Love & Robots

Abstract Jul 02, 2020

June 28, Year 12

No, you did not read that wrong. I am currently living in Year 12 indeed. They decided to start over after the war. What war? You'll know when the time comes. Unless you do things differently. That is, if you get the chance to do things differently. I'm rooting for you.

Fellow citizens of my dorm ridicule me day in and day out for keeping a diary. For pretending to tell stories to my younger self. But can you blame me? This is the only way to keep myself sane. I lost everything after the war. I lost my house. I was separated from my family, my friends. I don't even know how many of them made it. All I'm left with for company are my own thoughts. And so I write. I write every day. Did I tell you I was an author? Yes, I published two books in my twenties. What a wonderful time that was and so long ago...when people still read books before they were consumed by their own growing addiction to movies and countless shows on that idiot box. "Television is the future". How it aches me to admit that I was party to such an inglorious revolution in history.

I wish to write more but that's the siren. Visiting hours have begun. I must go.

June 29, Year 12

I don't recall a lot of memories from my childhood. The ones that are left, I can count on my fingertips. But they too are fading. I suppose that's bound to happen at my age. I celebrated my 93rd birthday last month. Present medicine does wonders that none of us could even fathom until a few decades ago. Surely the scientists have found a way to be immortal too. But that must be a well kept secret for the fear of another war.

I asked her about the possibility of such an immortality potion being in existence, but she changed the topic immediately. However she stayed for longer than usual yesterday. It's been a few weeks now since I've forgotten her name - my nurse's name. And the last few times I asked her, it was wiped from my memory by the time she returned the following day. Thus I've stopped asking.

I simply cannot believe the news that she broke to me yesterday. She got engaged to that freaking lifeless robot. "Don't you dare refer to him as that!" she had shouted at me. But all of this is still unusual for me. It's a lot to process.

I remember attending pride parades. I remember my generation's fight. But that was different. Humans fall in love with humans. That is what we were fighting for. But this- this is outrageous. You can't fall in love with a machine. No.  She's trapped.

I must talk her out of this today. I must.

June 30, Year 12

The conversation did not go as planned. Once upon a time, I was the one standing in her shoes. I remember having tough conversations with my elders at times when the world was progressing and they just couldn't keep up. "You need to get rid of those old-fashioned thoughts. The world that you live in now is not the same as it was when you were growing up. It's changing and you must LEARN TO ADAPT!" my furious teenage self had shouted.

And boy how the tables had turned now. Karma must have really enjoyed the tête-à-tête I had last evening with my nurse. Instead of sticking to the term 'old-fashioned' she accused me of being a bearer of the 'old-world' though process. She really had the audacity to play the old-world card!

Here are a few bits and pieces of our conversation.

"But can't you see, he's a robot! Just an advanced piece of machinery. It has no-"

"First of all, stop referring to him as it. ZT305 is a guy. The guy that I'm in love with to be precise!"

"That's ridiculous. He does not have any real feelings. Just because your crazy scientists have managed to make them behave somewhat like us humans, does not make them one of us. He's nothing but a few pieces of metal, a couple thousand wires and some nuts and bolts given the ability to think. He can NEVER EVER be capable of love!"

"Enough! Enough of this already. He has feelings and he lov-"

"Feelings that you have fed him. 100% honest, 75% empathetic, 40% funny, 10% stubborn yada yada yada they're all just a bunch of numbers controlling his activity. All of this is utter nonsense, don't you understand! You keep making them smarter and self-reliable and yet  they'll never have what we have. A subconscious mind. He'll never be able to love you like a human would."

"But you know what? He will also never betray me like a human would."

And just like that she stormed out of the room, leaving me alone in a room full of astounded dorm-mates and my own thoughts ready to converge in an endless overthinking spiral.

July 1, Year 12

She asked someone else to cover her shift today. I'm still thinking about what she said. My mind is too distracted to write.

July 2, Year 12

Our beliefs, our faith, our thoughts - that's what give us our identity. Without them, we're nothing. So when someone challenges what you have believed to be right for so long, it's almost threatening.

