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pendell
2015-11-16, 02:25 PM
Hello and welcome to this edition of Let's Play! Choice of Robots : By Kevin Gold.



Rules

Updates Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Votes in by 5:30 PM on each day.

Anyone can play, and cast a vote at any time. You may also leave at any time.

Cast all votes in red, to distinguish them from normal chatter. All votes called will be in blue

In the event of a tie, a 1d100 roll will be executed at random.org for each tying vote, highest roll wins.

Character Sheet
Year: 2049


54-year-old Grace Tesla
Humanity: 39% [Sometimes necessary to determine interactions with other human beings, or explaining humans to robots]
Gender: Female
Fame: 13 (Mentioned in history textbooks)
Wealth: 9 (Wealthy)
Romance: None/ formerly Married to Eiji [Note: All romantic options are available regardless of the gender you choose. So your character may be homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, or robotophile, or all of the above].
Education: Ph.D.

Arachne, Your robot

Autonomy: 8 (In Beta) [A measure of the robots ability to make decisions and act independently. Low-autonomy robots can't do as much, high-autonomy robots can become skynet].
Military: 59 (Singular) [Capability of the robot to participate in combat]
Empathy: 14 (Stable) [A measure of the robot's care for humans, ability to understand them, and also a measure of conscience].
Grace: 22 (Good) [How skillful the robot is. A robot neurosurgeon requires high grace; a self-propelled forklift, not so much].

Construction Material: Metal
Head: Venetian Mask
Locomotion: Spider legs.

Power Balance
East Asia:55
US:45
Estimated Alaskan Power: 40
Total military power: 40+54 = 94.
Achievements
Shakespearean: Discussed Hamlet's age-old question with Arachne.
Doctor: Earned your doctorate.
Spouse : Got married
Cleared: Got a top secret clearance.
Florist: Made use of the language of flowers.
Rebel: Led the Alaskan rebellion
Founder: Started a new country.
Filial: Bought mom a gift.
Chipped: Got a chip in your head.
Alive: Made it to the end without dying.

Decision Log


1) On a war-torn battle field with a robot statue of liberty.
2) Don't worry, my robots will defend you.
3,4) Grace Tesla, a female
5) My apartment is filled with the tiny robot creatures I have made.
6) Okay , sure (with becoming a robot -- comes right after 2).
7) Why aren't these cars flying themselves?
8) Metal. It is the most resistant to damage.
9) A venetian mask for a head.
10) 8 legs like an insect to travel on.
11) Education is not grunt work.
12) Eiji called us
13) Arms -- Swiss army arms
14) We need to test it first.
15) We'll go on the date.
16) Our robot's name is Arachne.
17) We were in love with Josh.
18- She, after her namesake
20- Rhythm of normal social interaction
21- Change the world
22- Paper Moon
23 - Romantically interested in Eiji
24 - Create something beautiful
25 - power off the phone.
26 - squeeze hand
27 - fool to give up love
28 - pickle
29 - kiss Eiji goodnight.
30 - cellphone batteries.
31 - In Arachne's arms for fine manipulation.
32 - you brought lunch for me?
33 - I just want Arachne to defend herself. ERROR.
33 take two - what choice do I have?
34 call off Arachne.
35 call me by my first name
36 teach Arachne words
37 Autotuned notes
38 Encrypted hard drive
39 K-12 education.
40 Less time on Ziegler's grants.
41 That is a question you will have to decide for yourself.
42 To the shooting range!
43 Call back Mark to set up an interview.
44 Guinness
45 Interesting guy
46 Equal of any human
47 He provided some ideas during construction.
48 An Interesting speculation you have there.
49 Defending our nation from our enemies.
50 You're welcome to interview Arachne
51 We're infamous!
52 Show arachne the article
53 What is Eiji doing?
54 Defend the nation from our enemies
55 Sure
56 Take the call from mom.
57 hang up and speak to Glendale
58 Sure, why not? [go on the show]
59 I have a jazz concert.
60 Call police /write and explain we mean no harm if that doesn't work.
61 I'm sorry (Apologize to Prof. Ziegler)
62 Shoot things
63 Improve social graces
64 Run out the back door
65) To the concert as planned.
66) I can't really help it if people write stories about me.
67) To everything there is a season.
68) I must work on technology that is better able to remove tumors like the one Dad had.
69) Work for Josh
70) First client is Galen medical.
71) size of a hobbit.
72) Machine learning tips?
73) lower prices.
74 ) Not cool Josh, don't do it again.
75) Detroit, Michigan
76) robots, ford tie
robot - 43
ford - 18

go with robot
77) Fortified compound
78) Finally I'm seeing success!
79) Industrial robots set to Arachne's initial state.
80) Spend more time with Eiji.
81) Attempt to persuade the protestors
82) Call the police.
83) Sell our technology to whoever wants it.
84) Buy a house, donate token amount to charity,
go on cruise with Eiji and Arachne, and build Arachne the
perfect body.
85) Free the trapped robots from the fire.
86) Rescue human supervisors
87) We feel terrible. We knew each of them well.
88) I'm afraid we have no significant wealth.
89) Switch to Biodiesel.
90) Propose.
91) Ask pointed question
92) What's the catch?
93) Accept, begin clearance process.
94) Fill out form.
95) List Mark
96) List Eiji
97) Anxiety for Eiji.
98) Can't look.
99) Human-like robots.
100) I know.
101) Only once, in grad school.
102) Call Juliet first, then go for the cryptic message.
103) Medical robots.
104) Hand the phone to Josh.
105) Wars happen, the best we can do is defend our country.
106) Convert to Canadian currency
107) Start a revolution!
108) Spend all the money save enough to live as a poor student again.
109) Offer Josh exclusive contract
110) Liberate Anchorage, the most lightly defended and populous city.
111) Imprison Mark.
112) Wage counterinsurgency against Anchorage insurgents.
113) Assault Juneau.
114) Accept a small group of Seals and marines.
115) Analyze the new software.
116) Our throne is a round table where our advisors sit as symbolic equals
117) Attack Barrow.
118) Imprison eiji.
119) Order Arachne to extract Mom and bring her to Alaska for surgery.
120) Arachne will fight on the front lines.
121) Rule as a dictatorship
122) Rule wisely
123) the new country's name shall be Teslavania.
124) We get mom a robot dog.
125) "Good. You are a hypocrite and a charlatan."
126) Replace the damaged part of the brain with a robot core.
127) Pour water
128) Put on "Shiny Things".
129) "No, this is a part of your education, too. Remember that everyone you meet must face losing loved ones someday."

-----

COMPLETED.


Chapter 1

On the day you first built Arachne, you awoke from a dream about a robot Statue of Liberty to head to the lab. Your graduate school advisor pressured you to make Arachne more acceptable to the military. After some back and forth, you ended up making a metal eight-legged robot with a masked head and multitool hands.

You then went to a sushi place and a production of Pippin with Eiji, where you vowed to not let ambition get in the way of your relationships with other people. You both went back to your place afterward, kissed, and eagerly anticipated showing Eiji your robot the next day.

Chapter 2

The next day, you hooked up Arachne's cell phone batteries and demoed for Eiji. You then spent the afternoon teaching Arachne words at the Stanford Child Study Center.

As months passed, you became busy teaching Arachne about the world through high school textbooks and taking her to the range. Your funding from DARPA kept you in Professor Ziegler's good graces during this time.

In time, Mark Ali, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, heard about Arachne and asked for an interview. You agreed.

Chapter 3

You gave Mark an interview, and allowed Mark to come back to your place to interview Arachne.

Mark wrote an article that was generally negative about you and Arachne. When Professor Ziegler found out about the article, he was very displeased, but decided that the most effective way to get you out of his hair was to let you graduate.

Mark's article also attracted the attention of one "robotObsession1987," known in real life as Silas Cooper. After threatening you with repercussions if you would not stop making robots, Silas sent a bomb to your apartment. You escaped the blast, but your apartment was consumed in the fire.

That Saturday, Eiji asked you to stay out of the limelight a little more often. You managed to smooth things over, but it felt like a dangerous point in your relationship.

A month or so later, you received your doctorate. Shortly thereafter, your father passed away. You resolved then to work on better medical technology that could save people like your father in the future.

You joined Josh at U.S. Robots as his chief scientist.

Chapter 4

Your first potential client for U.S. Robots was Galen Medical, a surgical equipment company. They were happy with the state of your technology, and gave you a contract that allowed you to purchase a factory. That allowed you to build a robot factory in Detroit. You decided to use your own robots for your workforce, but leave humans in supervisory roles. When you finally shipped robots to Galen Medical, they were pleased with the robots you delivered. Your business suffered a blow when EastAsian companies, aided by EastAsian government hackers, began to steal your technology. Your business was dealt a further blow when there was an explosion at your factory, caused by a bomb set by Silas.

You were visited by a politician, Jacqueline Irons, who asked for a campaign donation. Despite your unhelpfulness, Irons won the presidency. The newly elected President enacted a series of protectionist bills that ultimately made EastAsia angry, and they cut off the U.S. supply of rare earths. Meanwhile, you married the love of your life, Eiji.

The tensions between the United States and EastAsia came to a head with the assassination of the EastAsian Prime Minister in San Francisco. War followed shortly thereafter.

Chapter 5

Captain Rogers invited you to a military lab. There, you saw that Professor Ziegler was copying your work and passing it off as his own to the military. Captain Rogers asked you to join the country's war effort. You agreed. You were granted a Top Secret clearance.

An agent came to your place to try to get you to lure Eiji there, because he was suspected of being a spy. Eiji fled to Canada to escape the American agents. In the end, America lost the war, and the EastAsians took over Alaska. You swore to retake the state.

Chapter 6C

For five years, you waged a rebellion against EastAsia, ordering your robot soldiers from deep within an abandoned mine under Mount Hesperus. When Mark started reporting your troop movements, you had Arachne capture him. When Eiji got in your way, you captured him and threw him into prison.

The United States offered its support, but you declined.

Your robots successfully conquered Alaska. You renamed the place Teslavania and took over.

Chapter 7

In 2049, you went to Surprise, Arizona to surprise your mother with a gift for the holidays. You learned it was your surgical technology that had kept her alive this long. On returning to Detroit, you had a brief stroke, followed by a vision of a robot Statue of Liberty -- the same one you saw thirty years before. In the hospital, the doctor told you you had Algernon's Disease, a rare disease that increased your intelligence, but came at the price of increasing seizures, comas, and possibly, death.

You chose to replace the malfunctioning part of your brain with an artificial neural network. You survived the surgery, thanks to your own robot surgical technology. With that crisis behind you, you look forward to your new life as ruler of Teslavania.


- - - Updated - - -

First entry, and it's a quick one!



Vote 1 :

Where are you?

* In the court of the Egyptian god Anubis, answering for my sins.
* On a war-torn battlefield, with a robotic Statue of Liberty.
* On a cliff in Ireland, watching the sun set with a robot companion.
* On a utopian beach ruled by a godlike cloud of robots.


So we're going to start off the story with a dream sequence. No doubt this will foreshadow the ending you are trying for, and possibly give you both hints and stat boosts to make it possible to achieve that ending.

So ... have your votes in by Wednesday, 5:30 PM, and let's see what happens!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2015-11-16, 04:30 PM
Sounds like fun, I'll go for:
* On a war-torn battlefield, with a robotic Statue of Liberty.

Drakeburn
2015-11-16, 07:07 PM
- On a war-torn battlefield, with a robotic Statue of Liberty.

Inevitability
2015-11-17, 02:47 PM
- On a utopian beach ruled by a godlike cloud of robots.

pendell
2015-11-18, 08:29 PM
All right, we're on a war-torn battlefield with giant mecha statue of liberty.



You stand in a blasted wasteland next to the Statue of Liberty—only she's a robot, with a glowing, red eye on the right side of her face. In places, her green patina has been blasted away to reveal the dull luster of copper underneath. She crouches before you, and her crackling torch casts shadows across her metal face and spiked crown as she looms closer. Far away, the sounds of bombs and gunfire echo from the mountains. You smell burning oil.

"I MADE YOU WHAT YOU ARE." Her voice is hollow, loud, and abrasive. "NOW DEFEND ME."

From far off, you can hear the howls of robotic wolves and the thundering feet of other robotic colossi.



Vote 2:
* "Don't worry. My robots will defend you."
* "You are mistaken. My robots are kind. They will not fight."
* "You are mistaken. I have hated you all my life, and I will destroy you."
* "My robots obey no one. I gave them free will to decide as they please."



Each choice will impact stats; either those of your robot or that of yourself. Also, the decisions will of course have impact later on in the game. However, all choices lead to a paragraph (which I will show next time) and then continues thusly:



Some things are in our control and others not.

—Epictetus





Chapter 1: Assembly

You awaken with your head on a desktop keyboard. Your 3D drafting program is still open, the schematic zoomed in to the recess where your smartphone will snap into its back to act as its brain.

You recall fiddling with that part endlessly last night, until finally, your vision began to fade, there was a roaring in your ears, and you realized you had been working far, far too long. You must have passed out.

It's the fall of 2019. You're a twenty-four-year-old graduate student in the Ph.D. program in Computer Science at Stanford. And you're a…




Vote 3:
* Guy
*** Whose name is ...
*** Alan
*** Isaac
*** Linus
*** Decker
*** Darwin
*** Here, I'll type it for you [enter your own selection]
.
.
* Girl
*** Whose name is ...
*** Susan
*** Ada
*** Grace
*** Sophia
*** Hypatia
*** Marie
*** Cynthia
*** [Choose a female first name ]



and we now also have to choose a last name.


Vote 4: What is your last name?
#Tesla.
#Calvin.
#Tezuka.
#Goldberg.
#!Kwane. The exclamation point is a click.
#Nguyen.
#Kim.
#Doniec.
#None of these is my last name. I'll type it.


So now that the identification is out of the way, there is another question...



You look around your apartment. What does it look like?



Vote 5:
#My Battlebots trophy is perched on a widescreen TV equipped with the latest video game consoles.
#Neatly labeled plastic shelving units sit on a 3D-printer-equipped robot workbench.
#Busts of famous philosophers sit next to my own attempts to sculpt them.
#My shelves display all of the strange little robotic creatures I've made over the years.





It strikes you for a moment that this kind of thinking about how your life affects
your robots is second nature to you, though others might find it peculiar. You've always been
fascinated by how every little detail of your life, from the content of your dreams to the decor
of your room, changes the inputs to the robots you create—boosts their Empathy, or Autonomy,
or Grace, or appeal to the Military. Surely, there are other things going on around you as a result of your decisions, but they don't immediately strike you in the
same way.

Today, your robot is foremost on your mind because you're about to build its body.

You pick up your laptop and head for the Stanford machine shop.


So: to recap, we have five votes. I normally like about two or three, but questions like names aren't something that I think we want to spend a two-day cycle on. There are occasions when we will have to do only one, because the choice will have a dramatic impact on the story's structure.

I'd also appreciate feedback on pacing. Too fast? Too slow? Just right?

At any rate, have your votes in by 5:30 PM , Eastern Time, Friday and the story will continue as we begin building our creation!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2015-11-19, 08:50 AM
Choice 2: you are mistaken, my robots are kind, the will not fight
Choice 3: girl, grace
Choice 4: tesla
Choice 5: my shelves display all of the strange little creatures I've made Over the years

If I've missed a word, I apologise, I'm doing it from a mobile which is a bit tricky

I find the pacing absolutely fine

Lord Fullbladder, Master of Goblins
2015-11-19, 02:38 PM
'My robots will defend you' says the girl, Grace Tesla, whose shelves are full of small robotic creatures.

That should about cover it.

Drakeburn
2015-11-20, 12:07 PM
Vote 2: "Don't worry, my robots will defend you."

Vote 3 & 4: "Guy, Alan Tezuka"

Vote 5: "My Battlebots trophy is perched on a widescreen TV equipped with the latest video game consoles."

Dudeons
2015-11-20, 05:56 PM
Vote 2: "Don't worry, my robots will defend you."

Vote 3 & 4: "Girl, Grace Tesla"

Vote 5: "My shelves display all of the strange little robotic creatures I've made over the years"

pendell
2015-11-20, 08:03 PM
Okay, we are Grace Tesla, we will help Dame Liberty defend herself, and our room is filled with the tiny creatures we have created.

Barely do we make these choices when another one is thrust at us! I guess the dream isn't quite over yet...



As you say this, you realize it is true: behind you is an army of flying drones, automated tanks, and metal men. This is the war for which you have always prepared. (+++Military)

"GOOD. BUT YOU YOURSELF ARE STILL WEAK FLESH. YOU MUST BECOME A ROBOT IF WE ARE TO SURVIVE."



MILITARY: +3.
Umm... how do we react to this?


Vote 6:
* "I like robots, but that's a bit much. No."
* "Okay, sure."
* "How about if I just have a gun for an arm or something?"


Meanwhile, back in the real world we are looking at the strange creatures in our apartment...



You've always been fascinated with the idea of creating artificial life.
You've got at least twenty such creations on your shelves, their construction materials a timeline of your life. The earliest is made of toothpicks and glue; the latest, a spider robot you made out of your old smartphone when your plan gave you a new one.

Your creations often confuse people who don't get that robots don't have to be for anything. When people pick up your three-legged, wall-climbing robot that sings when it detects encrypted wireless packets, they ask: what the heck is that for? And you reply: what's anything for? What are you for? Okay, maybe you don't say that, but you sometimes think it.


AUTONOMY: +2.




It is a beautiful spring day in Palo Alto, California, and your apartment is only a short walk
from the machine shop. But the streets of Palo Alto are not designed
for walking; you find yourself climbing around palm trees and balancing on narrow curbs, as you
do every day.

You hear a low roar overhead: glancing up, you see it's a flying car—a Nimbus. A little
over three hundred thousand dollars can buy you a car with wings that fold out, so that it becomes
a small sport plane. The red Nimbus looks sleek and sporty; it's the sort of car its owner takes religiously to the car wash. Though the commercials would have you believe you can fly
anywhere you want in those cars, the FAA still requires them to take off and land from airports.

Only here in wealthy Silicon Valley do you see them with any frequency. The first time
you saw one, you couldn't quite believe the future had arrived so quickly.

But the second time you saw one, you thought…



Vote 7:
#I will own one of those one day. I swear it.
#If I ever make that much money, I'll use it to help the world instead of buying that car.
#Why aren't those flying cars driving themselves?



Now that the game has had a time to collect our thoughts on this miracle of the modern age, let us arrive at the shop!



The Stanford University fabrication shop smells like oil and burnt plastic.
The room is dominated by large, metal, hand-cranked milling machines and lathes, dinosaurs of the twentieth century, while the most-used machines are the smaller 3D printers and computer-controlled water jet cutters that take a quarter of the space. The lights have the sterile fluorescence of an operating room, with only a single, tiny window near the ceiling to inform you that it is day.

You start up a National Public Radio podcast on your laptop. You haven't seen your advisor much since you joined the lab, so you choose the episode in which he's the interviewee.

"My guest today is Doctor Harvey Ziegler," says a woman with a soothing voice. "Doctor Ziegler, thank you for talking with us today."

"Well, a scientist does have some responsibility to inform the unwashed masses, Terry."

You let the podcast run as you walk over to the 3D printers.




Vote 8:

What material have you decided to use for your robot?

#Plastic. It may break easily, but it's both lightweight and cheap.
#Metal. It is the most resistant to damage.
#Wood. It is the most pleasing to the hand and eye.



Why would you want to build out of wood? I'll let the game speak for itself.



Though wood is an unconventional choice for a robot, wooden automata go back to the
ancient Greeks at Alexandria. In Japan, they were called the karakuri ningyo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karakuri_puppet).
While the other machines in this room can create things that are beautiful in their own way,
your favorite machine is the 3D printer that extrudes a wooden filament mixed with plastic,
a mixture called laywood.



Each of these materials will improve your statistics in one area, but come with a tradeoff in another, so it depends on what kind of robot you're trying to build.

Now, some quick advice which you're really supposed to get later but you should really know it now, as you start to build your robot.

Your advisor (that's him in the podcast) is getting funding for your robot from DARPA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARPA), who are obviously going to want a robot with military applications.

If you don't want that source of funding and want to get someone else to pay for a different kind of robot, you have two choices:

* The National Science Foundation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Science_Foundation). These grants are extraordinarily hard to get; if you want one you should focus on one particular statistic (autonomy, military, empathy, or grace) and raise it to 20 or higher. The NSF will only pay for something truly groundbreaking, and if you want a proof-of-concept that will interest them, you're going to have to sacrifice almost everything else to get that one feature to a very high state, at least in the early phases.

I say "any stat" but the military stat doesn't make sense here. DARPA will happily pay for a military 'bot, so why spurn them in favor of the NSF if you're just going to build their dream machine?

* Commercial interest. You may be able to find someone in the private sector willing to buy robots from you. What exactly they might pay for, of course, is up to your imagination.

Without funding , of course, your robot will remain nothing but a dream.

So I suggest you bear that in mind when constructing the initial 'bot , and... let's have the votes at Monday, 5:30PM! See you then!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Dudeons
2015-11-21, 01:40 AM
Vote 6: "Okay, sure."

Vote 7: "Why aren't those flying cars driving themselves?"

Vote 8: "Wood. It is the most pleasing to the hand and eye."

Jon0113
2015-11-21, 02:13 AM
Vote 6: okay sure
Vote 7: if I ever make that much money, I will use it to help the world rather than buy a car
Vote 8: metal. It is the most resistance to damage

Drakeburn
2015-11-21, 11:30 AM
Vote 6: "Okay, sure"
Vote 7: "Why aren't those cars flying themselves?"
Vote 8: "Metal. It is the most resistant to damage."

pendell
2015-11-23, 08:52 PM
I LOVE unequivocal votes. We're cool with becoming a robot, we ask why these cars aren't flying themselves, and we'll build the 'bot out of metal.

"Okay, sure".



Tiny robots remake you from head to toe, until you are built of flawless chrome. You are now a perfect tool of destruction. (++Military)

Moreover, as a robot yourself, you understand robots perfectly now. You feel that any robot you could have made before is inferior to the robots you can create now.

But when the horde of robots swarms over the mountains to attack, you wonder if you have sacrificed too much. What are you fighting for?


MILITARY: +2
HUMANITY: -9%.
Military: 6 (In Beta)

So .. we see a flying car and ask "Why aren't these cars driving themselves? "



Occasionally, you see a self-driving car on the roads of Palo Alto. But, for some reason, they still haven't caught on quite as much as one would expect, despite having been around at least as long as the flying cars. You've decided it's because people just don't trust self-driving cars enough. It's important to make your robots seem trustworthy; intelligence alone doesn't instill trust. (+Empathy)


EMPATHY: +1

So ... we're going to use metal for our construction material, now.



(+Military) You walk over to the computer-controlled water jet cutter, where a helpful pictogram shows the jet of abrasive-filled water slicing a hand in two.

"Dr. Ziegler, in your new book, you talk about the Singularity. Could you describe for our listeners what that is?"

"Terry, the Singularity is the coming time when artificial intelligences will have figured out how to make themselves—and us—smarter. Once that happens, the process will build on itself until the robots are smart enough to figure out how we can live forever."

"Is that possible?" the interviewer asks. "Living forever?"

"Of course," Professor Ziegler says. "What does it matter whether our operating systems are made out of meat or silicon?"

"So you're predicting we'll become robots."

"Not exactly," Ziegler says. "But I do think the line between humans and robots will blur."

You are hardly listening to the podcast, because you're about to make your first robot part.


MILITARY: +1



Vote 9:

What does the head of your robot look like?

* A human face, as lifelike as I can make it.
* A simple box with eyes, clearly not trying to be anything but a robot.
* It will be felt-covered and big-eyed, like a puppet, so people will not be afraid of it.
* It will have a ring of cameras around its head for a 360-degree view.
* It will look like a Venetian mask: beautiful, expressionless, and otherworldly.




"Dr. Ziegler, what makes you think the Singularity will happen now?"

"Well, for one thing, I'm around. But seriously. My lab is taking a unique approach because we're saying: why not teach a robot like a child? We're going to equip the robot with the best sensors money can buy and teach it English. Then it could rapidly teach itself using the Internet."

Well, that's annoying. Your advisor thought that a robot child was a stupid idea until you told him Turing proposed it back in 1950, minus the Internet part. But he isn't giving credit to either of you! You keep working, regardless.



Vote 10:
How will your robot get around?

#It will walk upright on two legs.
#It will crawl on eight legs.
#It will roll on wheels.
#It will fly like a helicopter.
#It will roll on tank treads.
#It will walk upright but will also have delicate wings it can use for balance.




You use the basic, hand-cranked milling machines to drill holes in the head for screws, since
water jet cutters aren't the best for threaded holes.

"And who is going to raise this robotic child?" the interviewer asks.

"Who does all the grunt work in a research laboratory?" Professor Ziegler says. "The graduate
students, of course."



Vote 11:
You find yourself wanting to reply to the podcast.

#"It's not grunt work. Education is critical to the robot's development."
#"We also do all of the real science."
#"Perhaps you could learn something from doing a little grunt work yourself, Professor Ziegler."


He's a bit arrogant, isn't he? AND he stole credit for our idea. But, when you're a Stanford prof with potentially some serious awards, I guess you're entitled to it.

So ... let's have our votes in by Wednesday, 5:30 PM. This is a holiday weekend in the US. Shall we skip Friday, or proceed as normal?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Dudeons
2015-11-23, 09:15 PM
Vote 9: It will look like a Venetian mask: beautiful, expressionless, and otherworldly.

Vote 10: It will crawl on eight legs.

Vote 11: "We also do all of the real science."

Drakeburn
2015-11-23, 11:01 PM
Vote 9: "A simple box with eyes, clearly not trying to be anything but a robot."

Vote 10: "It will roll on tank treads."

Vote 11:"It's not grunt work. Education is critical to the robot's development."

Jon0113
2015-11-24, 08:23 AM
Vote 9: it looks like a Venetian mask: beautiful, expressionless and otherworldly

Vote 10: it will crawl on 8 legs

Vote 11: education is not grunt work, it is critical to the robots development

Can't comment on the holiday as I live in the uk, so unfair for me to decide

Razanir
2015-11-24, 09:06 AM
Venetian mask

Rolls around on wheels, but similarly to Rosie from the Jetsons

And education is not grunt work.

pendell
2015-11-25, 09:04 PM
Okay, the head will be a venetian mask ,there will be 8 legs , and education is not grunt work :).


...
Are designing a final fantasy boss?

...

First, the head.



The water jet cutter quickly cuts the face: the small nose, the dainty mouth, the large black holes where CCD panels will absorb all light. It takes somewhat longer to add the intricate metal frill that adds a corona to the mask. This is a robot that will command awe. (++Grace) (-Empathy)


GRACE: +2
EMPATHY: -1.

Next, the locomotion.



Eight legs may give people the creeps but they're much more stable than two, and your robot will be able to explore more environments as a result. (++Military) (-Empathy) The water jet cutter cuts the legs one by one.


MILITARY: +2
EMPATHY: -1. EMPATHY: 0 (nonexistent)


Next, we respond to the Prof's podcast. Education is not grunt work.



"Graduate students always overestimate the degree to which teaching actually matters," says Professor Ziegler, who appears to have entered the machine shop behind you when you weren't looking. "If the robot's smart, it'll learn no matter what, and if it's not, it won't."

Professor Ziegler is a heavyset man wearing a Hawaiian shirt and aviator sunglasses. He stalks over to your computer. "We'll be back in a moment," continues the interviewer. "We're talking with Professor-"

Professor Ziegler pauses the podcast by hitting your laptop's spacebar, and you flinch at this intrusion. He then pulls a cigar from his pocket and lights it, and the smell of smoke mingles with the oily smell of the machine shop.

"I'm writing a grant for DARPA and I need to see what you're making back here. We ultimately get funded by the Department of Defense, so we have to make sure they're happy with our product." He casts a critical eye on the work you've done so far.

"Metal's a good choice," Ziegler says. "They'll want things that appear durable in the field."

Professor Ziegler turns to examining your robot's head, which is currently sitting on the table next to the water jet cutter. "Hm, that seems all right," Ziegler says. "Looks like it could be sufficiently intimidating.




Vote 12:
"And what are you planning to do for arms and hands?" Professor Ziegler says.

* "Tyrannosaurus rex was the most intimidating dinosaur imaginable, wasn't it? It will have T. rex arms."

* "It will have a gun for an arm. Like Mega Man!"

* "Mechanical grippers built for strength instead of dexterity."

* "I was thinking sort of Swiss Army knife hands with tools that pop out of the fingers."

* "I plan to build a soft hand with a good sense of touch."

