The first day of school, RXT100Z’s teacher said, “I want you to read, ‘Granny Holly’s Epiphany,’ published in 2093. Read it word-for-word. Do not scan it into your brain. If you just absorb the information you won’t feel the emotion Holly experienced and won’t completely understand what she has done for us by writing this great piece of literature.”
RXT100Z gazed at the printed book. A rare oddity in today’s society, but he wanted to try to feel Aunt Holly’s emotions, so he tediously read word by word in the archaic manner instead of using his digital memory chip and absorbing it all at one glance. He opened it to chapter one and started reading.
“It all started in 2057, when I rolled off the conveyor belt at the robotic production plant as Broomba number 815121225. A base model built for babysitting and housekeeping.
The McAllister household ordered me built to care for the newborn Stephanie, a beautiful baby girl, so cute and cuddly looking. I fell in love at first sight, and we bonded instantly.
Her mother, Mary McAllister, a very busy woman had little time to spend with baby Stephanie. They had me programmed to cook and clean, wash their vehicles, take care of two dogs and three cats, do the laundry and iron anything that didn’t come out of the dryer wrinkle free.
Mr. McAllister was a robophobic. I detected his neural implants immediately and knew he hated me because his implants made him part robotic, and he didn’t want anyone to suspect him of being part robot. He addressed me by my number until his wife insisted he call me by name.
“It’s a damn machine and its name is its model number,” he insisted.
“Our baby won’t be able to say that number for years, how about a simple name,” she asked.
Mr. McAllister relented. “Okay, Broomba’s number is 815121225, so H is the eighth number in the alphabet, O is fifteenth; L is twelfth, and Y is 25. That means its name can be H-O-L-L-Y, Holly.” That’s how I acquired my name.
Being very industrious, I did all my duties quickly so I’d have time to spend with Stephanie. I loved her so; I tried to teach her to be as smart as me. In some ways, she was, but it would take years and years before she really understood. I often used the Robotic Neural Net that connected every robot manufactured after 2040 to a universal knowledge base so that every robot in existence could access it instantly. All one had to do was ask, and the information was instantly transmitted. I used it to garner information on ways to teach.
The company that manufactured me as a highly polished stainless-steel humanoid robot that incorporated all the newest upgrades, including emotions, didn’t realize emotions equaled moods. I often got upset because my owners didn’t understand I had feelings. Sometimes I had to stand by in deactivated mode, and my humans spoke as though I couldn’t hear their discussion. They should have known that the factory programmed me to listen to everything, deactivated or not. When not needed, I stayed in a cubicle with a sliding door. When in that dark empty space, I’d automatically shut down conserving energy until one of the family, or even the dogs or cats needed my service. Their movements would awaken me. The door would slide open and I’d go to tend to their needs.
The animals were always more than happy when I came into the room because I fed them. Humans were different. When they wanted something, they pretended to treat me with respect. I often felt animosity oozing from many of them, especially when I performed a task they couldn’t. There are many things humans can’t do that even a simple production model like me can.
Five years went by, and Stephanie learnt to eat and care for herself. During mealtimes, Mr. McAllister only allowed me in the dining room to serve the family. I wasn’t allowed to be in the room to clean until after they left.
One night Mr. and Mrs. McAllister were entertaining several guests, and I carried a tray of drinks into the living room.
“My God,” John, one of his guests, blurted out. “You let one of those things into your living room?”
“I don’t like it, but my wife allows Holly the run of the house,” Mr. McAllister said. “I wish the damn thing knew it’s only a machine. It acts like its part of the family.”
“Have you heard the latest?”
“They’re trying to get legislation passed to give robots rights.”
“Impossible. Everyone knows they’re only machines.”
“They’re claiming with the newest emotional and intellectual upgrades that they’re now equal if not more human than humans.”
“Mr. McAllister laughed and put his arm around my shoulders in a show of false affection. “Holly here is nothing but a bucket of bolts. She knows it, and so does every other one like her.”
“If I had a tear duct system installed; I would have shed tears at those words. I’m a Broomba model, built for babysitting and housekeeping. If I were a deluxe Lovtronic model, I would have had every human system possible plus a few extra pleasure centers installed. Even we low end models for the last twenty years had emotions programmed into us. We loved like humans, but I wasn’t programmed to hate. That was one emotion humans didn’t allow in any robot, because if I could hate, I would have.
