[following pt 3]
‘So. The baby. Richard’s?’ Began Terri. She ploughed through Tamarind’s protest. ‘It isn’t the first, and won’t be the last …’
‘I’m here to speak with Richard, not discuss my private life.’ And let him go, he’s just not interested, she almost added.
Terri stood up as the door opened and Richard walked in. ‘You girls best friends yet?’ Terri left the room. Richard stared at the door as it shut heavily behind her, its automatic closing device thwarting her attempt at a dramatic slam. ‘Who got her goat?’
‘You did. Some time ago, I shouldn’t wonder.’
‘Ok. Tamar. It is Tamar, right? I may be arrogant, overbearing and think all this Gaia stuff is a load of old … but I’m not stupid. You’re no hippychick. And that’s no baby. What gives?’ He sat and poured himself a large glass of red wine.
‘Well, I’m no hippychick, no’, began Tamarind, ‘but that’s by the by. The baby? It allows me enhanced access. Like an access-all-areas pass.’ She smiled. ‘Do you know a David Baker?’
‘Dave? Sure, I know Dave. I was external examiner for his PhD. Brilliant. Obsessed by 10CC. What about him?’ Richard started to feel a little uneasy.
‘Well, he’s been working for us.’
‘Yes. Us. Working with drones.’
Richard almost choked. ‘Dave? Working with drones? You’re kidding, right?’
‘We don’t really do jokes, Dr Woods.’ Tamarind almost spat the words out. ‘Why is that funny?’
‘Jesus. You got taken.’ He took out his smartphone, swished a couple of screens, and held it up to the not-so-hippy chick.
The phone kicked out the words of a young, impassioned man at a student society meeting.
‘I know how it sounds’, went the voice, ‘but bear with me. I can feel the love in this room, the deep connection we have with Gaia, and the simplicity of our acceptance is the true measure of humanity. We are children of mother earth, and though mankind fights and kills, our true nature, like the true nature of all of mother earth’s children, is to love, not kill. Every sentient system has a default that is love. We all are made to love, not kill.’
He snapped the phone shut. ‘That Dave Baker, right?’
Tamarind’s silence was an eloquent confirmation.
‘So, what have you had him doing?’
‘Like I said, working on drones.’ She sighed. ‘He’s part of a special AI programme, working to make them more efficient and independent in the field. The algorithms he’s been developing are designed to replicate human discretion.’
Richard chuckled to himself. ‘Don’t tell me he succeeded?’
Tamar went rigid. ‘Succeeded? You knew?”
‘Not about this gig, but he always said if he could only make a drone sentient then it would, naturally, revert to a benign operational default position, refuse to drop bombs, refuse to engage targets, and so on. Little fucker managed it, didn’t he?’ He laughed. ‘No wonder you’re pissed off.’ He continued to chuckle to himself, shaking his head and repeating ‘little fucker’ over and over.
The noise was so loud, so gleeful, so bone-chillingly cold that Richard had no choice but to look up as his body was flooded with adrenalised fear. He did so in time to see the tablet Tamar thrust at him in hi-res and at full volume. The footage froze.
[following pt 3]