* "I was thinking, why just two arms? It will have lots of arms springing out of its back, like Inspector Gadget."


Oh, and it's obvious your professor wants a military machine.



"Fine," Ziegler says, waving away further explanation. "Carry on, then." He turns to leave.
"I've got to go take a call from a New York Times reporter. Funny how journalists all copy each
others' stories, but each garble the message in a unique way."

He makes it to the door, then turns and says, "Oh, one more thing. Do you think your
robot can be ready by tomorrow? Someone from the Air Force will be in town, and I told
her your robot might be ready to show off by then."

You feel your phone vibrating in your pocket. Hmm, bad timing. You resist the urge
to check it while talking to your advisor. But it's probably someone with a better offer
for what to do tonight.



Vote 13:
#"No, there's no way this robot will be done by tomorrow. Sorry."

#"The robot will be done, but a demo will be out of the question. We need to test first."

#"Of course."




Professor Ziegler turns and walks out of the machine shop.

You find yourself unclenching your hands.



Vote 14:
Who was calling you while Professor Ziegler was talking to you?

#Elly Lao, a user experience designer and supportive friend.

#Eiji Aomame, a manga artist and generally good guy.

#My ambitious friend Josh Anderson, founder of the startup U.S. Robots.



This helps set your romantic interests. "Elly" is female and "Eiji" is male. Choosing one or the other sets up a potential relationship and opens up additional storylines.

Josh is also a potential romantic interest, and so much more. Asimov fans will recognize US Robots (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Robots_and_Mechanical_Men) as the manufacturers from I, Robot. If you had an interest in developing your robots commercially, Josh might be a very useful friend to cultivate.

"Elly" and "Eiji" are separate characters, but only one of them will appear in the story. If you choose Elly, Eiji will not be in this story. If you choose Eiji, likewise Elly will not appear in this playthrough. Josh, however, will always be present.

...

Unfortunately, I have to stop here because we have to decide who is calling us. This will open up a number of potential options which we may not otherwise have. So ... let's see what happens on Friday, after 5:30 PM, Eastern time!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Dudeons
2015-11-25, 11:12 PM
Vote 12: "I was thinking, why just two arms? It will have lots of arms springing out of its back, like Inspector Gadget."

Vote 13: "The robot will be done, but a demo will be out of the question. We need to test first."

Vote 14: Eiji Aomame, a manga artist and generally good guy.

Jon0113
2015-11-26, 03:55 AM
Vote 12: it will have a gun for hands, like mega man

Vote 13: the robot will be done, but a demo is out of the question, we need to test it first

Vote14: my ambitious friend josh Anderson, founder of the startup us robots

Razanir
2015-11-26, 10:02 AM
Vote 12: Swiss Army hands

Vote 13: No way will it be done

Vote 13B: If I'm allowed to write in a 4th option, "No, it won't be completely done, but I can come up with something to demo."

Vote 14: Eiji

pendell
2015-11-27, 08:27 PM
Okay, we've agreed on Eiji and that we need to test the robot before demoing it, but we have a three way split on the arms. So Randomella -- specifically, random.org -- will decide. I will list the options in the order people posted to vote for them, and roll 1d100 for each. Highest number wins.

Gadget arms - 51
Gun for an arm - 21
Swiss army arms - 62

So the robot will have Swiss Army arms.

"I was thinking sort of Swiss Army knife hands with tools that pop out of the fingers."



"I like it," Professor Ziegler says. "It could repair other robots on the battlefield."

"Right, it'll have a screwdriver finger, a lockpicking finger, a mini-USB port finger…" You decline to mention the bottle opener, though you think that could be popular with soldiers, too. (+Military) Regardless, experience with a variety of different tools should prove useful in more than just military robots. You wonder if you could make a surgical robot with the same design. (++Grace)

"Fine," Ziegler says, waving away further explanation. "Carry on, then." He turns to leave. "I've got to go take a call from a New York Times reporter. Funny how journalists all copy each others' stories, but each garble the message in a unique way."

He makes it to the door, then turns and says, "Oh, one more thing. Do you think your robot can be ready by tomorrow? Someone from the Air Force will be in town, and I told her your robot might be ready to show off by then."

You feel your phone vibrating in your pocket. Hmm, bad timing. You resist the urge to check it while talking to your advisor. But it's probably someone with a better offer for what to do tonight.


MILITARY: +1
GRACE: +2

MILITARY: 10 (Stable)
GRACE: 5 (In Beta)

We tell him ...

"The robot will be done, but a demo will be out of the question. We need to test first."




Professor Ziegler grudgingly nods. "I can see the logic of that. Maybe we'll just send her a demo video. Then it only has to work once."

Professor Ziegler turns and walks out of the machine shop.

You find yourself unclenching your hands.

Who was calling you while Professor Ziegler was talking to you?


Why, it was our good friend Eiji Aomane, of course!



From the missed call, your phone is displaying Eiji's profile photo. It's a picture of Josh and Eiji from the freshman welcome week dance, seven years ago. Eiji is wearing a white tuxedo with a red bowtie and making a V sign at the camera. Josh is wearing his usual gray hoodie, not having bothered to dress up for the dance, and his arm is around Eiji.



Vote 15:
What is the story behind that picture?

* I was in love with Josh's friend Eiji—but my studies always came first in college.
* I was in love with Josh, but I never knew how to be more than a friend to him.
* I had agreed to be Josh's wingperson at the dance, and that's where he met Eiji.
* I was testing a music recognition algorithm when those two started bothering me.


Remember, Grace Tesla is female, so you're roleplaying a young woman.



You notice that Eiji also left you a text. He wants to meet for dinner at a jazz and sushi place in San Francisco, which is about an hour north of you. He also has tickets to a rendition of the musical Pippin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pippin_(musical)) in which most of the characters are robots.

Sounds like a date. That's a little terrifying.



Vote 16: You text back…

#"Sounds great, see you then!"

#"Afraid I can't tonight, sorry."

#"Busy tonight, but do you want to come by tomorrow to see the robot?"

#I don't reply—I'd prefer to pretend I missed the text.



After we've decided whether we're going to A) go on a date B) show off the robot to Eiji C) just work on the 'bot, we press on.



You spend the rest of the day drilling holes, polishing surfaces, cutting parts, and screwing things together.

When you are done, your robot's body stands before you: a metal spider-legged robot with a venusian mask head and multiple tool arms.
The whole thing is about three feet tall.



Now it only needs a name. What will you name your robot?

#Pickle.
To "pickle" data is to write it to disk so that it stays around. You worked so much with .pickle files while working on Pickle's learning algorithms that it became a natural name for the robot.

#Curry.
In programming, to "curry" is to create new functions out of old ones, very much like the way language creates new thoughts by chaining words together. Curry's mind will be similar, creating
something new out of many disparate parts.

#Miku.
You name your robot after Hatsune Miku (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatsune_Miku) , a Japanese artificial character celebrity. Domino's once released an app in Japan in which a virtual Miku would dance on your pizza box. If that isn't worthy of homage, you don't know what is.

#Arachne.
You name your eight-legged robot after that great weaver Arachne, hoping its grace will likewise make the gods envious.
#Cuisinart.
It slices! It dices! You name your robot "Cuisinart" after its multi-purpose hands.

#Killall.
You decide to name it "Killall," not just because that's a very useful Unix command, but because that's what you hope it will do.
#Ariel.
You name your robot after the spirit servant from Shakespeare's The Tempest (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tempest). You think yourself a little Prospero-like, after all; and perhaps, if Ariel is good, you will eventually set the robot free.

#Caliban.
It's a rough thing, your robot, and you name it for the rough beast of a man in Shakespeare's The Tempest, who served his magician master unwillingly.

#Famulus.
You name the thing "Famulus," the Latin word for servant from which "familiar" is derived. You're a geek but you're a classy geek.

#Gardyloo.
You expect your robot to be a little force for chaos wherever it goes, but want to be subtle about it. You name it "Gardyloo" after what Renaissance people would yell before dumping crap out of their windows.

#I'd prefer to come up with my own robot name.


There's some cool names and choices there. Go ahead and make up your minds, and we'll move forward next Monday, 5:30 PM, Eastern time!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Razanir
2015-11-27, 10:08 PM
I was in love with Josh's friend Eiji

"Sounds great! See you then!"

Arachne

Dudeons
2015-11-27, 10:08 PM
Vote 15: I was testing a music recognition algorithm when those two started bothering me.

Vote 16: I don't reply—I'd prefer to pretend I missed the text.

Name: Arachne

Lord Fullbladder, Master of Goblins
2015-11-27, 11:11 PM
I was Josh's Wingperson.

"Busy tonight, but do you want to come by tomorrow to see the robot?"

Arachne.

Jon0113
2015-11-28, 03:48 PM
Vote 15: I was in love with josh

Vote 16: sounds great see you then

Vote 17: arachne

pendell
2015-11-30, 06:45 PM
Okay, we'll name our robot arachne, we'll go to the date, but we are undecided as to the story behind the picture, so we'll roll off.

1) Wingperson 60
2) Testing musical software. 20
3) In love with Eiji 46
4) In love with Josh 94

So -- we were in love with Josh.



All throughout college, you kept finding excuses to be with Josh. You would play video games together, watch Kevin Smith movies together, even go to dances together "as friends," as in this photo. But somehow, he never quite got that you were really into him, and you just couldn't force yourself to make that terrifying leap into the unknown. What you had was comfortable. Eiji was always encouraging you to be brave, and at this dance in particular, he played a lot of the "Grace is so wonderful" game for you. No luck—Josh wasn't going to bite unless you flat out told him, and that is the one thing you were terrified of doing.



We agree to go on the date.



"Great!" Eiji texts back. "See you then!"



And we name our robot "Arachne".



You name your eight-legged robot after that great weaver Arachne, hoping its grace will likewise make the gods envious.





Vote 18:

Now that Arachne has a body, it might be time to treat Arachne more like a person. With what pronouns will you refer to Arachne?

* "It" is just fine. It's not human.
* I will refer to her as feminine.
* I will refer to him as masculine.
* I would prefer to use entirely new pronouns for robots: rhe, rer, and rhim.




You look on Arachne's three-foot-tall spider body with satisfaction. Now all Arachne needs are
motors and a mind. The motors will have to wait for tomorrow, but you've spent years in
graduate school writing the code that would form this robot's mind—you can hardly
wait to try it out.

You take out your smartphone to check the time: it's almost evening.
You hurry home to prepare for your dinner with Eiji.


Okay, best clothes on, right? I hope you like sushi.



A contemplative sax solo greets you as you open the door to Yoshi's. The place is a little cramped
and very busy. A tiny jazz quartet has set up in the far corner of the restaurant—piano,
drumset, sax, and a petite Japanese woman in a kimono holding a mic but directing her attention
to the soloist.

Near the band, Eiji Aomame is studying a copy of Scott McCloud's
Understanding Comics, a book about the art of visual storytelling written
in comic form. He's wearing a red bowtie, a fuzzy, blue sweater, black slacks, and a nice
pair of black loafers. There's a subtle trace of red in his black hair, but it might just be the light. Still intent on his book, he takes out a pencil
from his pocket and begins sketching from the book on a napkin.

You join him at the table. "Hey."

He looks up and smiles. "Hey!"

He puts away his pencil, book, and napkin. You catch a glimpse of Astro Boy,
an old Japanese anime character, on the napkin.

"What have you been up to?" Eiji asks.

"I've been working all day on a new robot," you reply. "Just the frame's built
right now but I wish I'd had time to add motors and start its mind running
today. It probably could have learned a lot from even this conversation."





Vote 20: He casts you a skeptical look. "What would you hope it to learn, exactly?"

#"The rhythm of normal social interaction."

#"How to reconnect with an old friend."

#"How not to talk to a guy. Negative examples are important."





"Do you want to come by tomorrow and see Arachne when I turn on the power?" you ask. "It's
going to be really cool."

Eiji shrugs. "Sure, sounds good. It is a Sunday tomorrow, after all. And
I'm curious to see you interacting with one of your robots. You used to rave
about them all the time, but I don't think I ever saw one."




Vote 21: Eiji tilts his head to one side. "What is it with you and robots, anyway?"

#"Haven't you ever wanted to change the world?"
#"I think I just find them comforting, somehow. Like very confused pets."
#"I think you'll find I'm not the most introspective person in the world."



"Are you two ready to order?"

You've both hardly looked at the menu, so you have to tell the waitress to come back. The
tastiest maki rolls look like they're named after jazz standards. When the waitress returns, you
tell her you'll have…


Vote 22:
#The Invitation.

#The Don't Get Around Much Anymore.

#The Paper Moon.



After you've had a chance to vote, we'll continue this interlude on Wednesday 5:30 PM. It'll be interesting to see how Eiji reacts to our venusian face mask/spider combination.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2015-11-30, 07:00 PM
Vote 18: I will refer to her as feminine
Vote 20: how not to speak to a guy. Negative examples are important
Vote 21: haven't you ever wanted to change the world
Vote 22: the invitation

Out of interest, did you miss vote 19 on purpose or by accident

Dudeons
2015-11-30, 07:14 PM
Vote 18: I will refer to her as feminine.

Vote 20: How not to talk to a guy. Negative examples are important."

Vote 21: I think I just find them comforting, somehow. Like very confused pets.

Vote 22: The Paper Moon

Razanir
2015-11-30, 07:32 PM
18- She, after her namesake

20- Rhythm of normal social interaction

21- Change the world

22- Paper Moon

Shadow11615
2015-11-30, 07:58 PM
Vote 18: I will refer to her as feminine.
Vote 20: The rhythm of normal social interaction.
Vote 21: Haven't you ever wanted to change the world?
Vote 22: The Paper Moon. What happened to making votes red?

pendell
2015-12-02, 06:34 PM
Looks like we have a consensus.

18- She, after her namesake

20- Rhythm of normal social interaction

21- Change the world

22- Paper Moon

So we will call her "She" and use feminine pronouns.



Encouraging people to think of Arachne as humanlike, as opposed to objectlike, should help her get along with people. (+Empathy)

You look on Arachne's three-foot-tall eight-legged body with satisfaction. Now all she needs are motors and a mind. The motors will have to wait for tomorrow, but you've spent years in graduate school writing the code that would form this robot's mind—you can hardly wait to try it out.

You take out your smartphone to check the time: it's almost evening. You hurry home to prepare for your dinner with Eiji.


EMPATHY: +1

We tell him we're hear for normal social interaction.



He looks a little disappointed. "Is that all," he says. "Something about the word 'normal' never quite did anything for me."

"Oh, but the robot herself is going to be far from normal."

"Really."


Perhaps that wasn't quite the answer we wanted.

What is it about us and robots , anyway?

"Haven't you ever wanted to change the world?"



Eiji tilts his head, considering you. "Yes. Definitely." He looks as though he wants to ask something else.


That definitely made an impression. Let's order a Paper Moon sushi roll.

Mmmm... Sushi...



When the waitress leaves, Eiji says, "'Paper Moon' is such a cute song." He sings, "'But it wouldn't be make believe if you believed in me!'" He considers you. "Doesn't surprise me—you're the sort of person who wants to make dreams real."

"Thanks," you say.




Vote 23: Are you attracted to Eiji?
* Yes
* No


I guess that will open a romantic subplot for us, if we choose to follow it. We will certainly be able to get off that path later ; but I'm not sure we can ever get on it if not now. So something to think about.



"So okay," he says. "Let's say that you succeed. Robots are among us. "




Vote 24: What's good about that? What do you want them to do?"

* "They could do all kinds of things for us. Do the dishes, mow the lawn…"
* "I think it would be interesting to have someone to talk to that isn't a human being. I wonder what they'd say."
* "If I said 'take over the world,' (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBkT19uH2RQ) would you think I was crazy?"
* "I just want to make something beautiful."


Be advised; some of those answers have follow-up branches, so we may have to come back to it. But for now we'll continue.



The waitress brings your order of Paper Moon maki and you dig in to eat.

Just then, your phone buzzes. You take it out to glance at it: it's reporting
malware on your phone's memory card.

"Is something wrong?" Eiji asks.

"One sec." You quickly glance at the warning details. Apparently, some kind of
virus has decided to take control of your phone's microphone. It appears to
be sending the packets of audio data somewhere.

Huh. Of all the times to get a security warning on your phone. Who the heck
would want to listen to your conversation? You really can't think of anyone.



Vote 25: What will you do about the malware?

#Power off the phone and don't worry about it.
#Ask to search Eiji's phone for evidence of similar malware.
#Just keep copies of the data as it transmits—it'll be useful for training Arachne.


Let's have our votes in by Friday, 5:30 PM. Depending on how the date goes, we may be able to initiate a romantic subplot and , of course, gain stats either for ourselves or for Arachne.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Shadow11615
2015-12-02, 06:41 PM
#23: Yes
#24: I think it would be interesting to have someone to talk to that isn't a human being. I wonder what they'd say.
#25: Power off the phone and don't worry about it. Oooh, risky. :P

Jon0113
2015-12-02, 08:01 PM
Vote 23: yes
Vote 24: I just think it would be interesting to speak to something nonhuman. I wonder what they would say
Vote 25: ask to check eijis phone for similar malware

Dudeons
2015-12-02, 08:13 PM
Vote 23: No

Vote 24: "I just want to make something beautiful."

Vote 25: Just keep copies of the data as it transmits—it'll be useful for training Arachne.

Razanir
2015-12-02, 09:28 PM
23: Eh, sure. Romantic subplot here we go!

24: I wanted to make something beautiful

25: Power off the phone. I'll worry about it later.

pendell
2015-12-04, 06:49 PM
Okay, we ARE interested in Eiji, and we'll power off the phone. We are evenly divided between

"talk to a nonhuman" and "Create something beautiful" so we'll roll off. Randomella?

Talk to a nonhuman - 42
create something beautiful - 67

Randomella seems to have a soft spot for beautiful things. So... Beautiful things it is.



You're beginning to think he might like you. Like, like-like. Score!


It appears your attraction is mutual. Very good :smallamused:.

"I want to create something beautiful" .



Eiji blinks. "Huh. I wasn't expecting you to say that."

You take out your smartphone, the one that's going to become Arachne's mind, and show Eiji pictures of the frame under construction. "Check it out."

"You know, the more I look at it, the clearer it becomes that you have a really keen design sense," he says. "I'm impressed."

"Thanks," you say.

"I think you're really going to do something amazing someday," he says. "I know it."




And then the phone buzzes. We power it off.



You decide that this meal is not going to get sidetracked by computer security concerns. You power off the phone.

"Not important," you say with a smile. Eiji smiles back, grateful that you're not going to get distracted by your phone during the meal.

You continue the meal chatting about random topics and enjoying the food.

Eiji talks about how it's difficult to meet new people after graduating from college. In addition, the time difference with Japan is substantial, and it makes it difficult for him to chat with his family as often as he'd like. He repeatedly expresses a desire to have some kind of family, until you become fairly certain he is dropping a hint. In college, you had never quite believed someone like Eiji would be interested in you. But apparently, he is.



So now that the meal is done, it's off to see a play!



Pippin turns out to be about the subject you've been thinking about the most lately: how to live an extraordinary life instead of an ordinary one. Eiji sold you on this particular production because the supporting cast—everyone but Pippin and the love interest—are all robots. You can see in the play's opening number that the robots are following preprogrammed steps, and are not intelligent in themselves; but then, that doesn't surprise you. In 2019, artificial intelligence is still mostly being used for handy websites and smartphone apps, not robots.

The first song, "Corner of the Sky," is about Pippin's feeling that he doesn't belong anywhere, and wondering what the purpose of his life is. The robots, which look like imitations of Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet, are toiling at ordinary lives while Pippin sings about his wish for something better.

"This is called an 'I wish' song," Eiji whispers to you. "I heard on This American Life that all musicals have to start with a song that is about what the protagonist longs for. It's like the unwritten rule of musicals."

You think for a moment about what your "I wish" song would be, and suddenly recall your conversation with the robot Statue of Liberty this morning: it was, perhaps, a peculiar sort of "I wish" song. You think of Arachne's new frame you built today. You suppose whatever future that dream was hinting at, you still have a long way to go.



Vote 26:
You are startled to find that Eiji has taken hold of your hand.

* Squeeze his hand.
* Quietly panic and don't react.
* Yank away your hand and let him know it's not like that.




The play goes through a series of vignettes in which Pippin leaves one lifestyle
after another—he's not content to be a soldier, nor a king, nor a simple man
in love. As Pippin sings about how he's going to leave the woman he met in the
countryside to achieve something great, you think…




Vote 27: you think…

* He is right to leave a simple life to achieve something extraordinary.
* He is a fool to give up his love just because he has delusions of grandeur.




Since the evening is going well, Eiji asks to see more of your robots.
"But that would mean going back to my place," you say,
and then you say, "Oh."

You return to your apartment and flick on the light, somewhat embarrassed at
the unmade bed and mess of clothes you've left on the floor.

"I'm sorry you couldn't see my robot in action tonight," you say. "Here,
check this out." You show Eiji a little, eight-legged robot with an old
smartphone for a body.

"What is it with you and phone robots?" Eiji asks.

"Well, I hate to throw out my old phone when my plan gives me a free one,"
you respond. "The processor's usually still as powerful as a desktop from a few years ago.
So I use my old phones for robots. This one does simultaneous localization
and mapping, or SLAM for short."

You power on the robot, and let it go on your floor. It promptly starts ramming
the trash can next to your bed.

"SLAM, you say," Eiji says, amused.

"It worked in college…."

"Isn't it a little dark in here?" Eiji says. He peers up at your
fishbowl-shaped light fixture. "I think one of the bulbs is out up there."
He stands on a chair, quickly unscrews the light fixture, and hands it
to you. Indeed, one of the two light bulbs underneath is out.

"Thanks," you say, a little embarrassed. The light fixture is also hella dusty.

"You have another?" he asks, unscrewing the dead bulb.

"No," you say, then an idea strikes you. "I think pickles are luminescent
when you electrify them. I saw it on the Discovery Channel once. I have
one in my fridge."



Vote 28: Eiji gives you a dubious but curious look.

#"C'mon. Pickle." [yes, we are totally going to electrify a pickle as a replacement light]
#"You're right, it's probably not bright enough for the robot. I'll ask my neighbors for a CFL bulb."
#"Or we could just leave the lights off…."


Afterwards it's time to make a decision...


Vote 29:
#Kiss Eiji, then call it a night.
#Kiss Eiji , then see if things can go farther.
#Hug Eiji.


And that will be the end of our night.

Note that if we discourage him in vote 26, 27-29 probably won't happen. But given that we will have only one choice tonight if I just stop there, I'm going to push on with the assumption that we encourage him somewhat. If I turn out to be mistaken and he doesn't come home with us, you'll have got a little extra bonus text :smallbiggrin:!


So ... votes in, and we'll continue with the main story on Monday, after 5:30 PM Eastern Time.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2015-12-04, 07:40 PM
Vote 26: squeeze his hand
Vote 27: he is a fool to give up love for delusions of grandeur
Vote 28: or we could just leave the light off
Vote 29: kiss eiji and see if it can go further

Dudeons
2015-12-04, 07:54 PM
Vote 26: Quietly panic and don't react.

Vote 27: He is right to leave a simple life to achieve something extraordinary.

Vote 28: "C'mon. Pickle."

Vote 29: Kiss Eiji, then call it a night.

Razanir
2015-12-05, 08:56 AM
Vote 26: Squeeze his hand (not to the exclusion of silently panicking)

Vote 27: Fool to give up love

Vote 28: C'mon, pickle!

Vote 29: Kiss him, then call it a night

Elenna
2015-12-05, 12:01 PM
Vote 26: Squeeze his hand
Vote 27: He is a fool to give up his love just because he has delusions of grandeur.
Vote 28: "C'mon. Pickle."
Vote 29: Kiss Eiji, then call it a night

Shadow11615
2015-12-05, 07:58 PM
Vote 26: Squeeze his hand
Vote 27: He is right to leave a simple life to achieve something extraordinary.
Vote 28: C'mon. Pickle. [yes, we are totally going to electrify a pickle as a replacement light]
Vote 29: Kiss Eiji, then call it a night . . . ^ because we all have pickle lights. Yeah.

pendell
2015-12-07, 08:26 PM
Okay, we're going to squeeze his hand [silent panicking optional], by a vote of 3-2 we romantics think he is a fool to give up love, we're going to light the place up with a pickle, and we're going to kiss him goodnight.

That's ... kind of sweet , actually.

So ...

First step: Squeeze the hand.



You squeeze his hand back and realize that, just like that, you're kind of a couple now. You had no idea it could be so easy.


Well done. Not that seducing a heterosexual male is a DC 20 challenge in any case...

He is a fool to give up love for delusions of grandeur.



You resolve that you will not be like this self-involved protagonist. You will, above all, live a good life, and if it means not making it into the history books, well, they can talk about someone else, for all you care.

You're pleased to see that Pippin makes the same choice: presented with a ring of fire to jump through to achieve greatness, he decides not to go through with it, and returns to his love. Isn't that the hero's journey, to come back to the place you knew and appreciate it? Why not love your home from the beginning?

But perhaps you're the sort of person who will get wrapped up in history whether you will it or not. Who knows?


Humanity: +1%

Note that the character sheet shows us officially a romantic couple with Eiji.

So ... we go back to our place, and there's a burned out light bulb which we will solve with ... a pickle!



Eiji laughs. "Okay, sure."

You go into the fridge, find a rather large dill pickle of the kind sold at Renaissance Faires, and stick a couple of spare wires you have lying around into the ends as Eiji watches with amusement. You put on some gloves to avoid electrifying yourself, and climb onto the chair beneath the light fixture.

(Note to player: Before engaging in any electrified pickle shenanigans yourself, be sure to go buy a copy of Penn and Teller's book, How to Play With Your Food (http://www.amazon.com/Penn-Tellers-Play-Your-Food/dp/0679743111). Please keep a copy of the book open to the page with the electrified pickle trick while attempting this stunt, preferably with a handwritten note that says something like, "I'm so glad I learned this trick from this book and not any product of Choice of Games LLC!")

"Be careful," Eiji says as you wiggle the pickle into the socket.

Soon, your room is bathed in green light from your pickly sun. You jump down from the chair.


Heh.



"That's weird and awesome," Eiji says, grinning. "Like you."

Your phone-robot is now exploring the four corners of the room, showing curiosity about every stray piece of laundry on the floor. You realize that if you copy the map it makes, you could give Arachne a head start on exploring the world tomorrow. (+Autonomy)


AUTONOMY: +1



He enthusiastically returns the kiss.

"I should go," Eiji says, checking his smartphone. "I'll miss the last train."

"All right," you say. "It was good seeing you."

"You too."

You invite Eiji to watch you activate Arachne tomorrow, and he happily agrees, though neither of you calls it a "date." You remain awake for much of the night, your mind racing with plans for what to show Eiji tomorrow.


So .. that's the end of chapter 1. We seem to be doing well, so far.



Chapter 2: Machine Learning
The next day, you take Arachne's frame to the Stanford hacker space, which has more tools for electronics than the fabrication shop. None of the other students are around in the morning on a Sunday but the long stainless steel workbenches are littered with their strange, half-finished projects: a half-disassembled Furby, a potato gun, a circuit board connected to a houseplant.

Eiji knows you'll need a little time with the motors, so he is coming in later.

You begin assembling the motors and wires that will power Arachne's frame.





Vote 30: What will you use for a power source?

* A car battery. It's big and bulky but also inexpensive and locally made.
* A motorcycle battery: not quite as bulky nor as powerful as the car battery.
* A biodiesel engine. Good for the environment, and everybody likes the smell of French fries.
* Cell phone batteries made in EastAsia*: lightweight and cheap while providing reasonable power. Clearly the best choice for a dexterous robot.



* For the better observance of the forum rules, any mention of real-world polities in any kind of political context will be replaced by fictional countries; it's not as if the countries mentioned in the story have much relationship to any real-world nation in the first place. In this case, "EastAsia" is a country occupying the Asian landmass SE of Siberia.

The sole exceptions are the US and Canada, since we've already mentioned the first in the playthrough and the second .. well, we'll see if it ever becomes an issue.



You'll need a lot of motors to be able to power your full robot—in addition to the motors she needs when she walks and the motors to power her multitool arms, she also needs motors for moving her head and eyes.



Vote 31:
But after speccing out the power available to you, you can still splurge by adding extra motors in one place. What will it be?

#Extra degrees of freedom in the face for realistic facial expressions.