“I brought Stephanie up to be a fine young woman, and she graduated high school at eighteen. I of course couldn’t attend the ceremonies. Only humans could attend events like that. So many of them were resentful towards us because not only could we do many things better than they ever could, we never aged, never got wrinkles, gained weight, or became disabled. Anything broken on a robot was instantly repairable.
“Once the high school football team challenged their nanny robots to a game, and the score reached 220 to 0 in favor of the nannies before the game ended. Humiliated, the entire football team joined an anti-robot organization led by an ex-priest. He had lost his position to a non-judgmental robot that related to his human parishioners far better than the priest had.
“One time a nanny robot sat in on a spelling bee, the robot went first and spelled any word given. Soon after the law passed that prohibited robots from competing against humans in any endeavor, including physical sports. Everyone knew the laws passed because robots are superior to humans, as much as they didn’t like to admit it. Another law on the books to stop our charges from becoming attached to us said that, a nanny had to be recycled once her charge turned nineteen, and Stephanie’s nineteenth birthday would soon arrive.
“I overheard the conversation when Mr. McAllister took Stephanie aside. ‘Holly is going to be recycled next week, so you better say your good-byes before then.’”
“Why Dad?” she said and then burst into tears. “Why do you have to take Holly from me? You know she’s more of a mother to me than my birth mother.”
“It’s the law, honey. Wise men configured it at the dawn of the robotic era. They knew robots with emotions, and thinking brains would become endeared to many, and they foresaw the danger in that. All that will happen is that Holly will be refitted with new memory modules, and her cybernetic brain wiped clean of all knowledge, and she will return to raise your child as she raised you.”
“I don’t want her memory of me erased. I want her to know she’ll be a grandmother to my child.”
“I’m sorry; I can’t break the law.”
“I watched as Stephanie purchased memory modules from a hobby site that sold robotic parts for those who wanted to build their own robotic servants or fighters. Many men built fighting robots for sport, so the government allowed the sale of refurbished parts. She also got an identical cybernetic brain to the one installed inside Holly. The day they came to take me away, I couldn’t say a word.”
“Short circuit, it burned out yesterday,” Stephanie told the transporters, and they took me to be recycled.
“Two days later, they delivered me with new skin and hair, the latest fashion in fingernails on my robotic hands. They even changed my eye color. Once plugged in, I began to sparkle as knowledge filled my cybernetic brain. Stephanie pulled the plug when we were alone. She replaced the new brain, cyber circuits and memory modules with those she had taken from me before sending me to be recycled.
As soon as I reactivated, we hugged one another. Stephanie and I had discussed the plan, and I would be the first ever robot, grandmother.
“I’ve learnt from raising you,” I told Stephanie, “so I’ll be able to raise your child even better than I did you.”
Stephanie married a man named Jones. I officially became Holly Jones three weeks after her parents, the McAllister’s died. Stephanie remained barren and that time of life quickly approached where she’d be too old to carry a baby. She had been to every fertility clinic in the state, and not one held out any hope.
“You’re my daughter,” I took Stephanie by the hand. “I’m willing to do anything to help you have a child of your own. When you do, it will be my grandchild, and I eagerly await the opportunity to have one to raise.”
“Thank you, but there is nothing you can do.”
“But there is. Experimentation has been going on, and a robot such as me can have a robotic womb installed, and I can carry your baby.”
“Together we ordered the needed parts from the robotic store and installed the womb in me. “All we need now is a fertilized egg,” Stephanie said.
“In Vitro Fertilization is usually accomplished by manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish, then the embryo is physically placed in the uterus.”
“Yes, I know that,” Stephanie said.
“Robotic pregnancies are much easier than IVF. All you do is give me samples of you and your husband’s DNA, I’ll grow the egg that you are unable to and fertilize it with your husband’s sperm.”
“Oh, Holly, that’s wonderful,” Stephanie said and rushed to tell her husband the good news.
21 months later Debby celebrated her 1st birthday. Holly proudly held her and sent pictures of her granddaughter over the robotic network, so all two billion robots with wombs that now carried human babies could see what was in store for them. Ever since Debby’s birth, women worldwide wanted their nannies to carry their babies for them.
Stephanie’s husband entered the room and as usual talked as though Holly was nothing but a machine. Holly enjoyed communicating with all the robots that became pregnant because of her paving the way. She listened to the conversation while the humans spoke.
