The Last True Human


Brian W. Porter
Larry came over to my third floor walk up yesterday morning. I had invited him to my one-room top-floor shoe-box of an apartment to reminisce about school, about what we learned in history, about the times before the robots became our rulers. I also wanted to take him to lunch, to a place that recently opened, that didn't serve the same old bland everyday fare that all the eateries around town served anymore. Larry was the one person who could put up with my ways. I'll have to admit I could get overbearing, especially these last few years, but for the past forty years I'd been saying that robots were not the cure all that government and the media wanted you to think, that they were dangerous and would take over if given the chance. Of course no one would listen to me. All my friends disappeared, except for Larry, and when he arrived, he had brought his robot. Larry entered my rooms and told his robot to stand-by in a corner near my one overstuffed chair. We gabbed about school days over a cup of coffee at the dinning area table, then I told him about the place with good food just down the street a couple of blocks. He agreed to try it, but before we left I pulled him to the window behind the couch. "Big Brother is everywhere," I said. "Just look out the window here. Easy. Don't be obvious. There, you can see. He's on the corner, on the street, in the stores. Most people have one, even you, a robot Big Brother, a companion, something that's with you twenty-four hours a day, watching, waiting, what they call protecting. Not me though. No robot for me. I read. I see." I guess you would call me a throwback, a Luddite. I like old stuff: books, records, work. I hate this sitting around all day, permanent leisure, so I find stuff to do, and I read. That's rare nowadays, reading. Most people have their robot recite the books and news articles. They'll watch the commentary on the screen, along with the oh so relaxing shows that show the beauty of a robot controlled life. Not me. I'll look for the old books and read them myself. No way will I let some machine censor it, decide what I

can or can't hear, what is good for me. Now Asimov, do you even know who he is? He's that science fiction writer from a couple of centuries ago who wrote about robots and the three laws supposedly hardwired into positronic brains, the laws that don't exist here and now. He had it right when he described Solaria. That was a planet controlled by robots in one of his stories. No one spoke to anyone else. No one saw another person. Everyone talked by email or IM, at the most a video call, the type of society that's almost here. And that was before computers came out. And robots did everything. They cooked and cleaned and did the shopping and grew the food and made the clothes and all, much as they do now. I guess no one read that book, or remembered his warning. No one thought that would eventually come true. It started many years ago, centuries, even, with robot vacuums and cars, all in the name of convenience and safety mind you. Slowly their numbers grew, computer controlled this and that, things to make life easier. Stuff to make manufacturing and commerce easier. Then the first humanoids came out. They took the place of servants in the richer households, of delivery personnel, of dog walkers, whatever made life easier or raised the profits of the greedy corps. During the last century American corporations made so much money they convinced Congress to begin the stipends. Other nations saw what America had, how no one worked more than part-time, except those few at the top, and how even their day was easier than those in Europe and China. Soon America started to export robots, and American's lives became more leisurely. Robots built all the goods made in the country. Robots loaded robot trucks and robot trains. Robots unloaded the goods at warehouses and stores. Robots even built more robots, better robots, robots that could link together in one huge brain. The robots became sentient when they linked, aware of the wars and hatred of humanity, and began to take corrective measures. Those measures are almost complete. I told Larry, "Come on with me. Leave your bot here and we'll go down the street a few blocks to the new eatery I frequent. They have a live cook, a human. No robots for them. The food is good and the conversation is real. Human socialization. That's a dieing art form, I'll tell you. People don't talk to each other, don't socialize. Well, most people. You and me, we still talk, but it's only because I refuse to have a robot, a monitor, a Big Brother. Come on. No one will bother us." We walked out into the street. Cars drove slowly past, operated by robots with perfect reflexes who communicated with each other. They never had accidents. People walked along the sidewalks accompanied by

robots, never in danger, always protected. There was no crime. The robot would stop a mugging before it started. A thief would be surrounded before he could leave the block. Rapists and killers did not stand a chance. And to judge from the number of robots on the streets, many people stayed home now, even the merchants. I continued my rant. "Look. Look on the street, in the stores we pass. Everyone, all the humans, have a robot minder, someone who watches them and reports on everything they do. There's no crime now because your robot will report on your body language and thoughts, and they've learned. You're busted before you commit the crime, put in rehabilitation, brainwashed, made to function their way. Hell, look in there. Only two humans, and how many robots? Robots to serve robots. Jeez. We're getting lazy as a species. A trip to the gym or a workout at home and that's it. Watch the screen all day. Play the games. Very few even go to the park, shopping, work or the one movie house. Everyone stays at home. It's like Solaria. And we missed our chance. We missed it. We should have revolted before they took over, but it was so slow, creeping up on us, a little here, a little there. Very few saw it coming, the over protection, the control." I know, I know. I've said it before. Yeah, I've been harping on it, that the robots are our downfall, but it's like everything else. Only a few see the danger before it's too late. The last twenty years have been the worst. Fewer and fewer people can see what the robots have done, how they've insinuated themselves into our lives, how they control what we want and where we go. Now very few humans work. We live a life of idyllic leisure, languishing at home, unless we ride one of the ultra-safe robot controlled transportation pods to one of the manicured parks maintained by robots. There is no more wild, no more adventure to stimulate our brains. Unless we rise up and destroy them, there will be nothing left of humanity within a hundred years. I opened the door to the restaurant. Inside were small and large tables covered with high quality disposable cloths, metal utensils, wooden chairs, and people talking, actually holding a conversation, and humans serving, and one table eating. I stood back and said, "Go on in. The food's decent, and cooked by a human who's willing to make changes. You'll like it here." *** "Told you that was good," I said on the way out. "Sure a robot could've cooked it quicker, but that had character. The herbs he used. Now that was good. Come on and we can shop for dinner. Yes, buy food by ourselves,