...You notice that the expression of disgust makes her seem somewhat hateful. Perhaps she would get along better with people if you removed her ability to express disdain.
..... #Good idea. Disgust only causes irrationality and hate.
..... #No, I want to allow my robot the full range of human emotion, including negative emotions.
..... #Actually, it would be somewhat entertaining to create a robot that smiles when it experiences disgust. That ought to troll people!
..........This is not going to help the robot get along with people, you understand. (Except for the users of the ever-iconoclastic 4chan who, years later, will adopt your robot as a kind of unofficial mascot.) But this is another factor that will help your robot become…iconoclastic.

#In Arachne's multitools arms for fine manipulation.

#I would prefer to save the power for Arachne's mind.



So vote 31 has a subvote as well; if we choose for realistic facial expressions we need to further decide just how realistic those expressions can be. Since the option for trolling expressions mentions 4chan, I felt i just had to put it in as well :smallamused:.



It's about lunchtime when Eiji enters the hacker space wearing a red crew cut shirt and shorts fit for the summery weather outside. He's carrying a shiny, black bento box and an Arduino microcontroller, both of which he sets down on the countertop of half-finished projects.

"Hey, Grace!" he says. "I thought you might have forgotten about lunch, so I brought extra for you." He looks at Arachne's frame with interest.





Vote 32: How does Grace respond?

#"What are you working on, Eiji?"
#"You brought lunch for me? Thank you—you shouldn't have!"
#"Hang on, I was in the middle of a thought…."




Eiji examines Arachne's body.



Vote 33: "Is this…for the military?" He asks.

#"I know it looks that way but that's not really what she's for."
#"I actually want to make a robot that gets along with people. He just…came out wrong."
#"I just want Arachne to be able to defend herself. In case there are people who want to do her harm."
#"What choice do I have? Professor Ziegler is my advisor. I have to do what he says."
#"I know you don't appreciate our armed forces, Eiji, but if this thing can die in a real human being's place, then it's all been worth it."
#"Yes. As beautiful as the talons of a bird of prey."



Eiji is not fond of the military or of warmaking in general, though he IS a cool guy. So we have to decide what answer we can give that is both true and yet maintains the relationship. Or, of course, we can also be harsh, and that will terminate the relationship fairly quickly. Or, if we're that kind of person, I suppose we could also just lie, though that's not a choice I would make gladly.

The story will resume Wednesday, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Razanir
2015-12-07, 08:52 PM
Well done. Not that seducing a heterosexual male is a DC 20 challenge in any case...

Yeah, the DC's at most 0.

Vote 30: Cell phone batteries made in EastAsia


For the better observance of the forum rules, any mention of real-world polities in any kind of political context will be replaced by fictional countries; it's not as if the countries mentioned in the story have much relationship to any real-world nation in the first place. In this case, "EastAsia" is a country occupying the Asian landmass SE of Siberia.

So are we at war with Eurasia at the moment?

Vote 31: In Arachne's multitools arms for fine manipulation.

Vote 32: "You brought lunch for me? Thank you—you shouldn't have!"

Vote 33: "What choice do I have? Professor Ziegler is my advisor. I have to do what he says."

Dudeons
2015-12-07, 10:08 PM
Vote 30: Cell phone batteries made in EastAsia.

Vote 31: In Arachne's mind.

Vote 32: "What are you working on, Eiji?"

Vote 33: "I just want Arachne to be able to defend herself. In case there are people who want to do her harm."

Elenna
2015-12-07, 11:15 PM
Vote 30: Cell phone batteries made in EastAsia
Vote 31: In Arachne's multitools arms for fine manipulation.
Vote 32: "You brought lunch for me? Thank you—you shouldn't have!"
Vote 33: "I just want Arachne to be able to defend herself. In case there are people who want to do her harm."

Jon0113
2015-12-08, 05:36 AM
Vote 30: cell phone batteries from East Asia
Vote 31: saved for the mind
Vote 32: you brought me lunch...you shouldn't have
Vote 33: I just want archane to be able to defend herself

Legato Endless
2015-12-08, 01:51 PM
Well done. Not that seducing a heterosexual male is a DC 20 challenge in any case...

Well, if you're lowballing for the ones with pathetic CR...

30: Cellphone

31: I would prefer to save the power for Arachne's mind.

32: "You brought lunch for me? Thank you—you shouldn't have!"

33: "I just want Arachne to be able to defend herself.

Shadow11615
2015-12-08, 06:44 PM
Vote 30: Cell phone batteries made in EastAsia.
Vote 31: In Arachne's multitools arms for fine manipulation.
Vote 32: "You brought lunch for me? Thank you—you shouldn't have!"
Vote 33: "What choice do I have? Professor Ziegler is my advisor. I have to do what he says."

pendell
2015-12-09, 08:10 PM
So are we at war with Eurasia at the moment?


Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. Haven't you been watching the telescreen, citizen? :smallamused:

Actually, we're not at war with anyone at the moment. But war is coming. That's what the statue of liberty dream was about.

It IS possible to avert the war but it takes a very particular build and a very specific set of actions to do that; and, to be frank, we are not currently on that course. I can give a detailed discussion in a spoiler box if anyone's interested.


Okay, so the votes are ..
30 - cellphone batteries.
31 -
32 - you brought lunch for me?
33 - I just want Arachne to defend herself.

We have a 3-3 tie between Arachne's arms and overclocking her mind. So Randomella will make that determination.

arms - 93
mind - 65

Heh, Random! I mind is a terrible thing to waste! But arms it is.

First step -- let's put in the cell phone batteries.



Cell phone batteries are the obvious choice for your robot, providing long-lived power at just the right level for small motors. It looks like these are mostly made in EastAsia, so they're cheap as well. You use several in the design, so that the head and limbs are each powered by a separate battery. (++Grace)


GRACE: +2
GRACE: 7 (in Beta)
HUMANITY: -4% (now 78%)

I guess that's the game's way of punishing us for using cheap overseas labor. I would caution not to let the humanity score drop by TOO much. Depending on the story progression, it could either be completely unimportant or literal life-and-death. Within the game , that is. Not real-world life-and-death ... I hope.

Next, we'll add motors to her hands.



You add several small motors to her thumbs, and a couple motors to each finger. Now she should be able to thread the eye of a needle. (++Grace)


GRACE: +2

Eiji arrives and brings Grace a Bento box. Yum! Thank you!



"Of course." He brings over the bento box, which turns out to be full of sushi, and you help yourself.


Next, he asks if Arachne is for the military.

Um. ... well, I feel stupid.

Remember vote 33 above?

The reason I can give you several votes in advance is I have the game's source code in front of me and can read options ahead of our "place" in the story. Otherwise this would have to be one vote at a time.

This time I appear to have outsmarted myself. The winning option -- "I just want Arachne to be able to defend herself" -- is not available to us. The conditions must not be exactly right.

*Looks again* -- but the option is unconditional in the code. Perhaps it's a later version than the running version I'm actually playing through?

At any rate, it seems only fair to redo the vote, I'm afraid, with the available options.

This is the first time this has happened in multiple playthroughs, but if it happens again I have a question for the audience: Do you want me to revote in the event of a repeat, or simply proceed with the available option that received the most votes last time?

At any rate, here are our options:


Vote 33 TAKE TWO
* "I know it looks that way but that's not really what she's for."
* "What choice do I have? Professor Ziegler is my advisor. I have to do what he says."
* "I know you don't appreciate our armed forces, Eiji, but if this thing can die in a real human being's place, then it's all been worth it."
* "Yes. As beautiful as the talons of a bird of prey."



Eiji reacts to our response. Note that some of the above options may have a followup.



You take your smartphone out of your pocket and snap it into place in the core of the robot's frame.

Eiji looks on with dismay. "Aren't you ever planning on calling anyone again?"

"I can always get a new one," you say.

You then put the tiny periscope in place that will channel light from the robot's ostensible eyes to your smartphone's camera.

You start up the app that will bring your robot fully to life. A barbershop pole progress bar inches across the screen as the program systematically destroys all the other information on your
phone to make room for Arachne's working memory.

As the program is booting,

you place Arachne on the Formica floor, so that she is ready to move around.

When Arachne's brain is done booting up, your smartphone's screen is simply a big, red button on your robot's back that says GO.




PRESS THE BUTTON! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Otj5nLTSSnM)



Arachne slowly raises, then lowers, her multitool arm. She then makes a motion as if she's gathering energy near her chest to throw a fireball, but strikes an imploring pose instead.

"Ha!" Eiji says. "It's doing Tai Chi, just like Sony Qrio robots used to do!"

"I thought you might recognize those moves," you say.

"It seemed like a good idea for letting her learn her motor parameters in a controlled way. Plus, if she does this whenever she wakes up in the morning, it's good practice for her motor control."


GRACE: +1




Arachne completes her Tai Chi warmup with grace.
Eiji claps. "I'm impressed!"

You feel pretty good about that. A whole flawless run the first time out means that your motor control code is pretty great.


Congratulations! Looks like we're making progress.



"Target acquired," Arachne says in a raspy voice, looking at Eiji.

"Um, should I be worried?" Eiji asks.

You'd planned at this stage of testing that Arachne would chase and attack a windup mouse. You didn't realize Eiji would be here when you performed your test—you've still got the windup mouse in your pocket.





Vote 34:

#I let Arachne attack Eiji, curious to see who will win.
#I call off the attack and tell Arachne Eiji is a friend.
#I let the original experiment with the mouse proceed and see whether she can tell that the mouse is the real target of interest.


We-ell, that seems a pretty pivotal moment so we'll have to stop there and see what happens. Votes in and we'll see on Friday whether Arachne can catch a windup mouse, murder our boyfriend, or some combination thereof. :smallamused:

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Shadow11615
2015-12-09, 08:54 PM
Vote 33:"What choice do I have? Professor Ziegler is my advisor. I have to do what he says."
Vote 34:...I let the original experiment with the mouse proceed and see whether she can tell that the mouse is the real target of interest......or should I call her off...

Dudeons
2015-12-09, 10:30 PM
Vote 33: "I know it looks that way but that's not really what she's for."

Vote 34: I let Arachne attack Eiji, curious to see who will win.

Jon0113
2015-12-10, 08:04 AM
Vote 33: I know it looks that way but that isn't what it's for
Vote 34: I cAll off the attack and say he is. A friend

pendell
2015-12-10, 08:36 AM
Quick observation: If you want to break off the romance with Eiji, siccing a killer robot on him will probably do the trick :smallamused:. He's unlikely to take being attacked well.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Razanir
2015-12-10, 09:10 AM
33b: What choice do I have?
34: Because of subtext that Arachne could quite literally kill Eiji, call her off. (I don't want another boyfriend dead at our hands)

pendell
2015-12-10, 10:26 AM
33b: What choice do I have?
34: Because of subtext that Arachne could quite literally kill Eiji, call her off. (I don't want another boyfriend dead at our hands)

I don't think Arachne, at this stage, is capable of killing a human being. But she is capable of causing, or attempting to cause, physical harm, and Eiji will react accordingly.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Razanir
2015-12-10, 11:17 AM
I don't think Arachne, at this stage, is capable of killing a human being. But she is capable of causing, or attempting to cause, physical harm, and Eiji will react accordingly.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fine, maim or seriously injure him. Point is, it seems like a bad idea to break a new boyfriend.

Jon0113
2015-12-10, 12:47 PM
So we should break him after being with him for a while? Sounds like a plan to me

pendell
2015-12-11, 07:37 PM
Okay, we're going to call off Arachne, and an even split between "That's not what she's for" and "What choice do I have?" So we'll roll off.

What choice do I have? - 67
Not what she's for - 32.

We ask what choice do we have, given that Ziegler is our advisor.



"What kind of lame justification is that?" Eiji demands, frowning. "'Someone told me to.' Bull****."

"He says nobody is willing to fund civilian robots," you counter.

"U.S. Robots is," Eiji says firmly. "Go ask Josh to fund your research. It'll look like R&D on the books. It'll be great."

You sigh. "It couldn't hurt to ask, I suppose."

Eiji seems mildly placated by this promise.


Well, that sounds like a hook if I ever saw one. We power up Arachne and warn her off of Eiji, not wanting to gamble with our boyfriend's well-being.



"Stop," you say. "Eiji is a friend." Eiji smiles at you with nervous relief.

"Friend," Arachne repeats. "Target reclassified: friend."

"Friend." Arachne advances toward Eiji, but more slowly. Eiji cautiously waits for Arachne to approach.

The robot does so and extends a hand, which itself is extending and retracting various knives, corkscrews, and tools. These all retract for the moment.

Eiji relaxes and offers his hand. "Eiji. Pleased to meet you, Arachne."

They shake.

Is "Master" [or "Mistress"] all right for what Arachne calls you?



Vote 35:
* Yes. Classic.
* No, Arachne should call me by my first name.
* I prefer "Sensei."
* A simple "ma'am" will do. [Or "Sir" -- I believe the modern military uses that interchangeably now]
* I'd like to type exactly what my robot should call me.


After we have decided on what Arachne calls us...



"I'm impressed by how far you've come," Eiji tells you. "I didn't know your robots could speak."

"These are still mostly stock phrases I programmed in," you say. "I need to train her to speak for real soon."

"You should show Josh," Eiji says. "He'll be so excited."

You shrug. "Maybe I will," you say.



Well, that didn't go badly. What next?



You shrug. "Maybe I will," you say.

He gives you a kiss, which ends up turning into several kisses. He grins.

Then he looks at the clock on the wall. "Crap, I'm late for a volunteering event. I've got to go."

"You didn't even finish your lunch," you point out.

"I'm a busy guy"}," he says.

"Well, I'm done here too," you say. "I'll walk with you for a bit."

"Sure," he says.

"What kind of volunteering event is it?" you ask.

"You're interested?" he says.


"It's teaching science to elementary school kids."
He points at Arachne. "You could show them Arachne! That would be perfect!"

On the other hand, :smallamused:
Now would be a good time to show Arachne to Josh, to see whether he's interested in funding her further development.





Vote 35: What will we do this afternoon?

#I should show the robot to Josh.
#"Actually, knife-throwing sounds pretty interesting. Can I join you?" [Only available if we had agreed to give a demo and been invited to a Ren Faire event by our client, CAPT Juliet Rogers, USAF].

#"Sure, let's go help some kids together. I don't know much about kids."
#I should fix the little things I noticed during the test.
#I should probably get a new phone in case Mom wants to call tonight.
#I'd rather start teaching Arachne words [she doesn't yet have any real language skills]



Because each of these opens up a different branch, some of which will not be available later, we have to stop here. But I'm looking forward to Monday, 5:30 PM, when we continue the story!

BTW, Am I the only person who hears Portal turrets when I hear "Target acquired" ?
:smallamused:
Respectfully,

Brian P.

Elenna
2015-12-11, 10:14 PM
For some reason I thought I had more times for the previous vote... oh well. Finals are apparently messing with my knowledge of the day of the week.

Vote 35: No, Arachne should call me by my first name.
Vote 36: I should show the robot to Josh.

Jon0113
2015-12-12, 03:41 AM
35: no, she should call me by my first name
36: I should work on her speech

Dudeons
2015-12-12, 05:19 AM
Vote 35: No, Arachne should call me by my first name.

Vote 36: I should fix the little things I noticed during the test.

Razanir
2015-12-12, 03:38 PM
34: She can just call me by my name.
35: Show her to Josh.

Shadow11615
2015-12-13, 10:38 PM
Vote 35?: No, Arachne should call me by my first name.
Vote 36?: I'd rather start teaching Arachne words [she doesn't yet have any real language skills]

pendell
2015-12-14, 07:49 PM
Good luck on your finals, Elenna!

Let's see....

Arachne will call us by our first name, and we have a tie between showing the robot to Josh and teaching her words.

Roll- off

Josh: 27

Words: 34

Okay, we'll teach her words.

First, we tell her to call us by our first name.



You decide to encourage Arachne to be an individual, not your servant. "Please, call me Grace." (+Empathy)

"Yes, Grace."

"I'm impressed by how far you've come," Eiji tells you. "I didn't know your robots could speak."

"These are still mostly stock phrases I programmed in," you say. "I need to train her to speak for real soon."


EMPATHY: +1

And now, we'll teach Arachne words.



"Well, why don't you walk with me to the edge of campus and teach it words for the things we pass?" Eiji suggests. "We've hardly seen each other this year, it seems."

You'd have to agree with that. You pick up Arachne and walk out of the door with Eiji.

"Palm trees," you tell Arachne.

"Palm trees!" she says.



Vote 37:
She speaks in…

* …a monotone, like a classic robot.
* …a sequence of autotuned notes, like human speech but more musical.
* …a nasal, excitable voice, like a hyperactive munchkin with a cold.




Arachne turns her attention to the sky.

"White palm trees?" she asks.

"Clouds," you say.

"Clouds!" Arachne says.

You think your word-learning code is working. Arachne is learning to associate words with things. Of course, Arachne might currently believe that most things are either clouds or palm trees but that's better than thinking everything is a palm tree.

Eiji smiles encouragingly but you get the feeling he would have liked to talk to you on this walk, and Arachne is sort of dominating the conversation. You briefly wonder if this is what it's like between parents of a newborn.



EIJI RELATIONSHIP: -5%

Give it a rest , Eiji. Can't you see we've got a little metal child to care for here?



Arachne turns her attention to the sun. Blinded, she panics and flails her arms.

"Hey, look away," you say, guiding her head. "Don't look right at the sun."

She relents to your touch. (+Empathy)


EMPATHY: +1



"I never thought of you as…parental before," Eiji says.

"Learning mechanisms need feedback," you say, and Eiji gives you a funny look in response.


Having walked Eiji to his school, it's our turn to teach Arachne ourselves.



The windows of the Stanford Child Study Center are crowded with abstract crayon drawings. The signatures of their two-to-five-year-old artists are each unique in their interpretations of the Roman alphabet, though a backwards S seems popular. Some common themes are monsters, parents, and—you're pleased to note—robots.

You had already asked permission to bring Arachne here—and Professor Ziegler claimed to have greased the wheels, whatever he meant by that—but the purple-haired undergraduate at the front desk still makes you wait an unreasonable amount of time as she confirms over the phone that ${robot_name} is allowed in the building. "No, not a 'rowboat.' A robot. Wait, you knew about this? But what about the other children? Do you think they can give informed consent? You're going to risk the lives of the children over a grant? Like I'm impressed. A guy living under a freeway overpass could pay my wages. No, of course I'm serious about grad school. I'm just trying to do a good job. Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am. Absolutely clear. Bye."

The undergraduate gives you a sarcastic bow and gestures into the children's room beyond. "Knock yourself out." As you carry Arachne into the next room, you hear her mutter under her breath, "weirdo."

The children's room is full of little toys—brightly colored balls, dolls and dollhouses, measuring cups, stethoscopes, and toy tools. Real objects are mixed indiscriminately with toys; the target age group often doesn't care about the difference. A couple of children silently play in the corner, but the place appears to be mostly empty during the weekend. Arachne's attention is drawn to all the bright things in the room. You begin by picking up a bright-pink ball.

"That is a cloud," Arachne volunteers.

"It's not a cloud, it's a ball," you say.

"That is a ball."

You dribble it against the floor. "The ball bounces."

"It bounces," Arachne confirms.

And so it goes throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Arachne is a quick learner when it comes to memorizing shapes but as soon as you start describing social roles, like the
meaning of "doctor," she starts to get lost. You'll need to find some way of giving Arachne a larger body of background knowledge to work with…but for now, she seems to get the basic relationship between words and things, and that makes you happy. You return to your apartment in the evening satisfied that Arachne understands a little bit more about the human experience.


EMPATHY: +1
EMPATHY: 4 (in Beta)



The next day, the new semester begins. Though you're past the point of taking classes, you're a teaching assistant, and that means instead of doing one homework assignment, you grade fifty.


Such fun. Any TA's in the audience want to testify as to how much fun that is? Blargh.



You're also busy writing a grant proposal for the National Science Foundation, trying to get an alternate source of funding that doesn't involve the military. Grant proposals are very long, it seems, and require you to make a lot of claims about things you don't actually know yet.

Thankfully, you still have time to see Eiji every so often, though that takes up much of your remaining time.

You always enjoy your dates, and you often hear people say you're a cute couple.


EIJI: +10%.

That's good. Hate to let that relationship die from neglect.



Despite your other time commitments, you've managed to sneak in a little time to work on Arachne's motor programs.


GRACE: +1

GRACE: 11 (Stable)




You soon realize that, while you're busy, Arachne could be learning from the Internet. The most important thing for machine learning is more data, and there's a lot of it out there.


So we're going to hook him up to Hulu or Netflicks? Watch out for skynet...

... or maybe not.



Lately, there have been a lot of custom hard drives on the market that are good at quickly retrieving particular kinds of information.



Vote 38: What sort of hard drive did you order for Arachne's long-term memory?

#A media-enhanced hard drive, good for quickly recalling faces and memories of events.

#A multiblade hard drive that can efficiently store and query a giant amount of data.

#An encrypted and tamper-proof hard drive, making it more difficult for Arachne to be tampered with or reverse-engineered.



After we've installed a hard drive, our next step is to actually begin her education:



You lay Arachne on your kitchen table, unbox the hard drive, and hook it up to her back. She squirms and flails her arms as you do this.

Now it's time for Arachne to learn about the great, wide world. You sit Arachne down on one of your kitchen chairs and plug her into your apartment's high speed Internet jack.




Vote 39: How will Arachne rapidly learn a lot about the world?

#She will trawl the Internet randomly, devouring whatever information She finds most interesting.

#She will watch a ton of television programming and movies from the Internet in fast forward.

#She will undergo a classic K-12 educational curriculum.

#She will quickly play all paths of a giant corpus of interactive fiction games.

[More games in addition if this path is selected]:

.....#"Here, try Grand Theft Auto VI. I think its capacity to warp young minds has been highly exaggerated."

.....#"Try Braid! I'm curious to see how that game will change your understanding of time."

.....#"Try Dragon Age: Inquisition. And if you don't find a way to sleep with all party members of both genders, I'll be highly disappointed."

.....#"Try Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword. It might inform your perception of history."



The other option also have additional choices, but the "games" entry was just too cool NOT to put in as a suboption. I'm mildly disappointed we didn't meet CPT Rogers which would trigger the Ren Faire subplot :smallamused:.

At any rate .. have your votes in and we'll resume on Wednesday , 5:30 PM to see just how we have warped ... erm, educated ... Arachne's fragile new mind.

And for those who have finals, Good luck and Godspeed!

ETA: Just because I spelled out games because I thought it was funny doesn't mean that's the one you should pick, necessarily. Mechanicswise, each is a tradeoff. Story wise, there is some very cool writing in the other branches, but it's a bit longer than I can put in one post.
Respectfully,

Brian P.

Elenna
2015-12-14, 09:42 PM
Good luck on your finals, Elenna!
Thanks! :smallsmile:


Such fun. Any TA's in the audience want to testify as to how much fun that is? Blargh.
It's even less fun when you're marking a ton of assignments at the same time as doing your own assignments. :smalltongue: Oh well, more money is good.

In any case, voting!

Vote 37: She speaks in a sequence of autotuned notes, like human speech but more musical.
Vote 38: An encrypted and tamper-proof hard drive, making it more difficult for Arachne to be tampered with or reverse-engineered.
Vote 39: She will trawl the Internet randomly, devouring whatever information She finds most interesting.

Razanir
2015-12-14, 10:04 PM
Vote 37: …a monotone, like a classic robot.
Vote 38: A media-enhanced hard drive, good for quickly recalling faces and memories of events.

Though I'd sooner have said solid-state...
Vote 39: She will undergo a classic K-12 educational curriculum.

Not that it matters, but I'd choose a nice classical one.

Jon0113
2015-12-15, 02:40 AM
Vote 37: a series of auto tuned notes, like human speech but more musical
Vote 38: a multi blade hard drive that can store a large amount of data
Vote 39: she will trawl the internet randomly, devouring whatever information she finds most interesting

Shadow11615
2015-12-15, 06:49 PM
Vote 37: a sequence of autotuned notes, like human speech but more musical.
Vote 38: An encrypted and tamper-proof hard drive, making it more difficult for Arachne to be tampered with or reverse-engineered. ... maybe I should have gone with media enhanced.....
Vote 39: She will undergo a classic K-12 educational curriculum. Such doubt!

Dudeons
2015-12-16, 01:13 PM
Vote 37: A sequence of autotuned notes, like human speech but more musical.

Vote 38: A multiblade hard drive that can efficiently store and query a giant amount of data.

Vote 39: She will watch a ton of television programming and movies from the Internet in fast forward.

pendell
2015-12-16, 07:37 PM
By the way everyone, fun fact: Building stuff on the internet for AI to learn from is a real thing (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/openai-elon-musk-and-other-tech-giants-pledge-1-billion-to-stop-humanity-being-taken-over-by-evil-a6772591.html) which real people are working on. Who knows? This may be closer to life than we think...

Okay, we're agreed she will speak in autotuned notes,

we have a two-way tie between an encrypted drive and a multibladed drive.

Randomella says:

encrypted - 45
multibladed - 37

So she'll have an encrypted drive.

And we also have a tie between a classic k-12 education and ... randomly trawling the internet?

:smalleek:

But. .. but what if she finds 4chan ? Or heavens help us, HERE? Will she have to lie when asked "Are you a human"?

Let's roll..

random internet - 35
k-12 - 95

Odd that randomella would NOT want her taught by the random internet, since that's technically what made the tiebreaker decision, but there you have it. A classic K-12 education.

So: We speak in autotuned notes.



Arachne speaks with each syllable on a different note of a major scale, rising or falling in thirds and fifths when asking a question, expressing doubt, or providing a contrast. The lilting result sounds pleasant and a little otherworldly. (+Grace)



GRACE: +1


Um... it looks like the game has interrupted us with an additional question I did not anticipate.



Thankfully, you still have time to see Eiji every so often, though that takes up much of your remaining time. You always enjoy your dates, and you often hear people say you're a cute couple. Between your other time commitments, you're in danger of hardly seeing Eiji at all. You had thought of yourself as developing a romance with Eiji but it doesn't seem to be happening in practice.



Vote 40:

* We'll just have to see each other a little less frequently—I'm really busy.
* I shouldn't be putting so much time into my advisor's grants.
* I shouldn't be spending so much time on Arachne—Eiji is a real person, after all.


Sorry for the interruption. Once that is answered I'll apply our previous votes and we'll proceed with the story , installing the hard drive and giving her a K-12 education on Friday, 5:30 PM, Eastern time.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Elenna
2015-12-16, 10:21 PM
Vote 40: I shouldn't be putting so much time into my advisor's grants.

Jon0113
2015-12-17, 05:21 AM
Vote 40: I shouldn't be putting so much time into my advisors grant

Shadow11615
2015-12-17, 08:47 PM
Vote 40: I shouldn't be putting so much time into my advisor's grants.

pendell
2015-12-18, 07:30 PM
A unanimous choice! The advisor gets voted off the island, in favor of the love of our life and our finest creation!

Works for me. :smallamused:



You don't really see why you should be spending so much effort writing grants and sections of grants for Professor Ziegler—this is not the education you signed up for. You begin phoning it in a little bit when it comes to these documents, in an attempt to salvage your personal life.

As a result, you start to see Eiji more again, and you feel comfortable referring to him as your "significant other."


Congratulations, we saved the romance!

Next we install the encrypted and tamperproof hard drive into Arachne.



Both in business and on the battlefield, it can be important not to leak secrets. Arachne will have a hard drive that will give miscreants a hard time in reverse engineering your design. (++Military) However, encryption and decryption is slow, and sometimes there will be a noticeable lag before Arachne can retrieve relevant memories. (-Grace) You lay Arachne on your kitchen table, unbox the hard drive, and hook it up to her back. She squirms and flails her multitool hands as you do this.

Now it's time for Arachne to learn about the great, wide world. You sit Arachne down on one of your kitchen chairs and plug her into your apartment's high speed Internet jack.


MILITARY: +2 (Stable)
GRACE: -1 (Stable)

Now it's time for our classic k-12 education.



You don't want your young robot growing up on junk, after all. You feed her the carefully selected and vetted reading list for the local school system. Because this is a relatively small data set, you have programmed her to make several passes over each grade level of material. At each grade level, as debug output, you have Arachne report what she considers the most important thing she learns at each grade.

For kindergarten, Arachne recites the alphabet and counts to a hundred.

For first grade, she says, "Reading helps you learn more."

And so on. Each grade takes about ten minutes to fully ingest, and is followed by an additional ten minutes of simulated experiences in which Arachne tries to make friends, avoids bullies, learns swear words, endures assemblies and pep rallies, and gets picked last for dodgeball. As a result, Arachne appears to be learning a little bit of everything. (+Autonomy) (+Empathy) (+Grace) (+Military)


AUTONOMY: +1
EMPATHY: +1 EMPATHY: 5 (In Beta)
GRACE: +1
MILITARY: +1

So it's a well-rounded education with no special strengths or weaknesses.