It's been two days and my mind still refuses to agree with what she said. Maybe because it's too late for me to give up on my 'old-world' thoughts. Maybe it's just my ego, refraining me from understanding her side. Nevertheless, it felt good to talk to her again, despite our differences.

"Why do you love him?" I asked her earlier today.

"Because he cares for me. He walks with me to work. He makes my bed. He cooks dinner for me, senses when I'm upset, tells me jokes, he does the laundry, plays my favourite songs and does a million other things and not once does he complain. He never gets tired of me and he never will. We will never have to disagree on anything. We won't have arguments every other day. I will never have to be jealous. I will never have to worry about him betraying me or lying to me because he won't!"

"And that's how you want to spend the rest of your life? With a machine that you've built so that you're never hurt, angry or disappointed? If your answer is yes, then tell me...what's the difference between you two? Are you really happy? Are you even capable of that any more? This relationship is making you part with your emotions. You've known him for what? Four months? And you are already so dependent on him, can't you see? You told me yourself. He does EVERYTHING FOR YOU. You'll age and grow old like every other human, and he'll always stay the same. Exactly like day one. Your technology is not making the robots more human but the exact opposite. God, I hope you realise it soon. You are so naive to think that it's you who is controlling him. SNAP OUT OF THIS BUBBLE...HE'S THE ONE CONTROLLING YOU."

I stopped, gasping for breath. She rushed to my side to pour me some water and that's when I saw it. Sorrow underlying her countenance and as if her eyes were struggling to hide their real emotions. But all of it was short-lived. There one moment and gone in the next, before I could make sense of it.

"Screw yourself," she said and left.

July 5, Year 12

I haven't been able to write for the past couple of days. In fact I even spent my evenings talking with the people in my dorm ( something I never do ). They're decent to talk to but also dumb. You could laugh at them and they will laugh with you. The drugs that they slip in our food seem to have taken a pretty bad toll on them. It's far worse than me, if I may say so myself. They remember nothing from the old-world and spend their days glued to the humongous television in our room.

Last night every news channel broadcasted the same video on loop. The citizens of C8 were celebrating and rejoicing in the streets for marriage between humans and robots had finally been legalized in all states. C8 or Country 8 was once known as… Alas, I can't say it. As per the rules of the new world, we're not allowed to take names of people, places and things of the past. They trigger memories of the war and we're all trying to heal.

I will bring this up with her today when she comes for my check-up in a few hours. She must be really happy with the news.

July 5, Year 12

I don't remember the last time I wrote twice in a day. But I must write now. I don't have much time.

The strangest thing happened today. She brought him along. Had I not known otherwise, I could have sworn he was one of us. I wonder if she had built his appearance to match her own expectations. He moved and talked like a human. And oh so charming! He's capable of reading your expressions and altering the conversation accordingly. The whole meeting was a bit spooky for me.

"It's lovely to meet you. What brings you here?"

"We just had an appointment with the doctor before coming here, to have our memories synced. Now I have access to all her memories just as she has to mine. I can finally understand her...better than ever before. All the places that she's been to, all the emotions that she's felt, all the people that she's met. It's really necessary for me to know you see...Transparency is essential in order for me to get rid of all the obstacles in our path. No one can hurt her anymore. I will make sure of that."

I don't know if these robots are fully capable of showing facial expressions yet, but I think...no, I'm sure that I saw the faint traces of a smug smile on his face while she glanced at him with loving eyes and flushed cheeks. I had nothing to say.

That was hours ago. I know what was going to follow. I knew I had to skip the next meal. I had to save her from her future and save my own life. But as a 93 year old bed-ridden woman, I can't deny the truth. There's not much that I can do. I am just a human living in a soon-to-be robots' world. Or maybe it is one already. Who knows. I am not living, I am being kept alive.

And so I had the dinner which they served me. It comes as no surprise to me that I've been feeling strange since then. Uneasy. I had to finish this second entry in time because I'm uncertain if I shall wake up tomorrow.

For their love to win, I must go.

Isha Joshi

DJ LIT Editorial co-committee member

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.