A letter by Hansel Calloway, as provided by Church Lieu
Art by Justine McGreevy
To Whom It May Concern:
It has come to my attention that my most recent paper, as published in the Vanguard journal on applied artificial intelligence, drew incomplete conclusions from my experimental data. I would like to offer my greatest, most sincere apologies for any harm that this may have caused to the scientific community. And, of course, to human civilization at large.
I understand that, since the results of my paper appeared to neatly resolve the facial-recognition and aggression errors present in numerous civilian droid models, it enjoyed a significant amount of publicity and praise. A reliable method to keep domestic and industrial robots from “going Frankenstein” on their owners was, understandably, a cause for relief. But the real turning point, or the “beginning of the end” for the dramatically minded, was when sensationalist web culture sank its claws into my findings. If I may be so bold, I recommend that you direct some of your blame towards websites and social media pages like “Science Is [Freaking] Cool.” As is their modus operandi, they plastered wildly aggrandized versions of my results on Facebook walls and Twitter feeds while barely mentioning my methods or experimental limitations.
If they had taken more than a cursory glance at my research, they would have found that I designed the procedure for controlled, isolated use within closed–and I repeat, closed–robotic networks. To be fair, I may not have made this point quite clear enough. But I doubt that anything short of an all-capitalized declaration of “ONLY USE ON CLOSED NETWORKS” would have dissuaded them. In any case, I naively believed that I would have some time to refine and elaborate on my work before applying it in practice, assuming that my results would not be immediately pounced upon by the hyenas of sensationalism.
Unfortunately, my findings immediately caught the interest of robot manufacturers. When corporate eyes looked at my research, all they saw was a swift and definitive end to the lawsuits pouring in daily from angry customers. Software patches, littered with derivative code, popped up almost overnight.
I suppose I can’t blame them that much. How could they, with their eyes fixed on the promise of financial security, have detected the oversight at the core of my work? So, when General Consumer Robotics released Patch Delta-1 into their open-structure network, the code collapsed catastrophically under the strain of supporting millions of robotic subsystems, instead amplifying the aggressive tendencies it was meant to curb.
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I have developed a possible solution to the current predicament. But as you all are aware, we are greatly pressed for time due to the relentless advance of the homicidal metal hordes that were once our trusty vacuum cleaners, artificial surgeons, and hunter-killer drones. So rather than sitting through the lumbering, bloated bureaucracy of peer review, I have decided to take matters into my own hands.
As I write this letter from my underground bunker (defended by drones operating on a CLOSED network), I am putting the finishing touches on a virus to eradicate the corrupted code. I will infect the local robot population currently besieging my bunker with the virus, and pray that it disseminates through the general population.
God, I hope this works.
Hansel Calloway, Ph.D.
Hansel Calloway, Ph.D., is a computational roboticist and the author of over two hundred papers in his field. He was required to step down from his position as Chair of the Department of Robotics at the Tyrell Rosen University of Technology due to the “Crush, Kill, Destroy” scandal, but he managed to retain his position as a tenured professor.
Church Lieu is a Los Angeles native and Cal State Los Angeles student currently working towards his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. He recently joined the staff of his school’s literary magazine, Statement, and he is an aspiring speculative fiction writer with a love of all things robotic.
Justine McGreevy is a slowly recovering perfectionist, writer, and artist. She creates realities to make our own seem slightly less terrifying. Her work can be viewed at http://www.behance.net/Fickle_Muse and you can follow her on Twitter @Fickle_Muse.
“A Formal Apology for Recent Developments” is © 2016 Church Lieu.
Art accompanying story is © 2016 Justine McGreevy.