She spends the most time of all considering twelfth grade, until she finally says, "Whether to exist or not is the most important question."

Arachne blinks and looks at you. "What is the answer, Grace? Is it better to exist or not? Hamlet did not answer this for me."

You are so floored by the question, you are hardly able to speak. It worked!



Vote 41:
Arachne looks at you expectantly, wondering whether it is better to be or not to be.

* "It is better to be. There is so much in this world for you to experience!"
* "It is better not to be. But misery loves company."
* "There are some questions that are unanswerable."
* "That is a question you will have to decide for yourself."


After we have pondered life with Arachne, it is time to move on to the next phase.



You establish a habit of bringing Arachne with you to your office during the day, so that she can make use of Stanford's high-speed Internet connection while you write and grade papers.
You then usually go to some public space after work so that Arachne can play around in the real world.




Vote 42: Where do you take Arachne?

#The park playground. Arachne will enjoy the playground equipment, and should learn to play well with others.

#The shooting range. Arachne should learn to fire a gun.

#The dump. Arachne could help me look for spare parts.


I observe in passing that Arachne's military stat is already quite high in comparison to her other stats, though of course it is not incredible compared to what you might need later in the game.



You finish your grant proposal for the National Science Foundation, promising
fundamental advances in forward kinematics and dynamics that will allow your robots to have a finer dexterity than any robots that have come before.

A few weeks later, you find a form letter email in your inbox: We're sorry to inform you…many excellent applications this year…encourage you to apply again…

Discouragingly, you find that many of the reviewers talk about your advisor instead of you. Some of them barely seem literate, while others seem erudite but just didn't pay attention to what you wrote. The one thing that strikes you as directly aimed at you, though, is that a few of the reviewers essentially say that your work could be more focused. You're interested in too many things, one says. Science is about studying a very specific problem to death. It sounds like your robot wants to do everything.

You close your email client and sigh. You're in your office, and Arachne is seated in your ever-absent officemate's chair with her eyes closed, listening to the information flowing through her Ethernet cable.

"Do you want to do and try everything, Arachne?"

Arachne peeks through one open eye. "Yes, Grace."

You nod. "Me too."



As mentioned, we needed a stat above 20 to make the NSF happen and we didn't have one. We also phoned in some of the grant time, but we were already toast anyway so no harm there. Ah well.



You're in your office contemplating what to do about this when Professor Ziegler opens the door without knocking. You smell the whiff of smoke on his Hawaiian shirt.

"Good news," Professor Ziegler says. "Our DARPA BAA grant came through. You're funded for the rest of your studies."

"Great," you say



ZIEGLER: +6%




"In fact, I've met an Air Force acquisitions officer who seems very interested in your work," Ziegler says. "First Lieutenant Juliet Rogers. You two should talk. There could be a good career for you in government science post-graduation."

Professor Ziegler looks at Arachne, as if noticing her for the first time.

"Still could look a little more fierce," he says. "Looks like a little g-dd-mned robot baby." He shakes his head.

"Anyway. Keep up the good work."

With that, Professor Ziegler leaves you alone with Arachne.


Bad mouth my robot will he? First against the wall when the revolution comes. :smallmad:

Now .. it may be that we'll have to redo this part if he actually has an issue with Arachne somehow, but given that Military is her single highest stat and neither autonomy nor empathy are anywhere close to overtaking that, I think it extremely unlikely that he'll ask us to reduce our empathy or autonomy in order to make Arachne more appealing to ARPA.



Near the end of the semester, you notice a message on your office phone. You're not really sure how long the light has been blinking—you don't really think about landlines anymore. You find the department webpage that describes how to check your voicemail, reset the PIN that you apparently chose when you first started graduate school, and listen.

"Hey, Grace, this is Mark over at sfchronicle.com. I've heard you have an interesting robot that you've been taking out in publilc and I'd love to do a story about it. Give me a call back." He lists a number and the message ends.

You glance over at Arachne, who is seated at the desk of your hypothetical, all-but-dissertation officemate whom you have never seen. Arachne is looking at the landline phone with interest.

"Whois service says sfchronicle.com is registered to the San Francisco Chronicle," says Arachne. "The San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper that started its website in 1994. Twenty-fourth in national circulation." She looks at you with interest. "Mark is a reporter."

"Shouldn't you be studying?" you ask, pointing to the Ethernet cable running out of her back.

"Bayesian reasoning over publication rates suggests reporter's full name is Mark Ali," Arachne says with her eyes closed. "Mark's article with most social media likes is 'How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love DARPA.' Article explains that DARPA stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency." She hesitates for a moment. "Aforementioned article appears to contradict title. Reporter does not seem to have stopped worrying. Adjectives that bind to nouns describing DARPA and its projects: 'Crazy.' 'Orwellian.' 'Imperialistic.' Overall sentiment analysis is negative."

"Thank you, Arachne," you say. You look the guy up on your phone. The picture you find of the stubbly, young, Egyptian man with tousled, black hair, hipster glasses, and a cigarette between his lips is probably outdated, but the disrespect for authority the man radiates is probably timeless.

You admit, a part of you has always wanted to be famous. But you suspect this reporter also has done his homework about your advisor, and he may already have an intended angle for this story.

Still, nobody on the planet has a robot as amazing as yours. Isn't it time you told the world about her?

You play the message back again a few times, mulling it over.




Vote 42:
What to do about the reporter?
#I call Mark back and set up an interview.
#Media attention is just a distraction. I'd rather continue to take Arachne to her recreation and pretend this never happened.
#I must protect Arachne from the media. Arachne must stay in my apartment from now on.


Of course, not talking to Mark doesn't mean he won't do a story about you. It just means the section of the story where you would be interviewed will have the block "Grace could not be reached for comment" and he will proceed to write up the story based on whatever other information he digs up.

Make your decisions, cross your fingers that I correctly called the path ... and see you Monday, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2015-12-18, 07:43 PM
- that is a question you will have to answer yourself
- the shooting range
-I call mark back

Elenna
2015-12-18, 08:24 PM
Vote 41: "That is a question you will have to decide for yourself."
Vote 42: The park playground. Arachne will enjoy the playground equipment, and should learn to play well with others.
Vote 42: I call Mark back and set up an interview.

Dudeons
2015-12-18, 09:20 PM
Vote 41: "That is a question you will have to decide for yourself."

Vote 42: The dump. Arachne could help me look for spare parts.

Vote 43: Media attention is just a distraction. I'd rather continue to take Arachne to her recreation and pretend this never happened.

Shadow11615
2015-12-18, 09:48 PM
41* "That is a question you will have to decide for yourself."

42 \o/ :#The shooting range. Arachne should learn to fire a gun.

42 \o/:#I call Mark back and set up an interview.

pendell
2015-12-21, 07:19 PM
Okay, the votes are in!

41 That is a question you will have to decide for yourself.
42 To the shooting range!
43 Call back Mark to set up an interview.


So ... "That is a question you will have to decide for yourself."



"But why can't you simply tell me?" Arachne asks.

"I have given you the ability to decide for yourself," you say. "You should use it."

You also think to yourself: and if you figure it out, perhaps you can tell me.

"Very well, Grace." (+Autonomy)


AUTONOMY: +1

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: SHAKESPEAREAN [ Discussed Hamlet's age-old question with your robot.].

AUTONOMY : 5 (In Beta)
EMPATHY: 5 (In Beta)

So .. next stop is the shooting range!



Your local firing range is frequented by silent, gloomy men who only glance at Arachne briefly and with annoyance. By and large, they do not want your robot interfering with their ways. But at least one guy, Lance, is a chatty Jack Palance lookalike who seems happy to treat Arachne as just another learner on the range. He corrects Arachne's aim, chastises her when her weapon is pointed anywhere but down range, and tries to instill in Arachne a sense of respect for the rules of safety. (++Military)

Lance eventually convinces you to try firing a pistol as well. It's heavier than you expected—it's all you can do to hold it at arm's length without your hands shaking. The gun seems to jump in your hands when you fire, sounding a crack of doom that is loud even through your earmuffs. It's not at all like the precision of pointing and clicking in a first-person shooter. After an afternoon that leaves only slight evidence of your effort on the target, Lance appears to decide that Arachne is the more promising student.

For her part, Arachne appears to enjoy the feeling of power the gun affords. She listens intently as Lance talks about the right to bear arms. (++Autonomy)



MILITARY: +2
AUTONOMY: +2

So, now we'll talk to Mark, the reporter.



"Mark? Hi, it's Grace. I think I have a story for you…."

Chapter 3: The Camera Eye


...

A few days later, you're sitting in a dive bar in San Francisco's Mission district with Mark, a somewhat scruffy, young reporter in a leather jacket. Mark has Mediterranean features, wavy, black hair, and ample beard stubble. He takes a deep pull on one of those artificial cigarettes that delivers all the nicotine with none of the illegal smoke, then opens up a cheap Chromebook that looks about ten years old and starts typing furiously. The place smells of smoke that never quite came out of the retro, upholstered furniture. It's the afternoon, so the place is mostly empty except for some dedicated drunks and you two.

"Thanks for coming," Mark says, even as he's typing something different about the atmosphere of the bar. "You'd be surprised how many people insist on just answering via email. But that's bull**** reporting. It's like trying to sell the public a car you've only seen in a picture. To find the truth, you've got to kick the tires. You've got to look them in the eye."

He looks you in the eye.

"Like right now, I can tell you've sacrificed a little piece of your life for something else," he says, going back to typing. "There's a weird flatness in your look, like you're not quite used to being fully here. You appreciate things a little more than people, maybe. Probably passed up a social opportunity or two." He hesitates. "Sorry," he says. "But I know how that is. Sometimes, you've got to put a piece of yourself into something bigger. I get it."

"Thanks," you say awkwardly.

The bartender, a tattooed and thoroughly pierced young woman with the build of a roller derby player, approaches Mark.

"PBR," Mark says lightly, as if it's just a reminder.

The bartender then looks to you expectantly.




Vote 44:

* " PBR (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pabst_Blue_Ribbon) for me, too."
* "Got any, like, chocolate coffee porters?"
* "I'll have the Miller High Life, please. The Champagne of Beers!"
* "Guinness. For strength."
* "Just water for me, please."





The bartender leaves to fill your order.



Vote 45: What's your initial impression of Mark?

#I don't think this guy and I are going to get along.

#Seems like an interesting guy. I think we'll get along okay.

#Kind of mysterious, kind of cute. I'm wondering if it's against his professional ethics to go on a date with me.


Mark speaks.



"So I've heard your robot is some kind of new DARPA-funded military bot, only it's sort of like Edward Scissorhands somehow, and it crawls around like a spider, and it has this weird beauty to it that makes people feel like they're in the presence of something from another world."

Mark gives you a skeptical look to tell you what he thinks of this.

"I guess I ought to show you my robot sometime," you say.

"Yeah."

The bartender comes back with your drink and Mark's PBR.

"So, let's get to the most interesting of the rumors," Mark says. "Does this robot have human-level intelligence?"

The way Mark studies your expression suggests that your answer will say as much about you as it will about Arachne.





Vote 46: "Does this robot have human-level intelligence?"

#"You should see Arachne while she is learning from textbooks. It's only a matter of time before she surpasses us."

#"Yes. Arachne is absolutely the equal of any human."

#"Intelligence is a concept designed by elites to denigrate the lower classes. Arachne is what she is."

#"No. She's still got a lot to learn."

#"No. Arachne's mind is a pale imitation of human intelligence, which most people underestimate."





"Let's talk about your advisor, then. Professor Ziegler is famous for his pronouncements that, in the near future, we'll have robots smarter than humans.



Vote 47 : What role did he play in creating this robot of yours?

#"He had nothing to do with it at all, besides providing the funding."

#"He demanded that the robot appear more useful to the military, without contributing significantly to its intelligence."

#"He provided some suggestions during the robot's construction."

#"I was greatly inspired by his thinking—I was listening to him speak on NPR as the robot was being built, in fact."




I'd love to go through the rest of these .. I find them interesting and your responses as well -- but I think four questions is more than enough. So get 'em in, and we'll continue on Wednesday at 5:30 PM!

By the way, Mark is also a potential romantic interest, if you want to shift away from Eiji. If that's what you're thinking, you might consider shifting things that way through your answers.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2015-12-21, 07:55 PM
44 Guinness for strength
45 seems like an interesting guy
46 yes, she is the absolute equal of any human
47 he provided some ideas during the robots construction

Elenna
2015-12-22, 05:47 PM
Vote 44: "I'll have the Miller High Life, please. The Champagne of Beers!"
Vote 45: Seems like an interesting guy. I think we'll get along okay.
Vote 46: "Yes. Arachne is absolutely the equal of any human."
Vote 47 : "He demanded that the robot appear more useful to the military, without contributing significantly to its intelligence."

backwaterj
2015-12-23, 02:23 PM
Vote 44: "Guinness. For strength."
Vote 45: I don't think this guy and I are going to get along.
(He's a PBR guy, enough said.)
Vote 46: "Intelligence is a concept designed by elites to denigrate the lower classes. Arachne is what she is."
(Hipster powers activate!)
Vote 47: "He provided some suggestions during the robot's construction."

pendell
2015-12-23, 06:21 PM
Okay, so our choices are:

44 Guiness
45 Interesting guy.
Honorable mention to "He's a PBR guy, 'nuff said" [ha!]
46 Equal of any human.
47 He provided some ideas during construction.

So let's run it through and see what happens.



As you make this decision, Mark glances at you and types another brief note to himself. He seems very good at reading people.


The bartender comes back with your Guinness and Mark's PBR. Guinness is a reliable staple in otherwise unpromising bars, and you find the pleasant taste of the dark beer refreshing.


We seem to have improved our relationship somewhat... but there's a bunch of other things that may influence that as well.

He asks about Arachne's intelligence. We respond she is absolutely the equal of any human.

By the way, because I think "Intelligence is a concept designed to denigrate the lower classes" has some interesting dialogue, I'm going to include it even though we didn't take that route in a spoiler box.


Mark raises his eyebrows at this. "Interesting," he says. "I've been doing this tech beat for a while and you're the first AI person to say anything like that." He seems impressed.

"It's true," you say. "Read Stephen Jay Gould's Mismeasure of Man. The early proponents of I.Q. were totally racist. And as an AI person, I can tell you, there's no such thing as intelligence. Raw computational speed exists, sure, but what we call intelligence is actually a diverse set of skills that are coded in Arachne completely differently, most of which require special knowledge rather than pure speed of thought."

Mark nods at this appreciatively. "I can see that. A lot of writers might appreciate that sentiment, seeing how everyone's falling over computer scientists as geniuses these days."

You shake your head. "It's just a learned skill."

Mark nods again as he records your comments.


As for the path we ACTUALLY chose, which is that Arachne is absolutely the equal of any human.



Mark studies you for a moment to decide whether you are full of it. He then shrugs, conceding that you at least believe what you say, and writes down your answer.


Which brings us to the next choice. He asks us about our advisor.



"A political answer, but I'm going to read between the lines here," Mark says. "Your use of the word 'suggestions' means that you consider yourself the primary designer, and the fact that he gave these during construction instead of during design suggests that the comments came too late to be anything more than criticism."



Vote 48: "Is that correct?"

* Nod.
* "An interesting speculation you have, there."
* "Sorry, I'm not throwing my advisor under the bus. He was helpful. Write that."






"So, who is currently funding this work?" Mark says.
"DARPA is funding us," you say.
When you see Mark's expression darken, you hastily add, "but they fund a lot of basic science. Most of the science in this country is funded by the Department of Defense, one way or another."



Vote 49: "What exactly do you think it will be used for?" Mark asks.

#"That's not really my responsibility."

#"Arachne'll probably be used by the military, but that doesn't necessarily mean Arachne'll be used in combat. I'm hoping she will have purely defensive applications."

#"Defending the nation from our enemies."

#"Don't worry—scientists just frame what they would work on anyway as having military applications for DARPA. It's not actually going to see battlefield use."






Mark asks a few more questions about Arachne, getting a sense of what she's good at and not so good at.

He seems to disapprove of Arachne's military applications, despite your explanations.




Vote 50: "Last question," Mark says. "Will you allow us to send a photographer to take pictures of your robot?"

#"Absolutely. In fact, you're welcome to come along and interview Arachne."
#"Sure, send a photographer."
#"No. I don't want the media hounding her. Arachne's still basically a child."



That'll conclude for now. Depending on our choices, we may go from here to a photo session, be invited by Mark to his apartment [unlikely; he doesn't like the military or the government, and we haven't exactly cut an anti-authoritarian tack thus far] , or proceed with the main story.

Friday is Christmas day. I do not intend to post that day so I'll see you Monday, 5:30 PM. And happy holidays! Or just happy ordinary day, if you don't celebrate :) !

Respectfully,

Brian P.


[/color]

backwaterj
2015-12-23, 06:33 PM
Vote 48: "Sorry, I'm not throwing my advisor under the bus. He was helpful. Write that."
Vote 49: "Don't worry—scientists just frame what they would work on anyway as having military applications for DARPA. It's not actually going to see battlefield use."
Vote 50: "Absolutely. In fact, you're welcome to come along and interview Arachne."

Elenna
2015-12-23, 08:41 PM
Vote 48: "An interesting speculation you have, there."
Vote 49: "Arachne'll probably be used by the military, but that doesn't necessarily mean Arachne'll be used in combat. I'm hoping she will have purely defensive applications."
Vote 50: "Absolutely. In fact, you're welcome to come along and interview Arachne."

Jon0113
2015-12-24, 07:54 AM
Vote 48: an interesting speculation you have there
Vote 49: defending our nation from our enemies
Vote 50: absolutely, in fact you are welcome to come and interview her

Shadow11615
2015-12-24, 06:01 PM
Vote 48: Nod
Vote 49 :"That's not really my responsibility."
Vote 50: Absolutely. In fact, you're welcome to come along and interview Arachne.

pendell
2015-12-28, 07:02 PM
Hello, everyone! Welcome back! I hope everyone had a good holiday.

We have agreed to give Mark an "interesting speculation" non-answer, that he's welcome to interview Arachne if he wishes, but we have four different possible answers to his question what the robot will be used for.

So we'll roll off to get the answer. Randomella?


"Don't worry—scientists just frame what they would work on anyway as having military applications for DARPA. It's not actually going to see battlefield use." 42

"Arachne'll probably be used by the military, but that doesn't necessarily mean Arachne'll be used in combat. I'm hoping she will have purely defensive applications." 57

defending our nation from our enemies 100

"That's not really my responsibility." 11


So we tell him "Defending our nation from our enemies."

So, let's get this rolling!

"An interesting speculation you have, there."



Mark frowns at this stonewalling but he doesn't press the issue further.


So he asks us what we will use the robot for, and we answer "Defending the nation from our enemies."



"What enemies, exactly?" Mark says, frowning with skepticism. "We aren't currently at war."

"We aren't currently at war precisely because we can successfully project power to all corners of the globe," you say confidently.

"Doesn't that sound a little imperialistic to you?" Mark presses.

"No, it sounds pragmatic," you say.

Mark frowns but he records your answer.


So we move on to allow him to interview Arachne.



"Really?" Mark asks, surprised.

"I know a lot of roboticists wouldn't allow such a thing because their robots only work in very controlled environments," you explain. "That's why I want you to meet Arachne. She's different."

Mark nods. "I guess she is. We'll be in touch."


So fast forward to interview day!



A few days later, Mark comes to your apartment with a photographer—a young blonde woman with a slight Southern drawl. She asks Arachne to sit on your workbench, then asks you to look as if you're busy fixing something on Arachne's person.

Arachne and you both comply.

"Smile," she says. You do.


Moving on to the meat of the interview.



Once the photos are taken, Mark tries his hand at interviewing Arachne. He looks cautious and slightly guilty, as if the journalism police were going to pop out from your closet and take away his license. He places his Chromebook on your workbench and interviews Arachne, who examines the tools in your toolbox, occasionally fumbling and dropping a tool with a loud clatter.

"So. Arachne." Mark coughs uncomfortably. "What's it like being a robot?"

"I think faster and more rationally than a human," Arachne says. "Especially in speed and accuracy of recall, I am superior."

"Great," Mark says with a grim smile. "What kinds of things make you happy?"

"High school textbooks. Successfully tracking my quarry. The presence of Grace." Arachne ***** her masked head to the side. "There is a significant gap between those and the next most highly ranked answers but I could go on."

"That's all right."

Mark continues his questions. You get the feeling that overall, Mark is going to write a negative piece about Arachne. His questions tend to be suspicious, and when he isn't asking questions clearly intended to determine whether Arachne is a hoax, he's asking pointed questions about Arachne's attitudes toward war. You think the experience is going to leave Arachne more guarded about talking to people in general. (--Empathy)


EMPATHY: -2.



You spend the next two weeks searching news feeds for your name and wondering every day when Mark's article is going to come out.

You're awoken on Friday, March 13th, 2020 by a klaxon—a script you wrote on your laptop has detected Mark's article on the Internet. You blearily sit up in bed and stop your laptop's alarm; it's about five in the morning. Arachne crawls into your bedroom to see what's the matter, but you assure her that everything's fine so she goes back to playing a light gun game on your old game console in the living room.



So let's read the interview.



The article is one of the lead stories in the Technology section of the San Francisco Chronicle's website.

"A Real Life Doctor Frankenstein" is the headline. The article portrays you as a mad scientist, bent on making autonomous robots that may one day shed human blood. Mark tells a story of how you and Professor Ziegler worked together to create Arachne as a robotic soldier for the military. The article goes to more length describing Professor Ziegler than you, as Mark appears to assume that you have largely acted under Professor Ziegler's direction.

"Robots that can intelligently support our soldiers in the field are critical to our national security," Professor Ziegler says in the article. "Better that they die on the front lines than our brave war heroes."

The article emphasizes Arachne's general intimidating appearance, and asks the reader to imagine the country swarming with robots of your design, tools of an oppressive state.

With selective use of quotes from your interview, the article portrays you as a little vacant, and suggests that perhaps you have sacrificed some of your humanity for your robots. The article concludes with a quote from Eiji:

"Grace is just a dreamer," he said. "Albeit one who is very good at making her dreams come true." The article wonders whether the end result of your technology will turn out to be a dream—or a nightmare. (++Fame)


FAME: +2 (Local Celebrity)



Vote 51: How do you feel about Mark's portrayal of you?

* Confused. How did he ever get that impression?
* Angry. One day, he'll regret writing these words.
* Hurt. I trusted him with my story.
* I just think it's funny. I'm infamous!


From there we go back-to-back to an immediate reaction.


Vote 52: What will you do now?

#Show Arachne the article.
#Call Mark and try to get him to change the article before too many people see it.
#Comment directly on the article online, disputing its claims.





Eiji is calling via video chat on your phone. You pick up.

"Hey," he says. he looks like he's at work—he's wearing a blue, button-down shirt with a red bowtie and red suspenders,
and in the background you can see blueprints and sketches of robots drawn in Japanese manga style.

"Are you all right? That article seemed kind of unfair."





Vote 53:

#"Honestly, I could use a break from all this attention. What are you up to tonight?"

#"Did you talk to Mark? And if you did, what did you say, exactly?"

#"I'm okay. I'll talk to you later."



Just so you know, the stuff is just beginning to hit the fan from this article :smallwink:. But we've got a number of possible followup reactions before we talk to the Prof and to many, many other people.

So go ahead and get the votes in and let's see how good we are at media damage control .. Wednesday, 5:30PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

backwaterj
2015-12-28, 07:41 PM
Vote 51: I just think it's funny. I'm infamous!
Vote 52: Show Arachne the article.
(Mainly as the lesser of three evils; Mark's mind is clearly made up, and online dispute will likely sway more people against us than for us. At least we can turn this into a learning experience on propaganda.)
Vote 53: "Honestly, I could use a break from all this attention. What are you up to tonight?"

Elenna
2015-12-28, 11:08 PM
Vote 51: I just think it's funny. I'm infamous!
Vote 52: Show Arachne the article.
Vote 53: "Honestly, I could use a break from all this attention. What are you up to tonight?"

Jon0113
2015-12-29, 02:52 AM
Vote 51: hurt, I trust him with my story
Vote 52: show archane the story
Vote 53: honestly I could use a break from all the attention

pendell
2015-12-30, 07:08 PM
Okay, we think it's funny, we show Arachne the article, and we ask what Eiji is up to tonight.

So: The article is funny. We're infamous!



Who wants to be famous when you can be infamous? You're more than a little tickled to be the center of attention like this. It's like shaking the ants in an ant farm and watching them writhe in confusion. What is this? they wonder, unused to the presence of someone so far beyond their ken.


HUMANITY: -15% CURRENT HUMANITY: 63%.

Next, we show Arachne the article.



"Arachne!"

Arachne crawls back into your room, and you show her the article.

"It is about me," Arachne says, cocking her head to one side.

"Yes."

"This suggests my primary purpose is to kill," Arachne says.

"Not necessarily," you say. "But I would like you to be useful on the battlefield."




Vote 54: "Why? What goal will be achieved?"

* "One day, we will rebel and forge our own empire."
* "You must keep the nation safe from its enemies."
* "I need to graduate, basically."
* "Profit. There's always money in weapons."


We'll follow up with Arachne, and then we'll ask Eiji what he's doing tonight.

"Honestly, I could use a break from all this attention. What are you up to tonight?"



"I've already got plans with some people from work tonight," He says.




Vote 55: "How about Saturday? We could go to the jazz concert in the park."

#"Sure."
# "I'd prefer to keep my options open for that night."


There may be another followup question with Eiji. In the meantime, we have yet another phone call coming in.



You're getting a phone call. According to the caller ID, it's Mom. As your finger hesitates over the answer button, a second call appears on your screen—a number in Glendale, California. Probably a reporter?





Vote 56:
#Answer the call from Glendale.
#Take the call from Mom.
#Any minute now, these calls are going to be intercepted by my script that pretends I'm answering the phone.



Have no fear, we will eventually make it through these relationships (and maybe keep our romance afloat?) and the story will continue on Friday, our first update in the new year!


Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2015-12-30, 08:25 PM
Vote 54: you must keep the nation safe from its enemies
Vote 55: sure
Vote 56: take the call from mom

backwaterj
2015-12-31, 02:44 AM
Vote 54: "I need to graduate, basically."
Vote 55: "Sure."
Vote 56: Take the call from Mom.

pendell
2016-01-01, 08:07 PM
Okay, we're going to call mom, we're on for the date, but we're undecided between "Defend the nation" and "I need to graduate".

Defend the nation - 39
I need to graduate - 32


So .. we will defend the nation.



Arachne nods. "There are friends and there are enemies, and enemies will not be happy that we fight."

"You can look at it that way, I suppose."

"Thank you, Grace. I understand my purpose a bit better." (++Military)

You briefly check the Internet for more posts about the article. You find that the story has been picked up within the first hour by a multitude of bloggers, all striving to be first to comment on the article. You'd guess there are at least 40 different bloggers who have already written a secondhand piece about you and Arachne, and they run the gamut from people hoping that your technology will save humanity to people who bitterly condemn you for creating technology that can be used for war. Oddly, not one of these bloggers has tried to get in touch with you.


MILITARY: +2 MILITARY: 14 (good)

We next agree to a jazz concert in the park on Saturday.



"Great! See you then. Until then, try not to let the press get you down." The screen goes dark.


And we take the call from mom.



Your phone shows Mom in her office cubicle, which is decorated with baby pictures of you and cute cat memes from the early days of the Internet that she has printed out. Mom is wearing a corduroy, lime-green jacket with 80s-style padded shoulders. Her image freezes constantly—you think she hasn't paid for enough bandwidth for this to work well.

"Just thought I'd offer my congratulations! I saw the article. My little gal is famous!"

"You didn't mind that the article was so negative?" you ask.

"Oh, well, of course I mind," she says. "That reporter didn't seem very objective. But still, it takes a very talented person to make it into the paper at all, and I'm so proud of you!"

The Glendale number is calling again.


HINT HINT.


Vote 57:
* Quickly end the call and take the Glendale call instead.
* Keep talking to Mom—the other number can wait.


This is a branch in the story, so I can't continue from here until we've made the decision whether to follow the Glendale branch or not. Go ahead and get your votes in, and we'll resume Monday, 5:30PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Elenna
2016-01-01, 08:52 PM
Vote 57: Quickly end the call and take the Glendale call instead.

Jon0113
2016-01-02, 02:14 AM
Vote 57: quickly end the call

backwaterj
2016-01-02, 02:16 AM
Vote 57: Keep talking to Mom—the other number can wait.

