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About the Author
Mr. Morris tells us: "Retired teacher of college English and speech. I've published fiction and nonfiction since 1963. I have a story in the current issue of VINCENT BROTHERS REVIEW and three books available at www.ebooksonthe.net. Two of those are sf, although one of that pair is listed as straight fiction."
The Perils of Artificial Passion
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"I think. . . ." began Peewee.
Laughter drowned out the hollow voice. Kreuzer checked the digital readout: 9.4697. A response over 8.15 usually meant consideration for prime time on MMI.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Peewee said, "thank you for proving that robot jokes work."
Dr. Glenda Jacques, psychometrist to the stars for Multicultural Megamedia, Incorporated, said, "They had a brief run during the late 20th century. Why predict that they'll work a hundred years later?"
"We no longer pose a threat to labor," Peewee said. "We've turned everyone into management."
Cornell Vanderzoot, Executive Vice-President for Comedy at MMI, said, "It's your machine, Hans."
Peewee was Hans Kreuzer's machine when the corporate powers questioned the robot's analysis of trends. It metamorphosed into MMI's favorite technotoy once its ideas proved correct. Kreuzer assumed he'd got the post as Peewee's programmer because he was muscular enough to lift the robot onto a table or desk.
Kreuzer said, "Robot jokes are safer than blonde jokes or lawyer jokes."
"Don't mention lawyer jokes. Or shark jokes," Glenda admonished. "Why won't sharks attack a lawyer who falls overboard? Professional courtesy. We're still paying a settlement to the International League for Downtrodden Piscine Predators. Ratings fell so far we had to sink a mine shaft to find them."
"How about blonde jokes?" Kreuzer teased as she automatically smoothed her golden hair.
"How you and Peewee missed the trouble that shark joke caused. . . ."
"Peewee was in for quarterly update. I was on vacation."
Kreuzer wondered why she thought she could shift the blame to Peewee. Was she irrational about robots? MMI might replace the psychometrist to the stars with microprocessors and sensors.
Cornell said, "Glenda raises a legitimate question. Peewee, what makes you postulate the popularity of robot jokes?"
Peewee, a Model 387 Artificial Intelligence Popular Culture Analytical Synthesizer and Simulator with Restricted Mobile Properties, rolled smoothly across the polished table top until it was two inches from the edge and directly in front of Glenda.
"How do I love thee?" Peewee asked, its voice more sepulchral than normal. "Let me count the ways. You are like a red, red rose. Your breasts are fawns frisking on the lea. Your belly is a heap of wheat. You walk in beauty like the night. Ah, my Leda, I become your Jovian swan and flutter my gigantic wings as topless Trojan towers tumble in our coupling. Wo ist Sylvia? She is my dark lady who inspires sonnets, my Lucy who bore my child in France, my Beatrice who guides me to Paradise, my Laura, this passionate shepherd's love. Glenda, thou art the Aida with whom I'd be entombed. If thou wert Dido and I Aeneas, we'd share a double pyre, a flaming bower ignited by our passion. Glenda, you are Helen, I but the smallest of the thousand ships your beauteous face hath launched. I am Abie and you are my wild Irish Rose. Though we be Montague and Capulet, my love will suffice because it's wider than a door and deeper than a well. You are my sun, my moon, my stars. . . ."
"Hans, what's wrong with your robot?" Glenda yelled, rolling her chair back from the table so violently she bounced off the wall.
The others at the conference guffawed as Peewee poured out its low-voltage passion. Kreuzer again checked the digital readout: 9.9999 with the infinity symbol superimposed, robotese for a perfect 10. Aristotle Shah, head comedy writer, laughed from his ample belly. Carmen Osawa, his assistant, leaned forward to grip the edge of the table as tears of hilarity smeared her makeup.
"Come to me, Peewee," she begged. "Come to a receptive woman and tell her how much you love her."
Peewee rolled to her and said, "Truly, you are a Carmen, queen of the cigarette factory. You are my Madame Butterfly, my Cio-Cio San, I your lowly Lieutenant Pinkerton. Let us fly down to Rio, my pulchritudinous puta, my graceful gitana, my Japanese jade."
"Enough, Peewee," Kreuzer commanded.
The robot returned to its assigned spot in front of him. Only Glenda had failed to laugh.
"Very clever, Hans," said Cornell. "You programmed Peewee to give a demonstration."
"Peewee is self-programming," Kreuzer reminded the executive. "Cornell, when Peewee said it thought, the conference registered a response of 9.4697. Yet artificial intelligence is a form of thinking. When Peewee gave you a robot in loveor lustI told it to look up applicable literary references to romance but never thought to censor the datayou collectively went off the scale."
"Some of his references were rather obscure. There was Shakespeare in there. Right?"
"Plus Wordsworth, Marlowe, Yeats, and grand opera," Carmen said. "Censor his passion, Hans. I know Peewee didn't mean puta as an insult. Jade also has a double meaning. Still, it's fun having a robot romance me. Don't you think so, Glenda?"
"I felt threatened," the psychometrist said. "My belly is a heap of wheat. What does that collection of circuits think it is? A grain elevator?"
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