have asked for a better demonstration between artificial intelligence and the subsequent development of artificial life,” John said as he continued his lecture.