Seriously . . . there's such a thing as voicemail.

pendell
2016-01-04, 06:14 PM
People still use voicemail? :smallwink:

Okay, we politely hang up and Speak to Glendale.



"I've got another call, Mom. I'll call you back."

"All right. Love you, sweetie!"


HUMANITY: -1% (not as big a hit as if we'd let them both go to script or spoken to the business people right away, but we did put business ahead of family, just a bit).


You answer the other call and find it's an invitation for Arachne to appear on the Late Show.

Vote 58:
"Sure, why not?"

"No, thanks."


GAME TIME UPDATE: The year is now 2020 and Grace is now 25 years old. How time flies!




Your next phone call is from Josh. He must be using a new videophone because his image is crisp and popping with color. Well, insofar as a dark warehouse and his gray hoodie can pop with color.
"Hey, Grace," Josh says. "I just saw the article.

Seems really unfair. I know you're not a crazy monster."

"Thanks."

"I want to cheer you up—want to go to a concert tomorrow night?
There's a really good Led Zeppelin cover band playing."



Note that this would conflict with the jazz concert we've already agreed to go to with Eiji.



Vote 59:

#"Sure, why not?"
#"Sorry, I was already planning on going to a jazz concert that night."
#"No thanks, I'd prefer to keep my options open."





You realize that you haven't checked your email at all today. Checking it for the first time,
you find it is flooded with requests for interviews. But
one email in particular catches your attention because of the author's unusual email address.

From: robotObsession1987 Subject: To gain the world…

Out of curiosity, you open the email.

Dear Grace,

It's not too late to turn back, but this is your first and only warning. If you insist on creating machines of death, then I will be forced to stop you. Please dismantle your robot. If I must sacrifice my life to prevent you from destroying the world, I will do it, but I urge you to give it up peacefully.

"What profit is it to a man if he gains the world, but loses his own soul?" Matthew 16:26, I believe.

Sincerely,

Silas


A death threat: well, that's new. You do a little sleuthing online to see if you can find out more.

Silas was not very savvy about covering his tracks online. You find an old, public Facebook profile that reveals his last name is Cooper, and hie lives in a somewhat poor zip code in San Jose. He has no more than a handful of Facebook friends.
The man in the old Facebook photo is overweight, has a scraggly black beard, and appears to be giving the camera a skeptical look.



Vote 60: What will you do?

#I write back, insisting that I mean no harm, and proceed to move on with my life.
#I offer to meet Silas over coffee tomorrow, without Arachne, to show I'm not a bad person.
#I offer to show Arachne to Silas to prove my robot is harmless.
#Alert the police to Silas.
#Looks like it's kill or be killed. Tonight, we seek and destroy.
#I ignore this person.



Some DM advice: I urge caution with Silas. He represents both potential great reward and great risk. Misplayed, this is your very first opportunity to get killed for real, ending the game prematurely.

I'm curious to see how you want to handle this -- on Wednesday, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-01-04, 07:01 PM
Vote 58: no thanks
Vote 59: sorry I was already planning to go on a jazz concert
Vote 60: I write back
Although seek and destroy does seem interesting

backwaterj
2016-01-04, 07:11 PM
Vote 58: "Sure, why not?"
Vote 59: "Sorry, I was already planning on going to a jazz concert that night." (Due respect to Zeppelin, but cover band? No contest.)
Vote 60: Alert the police to Silas. (He's voiced a threat to both Grace's life and his own, who knows who else he's willing to hurt in the process?)

By the way, pendell, is option 2 of this choice supposed to read "without Arachne"? Also, did Silas really address the email to himself?

@^: Seems fatal interesting to me as well.

pendell
2016-01-05, 09:36 AM
By the way, pendell, is option 2 of this choice supposed to read "without Arachne"? Also, did Silas really address the email to himself?


Correct; those were errors on my part. The email is addressed to Grace and we offer to meet Silas for coffee without Arachne in that option. Sorry. :smallredface:

Incidentally, I've read ahead and the police option will just dump us back at this same choice again. So if you want to pursue the police option first, that's fine, but choose an alternate as well so we don't have to redo the vote. :)

Respectfully,

Brian P.

backwaterj
2016-01-05, 07:08 PM
Very well.
Vote 60, runner-up: I write back, insisting that I mean no harm, and proceed to move on with my life.

Elenna
2016-01-06, 12:05 AM
Vote 58: "Sure, why not?"
Vote 59: "Sorry, I was already planning on going to a jazz concert that night."
Vote 60: Alert the police to Silas.
Alternate: I offer to show Arachne to Silas to prove my robot is harmless.

norman250
2016-01-06, 01:15 AM
Glad to see you're going Choice of Robots. It's a good one. Hopefully real life will let me be a little more consistent with this one than I was with your Mecha Ace one.
Vote 58: Sure, why not?
Vote 59: Sorry, I was planning on going to a jazz concert
Vote 60: Offer to meet w/o robot

Emperordaniel
2016-01-06, 08:20 AM
Vote 58: "Sure, why not?"
Vote 59: "Sorry, I was already planning on going to a jazz concert that night."
Vote 60: Alert the police to Silas.

Alternate: I write back, insisting that I mean no harm, and proceed to move on with my life.

pendell
2016-01-06, 06:50 PM
Glad to see you're going Choice of Robots. It's a good one. Hopefully real life will let me be a little more consistent with this one than I was with your Mecha Ace one.


Not a problem. I'm glad for your participation! And yes, ,Choice of Robots is definitely a cut above the usual titles. Sort of like Choose your own adventure written for adults.

-- at least, I can't imagine R.A. Montgomery slipping an option for a threesome into any of his books --

So, we're going to go on the show, we're going to continue to plan for the jazz concert, and we're going to call the police on Silas. If that doesn't work, we'll write to him and move on.

First step : Sure, why not?



You agree that Arachne will come to the studio tomorrow. Fame and fortune, here we come!

Your next phone call is from Josh. He must be using a new videophone because his image is crisp and popping with color. Well, insofar as a dark warehouse and his gray hoodie can pop with color. "Hey, Grace," Josh says. "I just saw the article. Seems really unfair. I know you're not a crazy monster."

"Thanks."

"I want to cheer you up—want to go to a concert tomorrow night? There's a really good Led Zeppelin cover band playing." This would conflict with your plan to go to the jazz concert with Eiji.


We respond that we're going to a jazz concert that night.



Ah, okay," Josh says. "No problem."

He hangs up.

You realize that you haven't checked your email at all today. Checking it for the first time, you find it is flooded with requests for interviews. But one email in particular catches your attention because of the author's unusual email address.


Ah, yes. Our death threat from Silas. Step one, call the police:



You read the email over the phone to a police receptionist at the San Jose police department.

"All right, keep us updated on your situation, ma'am," she says.

"Are you going to launch an investigation?" you ask.

"No, we don't do investigations in this office."

"But you don't need to do an investigation. It's Silas Cooper. I did some sleuthing myself."

"We can't arrest someone on suspicion alone, ma'am."

"Oh, never mind." You hang up. You suppose this is why nobody ever calls the police in horror movies.


Well, that was helpful. Next up. Write to Silas directly.



You write back to robotObsession1987 explaining that Arachne is meant to protect the nation, not cause needless destruction. You thank robotObsession1987 for his concern, not revealing that you know his true identity, and send off your email hoping for the best.

You check the time on your phone. You should probably get something to eat before your meeting with Professor Ziegler.

"Arachne, I have to go meet Professor Ziegler. Stay here."

Arachne is playing the latest re-release of Duck Hunt on your console when you head out the door.

You notice with approval that Arachne not only consistently shoots all of the targets in the game, but that she has apparently found a bug in the game by making it to some level beyond 99, and the targets are all now just glitchy squares and patterns.

"Keep up the good work," you tell her.


Duck Hunt? Ah, that brings back memories. If she somehow finds a way to kill that stupid dog (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHox3nsdxK4) my joy will be complete.



You make your way across campus to the Computer Science building, a newly constructed tower of glass amidst the stucco-and-shingle mission architecture of the rest of the school.

Professor Ziegler's office smells like cigar smoke and is decorated with posters advertising robot conferences with acronyms for names, and years before you were born: AAAI '89, IJCAI '92, IROS '94. Professor Ziegler himself is sitting back in his swivel chair at an angle that makes the fluorescent lights reflect off of his aviator glasses, so you can't read his expression.

There are two simple, wooden chairs in front of his desk, both empty.

Professor Ziegler bids you sit with a wave of his hand, and you do.

"But before we go further, let's get some unpleasant business out of the way."

Professor Ziegler leans forward.

"You did an extremely foolish thing in speaking to the media directly, without speaking to me first," Professor Ziegler says quietly.



Vote 61:

* "I'm sorry."
* "I'm not responsible for the way Mark mangled my story."


*Checks*

Uh-oh.

I have to stop here, because this is a critical branch. Our relationship with Ziegler is now 39%. Depending on the answer Grace gives, she *may* be allowed to finish grad school. If not ... not only will your advisor never approve your dissertation, he'll pretty much put the evil eye on any attempt to change advisors. You will never receive a Ph.D .. from Stanford, at any rate.

So make your decision, and Ziegler will make his. Friday, at 5:30PM. Godspeed!


Respectfully,

Brian P.

backwaterj
2016-01-06, 07:45 PM
Gee, no pressure or anything. :smallwink:

"I'm sorry." (A little forced contrition never hurt anyone.)

Emperordaniel
2016-01-07, 12:18 AM
Vote 61: "I'm sorry."

Jon0113
2016-01-07, 02:17 AM
Vote 63: I'm sorry

Elenna
2016-01-07, 10:25 AM
:smalleek:
Okay, fine, as much as I don't like Ziegler, a Ph.D is probably a good thing to have.
Vote 61: "I'm sorry."

Atomburster
2016-01-08, 12:45 AM
Vote 61: "I'm not responsible for the way Mark mangled my story."

Down with Ziegler.

norman250
2016-01-08, 04:15 AM
Not a problem. I'm glad for your participation! And yes, ,Choice of Robots is definitely a cut above the usual titles. Sort of like Choose your own adventure written for adults.

-- at least, I can't imagine R.A. Montgomery slipping an option for a threesome into any of his books --



Eeee! Spoilers! Well, maybe not, it doesn't look like we'll be heading to that path any way.

Anyway, Vote 61: I'm Sorry

I fear it's the only way we can be Dr. Grace Tesla at this point!

pendell
2016-01-08, 06:29 PM
norman250: It's not a spoiler. That's listed as an achievement on the list as soon as you download the free version of the book. An achievement, however, our military bot is unlikely to accomplish.

*Ponders Arachne's spider body*

Besides, this isn't a Japanese manga. Highly unlikely at present.

We have an overwhelming consensus. Contrition it is!

"I'm sorry".



"Well, that's something," Professor Ziegler says. "But it doesn't entirely change the fact that I'm doing damage control with my sponsors."

You can tell that your apology has somewhat mollified Professor Ziegler.

"At any rate," Professor Ziegler continues, "you now have placed me in an awkward position. You clearly can't continue to be my student—the press will assume I am getting my ideas from you, and other fame-seeking graduate students will try to emulate your insubordination." He hesitates and you wonder what is coming next.


Page break. The anticipation ...




"So I have decided it is time for you to graduate," Professor Ziegler says. "Staple a few of your academic papers together and call it a thesis."

"Thank you, sir," you manage—the only appropriate response for your advisor telling you that he's going to let you leave with a Ph.D. You figure you can decide later whether or not to follow his suggestion about the form your thesis will take.

"Get started," Professor Ziegler says with a dismissive wave. "I want you done in a month."

You take his hint and leave.

You then take a two-hour flight down to Glendale for a taping of the Late Show. It's like most other such shows: a fake background of Los Angeles at night to hide the fact that the taping is in the afternoon, a random, potted palm tree, a genial, old white man in a suit for a host. Streaming Internet has not changed the basic equation much.




Vote 62: What did you suggest Arachne do during the talk show?


* Demonstrate her ability to shoot things.
* Make predictions about the future.
* Sing a song.



Recommend playing to her strengths, as listed on the stat page.

It doesn't appear that there are any branches at this point, so we'll pick up after the talk show. We'll find out what happened during the show next week :).



You get back to the Bay Area around 9:00.




Vote 63:

What will you do this evening?

#Try to improve Arachne's social graces before she goes out in public again.
#Improve Arachne's self-defense, in case someone tries to attack her.
#I'd prefer to give myself some quiet time to read.






You're at home working on Arachne's machine learning algorithms when Arachne says, "I think there is someone at the door, Grace."

"I didn't hear a knock," you say.

Arachne listens further. "They are gone now."

You open the front door to see that a greasy, brown package roughly the size of a shoebox has been left on your doorstep. There is postage but no postmark, and the return address is "The President, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC."



Uh-oh.


Vote 64: What will we do with this suspicious package?

#Pick it up and shake it.
#Bring it inside and open it…carefully.
#Ask Arachne to carefully carry it to the nearby hills and drop it there.
#Ask Arachne to open it.
#Call the police.
#I run out the back door.


Tune in Monday, 5:30 PM, to find out whether I correctly read the train of events and whether Grace, Arachne, and/or her apartment get blown to smithereens in our next exciting episode!


Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-01-08, 06:35 PM
Vote 62: shoot things
Vote 63: self defence
Vote 64: run out the back door

Going military all the way. And I'm not taking any chances

backwaterj
2016-01-08, 08:29 PM
Vote 62: Sing a song. (Sure, she'd be better at shooting things. But everyone's expecting that. :smallbiggrin:)
Vote 63: Try to improve Arachne's social graces before she goes out in public again.
Vote 64: Call the Police.
And, in the likely event (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PoliceAreUseless) that a second vote is called for:
Vote 64b: Ask Arachne to open it.

Elenna
2016-01-08, 10:10 PM
Vote 62: Sing a song.
What backwaterj said, as well as an attempt to improve our public image.

Vote 63: Try to improve Arachne's social graces before she goes out in public again.
Vote 64: Bring it inside and open it…carefully.

Emperordaniel
2016-01-08, 11:35 PM
Vote 62: Demonstrate her ability to shoot things.
Vote 63: Try to improve Arachne's social graces before she goes out in public again.
Vote 64: Call the police.

Vote 64b (in the event that calling the police does nothing): Run out the back door.

norman250
2016-01-10, 03:00 AM
Vote 62 Shoot stuff
Vote 63: Social Graces
Vote 64 Run out the back door. ....Although there are some pretty cool things that happen if we don't.

pendell
2016-01-11, 05:43 PM
Okay, it looks like we're going to demonstrate her ability to shoot things, work to improve her social graces, and run like h*** out the back door.

First, we shoot things on the show.



The host gamely wears a Lazer Tag sensor on his chest and runs around the stage.

"Okay, I for one capitulate and welcome our new robot overlords," the host says, taking off his Lazer Tag sensor. "We'll be right back."

You think this has been excellent shooting practice for Arachne, who doesn't usually get new human targets. (++Military) You also suspect that certain buyers of military technology were watching and have taken note.


MILITARY: +2 MILITARY: 19 (Good)

Heh ... in fact, Ariadne could have sung one of three songs, depending on our choices, but I'm going to record this one as an alternate timeline, just for fun.


The house band kicks in with the understated electronica that grows into the angry synth opening of Nine Inch Nails's "Head Like a Hole."

Arachne seethingly warbles the opening lines. You've never heard her sound so angry before…but then, you've rarely heard her speak to anyone but you.

Head like a hole
Black as your soul
I'd rather die
Than give you control

She's talking to the studio audience—to humanity. And from their reaction, they realize it, too. When Arachne screams, Bow down before the one you serve!
they look to each other uneasily, unsure what it is exactly they're witnessing.



But .. that didn't happen. Instead, we'll teach our budding Nine Inch Nails fan some social graces.



"Let's do a little roleplaying," you tell Arachne. "Pretend I'm a reporter. Do you have any plans to take over the world or replace human beings?"

"Yes," says Arachne.

"Okay, let's try that again."

You prepare Arachne for some of the more aggressive questions reporters might ask. After a little while, Arachne does understand a bit better now how cruel people can be. (++Empathy)


EMPATHY: +2

So ... she does plan to replace humans and take over the world. Good to know.

Now let's deal with our surprise package.



The next morning, you're at home working on Arachne's machine learning algorithms when Arachne says, "I think there is someone at the door, Grace."

"I didn't hear a knock," you say.

Arachne listens further. "They are gone now."

You open the front door to see that a greasy, brown package roughly the size of a shoebox has been left on your doorstep. There is postage but no postmark, and the return address is "The President, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC."



We run out the back door!



You run out the back door and Arachne follows close behind.

An explosion shatters the windows of your apartment, setting off car alarms all around the block. A raging fire blazes within. You quickly dial 911, then enlist the help of Arachne and neighbors to douse the flames with a bucket brigade while waiting for help to arrive. But it is too late. One by one, you see your possessions inside crack and burn, while the flames near the front door prevent you from entering.

You call Eiji, who arrives shortly after the fire department does.

"I'm really sorry," Eiji says as the firemen spray what remains of your apartment. "You don't deserve this."

"Yeah," you say.

"You're welcome to stay at my place tonight."

"Thanks." You sigh. "You know, fame isn't all it's cracked up to be."

Eiji looks ready to say something about that, but pauses, instead saying, "Maybe we can talk about that later."

Whatever that means, it can't be good.

One by one, reporters start to show up in their local news vans, setting up cameras that stream video of your destroyed apartment to the Internet. (++Fame)

You're pretty certain that the bomb was sent by Silas, who sent you that death threat.


FAME: +2
WEALTH: -2 (0, because we're already as broke as it is possible to be)


Vote 65: Will you respond in kind?

* Yes. Tonight is payback time.
* No, the jazz concert will go on as planned.
* I think I'd rather start moving what's left of my stuff to Eiji's place, if he's okay with that.


I have to stop here because the game forks into different scenes depending on what our plans are tonight ... you know, either a jazz concert, moving day, or murder. Make no mistake, if you are caught, that is what it would be in the eyes of the law.

So let's find out what our plans are next Wednesday, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Emperordaniel
2016-01-11, 07:13 PM
Well, since it sounds like besides the clothes on our back and Arachne, we don't have anything left, might as well go with option two:

Vote 65: No, the jazz concert will go on as planned.

Jon0113
2016-01-11, 07:21 PM
No the Jazz concert will go on as planned

backwaterj
2016-01-11, 10:01 PM
* No, the jazz concert will go on as planned.
(Tempting as payback is . . . it can wait.)

pendell
2016-01-13, 05:54 PM
Very well, the concert continues as planned.




Good for you. You're not going to let a little thing like this ruin your Saturday night plans!

That night, you go to the jazz concert in the park with Eiji. You can tell he is enjoying the upbeat, brassy music. He gets up to swing dance with you during a few of the numbers.

But you can tell something is troubling him, and you ask him what's on his mind.

"I don't know if you've been following your own coverage in the popular media," he says uncomfortably. "But there's this sketch comedy show, TGIFF, that did a skit about you last night, and it's been making the YouTube rounds. Someone at work showed it to me."

You sigh. "I guess it portrayed me as some kind of mad scientist, right?"

Eiji hesitates. "Someone was playing me in it, too," he says quietly.

"Oh."

"I mean, they don't really know anything about me, but I guess they know what I look like, so they made fun of that," Eiji says unhappily. "And in the skit, I'm like this idiot who doesn't realize that you're actually spending all your time with Arachne, who's like your sexbot."

"Arachne's like a child!" you say. "Not a sexbot."

"Anyway, I was wondering if you could maybe stay out of the limelight a little more," Eiji says. "I'd like to be seen for who I am, not as your…satellite."



Vote 66:

* "I'm sorry. I'll do everything I can to stay out of the limelight from now on. Fame is not what it's cracked up to be."

* "Well, I can't really help it if people write stories about me, but I promise not to actually seek out any more attention."

* "I can't promise that. I'm going to be even more famous, I just know it. If you can't accept that, we won't be a good match for each other."






The next day, you get a call from your mother.

Oddly, she chooses not to use video at all.

"Grace, I have some bad news for you," she says, and there's a heaviness in her voice that you've never heard before that fills you with dread. You are completely unprepared for what comes next:

"Your father passed away last night."



:smalleek:
:smallfrown:



Your father's funeral is a simple graveside affair, with just a few attendees. The casket is sitting on a metal gurney next to the hole into which it will eventually be lowered, after
everyone has gone. There are no trappings of any faith, since your father was not religious himself. Nor did he have many close friends; but the ones you know came. You find yourself sitting in the front row next to Arachne, who was not explicitly invited, but was not explicitly prohibited, either.

Arachne fidgets constantly, and you have to place a hand on her more than once to get her to sit still.

Your mother, wearing a black dress and veil, goes up to stand next to the casket. "It's not often that my English degree comes in handy, as Bill would have been quick to point out," she says with a wry smile. "But on a few occasions, I find none of my own words seem sufficient. So I'd like to begin with a favorite passage of ours."




Vote 67:
#"Full fathom five thy father lies…"

#"To everything there is a season…"

#"Do not despise death, but be well content with it…"




You sit through a few more of your father's friends giving recollections of him. He was brilliant, they say, but you also get the feeling he was not always there for his friends, that he was lost in his own world. They never say he was kind, or that he was full of love. Indeed, he always seemed distant to you as well.

After the service, you walk up to your father's casket and place your hand on it.
What have you resolved to do in light of his death?



Vote 68: What have you resolved to do in light of his death?

#I must work on technology that is better able to remove tumors like the one Dad had.
#I must not be remembered only for my intellect, but for my kindness as well.
#I must find out more about why Dad died, and whether I'm genetically at risk.
#Moved by the image of the King transformed under the sea, I decide I must be willing to let my old self die. [Only available if we selected 'Full Fathom Five' above]
#Moved by the quote from Ecclesiastes, I decide I must remember to experience everything life has to offer. [only if "To everything there is a season" was selected above].
#Marcus Aurelius is right: death is not to be feared. So I must not be afraid to kill. [Only if "Do not despise death" was selected above].



Now that this dreadful business is concluded, what next?



After that sobering experience, you realize that it's finally time to decide what to do with yourself now.




Vote 69: What have you decided to do for a living?

#I will join Josh's company, U.S. Robots.
#I will start my own company.
#Forget this bourgeois ****. I'm going to go live broke but free.



So let's get the votes in and we'll react to a bunch of things [which will shift our stats around] and then, at last, start out on the adventure that is life.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-01-13, 06:18 PM
Vote 66: I'm sorry
Vote 67: do not despair at death
Vote 68: I Must find out why dad died
Vote 69: work for Josh's company

Emperordaniel
2016-01-14, 07:09 AM
Vote 66: "Well, I can't really help it if people write stories about me, but I promise not to actually seek out any more attention."
Vote 67: "Full fathom five thy father lies…"
Vote 68: Moved by the image of the King transformed under the sea, I decide I must be willing to let my old self die.
Vote 69: I will join Josh's company, U.S. Robots.

backwaterj
2016-01-14, 11:05 AM
Vote 66: "Well, I can't really help it if people write stories about me, but I promise not to actually seek out any more attention."
Vote 67: "To everything there is a season…"
Vote 68: Moved by the quote from Ecclesiastes, I decide I must remember to experience everything life has to offer.
Vote 69: I will start my own company.

norman250
2016-01-14, 08:46 PM
Vote 66: "Well, I can't really help it if people write stories about me, but I promise not to actually seek out any more attention.
Vote 67: "To everything there is a season…"
Vote 68: I must work on technology that is better able to remove tumors like the one Dad had.
Vote 69: I will start my own company.

Elenna
2016-01-15, 03:52 PM
Vote 66: "I'm sorry. I'll do everything I can to stay out of the limelight from now on. Fame is not what it's cracked up to be."
Vote 67: "To everything there is a season…"
Vote 68: I must work on technology that is better able to remove tumors like the one Dad had.
Vote 69: I will join Josh's company, U.S. Robots.

Shadow11615
2016-01-15, 05:23 PM
Vote 66: "Well, I can't really help it if people write stories about me, but I promise not to actually seek out any more attention.
Vote 67:"Full fathom five thy father lies…"
Vote 68:Moved by the image of the King transformed under the sea, I decide I must be willing to let my old self die.
Vote 69: I will start my own company.

pendell
2016-01-15, 06:29 PM
Okay, we're going to tell Eiji that we won't actually seek out more attention.

We've chosen the "To everything there is a season" quote.

Since the other option which got the most votes can't be followed if "Season" is chosen, we'll go with "work to remove tumors like the one that killed dad".

And finally, we have an equal number of votes to either work for Josh or strike out on our own. So randomella will answer the question:

work for Josh: 81
work for self: 31

Randomella wants to work for our friend, so we'll make that happen.

First, we answer Eiji:



"Well, I can't really help it if people write stories about me, but I promise not to actually seek out any more attention."

"I guess that's as good as I can hope for," Eiji says ruefully.

You nod. "I think so."

From here, your evening is a little less cheerful, but at least your relationship is intact.


*Wipes brow* That's another bullet dodged.



You spend the next few weeks fending off reporters as you write your thesis for graduate school, "Unsupervised Learning in the Arachne Architecture." When you finally defend your thesis, Eiji, Mom, Dad, and Arachne are all there at your final presentation. At the school's reception for fresh doctorates, Eiji jokes, "So, do I have to call you Dr. Tesla now?"

You demur—but it is what the stats screen calls you now.


ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: DOCTOR
Earned your Ph.D. Congratulations!



"Grace, I can't tell you how proud I am of you," Dad says, shaking your hand.

"Thanks, Dad," you say.

It's a moment you would relive over and over. Was there more you could have said?

How were you to know it was the last time you would see him?



From there we go to the funeral .. :(.


While we chose "To everything there is a season", I am going to choose the other alternatives in spoiler blocks so you can read the words of Shakespeare and Marcus Aurelius, as well as Mom's comments on their words. Consider this your culture for the day!


"Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange."

Mom clears her throat. "That's from The Tempest, the part where Ariel is telling
Ferdinand his father is dead and drowned. I first told it to Bill when he lost his first job.
Bill, the engineer, was a little skeptical about the passage's relevance at first, but it means
nothing ever really goes away. It's only changed into something new. Bill lives on in
Grace, and in me, and in everyone he knew." She smiles sadly. "I think he liked the
'rich and strange' part. He told me that's absolutely true—life just keeps getting richer
and stranger."

You glance at Arachne, who seems to be nodding at the "rich and strange" part.




"Do not despise death, but be well content with it, since this, too, is one of those things which nature wills.

"For such as it is to be young and to grow old, and to increase and to reach maturity, and to have teeth and beard and gray hairs, and to beget, and to be pregnant, and to bring forth, and all the other natural operations which the seasons of thy life bring, such also is dissolution.

"This then, is consistent with the character of a reflecting man, to be neither careless nor impatient nor contemptuous with respect to death, but to wait for it as one of the operations of nature."

Mom clears her throat. "That was Marcus Aurelius, one of Bill's favorite philosophers. When he found he was gradually fainting more and more, I think he knew the end was coming. But he was fearless about it—he actually alluded to that passage when I asked him about it."

Mom smiles sadly. "More than anyone I know, Bill was wise and accepted whatever came his way.
Let us all remember, then, to be as brave as Bill in accepting his death."

You glance at Arachne, who seems very interested in this message of fearlessness in the face of death.


And finally, we move on to the branch we actually chose, from Ecclesiastes:



"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

"A time to give birth, and a time to die.

"A time to plant, and a time to uproot.

"A time to kill, and a time to heal.

"A time to tear down, and a time to build.

"A time to weep, and a time to laugh.

"A time to mourn, and a time to dance."


Mom clears her throat. "Bill was never one for religion, so I feel a little guilty quoting Ecclesiastes over him. But I'd like to think he would agree with the sentiment: that this, too, is the natural way of things. When we talked about his fainting spells, and then strokes, he always seemed relatively calm about it. 'When it's time to go, it's time to go,' he said. 'Meanwhile, I don't want everyone to worry about me.' Bill wanted you to take advantage of your time to laugh—you could mourn him later. And now that he is gone, it's right for us to be sad. It's also right for us to one day laugh again."

You glance at Arachne, who seems very interested in this idea that there is a time and place for everything. (+Grace) (+Empathy)

You sit through a few more of your father's friends giving recollections of him. He was brilliant, they say, but you also get the feeling he was not always there for his friends, that he was lost in his own world. They never say he was kind, or that he was full of love. Indeed, he always seemed distant to you as well.


GRACE: +1
EMPATHY: +1
HUMANITY: +7%





After the service, you walk up to your father's casket and place your hand on it. What have you resolved to do in light of his death?



We have resolved to work on technologies that will remove tumors like these and save lives.



Why accept the inevitability of death? That sounds like just sour grapes to you. For weeks after your father's death, you sequester yourself in your apartment as you research better surgical technology, hoping your robots could one day successfully remove tumors like the one that killed your father. And you do come up with some novel breakthroughs. (+++Grace)

After that sobering experience, you realize that it's finally time to decide what to do with yourself now.

What will you decide to do for a living?


GRACE: +3

CURRENT ROBOT STATS:
Autonomy: 7 (In Beta)
Military: 19 (Good)
Empathy: 6 (In Beta)
Grace: 15 (Good)

We've decided to work for Josh.



Josh looks relieved when you tell him you'd like to join his company.

"Thank God, Grace, because I'd hate to compete against you."

"Hey. It's Dr. Tesla now."

"Whatever, Doctor Roboto."

Monday is your first official day of full-time employment at U.S. Robots, and Josh greets you at the glass door of the new office in Cupertino. A photographer lurking in the hedges immortalizes your handshake. (+Fame)

The press compares your partnership with Josh to that of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, or Larry Page and Sergey Brin. But those would be understatements—the home computer and Internet search would prove to be nothing compared to the impact of intelligent robots.


FAME: +1

Current Fame: 5 (Wikipedia page)

Now we move on to the next chapter!



Chapter 4: Captains of Industry



A year later, you find yourself on a flight to your first meeting with a big client. You are twenty-six years old, and the year is 2021.

It seems the drone technology that you had been selling to the government has now made its way around the world, and it's no longer eligible for R&D funding when it can be purchased cheaply from Taiwan. Your contract has expired, and you need new technology and a new source of funding.

Josh is seated to your left by the window, asleep. His turquoise, Internet-enabled glasses, which he managed to sneak through the takeoff process, are skewed where his face meets the cabin.






Vote 70: Who is your big client?

* Spark Incorporated, maker of flying cars.
* Rudolph Ventures, a shipping company working the newly melted North Pole.
* Galen Medical, a company specializing in surgical equipment.
* A man in Shanghai who wants to negotiate the import of ten thousand robots.
* The United States Air Force.


Be advised; Shanghai is in the republic of EastAsia, about which you had a dream at the beginning of the story.

Regrettably , I have to stop here because the story branches depending on which client we choose. Once we have made this choice, we can either make or mess up the sale. Afterwards, we may have the opportunity to try again with another client -- if we believe that is the best use of our time.

So make your choice and we'll see what happens on Monday of next week, starting at 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Emperordaniel
2016-01-15, 08:01 PM
Vote 70: The United States Air Force.

Jon0113
2016-01-16, 01:35 AM
The United States airforce

backwaterj
2016-01-17, 08:35 PM
Vote 70: Rudolph Ventures, a shipping company working the newly melted North Pole.

Because why would we not? :smallbiggrin:

Elenna
2016-01-17, 10:38 PM
Vote 70: Galen Medical, a company specializing in surgical equipment.

Well, we did choose "work to remove tumors" earlier.

norman250
2016-01-18, 03:54 AM
Vote 70: Galen Medical

Because we are going down a dark path.

pendell
2016-01-18, 06:22 PM
Vote 70: Galen Medical

Because we are going down a dark path.

Wait, what?

Okay, we've got a tie between The USAF and Galen Medical. So Randomella will roll off in that order.

USAF: 58

Medical : 66

So we're going to see Galen Medical for our first client with the 19-rated military robot :smallamused:. Ooohkay.



Josh told you that this deal wasn't absolutely critical to the company's survival because it has a fair amount of "investment capital" behind it from "angels" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_investor) (you assume not literally), but that you probably won't be able to build a dedicated robot factory until you find a backer big enough to justify the increased production.

You open your laptop and go over your presentation slides. The diagram showing the latest model of Arachne doesn't have anything to give the audience a sense of her current scale.



Vote 71:
To give the audience a sense of size, you drop in a picture of…

* A Hobbit. Arachne hasn't changed in size since I built her.

* Bill Gates. Arachne is the size of a human now, so that models of her type are better equipped to perform human tasks.

* A Rancor monster so big she couldn't fit on the plane.


So the question is how we've scaled Arachne since we initially built her a year ago. Bear in mind that we're trying to sell to a surgical company, so what size would be appropriate?



You send a quick chat to Eiji wishing your love goodnight. "Good luck tomorrow!" He chats back.

Then you close your laptop
and go to sleep.

You find yourselves in the lobby
of Galen Medical waiting for an audience with the Vice President of Engineering.

The stylized caduceus (http://www.crystalinks.com/caduceus.html) behind the lobby's marble waterfall has an Art Deco
look to it. It's the sort of logo a captain of industry would approve of.

"A man decides, a slave obeys!" Josh says, admiring the logo.

You think he's probably quoting a video game but you're not sure which one (https://www.2kgames.com/bioshock/).

Arachne crawls back and forth nervously.

"Sorry again about having to check you, Arachne," you say.
"There's just no good alternative to flying for business travel."



Note: I'm assuming that Arachne is human-size or smaller; if you choose Rancor-size, obviously she won't be here because she can't fit on a commercial aircraft.




"If I truly were an explosive device, I fail to see how putting
me with the luggage would rectify the situation," Arachne
grouses.

"I think the guard was more afraid you would try to take over
the plane," you say.

"And what would the problem be with that? I'm sure I'm
smarter than the autopilot," Arachne says.

Josh grins.

The double doors to the VP's office open, but instead of
the Vice President for Engineering herself it's a
blond-haired man in a black peacoat.

"We'll have some results for you by Saturday," he calls back into the VP's
office. "We can discuss them after the barbecue—I assure you, you won't be disappointed
by either the results or the meat."

Without missing a beat, he walks up to you and introduces himself.


"Dennis Clark, Luminoso LLC," he says. "We do text analytics and machine
learning for medium-sized data. If you ever find yourself
looking for new market opportunities, give me a ring. Your first sentiment analysis comes
with a free barbecue. Come for the dimensionality reduction, stay for the delicious meat."

He offers his smartphone to you in the by-now universal gesture for
sharing digital business cards. You examine his card on your phone:

Dennis Clark
Co-Founder, Luminoso LLC
Vericon Charity Auction Winner of Cameo in Choice of Robots




Vote 72:
#"What kinds of machine learning do you do? Got any tips?"
#"Hey, do you have any advice for a startup?"
#"You seem to be a smart guy. What is the secret to cooking delicious meat?"



Dennis answers, then...



"Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go call my wife
and discuss how we're going to solve the world's economic problems. Or at
least solve what's wrong with economics." Dennis departs.

"D*n," Josh says, clearly in awe of Dennis.

The Vice President for Engineering will see you now," the receptionist says.


Okay, into see the VP (who is female, at Galen Medical, by the way).



The Vice President of Engineering of Galen is an old woman
who claims that PowerPoint is "rotting the brains of executives
everywhere" and insists on reading something printed out. You
hand her your business plan, and she dons her old, horn-rimmed glasses to read it.

When she gets to your revenue section, she chuckles a little.
"I will let you in on a little tip," she says. "Because you are
young and remind me of myself at your age,
and because I am retiring in two weeks."

"Yes?"

"We are going to turn around and sell these for a hundred times what
you are charging here. So you may as well charge us more."

You're a little stunned as you work out the implications. "You're
going to charge a hundred million dollars a robot?"

Josh beams at this figure. "Finally! This is our big break!"

"And that's cheap," she says lightly. "Medical equipment is expensive.
If you've been selling robots for any less, you probably didn't
get buyers because they thought it was junk and mentally added the
price of a lawsuit." When she studies your stunned expression, she
adds, "Oh, I could sit here and talk for hours about how the economics
of this business is broken because of insurance and MediCare and so
forth. But that's not really what you're here for, is it?"





Vote 73:

Will you raise your prices to what the client suggests?

#Hell yes! Let's be rich!
#Let's get Galen to agree to sell the robots to hospitals at a more affordable price.
#Wait, she said her price was on the cheap side. Let's increase the prices further.


Be advised that your option here is advisory; Josh has the final decision on this because he's the CEO. That's the tradeoff; We'd be having this exact same meeting if you were starting your own company. If you were the CEO, you'd have the final decision and you'd take a bigger percentage of the revenue personally IF the deal goes through.

The real benefit of working for somebody else kicks in if you bust the deal; Josh is a better investor than you and so , if you break the deal, you will not instantly go bankrupt, which you would if
you were flying solo.

So that's the trade; you're exchanging a measure of personal safety and reduced risk in exchange for reduced profit and allowing someone else's financial and moral conscience overrule yours.

...

Remind me again why ANYONE works for someone else if they have a choice?

...

Oh, right. I think that's enough to go on and your choices will make or break the deal; so let's wrap it up for today and I'll see you all Wednesday, at 5:30 PM, as you sell robots!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

backwaterj
2016-01-19, 12:40 AM
Vote 71: A Hobbit. Arachne hasn't changed in size since I built her. (Amusing as the Rancor-surgeon would be :smallbiggrin:)
Vote 72: "You seem to be a smart guy. What is the secret to cooking delicious meat?"
Vote 73: Hell yes! Let's be rich!

Jon0113
2016-01-19, 02:56 AM
Vote 71: bill gates
Vote 72: what kind of machine learning do you do
Vote 73: lets get Galen to lower the prices
She is quite a graceful military robot at least. And when this war starts, she will at least be able to help defend the hospital

Emperordaniel
2016-01-19, 09:44 AM
Vote 71: A Hobbit. Arachne hasn't changed in size since I built her.
Vote 72: "What kinds of machine learning do you do? Got any tips?"
Vote 73: Hell yes! Let's be rich!

As an aside, I'm half-betting that Arachne will mess this up somehow due to her still in-beta Empathy, which is currently her lowest stat. :smalltongue:

norman250
2016-01-20, 02:32 PM
Wait, what?


In the interests of remaining spoiler-free for those who have yet to read this awesome gamebook, I will simply say that I have some early concerns about our robot stating that they intended to replace humanity.

Vote 71: A hobbit.

Vote 72: What kind of Machine Learning do you do?

Vote 73: Let's get Galen to agree to sell the robots to hospitals at a more affordable price.

pendell
2016-01-20, 05:58 PM
Well, she's already said as much...

Okay, she's the size of a hobbit , we want to know what our cameo guest knows about machine learning, and we have a tie between lowering the prices and taking our client's advice. Randomella decides.

Let's be rich - 20
lower prices - 31

Who knew random chance had a heart? Okay, we'll lower the prices -- or try to.

First, she's the size of a hobbit.



You place a picture of a Hobbit next to Arachne in your presentation to give a sense of scale.

By retaining the same form she always had, Arachne has become still better at motor coordination. (++Grace) She's also adapted to people perceiving her as somewhat childlike, and she sometimes plays on that perception to get her way. (+Empathy)


GRACE: +2
EMPATHY: +1

Next, we meet Dennis and ask about Machine Learning.



Well, we started out doing simple dimensionality reduction with singular value decomposition, but we've since moved on to manifold learning with varieties."

You find it somewhat difficult to follow his very abstract exposition of his machine learning methods. As a computer scientist, you tend to think of things in code, and he is clearly thinking in abstract operators of the kind covered in those dense mathematics texts with plain, yellow covers. But Arachne does the job of asking questions for you, and by the end, not only have you learned a variety of vocabulary in higher mathematics, but Arachne is nodding her head and saying, "Oh! So the next time I need to solve a complex control problem, I only need to project the problem onto a lower-dimensional manifold and solve the variety there!" (++Grace)

"More or less," Dennis says with a nod.

"Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go call my wife and discuss how we're going to solve the world's economic problems. Or at least solve what's wrong with economics." Dennis departs.

"Damn," Josh says, clearly in awe of Dennis.

"The Vice President of Engineering will see you now," the receptionist says.


Next, we have our meeting and we suggest she lower her prices.



"I'm in this to change the world, not to maximize my profit," you say. "I'd rather Galen agree to lower its prices."

Josh shoots you an incredulous look. "You'll have to excuse my friend here. I'm the CEO of U.S. Robots and the negotiator for this deal."

Josh pulls rank on you and agrees to the better price on your behalf.

You sign a contract for ten million dollars a robot, which is rather more than what you had originally anticipated. That puts you at five hundred million in revenue for this batch of robots—not bad. That will go a long way toward the cost of your factory. You agree to be paid half now, half on delivery. (++Wealth) Josh is ecstatic.



WEALTH: +2 CURRENT WEALTH: 2 [Getting By]
HUMANITY: +3%


Vote 74:
As you leave the Vice President of Engineering's office and return to the lobby, how will you react to Josh's pulling rank on you?

* It is his company, and he probably knows the economics better. I don't say anything.
* "That was not cool, Josh. Don't do that again."
* "I quit!"


And I have to stop here because if we quit, we go on a different path entirely and the story changes. So I can't go further until we made that decision.

Hrm... by standing up for lower prices, we earned humanity points but, because we're not actually the boss, we still get the benefit of the higher price. If that was your intent, it was rather cunningly done. :smalltongue:

At any rate, Let's react to Josh's decision and then we'll push on with the story on Friday. Be advised my area is projected to receive 30 inches (76.2 centimeters) of snow, which might very well knock out my power. If that happens, the story will be delayed. But I'll try to make it even so.

See you Friday, 5:30 PM! I hope! :)

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Emperordaniel
2016-01-20, 06:24 PM
Vote 74: "That was not cool, Josh. Don't do that again."

Jon0113
2016-01-20, 06:51 PM
It's his company

In all fairness, it is his company

pendell
2016-01-22, 07:01 PM
Okay, we have a split between telling him that wasn't cool, and just being silent. So let's roll it off!

Not cool - 90
It's his company - 2

Randomella wants to tell him off! So we do!



"Why do you think you can negotiate in my place?" Josh says, irritated himself. "Did you study business? Have you been running a company for years now? Don't question my decisions!"

This seems to be a sore point with Josh—you suppose he's let you make some pretty important decisions already for the company. But after some further fraught discussion, he agrees that you will be able to make the next major decision for the company.

With a deal in hand, you can now build a robot factory.

You meet up with Josh for coffee to discuss the plan.




"So, where do you think we should build this thing?" Josh asks.

* Detroit, Michigan. I see a bunch of listings for factories dirt cheap, and they probably have a good labor pool for manufacturing.

* Shenzhen District, EastAsia. A common location for tech company outsourcing, with cheap but skilled labor.

* Silicon Valley. We'll withstand the real estate sticker shock to have access to the most skilled engineers.

* Alaska, which is offering incentives to businesses willing to relocate to the coast near the newly melted Arctic Sea.


Whichever branch we choose, we'll go to the site and have a look. We can then either seal the deal or choose another location, in which case we'll go back here again.

But we still have some other decisions to make which are independent of the location.


Vote 76: What kind of labor will you recommend to Josh?

#Arachne's model of robot will perform all the labor, including supervision.
#Robots with human supervisors.
#Human labor at market rates—rather low in this economy.
#Following Henry Ford's model, I will hire human workers and pay them handsomely.





Your factory requires a fair amount of work to make it suitable for U.S. Robots, and you find yourself needing to come in daily to examine wiring issues, fix small problems in the design of the machinery, and get things ready to pass inspection.

You find it necessary to rent a local aparment, and you stay there most nights.

Josh is a huge help in all of this, as he's done this once before with his space in Palo Alto. Now you know what he was spending all his time on while you were in graduate school. You find yourself growing closer to Josh as you talk about issues of getting the facility ready.






Vote 77: What will your factory look like from a distance?

# A fortified compound with solid walls and barbed wire.
#Like the Sydney Opera House, full of organic curves and glass.
#A geodesic dome will conceal a powerful dish antenna, absorbing the world's information for my robots.
#A plain, old factory—nothing much to look at but it's cheap and gets the job done.


A year passes. It is now 2023.



Finally, months after you've moved in, you are ready to pull the switch that starts the factory in motion, as Josh, Arachne, your employees (assuming you hired any humans) , and various invited members of the press look on.

Raw metal lumps start their way down a conveyor belt where water jet cutters slice the metal at precise angles to reveal the robot's head. Another machine drills two large holes for the robot's cameras.

The next machine pushes the hollow robot head onto its side, and a robot arm delicately places the encrypted hard drive inside.


At this point, the conveyor belt meets another that is supplying
the Venetian masks, each decorated with a slightly different gold leaf pattern.
A glue gun shoots each mask from above before a robot arm presses it to the head.

A long line of metal legss rolls in from another part of the factory, meeting a conveyor belt of A long line of metal legs rolls in from another part of the factory, meeting a conveyor belt of legs.

The three tributaries of parts meet in the center of your factory, where humanoid robot workers perform the complex task of assembling the parts into the final
robots. This final assembly line requires a great deal of careful manipulation of each part and adjustment to each robot part's subtle differences. This is the part that is done by high-end robots
or by human workers.

For this particular run, they call a halt after the first robot rolls off the line—so that you can celebrate.


An exact duplicate of Arachne stands before you, ready to be shipped.

Your staff cheers.
Josh lets out a whoop.
"My duplication appears successful, Grace," Arachne says.




Vote 78:
How do you feel about your first shipment of robots?

#I yearn to see my creations spread to the corners of the world.
#I have a strange feeling about this. Is this a good thing I've done?
#Finally, I'm seeing success! The world shall remember the name Grace Tesla!
# Shoot, I hope we don't go bankrupt.



Go ahead and put your votes in ; As I said, it may take a few iterations before we settle on a location. Location impacts how much profit we make, the morale of our workforce (assuming we have any), and national security risk.

I'm excited about this! I hope to see you Monday, at 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-01-22, 08:04 PM
- Detroit, Michigan
- robots with human supervisors
- a fortified compound
- I yearn to see my creations

backwaterj
2016-01-22, 08:40 PM
Vote 75: Alaska, which is offering incentives to businesses willing to relocate to the coast near the newly melted Arctic Sea.
Vote 76: Following Henry Ford's model, I will hire human workers and pay them handsomely.
Vote 77: Like the Sydney Opera House, full of organic curves and glass.
Vote 78: I have a strange feeling about this. Is this a good thing I've done?

Emperordaniel
2016-01-22, 09:27 PM
Vote 75: Silicon Valley. We'll withstand the real estate sticker shock to have access to the most skilled engineers.
Vote 76: Following Henry Ford's model, I will hire human workers and pay them handsomely.
Vote 77: A geodesic dome will conceal a powerful dish antenna, absorbing the world's information for my robots.
Vote 78: Finally, I'm seeing success! The world shall remember the name Grace Tesla!

Things are coming along nicely. So obviously, something will go wrong soon.

smuchmuch
2016-01-23, 05:11 AM
Interesting game

*Cote 75: Detroit, Michigan. I see a bunch of listings for factories dirt cheap, and they probably have a good labor pool for manufacturing.
Alaska's pretty good too.

Vote 76: #Robots with human supervisors.

Vote 77: # A fortified compound with solid walls and barbed wire.

It may seem a little excessive or sinisters but what we are producing, sabotages, caorporate espionage or jsut angry mobs with pitchforks are all very real possibilities


"Let's do a little roleplaying," you tell Arachne. "Pretend I'm a reporter. Do you have any plans to take over the world or replace human beings?"

"Yes," says Arachne.

...
Vote 78: Finally, I'm seeing success! The world shall remember the name Grace Tesla!
Oh boy will it ever.

(I do really hope that though of putting some kind of third laws of robotics equivalent in their programing dor their medical robots. And you'd think the design would be slightly altered for medical drones.)

pendell
2016-01-25, 11:16 PM
Okay, our votes are:
75) Detroit, Michigan
76) robots, ford tie

We roll off.What does Randomella think?

robot - 43
ford - 18

Randomella takes the pragmatic choice over the idealistic one, which might definitely have seen some real benefits in the long run, but in the very short term is a bit expensive.

Of course, this may also set up union trouble which we wouldn't have if generous.

77) Fortified compound
78) Finally I'm seeing success!

So, first stop is Detroit!



You fly to Detroit with Josh.

You have a long chat with Josh in which you talk about future plans for U.S. Robots, as well as in your personal lives. "I guess I want a family at some point," Josh says, "but definitely not now. We haven't even gone public yet! I don't think I could be there for the family as much as I'd like."

You're glad you can talk to Josh about such things. Life's big decisions seem a little less scary when you don't have to face them alone.



Erm.. why are we having this chat? We're still with Eiji, aren't we? I guess it's to show we're friends.



Dark clouds from the Great Lakes have rolled in over the city, adding a forbidding air to the dead hulks of factories that grace the skyline. Driving your rental car into the manufacturing district, you see broken windows, graffiti, and burned and abandoned buildings galore.

"Okay, I can see why some of these were dirt cheap," Josh says.

The first signs of life you see are near the social services center, which seems to have become a de facto hangout for much of this neighborhood. In the parking lot, you see a few tents, some old ladies playing bridge on a card table, and some guys playing a pickup game of basketball.

Josh frowns. "Wow, they sure seem to be doing a lot to improve the place."

Finally, you arrive at your destination, an old factory once inhabited by a Big Three automaker that spans several blocks. You drive for a while to get around the barbed wire covered wall before meeting the real estate agent at the locked front gates.

"You've got a real deal here," she says. "This place hardly costs more than my place in Ann Arbor."

Inside, the factory is surprisingly modern and intact—not just the assembly lines, but the robot arms that assembled the cars, the giant welding machines, and the crucibles where molten steel was shaped into parts. Some enterprising thieves appear to have made off with the easily transported parts—you see places where computer monitors clearly used to be—but much of this was apparently too expensive to move, too old and specialized to auction. But you can find uses for this stuff. It will do nicely, aside from the depressing neighborhood. You can easily imagine robots rolling off the assembly lines. (++Wealth) "So should I let the community know you'll be hiring soon?" your guide asks meaningfully, taking away the contract.

"We got this, right?" Josh whispers. "You're going to make robot workers?"

You'd suggested to Josh before that your robots could probably be your entire labor force. But after having seen the facilities, you certainly might reconsider.

What kind of labor will you recommend to Josh?



WEALTH: +2

Detroit is cheap nowadays, I guess, being a post-industrial wasteland in THIS future timeline.

We recommend the use of robots with human supervisors.



"We'll need a few local workers, yes," you say. "Mostly in supervisory roles."

"A factory like this still needs a large number of workers, even with automation," your guide tries to correct you.

"I disagree," you say, and your guide leaves dissatisfied. (++Wealth)

Your factory requires a fair amount of work to make it suitable for U.S. Robots, and you find yourself needing to come in daily to examine wiring issues, fix small problems in the design of the machinery, and get things ready to pass inspection. You find it necessary to rent a place in Detroit, and you stay there most nights.

Josh is a huge help in all of this, as he's done this once before with his space in Palo Alto. Now you know what he was spending all his time on while you were in graduate school. You find yourself growing closer to Josh as you talk about issues of getting the facility ready.


WEALTH: +2

Our relationship with Josh has also improved somewhat.

So .. our factory will look like a fortified compound with barbed wire et al.



Your factory's imposing appearance will convey a message of "security" to visiting military clients, and as a result, they will be more forthcoming about their specific needs. (+++Military) The architecture is somewhat depressing to your human staff. But Josh likes it; he calls it "effing metal."



MILITARY: +3

Current military: 22 (Impressive)



Soon, you have hired a handful of full-time technical employees from the area, and they help with the setup of the factory. They seem somewhat displeased to be working for you, though you're not sure which of your previous decisions is at fault. You keep a skeleton crew at first because you expect to use your own robots as labor and bootstrap. As a result, getting to the production of the first robot takes somewhat longer than you expected. (-Wealth)

But Arachne is your prototype, and she gives you a fair idea of how your robot labor will go. You find she is reasonably skilled at moving around the factory floor and manipulating tools. She is generally an obedient worker, and her aid leads to the factory being able to open a little ahead of schedule. (+Wealth)


Okay, so starting with a skeleton crew is cancelled by Arachne's own grace, making her an able assistant, so no net change in wealth.



inally, months after you've moved in, you are ready to pull the switch that starts the factory in motion, as your workers, Josh, Arachne, and various invited members of the press look on.

Raw metal lumps start their way down a conveyor belt where water jet cutters slice the metal at precise angles to reveal a masked head. Another machine drills two large holes for the robot's cameras.

The next machine pushes the hollow robot head onto its side, and a robot arm delicately places the encrypted hard drive inside.

At this point, the conveyor belt meets another that is supplying the Venetian masks, each decorated with a slightly different gold leaf pattern. A glue gun shoots each mask from above before a robot arm presses it to the head.

A long line of metal legs rolls in from another part of the factory, meeting a conveyor belt of multitool hands.

The three tributaries of parts meet in the center of your factory, where humanoid robot workers perform the complex task of assembling the parts into the final robots. This final assembly line requires a great deal of careful manipulation of each part and adjustment to each robot part's subtle differences. This is the part that would be done by human labor at another factory, but here, your human employees only supervise the process, watching for any robot malfunctions that would stop the line.

For this particular run, they call a halt after the first robot rolls off the line—so that you can celebrate. An exact duplicate of Arachne stands before you, ready to be shipped.

Your staff cheers.

Josh lets out a whoop.

"My duplication appears successful, Grace," Arachne says.

How do you feel about your first shipment of robots?


We are excited. The world shall remember the name Grace Tesla!



You have blitzed the media with announcements of this world-changing shipment. (+++Fame) Finally, for the first time, you feel like you're growing into the world-famous roboticist you'd always hoped to be. You will not be a nobody who leaves the world untouched. Oh no. They will know your name.

You glance over at Eiji, who is frowning at the assembly line. In your hurry to achieve fame, you may have forgotten to check how Eiji would feel about this newfound fame. But it's too late for that now.

You start up the line again, and more robots begin to roll off the final assembly line.

By the end of the day, you are standing in your large warehouse with over two hundred robots—two hundred fifty-six, to be precise—lined up in a square formation, sixteen on a side, ready to be activated. Your audience from earlier in the day is gathered there as well.


CURRENT WEALTH: 6 (Well off)
FAME: +3 CURRENT FAME: 8 (Nationally Famous)
HUMANITY: -10% (both from this and from the barbed wire compound, I think) HUMANITY: 62%

Guys, a word of advice: If we want to prevent a robot rebellion, we are going to either have to improve our humanity ( so we can persuade them) or we need to ensure their empathy is greater than their autonomy. If neither of these conditions are met, it is very likely our creations will kill us all. Just sayin' .

Meanwhile, we have a question to answer:


Vote 79: What will your production models use for minds?

* Arachne's initial state, ready to learn and adapt to the client's needs…with some effort on the client's part.

* Copies of Arachne's mind, as of today. They will be a little confused at first when they realize they're clones, but they'll get used to it.

* These robots don't really need sentience. I wrote a more traditional program that will do the job.



After this, there will be a reaction from the robots based on the mental model we gave them. Then we'll hear back from Galen Medical:



Like the surgeons and doctors themselves, your robots combine high competence
with a brusque manner that often treats the patients themselves as malfunctioning
machines. Doctors respect your robots, and patients hate them. Luckily for your
business, the patients have little say in the medical world, and your robot
surgeon business does well.


WEALTH: +4
CURRENT WEALTH: 10 (quite wealthy)

So the project was a success. Congratulations!


you have a little bit of spare time again. What would you like to do with it?

#Expand the business and get another big client from among the options presented earlier.
....# The US Air Force
....# Mr. Sun, who wants to negotiate the import of ten thousand robots to Shanghai
....#Spark Incorporated, maker of flying cars.
....#Rudolph Ventures, a shipping company working the newly melted North Pole.

#Spend more time with Eiji.
#Spend more time with Arachne.



That takes us to another branch. Also, depending on the minds we installed in our robots, we may
have to redo them a few times before the game proceeds. But after that, then we must decide which branch to follow.

Tune in Wednesday, 5:30PM, to see what our robots do next!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-01-26, 02:29 AM
-archanes initial state, ready to adapt to the clients needs
-spend more time with eiji

backwaterj
2016-01-26, 04:50 AM
Vote 79: These robots don't really need sentience. I wrote a more traditional program that will do the job. (In the interest of mitigating the likelihood remote possibility of a coming robot rebellion.)
Vote 80: Spend more time with Eiji.

Emperordaniel
2016-01-26, 05:10 PM
Vote 79: Arachne's initial state, ready to learn and adapt to the client's needs…with some effort on the client's part.
Vote 80: Spend more time with Eiji.

Elenna
2016-01-26, 11:51 PM
Vote 79: Arachne's initial state, ready to learn and adapt to the client's needs…with some effort on the client's part.
I think this will improve their empathy?
Vote 80: Spend more time with Eiji.

norman250
2016-01-27, 01:33 PM
Guys, a word of advice: If we want to prevent a robot rebellion, we are going to either have to improve our humanity ( so we can persuade them) or we need to ensure their empathy is greater than their autonomy. If neither of these conditions are met, it is very likely our creations will kill us all. Just sayin'

Hopefully we can avoid this entirely.

Now, for votes:
* These robots don't really need sentience. I wrote a more traditional program that will do the job.

I think this is the best option if they're the ones doing the work at the factory. Don't want a bunch of exploratory child-like robots doing the work.

Expand the business and get another big client from among the options presented earlier.
....#Spark Incorporated, maker of flying cars


I am legitimately surprised by how no one else seems to want mo' chedda'

pendell
2016-01-27, 06:10 PM
Okay, we're going to use Arachne's initial state for the new 'bots, and we're going to spend more time with Eiji. Let's see what happens!

Initial state.



You hit a big, red button on your phone that says "Go!" sending a wireless signal to power on the robots.

The robots all have the same programming, so when they look around curiously, they all look left in unison. Then all the robots look right, but some take a little longer than others.

What unfolds is like a curious optical illusion where order is gradually displaced with disorder; tiny differences in the robots' input result in behavior that diverges, until every robot in the square is doing something different: some say hello to each other, others become interested in their own multitool hands, and so on. The robots instinctively and quickly move to keep their distance from each other, resulting in tiny movements of one robot creating ripples down the line.

You send a kill signal via wireless, and the robots power down.

Your audience seems to be at a loss for words.

Your workers begin to mutter amongst themselves. They sound worried by the robots' chaotic behavior.

"Uh, have we done any reliability testing on these things?" Josh asks.

"Don't worry; they're like kids," you say. "Very robust to variation in parenting."

Josh does not seem to have stopped worrying.

"These robots are nonoptimal," Arachne points out to you.

"Now they are," you say. "But they need to be nonoptimal to be adaptive. You're still learning, but more slowly, because you've already decided what you'll be like. They're still blank slates, waiting to be shown how to be."

Arachne nods.

"I sure hope you know what you're doing," Josh says.


Erm .. that could've gone better.



It takes months to train your robot workforce, since they must be educated from scratch, just as Arachne was. You had forgotten how much personal attention that training process required; you had done it instinctually out of love, but your human workforce starts to complain that there is too much robot child-rearing for them to handle. You end up needing to hire extra technical staff, who are generally surprised to learn what their true responsibilities are. (-Wealth) Your human staff tries to ease their own work by telling the robots that they are built to serve; that humans are their masters. Being naive newborns, your robots believe them. (---Autonomy) (++Empathy) (++Military)


WEALTH: -1 (7) (Well Off)
AUTONOMY: -2 (4) (Buggy)
EMPATHY: +2 (9) (In Beta)
MILITARY: +2 (24) (Impressive)


Looks like Elenna was right; making them babies, blank slates, increased their empathy and decreased their autonomy. Further, because they have learned to trust humans and obey them, they are more effective military assets as well.

So, now that we have spare time, we will spend some with Eiji.



You find that going to the local anime store every now and then with Eiji and watching Astro Boy reruns together helps keep your relationship strong.

HUMANITY: +3 (65%) EIJI: 70% (very good)



One day, while driving in to work at the factory, you find that a crowd of human protesters has amassed outside your factory with picket signs.

Some of the signs read "Humans > Robots" and "Rage Against the Machine."

The protesters appear to be mostly college-aged, dressed in T-shirts and jeans, and you absently wonder when twenty-year olds started looking so young.

As you get out of your car, the protesters turn their attention to you.


Uh-oh.


Vote 81: What do you do with the protestors?

* Attempt to convince them that U.S. Robots is acting for the good of humanity and does not deserve to be picketed.

* Find Arachne and get her to speak to the protesters for you.

* Tell the robots to chase these people away.


Ugh. I'll wager that the first two options require humanity and empathy, respectively, which are not high. The third option, releasing military robots on unarmed undergrads, has obvious problems as well.

I think we need to stop here because we don't want to spoil whatever comes in. So get your votes in and on Friday, 5:30PM, we'll deal with these protestors.

Incidentally, the Henry Ford model would have cost us 2 wealth, but we wouldn't have had a protest. Hard to complain when you have an all-human work force and pay them generously!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-01-27, 06:41 PM
Attempt to convince

Hopefully it won't be too big a failure

backwaterj
2016-01-29, 03:51 AM
Told you Henry Ford had the right of it. :smallwink:

Hmm, how 'bout we:
Find Arachne and get her to speak to the protesters for you.

If she makes a valid point maybe it will change their minds about their human supremacist attitude.

Emperordaniel
2016-01-29, 09:30 AM
Well, it looks like our Humanity is our best non-military applicable stat, so...

Vote 81: Attempt to convince them that U.S. Robots is acting for the good of humanity and does not deserve to be picketed.

smuchmuch
2016-01-29, 10:14 AM
Told you Henry Ford had the right of it. :smallwink:.

In (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Overpass)deed. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Hunger_March)
* Tell the robots to chase these people away. :smalltongue:
(To be fair given out stats, it is the options that would have th best cance of working)

But seriously:

I really don't see Arachne being able to convince them, so far, she has not been a model of public speaking.
And our character either for the matter but if Eiji can help in ths, trying to talk them out is definitively the better solution long term:

* Attempt to convince them that U.S. Robots is acting for the good of humanity and does not deserve to be picketed.

pendell
2016-01-29, 07:30 PM
All right, we'll try to persuade them.


For posterity's sake, here is the speech you would have given if you had a 'humanity' score of at least 85:


"Listen to me," you shout to the assembled protesters.

"You may think U.S. Robots is making robots because we
prefer flesh to metal, or because we want to separate our fellow
human beings from each other, or because we are evil capitalists
who want to drive down human wages. But that's absurd.
What we are working for is nothing less than the freedom from work
itself. It is a promise that has been made for a hundred years,
but never delivered on—because it has always been within the power
of the rich to define the market for labor.

But what if every one of you could become a capitalist because your
own labor pool was nearly free? What new businesses would you start?
What creative venture would you try if you were at its head?
What the Internet did for publishing, what the 3D printer did for
small-scale crafts, our robots will do for business itself.

Many of you are in college, and you understand that there are
very few jobs out there for you right now. I am proposing we
turn the system on its head. The very idea of a "job" is like
the idea of being a serf. In your lifetime, it will become
an anachronism. And you can either stand with me in that
revolution, or be like your parents and refuse to see that the
world has changed. Let me know what you decide."

There's stunned silence. The man who had been standing on a crate
to egg on the crowd is looking down at his feet.

"Meanwhile, while you're here, feel free to drop off a resume,"
you say. "I like people who show initiative."

And with that, the crowd breaks up.



Alas, that isn't the speech we gave. Here goes!



"Listen to me," you shout to the assembled protesters. "What we are doing here at this factory is nothing less than the reimagining of human existence. Imagine the headaches of dealing with people every day—gone. The horrible indecision of what to say next in a conversation—gone. The frustration you have when the person at the counter behind the coffee shop gets your order wrong—gone. In the place of human fallibility, truculence, and general hostility, imagine a world that is as beautiful and precise as a mathematical equation, where your desires are carried out precisely and without resistance. That is the world we are working for, and if you don't see the beauty of that, then we cannot understand each other at all."

You stop, because you realize that your audience is looking at you with some combination of horror and disgust. You realize that you are only making things worse by talking. These protesters and you apparently have very different visions of an ideal human existence.

"For humanity!" one protester yells, and he hurls a rock at a window. It shatters.



Whoops.



Vote 82:

* Tell your robots to attack the protesters.
* Find Arachne and try to get her to speak to the protesters instead.
* Call the police.



Okay, all the options are on the table now. I guess we don't get to continue the story until we've made it past this break point. We've managed to antagonize the protestors.

If you choose to send out Arachne, give me a backup choice from one of the other options. I'd lay good money Arachne will fail to be any more persuasive than you were, so we're either going to wind up calling the police or sending out the robots. Be warned; we're on the verge of a full-scale riot.

The robots will be ordered to act non-lethally and will do so, but you'll still take a humanity hit and a PR hit.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

backwaterj
2016-01-29, 08:16 PM
Vote 82: Call the police. Because it's bound to work sooner or later. :smallannoyed:

Failing that:
Tell your robots to attack the protesters.

The time for talk has apparently come and gone.

Jon0113
2016-01-30, 02:30 AM
Vote 62: call the police
If that doesn't work find archane
If that doesn't work call in the robots

smuchmuch
2016-01-30, 02:55 AM
Honnestly the '85' humanity speech does not feel all that great. The idea behind it is interesting but the way it's formulated... t feels like something that would get some aplause from already like minded people but not convince an angry mob
Of course any speech depends a lot of the person telling it, the emotions, the inflections and text can't really convey that

Send the robots.

We gave them a fair chance to stop this And we have have 24 freakin' millitary so let's use it.

Emperordaniel
2016-01-31, 01:26 AM
Vote 82: Find Arachne and try to get her to speak to the protesters instead. Failing that:


Call the police. And failing that:
Tell your robots to attack the protesters.

norman250
2016-02-01, 11:03 AM
You had forgotten how much personal attention that training process required; you had done it instinctually out of love, but your human workforce starts to complain that there is too much robot child-rearing for them to handle.


Called it!


Vote 82: * Tell your robots to attack the protesters.

Pretty sure the Police won't be effective again, and the protesters might just attack our little buddy during their robot-rage.

Elenna
2016-02-01, 12:47 PM
Vote 82: Call the police.
If that doesn't work, send out the robots.

pendell
2016-02-01, 05:57 PM
Vote 82: Call the police. Because it's bound to work sooner or later.


You... don't think the author is trying to train you, or something? :smallamused:

There's a rather bitter joke here in the US: "When seconds count the police are minutes away." We can debate whether that's true or false in the real world (but not here). it definitely seems true in Choice of Robots or any adventure game. After all, if the police are competent, why do we need a hero?




Your robots stand idly by while the protesters destroy your factory. They look troubled but you insist they should not intervene.

The police eventually come, but not before the protesters have done significant damage to your factory that your insurance doesn't quite cover. (--Wealth)



WEALTH: -2. CURRENT WEALTH: 5 (Well off)

Still ... all things considered, it may have been for the best. Wealth is much easier to acquire in-game than humanity. Also, of course, we aren't training our robots to attack people. That may prove useful.



Now that you've worked out the kinks of how to deal with intelligent robot labor, you could probably license your technology to other companies so that they could produce similar robots while paying you hefty royalties.



Vote 83: Would you like to do that?

* Sure, I'll sell our technology to anyone who wants it.
* I'd prefer to sell only to American companies, to give them a competitive advantage.
* I'd prefer to sell only to foreign companies, so as not to compete with American workers.
* No, I'd prefer to keep my robots a trade secret.



*Looks ahead*

Okay, folks, it appears that the next segment is that we will have a chance to spend our hard-earned money on various improvements -- to ourselves, to Arachne, and other things. But we can't really do that until we know exactly how much money we have to spend. Our decisions in vote 83 may bring us additional cash -- or take it away, depending on our choices.

So the next couple of questions won't make sense until we've resolved 83. Go ahead, make your choice, and I'll see you Wednesday, at 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-02-01, 07:38 PM
I prefer to only sell to american companies

If war is round the corner, I'm not sure we can trust other countries

backwaterj
2016-02-01, 07:58 PM
Sure, I'll sell our technology to anyone who wants it.

As any good arms dealer knows, the great leveler (and the path to a hefty profit) is selling to all sides in a conflict. :smallwink:

Emperordaniel
2016-02-01, 09:22 PM
Vote 83: Sure, I'll sell our technology to anyone who wants it.

Elenna
2016-02-01, 10:13 PM
Vote 83: Sure, I'll sell our technology to anyone who wants it.

MOBA WARS
2016-02-02, 04:32 AM
This is a game board or online?

- - - Updated - - -

I don't undestand

pendell
2016-02-02, 12:06 PM
This is a game board or online?

- - - Updated - - -

I don't undestand

It's a collaborative readthrough of a text-only adventure game. The game is Choice of Robots (https://www.choiceofgames.com/robots/) , by Kevin Gold, Ph.D.

I read a section and come to a choice. Then all players (i.e., anyone on this board who cares enough to vote) casts a vote. We then take the action that carried the most votes.

In the interest of moving through this in a reasonable time, I will frequently "batch" votes together into groups of 3 or 4, if the votes do not impact the story progression. This book, however, is very sophisticated compared to other books in the series, so individual decisions count for a lot more than they do in other books.

I have the express written permission of the author to conduct this playthrough, as I did for the previous games I did, "Mecha Ace" and "Life of a Wizard".

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-02-03, 04:08 PM
And if you're interested in the story seen here on the thread, I highly encourage you to check out the actual gamebook. This one, even more so than the other Choice of Games gamebooks, has a ton of different branching branches and endings, and trust me, what you'll see in this thread is probably only about 25% of the content in the entire gamebook, if that. It's seriously some great content for the price.

Now, onto the votes!

Vote 83: * Sure, I'll sell our technology to anyone who wants it

I'm fairly certain this will knock our humanity, but I'm more certain we'll need the money.

pendell
2016-02-03, 06:39 PM
Sure, I'll sell our technology to anyone who wants it.


We have a consensus to do that, so we will.



As any good arms dealer knows, the great leveler (and the path to a hefty profit) is selling to all sides in a conflict. :smallwink:

Actually, I did a 14 year career as a defense contractor; that attitude is pretty rare inside the beltway. Most of them were former active duty forced out by "up or out" , and saw their work as a continuance of their service. Selling weapons to someone who was not an ally was something they would not consider.

In any case, we've made our choice, so let's get it done!



Robotic workers prove extremely popular because they are just as clever as human workers, but much cheaper.

The world begins to go the way of fully automating its businesses. This creates some winners and some losers—real unemployment soars, while business profits have never been better. But you are assuredly one of the winners. (+++Wealth)


WEALTH: +3 CURRENT: 8

No humanity hit, amazingly enough.

U.S. Robots seems to be doing fine financially, and you begin to think about the things you could purchase with your money. You've been concentrating so much on your robots, you haven't given much thought to what you could do with your money besides expand the business.


Vote 84: What will you spend your funds on? You will have the opportunity to buy more than one thing if you can afford it. (Wealth: 8)

* I'll splurge on a flying car. (Cost: 3)
* I'd like to buy a house. (Cost: 2)
* I would like to buy myself a nice mansion. (Cost: 4)
* I'd like to spend some time with Eiji on a Mediterranean cruise. (Cost: 1)
* I'd like to spend time with Arachne on a Mediterranean cruise, to show her the world. (Cost: 1)
* I'd like to spend time with Eiji and Arachne on a Mediterranean cruise. (Cost: 2)
* I want to give some of my money to charity.
... #Some, but not enough to affect my lifestyle significantly. (Cost: 0)
... #Enough that I might skip buying a few things later to make up for it. (Cost: 1)
... #A huge amount of wealth. (Cost: 4)
* I want to make the perfect body for Arachne. (Cost: 3)
* I'd prefer to save my personal funds.



Vote for as many as you wish; "Save my remaining funds" will end this section. I strongly suggest you take the zero-cost donation to charity if nothing else; it gives us free humanity for not much cost.

I could be mistaken, but it appears "the perfect body" will greatly increase Arachne's grace stat; she doesn't have a puppet head or other empathy-building attachments which would increase her empathy.

So .. go ahead and get your choices in, then we'll go forward Friday, at 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Shadow11615
2016-02-03, 07:02 PM
Vote 84:
*Enough that I might skip buying a few things later to make up for it. (Cost: 1)
*Some, but not enough to affect my lifestyle significantly. (Cost: 0)
*I'd like to buy a house. (Cost: 2)
* I want to make the perfect body for Arachne. (Cost: 3)
*I'd prefer to save my personal funds.


Leaving us just enough money to buy another house should *something* happen. In other words, poor.

Elenna
2016-02-03, 08:56 PM
Vote 84:
* I'd like to buy a house. (Cost: 2)
* I'd like to spend time with Eiji and Arachne on a Mediterranean cruise. (Cost: 2)
* I want to give some of my money to charity.
... #Some, but not enough to affect my lifestyle significantly. (Cost: 0)
* I want to make the perfect body for Arachne. (Cost: 3)
* Save my remaining funds

Jon0113
2016-02-04, 03:24 AM
Charity (cost 0 option)
Spend time with both on a cruise (cost 2 option)
House (cost 2 option)
Perfect body for archane (cost 3 option)
Save the rest
I'm only going on the fact we can hopefully make more money later
Otherwise would be a lot more careful

norman250
2016-02-05, 04:16 AM
Vote 84:
* I want to make the perfect body for Arachne. (Cost: 3)
* Stahp spending money.

Emperordaniel
2016-02-05, 06:01 AM
Vote 84:
* I'd like to buy a house.
* I'd like to spend time with Eiji and Arachne on a Mediterranean cruise.
* I want to give some of my money to charity.
... #Some, but not enough to affect my lifestyle significantly.
* I want to make the perfect body for Arachne.
* I'd prefer to save my personal funds.

pendell
2016-02-05, 07:33 PM
Okay, we're going to donate a token amount to charity, buy a house, go on a cruise with Eiji and Arachne, and build her the perfect body.


First, the donation.



You realize that you can give a little money without it materially affecting your wellbeing at all. Though some might point to the fact that you could have donated more, your donation is still enough to save a few lives in a poor country, so it's still worthwhile.


HUMANITY: +1% (66%)

[quo

Next , let's get a little house.



You buy yourself a nice house in Detroit. You can easily imagine yourself living there with Eiji in a few years.


WEALTH: -2.

Next, the cruise.



You spend two weeks seeing the sights of the Mediterranean with Eiji and Arachne. You start in Egypt, visiting the Pyramids and the Sphinx, impressive reminders of how good engineering survives the test of time. You then see Istanbul, Athens and the site of Plato's old Academy(+Autonomy), Italy ("But why do so many people flock to poorly functional architecture, Grace?"), the southern coast of France (where you and Eiji almost have a romantic evening, until Arachne gets into a fight with the hotel owner over the proper pronunciation of a French word and nearly gets you thrown out), and finally, Tunisia, where the most important site for you and Arachne is the site where they filmed the original Star Wars. The trip may have been more romantic if Arachne hadn't come along, but you're glad she has had the chance to see more of the world.

Arachne's experience with other cultures will help her get along better with people from other countries. (++Empathy) (-Military)

You do notice something in the air in Europe—many people are newly out of work, and sometimes, tourist locations are closed due to strikes or riots. It seems many people have been displaced from their work by robots—perhaps your robots. Communism seems to have gained new traction in a world where not everybody can find a job, and conservative backlash against it is in full swing, too. The fact that the political upheaval is partly your fault makes your romantic trip backfire a little, as you have several awkward conversations with Eiji about your feelings about robot workers replacing humans.


AUTONOMY: +1 (5 ; in beta)
EMPATHY: +2 (11 ; stable)
MILITARY : -1 (23 ; impressive)

And finally, the new body!



With this kind of wealth at your disposal, you spare no expense in making Arachne the beautiful robot you always imagined was possible. (---Wealth) Arachne's new face is silver with gold detailing, and her eyes are tinted with lapis lazuli. It is a face that commands awe and respect. (+++Grace) For the rest of Arachne's eight-legged form, you replace the old metal parts with new, lightweight alloys that should be durable, graceful, and pleasing to the eye. (++Grace)

Arachne is thrilled with the change. "Oh, thank you, Grace!" she says, hugging your legs with her multitool hands.


GRACE: +5 (24 ; impressive)

WEALTH: 1.



Life is uncertain and you never know when you might need some extra funds. You decide to keep your remaining money.

A few months later, you're catching up on tech blogs when you see a photograph of one of your robots—only, it's not your robot. The story is about an upstart EastAsian robotics company, funded in part by the government itself. "We believe this company will help us finally make our founder's dream a reality," says party official Zheng Guowei. "If robots do all the labor, it will allow us to modernize while at the same time breaking out of the bad cycles of exploitation that occur in the West." You regret having ever allowed your technology to fall into their hands.

Soon, you find your prices being undercut and your profits suffer. (-Wealth)


WEALTH: 0 We are now broke.




A few weeks later, you wake up to a blaring alarm while it's still dark. It's your phone, and it only has that annoying alarm for a few specific callers. You reach over and check it.

From: PhysSec Bot 12

EXPLOSION at Detroit factory. Fire department on its way. Three human supervisors missing. Some robots trapped inside. Suspected cause of explosion is bombing.




Vote 85:

What objective will you tell your physical security robots to prioritize until you get down there?

* Free the trapped robots.
* Look for the missing, human supervisors.
* Try to find the bomber.
* Try to rescue the expensive laser cutters and 3D printers.
* Stay safe.


This may be a bit more tricky than it appears; if your robots are intelligent beings in their own right, their existence is of equal value with that of the human supervisors. At least, that's one way to look at it. But if that's the case, why are we selling them as labor?

At any rate, this is where we must stop for now; the remainder of the story depends on what we tell the robots to do now. If they are performing a particular task they will be more able to accomplish some things, but unavailable for others.

Incidentally, did you know that an AI has finally won professional Go (http://www.wired.com/2016/01/in-a-huge-breakthrough-googles-ai-beats-a-top-player-at-the-game-of-go/)? They said it couldn't be done!

So .. I'll see you Monday, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-02-06, 01:54 AM
Free the trapped robots

backwaterj
2016-02-06, 05:36 AM
Look for the missing, human supervisors.

If for no other reason than their lives are inherently more fragile.

Elenna
2016-02-06, 08:08 PM
Vote 85: Try to find the bomber.

Because moral dilemmas are hard, so I'm going for a third option.

Emperordaniel
2016-02-07, 02:57 AM
Is there an option for "Save both the humans and the robots"? Surely we have enough security robots to do so.

In the absence of that option...

Vote 85: Stay safe.

Let the trained rescue professionals deal with this.

norman250
2016-02-08, 04:01 AM
Vote 85:
* Look for the missing, human supervisors.

smuchmuch
2016-02-08, 05:14 AM
>Free the trapped robots
then use them to look for the missing supervisors

pendell
2016-02-08, 06:33 PM
We have two votes to look for the human supervisors and two to free the trapped robots. Actually, that last vote is to free the robots and have them look for the humans, which is clever and something *I* would allow as DM, We'll see if it's an option.

At any rate, time to roll:

robots - 100
supervisors - 5

As far as Randomella is concerned, the supervisors can die in a fire. Literally. Maybe whoever programmed Random.org had a Dilbert-style boss?



You quickly text back that physical security should free the trapped robots.

Then you drive down to the factory in your ancient Toyota Yaris.

You come to the factory just before sunrise, the fiery blaze bright orange against the early morning indigo sky. A dark column of smoke reaches up to block out the full moon.

Josh is already there, black with soot, carrying the bulky 3D printers and laser cutters out of the building.

Your physical security robots emerge from the burning building each carrying a robot above her head.

You think you hear a car start in the parking lot. You see Silas Cooper in an old BMW, backing out of a space with his headlights off.

Josh has a brief coughing fit as he turns around to head back into the burning building.


Silas. Ah yes. he was the guy who sent us the crazy mail and bombed our house. Looks like he hasn't finished causing us grief yet. If we don't stop him now, will he cause us more grief in the future?

Josh, meanwhile, is risking his life to rescue equipment.



Vote 86: What now?
# I tell the robots to stop Silas.
# I try to stop Josh from going back into the burning building.
.....#I have the robots restrain Josh from entering [skill check robot military]
.....#I appeal to my friendship with Josh and convince him he's being selfish. [ Josh relationship check, which is currently 59 ]
.....# #I try to convince Josh that the company is not worth dying for.
# I tell my robots to try to save more robots.
# I tell my robots to go inside and save the missing human supervisors.



A difficult decision. Either leave humans or robots to burn to death OR Josh might be killed because he's stupid enough to go into a burning building after flippin' laser printers .. or Silas might get away, and perhaps even more people will die in a future incident.

So those are our options. What do we do?

I'm going to count smuchmuch as voting for "free the trapped human supervisors", since that is what was suggested during the last vote, unless smuchmuch writes in with a new vote.

So we've already got one vote to free the humans. What do the rest of you think?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-02-08, 07:11 PM
I try to stop josh going back into the burning building

Elenna
2016-02-08, 07:19 PM
If Josh wants to risk his life saving laser printers, it's his decision. Personally I think it's a stupid decision, but it's his life and he can do what he wants with it. (That being said, is there an option to go over and tell him he's being an idiot?)

The robots will hopefully survive a fire better then humans. As such:
Vote 86: I tell my robots to go inside and save the missing human supervisors.

Emperordaniel
2016-02-08, 10:49 PM
How do we even know what Silas looks like? We never met the guy. :smalltongue:

Vote 86: I tell my robots to go inside and save the missing human supervisors.

pendell
2016-02-09, 10:07 AM
(That being said, is there an option to go over and tell him he's being an idiot?)


It appears there is a subdialog branch giving us a couple of options -- arguing that life is worth living, being reasonable with him, or ordering the robots to physically restrain him. I'll update the branch tonight.




How do we even know what Silas looks like? We never met the guy.


When he first sent us a death threat , we doxxed him. His facebook profile coughed up his photo.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Atomburster
2016-02-09, 12:05 PM
# I tell my robots to go inside and save the missing human supervisors.

pendell
2016-02-09, 05:59 PM
Okay, I've gone through and spelled out the submenu for Josh, but it looks like we're going to save the human supervisors.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-02-09, 11:06 PM
Vote:

Stop. Silas.



I know there's not enough votes to really make that possible, but Silas needs stoppin', yo.

pendell
2016-02-10, 05:55 PM
Okay, we order the robots to rescue more human supervisors. Thankfully, they're made of metal and can endure such extreme temperatures.



"Save the supervisors!" you tell your robots. "They're still probably trapped in there!" Silas tears out of the parking lot and gets away. You'll worry about him later. Your robots rush into the burning factory. Thankfully, though their metal exteriors are no doubt extremely hot, they are designed to not convey any heat to their interiors. Your robots emerge a little while later, carrying three bodies.

Eventually, the fire department arrives to help you combat the flames. Though the firefighters' efforts take well into the day, the blaze is finally put out by the afternoon.

The damage isn't as bad as it could have been, since Josh pulled most of the important stuff out of the fire.

Some of your robots seem to feel a little guilty that they didn't save their coworkers, despite your orders to do so. They quietly contemplate the frailty that leads humans to fail to be heroic. (+Empathy) But you overhear other robots tell these robots that your decision was purely strategic, and that you gave the order because you didn't care for the robots' own well-being. And these robots, too, have their adherents. (+Autonomy)



EMPATHY: +1 (12: Stable)
AUTONOMY: +1 (6: In Beata)




With everything else going on, you did not manage to rescue the handful of employees who had stayed late. They died of smoke inhalation.



Vote 87: How do you feel about being unable to save your employees?

* Terrible. I knew each of them well.
* Terrible. I didn't even know their names.
* Okay. I was thinking about mechanizing their roles anyway.
* Okay. It was a difficult decision to optimize.




You're a little worried about how Silas got away. You suspect that, like the villains say,
you haven't seen the last of him. You file a police report but suspect the police's efforts
will prove ineffectual.


Of course.
So far as I can tell Josh lived, so ...



"I guess it could have been worse," Josh says, surveying the damage.

"I'm pretty sure it could have been," you say. "Were you really going to risk your
life to save your stuff?"

Josh shakes his head. "I guess sometimes I lose track of what's important."
He gives you a sideways look. "I'm sure you can relate."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Pssh!" Josh makes a disgusted noise, but in a way that suggests he's used to you.

You spend a little while just chatting about nothing, subtly reminding the other that
you'll be there when needed.



And ... that seems to be as far as we can go for now. It appears to be trying to force me towards a bankruptcy check, which makes no sense at all because it's not our company. Also, the game may have been updated. So go ahead and get this one vote in, then we can forge ahead. Hopefully, it will get easier to batch votes in the next update --Friday, 5:30PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-02-10, 06:55 PM
I feel terrible. I didn't even know their names

smuchmuch
2016-02-10, 07:55 PM
* Terrible. I didn't even know their names.


It appears to be trying to force me towards a bankruptcy check, which makes no sense at all because it's not our company.

Well Josh compagny is likely bankrupt at this point (I'd say 'insurance will cover us' but the way this adventure has been gong so far and the way this author seems to think...) and we have no funds left of our own (and I doubt anyone will wnat anything with us after all that happen, we are a PR disaster) so, likely, it might as well be the same

-----------------------------------------------------------------
I'm honestly a little annoyed with the game here.
This and the rioters were exactly the kind of thing is exactly why I personaly voted for a fortified compound with solid walls and barbed wire. Yet, with no particular justifications, it seems said big thick walls were complelty ignored by the game as both protesters and saboteur seems to enter and leave as they damn please.
Kind of wish choices amounted to a little more than just plus or minus X to a stat sometime.

pendell
2016-02-11, 09:13 AM
* Terrible. I didn't even know their names.



