September 22, 2016

TBT: Artificial Intelligence (2004)

I arrive running at Mike’s Newsstand Café. I must look ridiculous running around the streets in my lab coat. I turn to my partner behind me with the tranquilizer gun, “Don’t do anything without my explicit permission, I’ll see if I can talk us out of this mess.”

I enter the Café and see Vincent sitting in the corner, looking at some magazines. He grows tense and nervous as I enter the door.

“I just want to speak with you,” I quietly announce.
“You just want to put me back,” replies Vincent without looking up.
“Well, in one way, yes. You can’t live out here; this is just buildings and streets. You need trees, open space and special care.”
“But I don’t want to live in the lab either.”

I sigh and wonder how I’m going to do this. I notice he’s been looking at some nature magazines. I continue talking but inch myself closer.

“What do you have there?” I ask.
“This is real things, real nature. Not like the lab.”
“Here, let me show you a few more things.” I remove a garden magazine from the stand. “Look at this one.”
“Wow. Beautiful trees. I want to go see those trees.”
“Even I haven’t seen those trees in real before; I haven’t been far outside the lab either.”
“Why?” Vincent finally lets his guard down and looks at me.
“Because I wanted to make you. You’re special to me.”
“You don’t want to hurt me?”
“No, I love you, I want you to be happy.”
“What is love?”
“Love is when you don’t want to hurt someone.”
“Oh,” he exclaims as he returns looking at the magazines. “I love the trees. Real trees. Trees I can smell.”
“How do you know what trees smell like? You’ve never seen a real tree.”
“I know,” he says as he points to his head.
“People are angry because you escaped the lab and hurt someone.”
“I’m sorry.”
“I know you’re sorry, but as humans, we are fragile. Once you break us, we don’t come back.”

I can see that a life in a lab is not going to be sufficient for Vincent, but I need to think of a temporary solution to get him back for now. I’m starting to doubt this experiment. Here is an ape that was crossed with human genetic material for speech and higher learning. I always assumed that his natural instincts could be overwritten with training and a well constructed bio lab. I never thought he would be intelligent enough to understand the artificiality of his environment.

“Vincent, how about I make a bargain with you. You come back to the lab with me, and every month I’ll bring you all the nature magazines. Plus, every once in a while, you can pick a tree, a real tree, and we’ll plant it in the lab and make it look and smell real. How does that sound?”
“It sounds like you don’t want to hurt me.”
“No, I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I don’t want to hurt you too.” Replies Vincent as he starts getting up.

“Ok. We’re going to back now. But some people remember that you hurt two people escaping the lab. They are scared that you will hurt them. So I want you to be very slow, very calm, and do what I say until we get to the lab so no one will hurt you ok?”

Vincent extends his massive hand and I escort him out of the busted door frame of the Café. I give my partner the signal and he fires a tranquilizer at Vincent. Within seconds, the ape is subdued and we wait for the truck that should arrive momentarily.

(c) Marc Noël 2004

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