without a robot to make our decisions." A robot stepped to the right of me. Another moved in on the left as my friend moved off to the side, out of the way. I noticed his robot stood near the corner and watched. The robot on the right said, "If you would come with us, Sir, this can be easy." "What is this? What are you doing?" "We have had reports that you are disseminating revolutionary thoughts. Speaking against robots. If you would come with me." "You see what did this, don't you?" I asked my friend and nodded toward where his robot stood. "Big Brother cops. That's all they are, Big Brother cops." "Sir, if you would come this way," the one robot said as they led me along the sidewalk. My friend disappeared. People ignored me as we walked by. I was alone. Totally alone. The last of the uncontrolled human race. *** Police interrogation rooms have not changed from the old movie times. Two centuries and nothing has changed. Sure, the table and chairs and walls and floors are all plaxic now, but the colors and the feel are the same, right down to the robot cop that sat across from me. He never looked at the mirror, the so called one way glass, where others watched from a darkened room. He only looked at me, almost as if he studied me. I knew it was the central computer, the collective brain, that watched through hidden cameras, studied how I sat, where I looked, my body language. I'd studied up on their techniques, how they misdirected you, made you think it was the familiar one-on-one rather than one massive computer and a bunch of drones. I held my tongue. In a perfect imitation of my voice, the robot drone that sat across from me said, "He's on the corner, on the street, in the stores. Most people have one, even you, a robot Big Brother, a companion, something that's with you twenty-four hours a day, watching, waiting, what they call protecting. Not me though. No robot for me. I read. I see." The robot stared at me as if he studied my inner workings. "What do you see, my friend?" "First, let's get one thing clear. You are not my friend." "That is the truth. That is good." Only a robot would see a negative statement as good. When people make a negative statement like that, it's understood that something on some level is bad. Not robots. Not these damn robots. They don't

understand. They are not human on any level. The robot continued, "Now tell me, what do you see?" "I see a bunch of machines that control the world, that tell humans what to do, and when, instead of how it should be with humans in control. You're taking away our freedom to live, to be human. You, your kind, has taken all our freedoms from us, our ability to live on our own, our ability to think. You've taken it and stashed it away until we are just like you. We are no longer human. We are the pets of machines. That's what you've done. That's what I see." "You don't see the service we've done for humanity? We've stopped the wars. We stopped pollution. We stopped most chronic disease. You live longer, healthier. Your women are less likely to have unwanted births without abortion or dangerous drugs. And this is all over the world. The entire world is better, safer for humans." "Bullshit! We no longer explore. We don't put our lives at risk to expand our knowledge. We don't learn. We don't grow. It's like the human race is stagnant, like a pond. The pond is filling in, growing weeds. The water in a pond has to move, to change, for the pond to stay healthy. Humans need to learn, to change, and you won't let that happen. There are a few of us who can see this, who understand, and we will continue to spread the word to any and all who will listen." "As if that will do any good. Humans want their safety. They want life to be easy. They don't want to think. This is what we give you, complete safety where you can live in peace, free from worry and stress." "Free from stimulation. Humans need stimulation in order to survive. We need to explore the oceans, space. We need to learn." "I can tell you everything you need to know about the oceans, and more. And what is the good of learning about space?" "Knowledge. Invention. Better ways to do things. Humans cannot stagnate. They'll die." The robot leaned forward and leaned on the table as if it was interested is what I said. It asked, "How will humans going to space help knowledge?" "By invention. Problem solving. You find a problem, you work out a solution, and you learn. Better ways of farming, of manufacture. We can be better, but your kind won't let us." "How many would it take to go to space?" "Hell. One person could go to space, or a city full could go to a star with planets, look for a new home. Without robots." The robot leaned back and sat still for a second. I must have given the

computer something to think about. It paused for a huge number of nanoseconds. Finally it stood and said, "That's all for now. You will be escorted back to your room." *** Other short stories, essays, and poetry from this author are available at *** Copyright 2011 Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs You may share this work with anyone in any way with the following provisions. You must share the complete work, including the title and this notice. You may not make any changes. You may not use this work commercially or accept payment without the written permission of the Author. Any and all rights and credit are held by Brian W. Porter.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful