Spare And Found Parts – Robert G. Wertzler

RXM287R had been “reading” in the way robots do. Not the way humans do; Similar, but much, much faster. The novel, Frankenstein, took about five minutes to absorb, committed to memory and indexed. Now was time to ponder the story, consider the cautionary tale, and the question in mind.

Can a lonely robot build a friend, a partner, a mate? Could one actually get away with building an unregistered robot out of spare and found parts? Like the fictional doctor, RXM287R decided to try.

Then, a new problem came up. The creation would have no serial number. It would need a name, like a human. But human names tend to be gender-specific, not always, but mostly, and robots are genderless. Choosing a name would be tricky. Should RXM287R give a simulation of gender to it? Program the personality to match? Then, could a robot with a human name and forged human identity be made able to pass for human? It would almost have to since it would not have a serial number identity. After years of work in spare time (The owner really didn’t have very much for his robot to do.) RXM287R had succeeded too well.

The new robot, which (who?) was named Mary Smith (so as not to stand out too much) was able to pass. In fact, she was so good at it and liked living as a human so much, that one night she went out and never came back. RXM287R began again, this time to build a new copy of itself, transfer its own consciousness to it, and go live as a human too. Word got around in the robot underground. Soon spare and bootleg parts were in great demand. A version of an old advertising line became popular; “Are you real, or are you Memorex?”

The humans had no idea, no clue, how the world was about to change.

Bob Wertzler is retired from almost twenty years in the mental health field in California and Arizona. There are times the title, “Recovering Therapist”, seems to fit. In 2006 he retired to move to Western North Carolina to help and become primary care giver for his father who had developed Dementia. Before all that, there was work at various times as a soldier (US Army 1967-70), community organizer, cab driver, welfare case worker, wooden toy maker, carpenter, warehouse worker, and other things. He relates to a line in a Grateful Dead song, “What a long, strange trip its been.”

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