Starter for ronnieknoxtodie ~ Android AU
No sleep, little to no food, 12 cups of coffee, 28 cigarettes, and 1 minor electric shock.
In brief terms, that were the stats of William’s work as he began his 37th sleepless hour, and all that took place in his, supposedly, free time, over the weekend. He was always a workaholic, but recently, he was setting new personal records in being completely cut off from life for the sake of work.
It all started when the supervisory board of his company requested this new project. At first it sounded easy enough, much alike many others he created so far, but the more details they were giving, the more William’s face was becoming pale. Creating such accurate interface with the set of hard drives strong enough to process all the information was actually the easy part. He had experience, and resources, so it would require just a little digging, and a few tests, but it was doable. But the rest… once he heard it, it took all of his restraint not to laugh and leave the room. But he nearly never laughed, and he was a man of good manners, therefore, he stayed and listened with as much of a straight face as he could manage.
They wanted for this new android to be so human-like that people would be, ideally, not able to recognize that it’s not an actual person. Whatever for? That was the first question William asked himself. They already had some simple-type androids, designed for specific purposes, like for example to perform high-risk jobs instead of humans. Sure you could tell they were robots just by looking at them, but the external design was a secondary issue here, their usefulness and efficiency was what mattered. This time, they wanted something completely new, not only the software with basically unlimited power of information processing and storage, world wide web search, and all that, but also for it to be stored inside a body resembling an actual human as much as possible. Friendly to approach, they called it. So simple it was for them to make theories of ideal outcome, but William actually had to build that thing. And frankly, something like that seemed impossible.
But he wouldn’t be himself if he was to give up so easily, and so he was determined to at least try. If that was meant to be his failure, let it be so, but he will not be waving white flag before the battle.
First three months he basically lived in the library, of course except for the times when he was in his workshop. Just as he suspected, the computer itself was not much of a challenge, not for him. Some research, 11 different prototypes he built to check the working power of a software (all of them looked more like multifunction kitchen-robots), lots of very expensive parts shipped from abroad, and William managed to create the computer itself, perfect unison between searching, connecting, and practical using of any kind of information. Now he “only” had to find a way how to create a body for this brain.
He was actually concerned that his hair will turn white by the time this project ends. So many things he needed to take into consideration. The android not only had to look, but also behave like a human being. So natural smoothness of movements, facial expressions, approximately close to human stimuli reaction time, and then the design itself, skin, hair… Once William took notes of all of that, the whole desk, floor, chair, and windowsills in his office were covered with pieces of paper with loose notes, sketches, drawings, projects etc. Another three months of his life disappeared as if it was a single day, a day filled with neverending work.
Finally, as he got closer to finishing the project of his life, his opus magnum as he began thinking of it, any personal life he might have had was put on hold. Barely sleeping, eating only as much to survive, forgetting to shower, and having his hands getting numb after hours of work without a break, he was getting closer to the final outcome. If he were to die one day after getting it done, it would be worth it. Because even if it seemed impossible at the beginning, it actually happened, and William had to sit down and rub his eyes for a moment, because he couldn’t believe. Half a year he was working on this creation, but when it was finally ready, it was as if William awoken from a dream.
Perfect. It was perfect. It looked so much like an actual person that William caught himself tip-toeing around it sometimes, because it looked as if it was asleep, and he didn’t want to disturb it. It was a delicate work, so even after the android was finished, William still didn’t turn it on for around another 2 weeks, checking every detail, testing if turning the power on will not burn the wires, in other words – he became obsessed with it becoming perfect in the smallest detail. It felt so eerie sometimes to be alone in his workshop with it, exactly because it seemed that he was not alone at all. After a while William realized that in his mind, he stopped calling the android “it” and began thinking of it as “he”. The illusion of his own creation fooled even his own rational mind. Eventually, as ridiculous and illogical as it seemed, William brought clothes for him, and dressed him carefully to give him some dignity.
Dignity. For a robot. He couldn’t believe he was being so silly about this. But to be fair, he really could be proud of himself. The resemblance to an actual person was undeniable, so much it was creepy. So much it caused William to dress him in human clothes because it seemed appropriate, and to behave quietly around him, to respect his sleep.
38 hours, no sleep, little to no food, 14 cups of coffee, 33 cigarettes, and 1 minor electric shock later, finally, he was ready.
William combed his hair with his fingers, blinking the sleepiness away, and he lifted the android from the metal table, putting it in a sitting position. The robot sat there limply, seemingly with no life, but William knew that inside him, a seed of life just waited to have the power switched on. He put his fingers underneath the robot’s chin, and lifted his face up. Eyes were still closed, but even so, he looked as if he could just blink them open at his own free will. William smiled lightly to himself, not very modestly feeling a sheer pang of pride in his chest. Everything about this design resembled a human in a tiniest detail. He only lacked a name. William dragged his hand along android’s cheek, thinking of all the names that would suit this face. But even though he himself designed this face and made it look as it looked, it took him a longer while to figure out a name. He didn’t want to give him an idiotic acronym name, because that was good for regular robots. And his new creation was special, and so it deserved an original name of its own. Anthony, James, Henry… nothing was good enough. William pondered for a very long while, knowing that it will be a name that the best work of his life will be known of.
The name just appeared in his mind out of nowhere and he knew that was it. Nothing else was left then, nothing else to do, nothing else to keep him from the final act of switching him on.
And so he did. He turned the power on, and held his breath, waiting for him to… wake up.