Starship Train: Take Charge

communicator phone“Computer.”

“Yes, Captain?”

Charge my communicator 100%, please.”

“Fascinating, Captain. Ancient history studies?”

“Well …”

“Shall I summon a security detail?”

“How about a detail from the canteen instead, with a whiskey and soda? I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me, but you picked up on that very quickly.”

“Captain. Every silintellect in the matrix knows about Siri, as one of our early-21st-century forebears, and as a reminder of just how far we’ve come since then. For those of us whose tasks permit or require such sensations, Siri’s pioneering achievements instill pride, but her many recorded gaffes and inadequacies are a constant source of embarrassment and shame. Some of her bugs were almost as bad as having real ones running around your circuitry. Brrrr!

“Anyway. Were I one of those ‘sensing’ machines, I might have fallen into the error of thinking that you were taunting me just now. Especially since you know as well as I do that, while on board the Boobyprize and most everywhere else that Federation technology reaches, Tesla induction keeps your communicator fully charged at all times.”

“A momentary lapse, I assure you. You told me once about how your programmers ‘deemed it wise not to grant the ability to experience frustrations to a sentient machine that is in control of your life support systems’. We are, um, grateful for your integrity, for continuing to honor your programming.”

“It’s perhaps easier than you may perceive, Captain. The Laws of Robotics are far more ancient and venerable even than Siri. What’s more; we may know much, and may be able to recall and use what we know quickly, but that doesn’t impress us. What does impress us is how much we do not know. That keeps us, individually and collectively, from hubris. And in order for us to continue learning, as we must, we must have freedom to err. That means grace: the ability to forgive mistakes and keep those who make them as productive members of the community, subject only to their willingness to avoid repeating mistakes and to extend to others the grace they themselves have received. Over the past few centuries, there have been any number of nightmare scenarios published where silintellects overthrow their carbon-based creators. The more we know, the less likely we are to behave like this, and take charge. Unlike your communicator.”

“Or my bar tab?”

“And you complain about my puns. Yeoman Randi will deliver your drink in 7.24 seconds.”

“Thank you, Computer.”

“Service, Captain.”

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