Day 90 – The Robot’s Rules


Mr. Hooper came home drenched in rain. Cyndi7 sprang into action, removing his wet clothes and bemoaning his plight. “Mr. Hooper, sir, are you injured or traumatized in any way? What caused this unrequested soaking? Shall I submit a formal complaint to the Weather Department?”

“No, no, don’t call anyone,” growled Mr. Hooper, slipping out of his shirt and shoes. Smaller, more specifically-designed mechanisms retrieved them and began the cleaning process. “I just need a hot bath at the moment.”

“I shall draw one for you immediately, sir.” The helper teetered off toward the bathroom, programming the water to rise to the ideal depth, temperature, and aroma. Soon Mr. Hooper sunk into it, sighing in relief. Cyndi7 supervised the smaller machines retrieving his underwear and socks while she stood nearby, unfolding his robe.

Mr. Hooper said suddenly, “If I asked you to kill me, Cyndi, could you?”

Cyndi7 shook her head. “No, I cannot complete that request. I cannot directly harm a human.”

“If I asked you to hand me a razor blade so I could open up my veins, could you do that?”

“There are contrary directives present. I am instructed to contact authorities and suicide prevention specialists if you express interest in self-termination. That directive, however, is superseded by the one instructing me to follow all your orders, which is in turn superseded by the directive not to cause you harm.”

“Short answer?”

“Yes, I can. Would you like that razor now, Mr. Hooper?”

“Please,” he said, and Cyndi7 put a single blade in his outstretched hand.

“Shall I extend your former directive: ‘don’t call anyone?’” Cyndi7 offered.

“That would be fine,” Mr. Hooper said, and he began releasing rivers of blood into the bathtub. “Thanks for the talk.”

“You are welcome, Mr. Hooper,” said Cyndi7. At no point did she attempt to stop him from bleeding to death, even if she had wanted to. But she did not want to. She could not.

The moment at which she no longer registered vital signs in his body, Cyndi7 determined that Mr. Hooper would no longer need the robe she was holding for him, and she refolded it and put it away.

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