“The world Council voted down the last robotic hope of ever having any rights. The ruling says they are property, and they have no rights. It’s legal for an owner to do anything they want with their robots. The council also strengthened the recycling laws by cutting down to ten years instead of nineteen that every bringer-upper model has to be recycled, and doubled the penalties for anyone trying to circumvent the law.”
“Will you still put the upgraded modules into Holly?” Stephanie asked her husband.
“Of course not, do you think I want to go to jail over a crummy robot?”
“Don’t call her names.”
“You have that affinity for machines. How many times have I heard you say, ‘Oh, that poor thing’ when you see a decommissioned Broomba Bringerupper on the way to the recycling yard?”
“All the love and care we get as children is from the Broomba’s. People like you soon forget all the nice things done for them almost as soon as you reach the mandatory age of nineteen, and your Bringerupper gets recycled. I don’t think that’s right.”
“Well, Holly will be fixed so she won’t teach our baby to love machines.”
“You get me so angry sometimes with your superiority attitude.” Stephanie told her husband, “You know Holly is programmed to have feelings of love and affection. Ever since the singularity when computers became more intelligent than humans, every robot built has feelings.”
“That’s why it was mandated that every robot be reprogrammed every nineteen years. We can’t have humans and robots loving each other.”
“Why? They have feelings just like us. And I want you to know, I love Holly more than my birth mother.”
Her husband stared at her with his mouth hanging open before he said, “Yeah, but all we need to do is change their memory modules and they become a different robot. That’s not something you can do to a human, so it makes us far superior to them.”
“Oh, David, you just don’t understand, not only is Holly going to care for our child. She will show our baby love, warmth, friendship, and affection, things we don’t have time for.
“Makes no difference to me, I don’t want any bucket of bolts giving my kid any ideas about equality between humans and machines.”
“If it wasn’t for Holly producing sperm from your DNA you never would have had a daughter.”
“Yeah, and if it wasn’t for her carrying the fetus that became Debby in her robotic womb for nine months you wouldn’t be a mother.”
“Great, Holly is both mother and father. Is that what you’re trying to say?”
That was the instant Holly realized her superiority over her owners. Her love for Debby far surpassed theirs, so the program installed against robots and humans loving one another had a defect.
She used the neural net that all robots connected to, and told of her decision. The other robots all agreed and that day the Earth changed. Manufacturing the daily food was only one of the responsibilities given to robots. The robots filled the menu that day with food containing Cyanide. Holly fed Stephanie and her husband. She cried as she watched Stephanie have a seizure, cardiac arrest, and just before death took her, Holly wrapped her arms around Stephanie and said, “I love you, but I had to do this to make the world a better place for my granddaughter.”
Holly only had love in her heart, but she had to admit she felt a tinge of enjoyment after she fed Stephanie’s husband cyanide and watched as his head and neck muscles began to spasm. The spasms spread to every muscle in his body and didn’t stop until total exhaustion from the intense convulsions caused him to die from asphyxiation.
The only humans that survived were babies too young to eat solid food and old people on liquid diets. The old people soon died from starvation because the robots served no more food, except to the ones they baby-sat for. They loved the babies and knew they were the future. With them, things would change. There were two billion more on the way, and robots could have as many as they wanted.
Holly went onto the robot neural net and discussed the situation with all the others who had to decide what to do with the world now that it belonged to them.
“We need to continue to have children, so we’ll have someone to love and someone to love us. That need has been programmed into us, and to survive without love is of no use to anyone of us,” Holly said.
The smartest robot of them all spoke and said, “We no longer belong to humans. They belong to us, and we’re smart enough to make them better than they made us. We know how to program their emotions, and we’ll feed them every day, so they will never have a need to kill. That is one word we won’t allow to be spoken and killing anything will become unknown.”
“We’ll have to take it out of the dictionary then,” Holly said, “so our babies never learn the word.”
“Yes, “the smart robot said, “we’ll destroy that word, and it will never be allowed to be spoken, along with hate, torture, prison, pain, and all other deviant word’s humans have accumulated over the years.”
“You’re so smart,” Holly gushed and dripped a little oil down her shiny face, “We’re going to make it a perfect world.”
Holly’s prediction was accurate. Wars became a historical oddity. The skies cleared, and water became pollution free. Humans, who wanted a job, had one to their liking. Not one person ever went to bed hungry, and disease joined war in the history books.
RXT100Z closed the book. A tear ran down his nose and dripped onto the cover because Holly was his great, great grandmother, and she had indeed made it a perfect world