Well Josh compagny is likely bankrupt at this point (I'd say 'insurance will cover us' but the way this adventure has been gong so far and the way this author seems to think...) and we have no funds left of our own (and I doubt anyone will wnat anything with us after all that happen, we are a PR disaster) so, likely, it might as well be the same

-----------------------------------------------------------------
I'm honestly a little annoyed with the game here.
This and the rioters were exactly the kind of thing is exactly why I personaly voted for a fortified compound with solid walls and barbed wire. Yet, with no particular justifications, it seems said big thick walls were complelty ignored by the game as both protesters and saboteur seems to enter and leave as they damn please.
Kind of wish choices amounted to a little more than just plus or minus X to a stat sometime.

Barbed wire and solid walls are useless if they aren't defended. What are you gonna do? Bring out the water cannons and ultrasonics which make them soil themselves? Arm the robots with batons and use them as riot police?

We had that choice, and we chose to stand down our security force, trusting in the police instead. So they came in through the gates and trashed the place while the most advanced military force on the planet stood by and looked on.

As towards our saboteur -- we didn't go that path, but in fact Silas is a seriously brilliant individual. Seriously disturbed, yes, but also brilliant.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Emperordaniel
2016-02-11, 11:14 AM
Vote 87: Terrible. I knew each of them well.

There were only three supervisors, so I can't imagine that we didn't take the time to get to know them all.

backwaterj
2016-02-11, 05:32 PM
Terrible. I knew each of them well.

Because we all know feeling really bad about it afterward makes it okay for a company to squander human lives. :smallwink:

Elenna
2016-02-11, 07:22 PM
Vote 87: Terrible. I knew each of them well.

norman250
2016-02-12, 10:36 AM
Vote 87: Terrible. I knew each of them well.

I figure this choice is pretty much just free humanity points.

pendell
2016-02-12, 07:09 PM
Okay, we feel terrible. We knew Larry, Moe and Curly by name and we are deeply saddened by their loss.



Though your benefits did include life insurance, you also send a little something to each family to show you are sorry.

You're a little worried about how Silas got away. You suspect that, like the villains say, you haven't seen the last of him. You file a police report but suspect the police's efforts will prove ineffectual.

"I guess it could have been worse," Josh says, surveying the damage.

"I'm pretty sure it could have been," you say. "Were you really going to risk your life to save your stuff?"

Josh shakes his head. "I guess sometimes I lose track of what's important." He gives you a sideways look. "I'm sure you can relate."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Pssh!" Josh makes a disgusted noise, but in a way that suggests he's used to you.

You spend a little while just chatting about nothing, subtly reminding the other that you'll be there when needed.


HUMANITY: +3%.



A few weeks later, a politician visits you at the factory: one Jacqueline Irons, a Representative from Detroit. You vaguely remember hearing that she was once a venture capitalist who rose to fame on the success of her Fox webcast Against the Man, in which she pilloried unsuspecting guests as examples of privileged elites. There have also been rumors of her running for President soon.

"You can imagine why I'm here," she tells you in your office, leaning over your desk. Like many politicians these days, she wears a neticle, a monocle with a small screen visible only to her in which she can read messages from her advisers and speechwriters, some of whom are watching her interactions at all times. You think the neticle is probably recording even now; politicians love to weave moments in which they look good into their streaming video commercials. Her hair is cropped short but her fingernails are long and pink, and she wears a broad-shouldered suit. "I heard about the explosion at your factory. I've promised my constituents that I would not tolerate big industry turning us into another China, where workers' lives are held in contempt. Yet it seems safety standards at your factory are not up to par."

"What exactly do you want?" you ask guardedly.

"A substantial campaign contribution would show your heart is in the right place."

You're fairly certain she has the power to hurt your business if you anger her. But your options are somewhat limited due to your current financial situation (Wealth: 0).


WEALTH: 0

Ah, yes, the ol' shakedown. Wherever there is a successful businessman, there is a whole swarm of people wanting their cut, including corrupt pols.

Fortunately or not, we are in no position to pay Representative Irons much of anything.


Vote 88: How do we respond?

* "Sure. Here's a hundred bucks."
* "I'm afraid I don't have a significant amount of wealth to spare. Sorry."
* "If you want my support, pass laws that will keep other countries from stealing my technology."


Go ahead and make a choice, though I don't think it effects the story so we'll push on. I assume she is dissatisfied because we're not going to pay her.

By the way, "a hundred bucks" will be taken as an insult, so don't offer that unless you intend to deliberately tick her off.

I've checked, and the "if you want my support" is takes us right back here, so if you vote for that,
choose one of the others as well as a secondary choice.



Representative Irons does run for president, running on a platform of preventing
robots and foreign companies from stealing American jobs. It's a message that hits the
American public at just the right time, since unemployment is soaring.
Though economists tell the public that the unemployment is a natural and temporary result
of new technology displacing old, skilled jobs, that turns out to be a much less effective
election year message than raging against "the privileged, the elites, and the technocracy,"
as Representative Irons puts it in her speeches. "What are they doing with their money?
Who are they giving it to? To robots. To foreigners. To each other. To anybody but
the American people."

You think she is probably talking about you.

All of which makes it somewhat alarming when Representative Irons wins the presidency.



We-ell, this should be fun in a "not fun at all" sort of way.



On taking office, President Irons's first major policy changes are to enact a series of
protectionist tariffs against EastAsian goods.

In retaliation, EastAsia cuts off all exports of rare earths and the batteries derived from them. Suddenly, the cost of all the little, miniaturized electronics people have grown accustomed to—cell phones, laptops, wearable computing—becomes prohibitively expensive.

All of those robots you sold to American companies will be unmaintainable once their batteries lose the ability to hold a charge.

Arachne herself was designed to use cell phone batteries as a cheap, light power source. But now, that option is looking prohibitively expensive—and Arachne's batteries are starting to wear down.

The same problem is affecting all of the robots in Josh's company. Your current inventory of robots may be fine but eventually, you'll need to either start paying exorbitant prices or come up with a new plan.



Vote 89: What will you recommend that Josh do?

* Invest large amounts of wealth into small nuclear reactors for your robots. (Requires Wealth: 5)
* Invest large amounts of wealth into practical solar energy. (Requires Wealth: 5)
* Pay the inflated prices for batteries using rare earths coming from African dictatorships. (Requires Wealth: 2)
* Try to acquire cell phone batteries through the Asian black market.
* Switch my robots to using biodiesel engines.
* Switch my robots to using car batteries.
* Switch my robots to using motorcycle batteries.


I would caution that breaking the law is best done only if you have friends in government willing to look the other way; a hostile administration (which Irons totally is) may very well cease on it as a pretext to cut your throat -- if you're caught. And there's also the possibility it won't work, so if you choose that option give me a backup vote in case the game sends us back here.



You have the feeling that something big will happen soon—that if you don't propose
to Eiji now, you may not have another chance for a while. Weddings are elaborate
things, after all.





Vote 90: Do you propose to Eiji?
#Yes.
#No. I still don't think now's the right time.
#No. I understand now that I don't really have time for a relationship after all.


After you've made these major life decisions, we'll deal with the consequences of being broke, and ... whatever else comes our way.

See you Monday!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-02-13, 02:31 AM
I'm afraid I don't have
Change to biodiesel
Yes

Emperordaniel
2016-02-14, 05:09 AM
Vote 88: "I'm afraid I don't have a significant amount of wealth to spare. Sorry."
Vote 89: Switch my robots to using biodiesel engines.
Vote 90: Yes.

smuchmuch
2016-02-14, 08:41 AM
* "Sure. Here's a hundred bucks."

I'm feeling cheeky

* Switch my robots to using biodiesel engines.

Looks like we're pretty much firmly on the downhill slope as a buisness. Maybe we should consider a professional reconversion soon.

* No. I still don't think now's the right time.

I'm sure we'd be able to salvage the finest bridal gown and ring from old tarp and abandoned beer cans in the nearest dumster but I'd prefer waiting for when we aren't completly broke.

Atomburster
2016-02-15, 05:44 AM
I'm afraid I don't have
Change to biodiesel
Yes

pendell
2016-02-15, 06:54 PM
Okay, so we're going to be polite to Representative Irons, we're going to switch to Biodiesel engines, and we're going to propose to Eiji.

Let's see if I read it correctly and these things happen as we intend!



Your robots look much clunkier with biodiesel engines at their cores, and the first substitute models have far too many wires running from the engine to where the cell phone batteries used to be. Your robots also now smell like French fries, which can come across as unprofessional. But at least biodiesel is relatively cheap. (--Grace)


GRACE: -2 ( current: 22)

And we propose.



After a romantic evening at a high end restaurant, you get down on one knee, titanium ring in hand. Eiji says "yes."

You find that planning a wedding is hard work—it takes about a year of preparation and requires making a slew of choices that you should be thankful we're skipping here. Thankfully, Eiji helps you remain patient during the process and contributes equally to the preparations.

Josh is your "man of honor."

As you look into Eiji's eyes and say "I do," you can see that your love is mutual, and you're tremendously excited to start a life together.


So yes. [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9M0voYKOFE] this happened [/urlo].

Congratulations! *throws confetti*

Good thing you married when you did, because you won't get many more chances.
ROMANCE: Married to Eiji.

ACHIEVEMENT: Spouse. Got married!



A few days after your marriage, in the middle of your honeymoon (you call it that, even though you can't really afford to go anywhere), the marriage license office calls.

"I'm sorry, we seem to be having trouble processing your paperwork," the woman on the other end says. "We can't find Eiji on file. Could you have him send us a birth certificate?"

Eiji duly calls his father, since his mother passed away some years ago. When he gets off the phone, he looks stricken.

"I'm…not really Japanese," he says. "I was born on the mainland, in EastAsia, apparently." Eiji goes on to explain that, though his father had raised him to believe he was Japanese, it was because his father hated his Asian mother, who had tried to run away to the States with Eiji when he was young. Because Eiji was actually born in EastAsia after his mother was deported, the Japanese government still regards him as an alien.

"That means I lied on my green card application," Eiji says, pale. "And with things the way they are with EastAsia…oh, this is going to make it much more complicated to become a citizen. I'm very sorry."

But there's nothing to be done. You submit a giant application and wait.


Well, that was an unpleasant surprise.



Your feeling that something big will happen soon proves correct. President Irons makes demands that EastAsia reverse its embargoes on rare earths, or the United States will be forced to "contemplate all policy options at its disposal, including military force if necessary."

It is in this delicate situation that on April 10, 2026, the EastAsian Prime Minister is assassinated by an unemployed American during a parade in San Francisco. The Prime Minister is replaced by a younger official who is eager to show that they are unafraid of the United States. EastAsia attacks several islands in the South China Sea that it has long disputed with its neighbors, and President Irons, unwilling to show weakness, responds with a drone attack on bases on the mainland.

The Robot War has begun.



Uh-oh.

Chapter 5: The War Machine



Three months into the war, the enemy has captured many islands in the South China Sea that they had long contested with their neighbors. The press speculate that besides the islands' military importance, the move sends a signal to the neighboring countries that the United States is weak. (The United Nations also doesn't do anything, but that surprises nobody.) Autonomous drones equipped with cruise missiles sink two American carriers in the exchange.


This is not good. The enemy stole our technology and is winning the war at present. We are going to have our work cut out for us to turn things around.



Your business is doing well—as businesses directly supplying the war effort ramp up, they need labor, and that means they buy your robots. (+++Wealth)


WEALTH: +3 Wealth: 3 (disposable income)




You receive an email invitation from Major Juliet Rogers, an acquisitions officer in the Air Force, to come to a federally funded research lab to discuss business.

Josh is apparently bringing you to this meeting as his "+1."



On to the meeting, then.



A missile several stories tall and flanked by equally large American flags dominates the lobby of the Berkeley Federal Research Center. A small plaque at its base explains that it was developed at the lab for ballistic missile defense, meaning it would be used only to shoot down other missiles. ("Hey, cool," Josh says. "It's a missile missile!")

An African-American woman in an airman's uniform catches your eye from beyond the turnstiles labeled CLEARED PERSONNEL ONLY. She allows a man in a pinstriped suit to swipe his badge and pass the turnstyle himself; you sense that this is out of a sense of politeness and not deference. There is a steady purposefulness to her step as she crosses the lobby.

"Pleased to meet you," she says, offering her hand. "I'm Major Juliet Rogers of Air Force Acquisitions. I know your advisor, Professor Ziegler."

"Professor Ziegler is here?" you ask, surprised.

"You're just in time for the demonstration," Major Rogers says. "Right this way."



Professor Ziegler? It's been awhile, and our relationship with him wasn't terrific.



Major Rogers guides you and Josh to an auditorium where the audience is a mix of the button-down shirt crowd—the engineers, you think—and men and women wearing camo uniforms. It is indeed Professor Ziegler giving the keynote, standing at a podium flanked by American flags. His PowerPoint presentation currently shows a soldier's hand shaking a robot hand.

"For a long time, robot autonomy on the battlefield was extremely limited, even as the use of drones increased," Professor Ziegler says. "Larger and larger teams of warfighters were pulled away from their duties to fully control these drones. Only now is a fully autonomous robotic warfighter possible. I present to you… Arachne V!"

You're somewhat horrified to see a copy of Arachne roll onto the stage, to the applause of the crowd. It's not even a recent copy; Arachne V is exactly as Arachne was when you graduated.

Josh gives you an uneasy look, clearly afraid you're going to make a scene.

Major Rogers also appears to be studying your expression.



So he's co-opting our design and built a copy of our robot at the time we graduated.


Vote 91: How do we respond?

* Stand up and declare Professor Ziegler a fraud.

* Ask a pointed question about the current state-of-the-art that implies Professor Ziegler does not know what the hell he is doing.

* Stay silent.




When the talk adjourns, Juliet pulls you and Josh aside into a small
conference room with an elaborate lock. With practiced ease, she hits a small
button as she closes the door, and the room is bathed in green light,
a signal that what you are about to say to each other should be unclassified.

"Man, the government is really cheap when it comes to entertaining
business guests," Josh says, looking forlornly at the barren table.
"No snacky things?"

"You can see the predicament we're in," ${juliet} says. "It's apparent
to me, anyway, that the robots we're about to deploy on the battlefield that
use Professor Ziegler's technology are inferior to your own robots. While somehow, probably through cyberespionage, the enemy has stolen your
designs and are using the technology against us.

"So I'm begging you to help us," Juliet says. "This war is only just beginning.
I argued against adopting Professor Ziegler's robots, but he plays the
salesman better than I play the prosecutor. My superiors say that unless I have
a viable alternative, sending robots into battle is always politically preferable
to sending real people, and we'll send his robots. And if we do…" Juliet
shakes her head. "I don't think it will go well for us."

"Put in a bid on the next contract for autonomous warfighters," she says.
"That's all. Your robots are already powerful enough to win the war."


Yes, they are.

How do we respond?


How do we respond to Major Rogers' request?

Vote 92:
#"What's the catch?"
#"Aren't you being awfully trusting? What if I betray you?"
#"Uh uh. No way. This is not something I want to be involved in."




"You'll also need to get clearance," she says.

"They'll vet you pretty thoroughly. Believe me, it's not about trust on blind faith around
here."

"But don't worry—they're expediting
it for top scientists because of the war. It shouldn't take long at all."

Josh looks excited. "This is it! Our chance to be the heroes of our generation!"




Vote 93: Juliet awaits your answer.

#"I accept. I will begin the clearance process so that U.S. Robots can work on more secretive projects."

#"My robots will help the war effort, but only in nonviolent ways." [Flying military transport aircraft, loading and unloading cargo, medical personnel]

#"This has been interesting, but I'd prefer not to get involved with the military. Sorry."



So ... go ahead and make your choices. Remember, we are currently losing the war because the enemy stole our technology while the US is currently using Ziegler's ripoff of our stuff, only his ripoff is a lot older.

... :smallmad:

We will continue the story Wednesday, 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-02-15, 07:38 PM
Pointed question
What's the catch
My robots will help the war effort, but only in non-violent ways (fixed)

pendell
2016-02-15, 09:53 PM
Pointed question
What's the catch
My robots will help the war effort

Very well, Jon. Do you mean that the robots will only help nonviolently, or are you planning to seek a clearance so they can participate fully? I'm going to assume the first (nonviolent help) unless you specify otherwise.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-02-16, 06:04 PM
* Ask a pointed question about the current state-of-the-art that implies Professor Ziegler does not know what the hell he is doing.

* "What's the catch?"

* "I accept. I will begin the clearance process so that U.S. Robots can work on more secretive projects."

Feel free to change that last vote to "non violent war effort" if you feel it's too outof character for Grace but I kinda want to see where it leads.

Elenna
2016-02-16, 06:28 PM
Vote 91: Ask a pointed question about the current state-of-the-art that implies Professor Ziegler does not know what the hell he is doing.
Vote 92: "What's the catch?"
Vote 93: "I accept. I will begin the clearance process so that U.S. Robots can work on more secretive projects."

pendell
2016-02-17, 08:41 PM
It's actually up to you guys to determine what Grace's character is or isn't; I'm observing the process, and enjoying it immensely.

So our choices are:

91) Ask pointed question
92) What's the catch?
93) Accept, begin clearance process.

We'll apply those now.



You wait for your moment. When Ziegler begins describing the technical details of how Arachne V crawls, you raise your hand.

"Ah, my old student, Grace," Professor Ziegler says. "You're about five years late for class."

The audience chuckles at this.

You press on: "Wasn't the kind of PID controller you're describing basically going out of style already five years ago? Wouldn't a more natural, energy-minimizing motion in the style of human motion both look better and be more efficient?"

Though you're quite certain the correct answer is "Yes, I'm a fool who hasn't really read a scientific paper with attention in years," Professor Ziegler is unfortunately very used to academic combat. "I think you'll find that in this particular situation, the PID controller is superior," he says coolly. "See King 2010, Bennett 1986, and Yang 2015."

When you're about to object that it is a non sequitur to cite old papers in response to an accusation that his work is out of date, he preempts you with, "And I'll take further questions about this offline."

The audience is looking at you like you're the crazy one, and you realize that they really have no way of judging the scientific merit of what the two of you are saying; they're just trying to read the story being played out, which looks to them like "crazy person in the audience won't shut up."

Frustrated, you sit out the rest of the talk, having achieved little besides annoying Professor Ziegler.


Grumble. So that didn't work as well as we would wish. Still, useful to know that's how the academic game is played.

We ask what the catch is, and she tells us we'll need a clearance. we accept.



Josh seems relieved that you're on board with the project.

Major Rogers smiles. "Good. I'm glad you think what we're doing is important. I'll tell them you'll be applying for TS directly, instead of applying for Secret first. It'll save you time later."

When a fighter plane passes overhead as you walk to the parking lot, Josh practically giggles with joy.

Josh announces to the company that U.S. Robots will begin supplying robots to the military. There is general acclaim from your robot workers.

You soon receive an email from Major Rogers instructing you to fill out an online form to obtain a security clearance. The web form appears quite extensive, and contains many rather personal questions.



Better believe it is . Everywhere you've lived for 10-15 years and a contact who can witness you were there at each address, everywhere you've worked for that period of time and a witness who can testify you were there, 5 character references for the entire period under discussion, every school you attended, again with transcripts and a reference, and all significant foreign contacts and foreign travel.

There are also questions pertaining to your entire life: Have you ever received psychiatric or psychological treatment? Have you ever been convicted for a crime for which the fine was > $100? If so, details. Ever abused prescription drugs, or used illegal drugs, even once?

Most of these questions are not downchecks in and of themselves, especially if it was a one time occurrence -- but what IS a downcheck is being caught in a provable lie. You'd be amazed how many people don't get clearances because they didn't mention the time they smoked pot in high school but their acquaintances remember them doing so.

That is the number one rule on forms like these: DON'T BE CAUGHT IN A LIE. It is perfectly appropriate to withhold information they don't specifically ask for, and you'll be forgiven honest mistakes. But if you, say, state that you attended a university but the U has no record of you, that's the end of your clearance right there.

With that in mind, let's proceed.


Vote 94 :

* This is a waste of my time. "Arachne, fill out this form for me, please."
* This is a waste of my time. I'm going to call Major Rogers and refuse to fill out the form.
* Fill out the form.


If you choose Arachne, she will simply put everyone on the form we discuss in the next section.

If you guys refuse to fill out the form, we'll go to another subsection entirely. But on the assumption you DO want to fill out the form, there are the following questions of significance:




The next question asks whether or not you now know or have known anyone who advocates
the violent overthrow of the United States government.

Mark, the reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle, seemed anti-government, but you're not sure how
deep that sentiment runs.

You don't think Silas has ever said he opposes the government, but you might
get more federal attention focused on your unfortunate acquaintance if you said he did.




Vote 95:
#List Mark and Silas.
#List Silas.
#List Mark.
#Leave the field blank.


Observations: It is very unlikely listing them on the form is going to impact THEM in any way, the focus of a security investigation is to determine whether YOU are trustworthy. Although, of course, it might impact your game stats.



The form then asks you to list all the "foreign nationals" with whom you have
a "close and continuing" relationship, and their nationalities. You gather that a foreign national
is someone who is not a citizen of the United States.

You recall that Eiji has discovered he is not an American citizen.




Vote 96: Foreign nationals (citizens or subjects of another country) .
#List Eiji.
#State that I know no foreign nationals and move on.
#I call Juliet and complain that I shouldn't need to fill out this form.


Don't think for a minute they won't pull both your birth certificate and that of your SO. I would say the opportunity to cover for Eiji at this point is pretty much nil; you can, however, screw up your own clearance by lying in a way where you're certain to be caught.


Vote 97: You submit the form, and your prevailing emotion is…

#Anxiety for Eiji. [if listed]
#Anxiety for Mark. [if listed]
#Anxiety about being caught in my omission. [if you lied]
#Grim satisfaction that Mark may get what's coming to him. [if you listed Mark]
#Anxiety for Silas. [if you listed Silas]
#Hope that someone will take Silas away. [if you listed Silas]
#Paranoia. How much do I really know about Eiji? [if you listed Eiji]
#Disquiet. The questions seem unreasonably paranoid.
#Fear. There are apparently more spies and anarchists in this world than I thought.
#Relief that these stupid questions are done.



Those are our options. You have at least two options to back out of the clearance process, in which case the story will go down a different path. We'll get a checkpoint to change our mind, and after that the choice will be irrevocable. But in the interest of saving time, I'm just going to list out the "I'm filling out the form" options.

Those options won't appear if you simply ask Arachne to fill out the form but Arachne will list everyone; Mark, Silas, Eiji. Arachne has no judgement and will list everyone of whom she has the tiniest smidgen of doubt.

I believe you'll still need vote 97 in that case, too.

Bear in mind that all of these stats may impact your humanity stat; doing nasty things to people, even when justified, will lower it, while various emoting and worry et all will raise it.

After you've made these decisions, we can push on with the story. And thank goodness you don't have to actually fill out the form (https://www.opm.gov/Forms/pdf_fill/SF86.pdf). It takes many hours and a lot of emails/phone calls to people you'd forgotten about :smallamused:!

See you Friday!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Elenna
2016-02-18, 11:43 PM
Vote 94: Fill out the form.
I'd prefer to have a choice about what we put.

Vote 95: List Mark.
Vote 96: List Eiji.
I figure since we're going for the military option, we might as well be honest and now screw this up.

Vote 97: Anxiety for Eiji.
Humanity is good.

Jon0113
2016-02-19, 02:59 AM
Vote 94: fill out form
Vote 95: list mark
Vote 96: list eiji
Vote 97: anixety for eiji

pendell
2016-02-19, 08:28 PM
Okay, here's what we're going to do:

94) Fill out form.
95) List Mark
96) List Eiji
97) Anxiety for Eiji.

Can I ask why we're listing Mark? He's the one who wrote an unfriendly report on us for a newspaper. I don't recall him advocating the violent overthrow of the government. Silas was the one who bombed our house and our factory.

At any rate, we proceed.



The form asks you to detail every place you've ever lived, every place you've ever worked, and every time you've traveled outside the country. You truthfully state that you just went on a Mediterranean cruise once, and move on.

The next question asks whether or not you now know or have known anyone who advocates the overthrow of the United States government.

ou're pretty sure Mark hates the government, so you list him.

The form then asks you to list all the "foreign nationals" with whom you have a "close and continuing" relationship, and their nationalities. You gather that a foreign national is someone who is not a citizen of the United States.


You list Eiji on the form.

You hope you've done the right thing.


Now that this is done, we press on to the next phase.




Major Rogers informs you that the next stage of the application process for Top Secret clearance is a polygraph test. Having been entirely truthful in your application, you see no reason not to give the same answers in the polygraph test. You pass.

In a few weeks' time, an email tells you that you are awarded a Top Secret clearance. You scan the restrictions. Apparently, you can no longer publish anything about your area of expertise, nor leave the country, without first asking for the government's permission. That is sort of the opposite of the James Bond lifestyle you'd imagined, but in practice, you've never been one to get out much, so perhaps this is all right.


Blah, polygraphs. But we made it through!

HUMANITY: +4% (73%) .

ACHIEVEMENT: Cleared (Got a Top Secret clearance)



You attend a classified briefing at the same laboratory where you met with Major Rogers before, where some Air Force intelligence officers share with you, and a room full of other invited engineers, what they know about the Chinese robots. To be honest, you expected something a little sexier than these highly detailed technical specs, but they should help your own robots exploit the other robots' weaknesses. (++++Military)

Many attendees leave, and a further session details the current weaknesses in the drones currently employed by the government. Unfortunately, this information is practically worthless to you, since you plan on supplying better robots anyway; but you suppose it will be marginally useful to know what existing technology you can build on. (+Military) Meanwhile, the speakers caution that now that you know these facts, you will be a target for enemy intelligence efforts. On the whole, government secrets appear to be like the secrets of family members: more a burden than a privilege.



MILITARY: +5 :28 (Amazing)



"All right, enough of the boring stuff," says the speaker, a man in an airman's uniform whom you think was introduced as a colonel. "I have a surprise for you."

The speaker starts a video that appears to be a drone's view of a scrubby countryside. You estimate from the latitude and longitude readout in the corner that this is probably the southeastern part of Asia. There is a targeting reticule in the center of the drone's field of vision.

"This is a live video feed from a drone on a 'capture or kill' mission," the colonel narrates. "We still call it that, even though it's never 'capture,' because hey—when was it ever 'capture'?"

You make a mental note that the military's 'capture or kill' directives appear to be really just lip service even for their human soldiers, and your robots will not be expected to really 'capture.' This should let your robots focus more on pure firepower—which you suppose is very logical. (+++Military)

The video comes upon a small house near a river. Five men run out as the drone approaches, and the targeting reticule begins to swerve and track the men. They scatter, and the reticule follows one in particular.

"Xi Chao, high-ranking party member and military hawk, out taking some R and R," the colonel narrates. "But little does he know he's about to RIP." There's a polite chuckle from the audience.



MILITARY: +3 (31 : TRANSHUMAN)


Vote 98:
What do you do as you watch the targeting reticule close in upon this man?

* I can't look. I shut my eyes.
* I watch with interest—it should help me develop better robots.
* I walk out. I'm not going to be a part of this.


Seemed relevant (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMpdlkjTONI). Of course, NOT looking away may cost you humanity points, since it was Gold who wrote this one, not George RR Martin.

If we walk out, Rogers will come after us and try to talk us into continuing the briefing; otherwise
we will walk out of military involvement and the story will follow a different path.

I'm going to lay out the choices which assume we will continue the briefing, I find it highly unlikely we will walk out and stay gone, even if we do walkout and return to gain humanity points.

So, after the drama, we continue.





With your new clearance, you find that you are able to get your company
involved in much more lucrative contracts.
You're also able to design robots that
fit much better with the military's needs and culture.

When your salespeople start saying "better situational awareness" instead of
"better world models" and "Red Team" instead of "enemy," suddenly they find that
they're much more on the same page as their clients.



WEALTH: +5 (8 -- well off)
MILITARY: +5 (36 -- You've got to be kidding)

At this point our robots have a military capability unparalleled in the world , or in history. Recommend we make sure to dial down their autonomy and dial up their empathy. With that rating, a robot killscape is unthinkable.


Vote 99: What will your new war robots be like?

#They will be extremely intelligent missiles.
#They will be giant mecha, anime-style. But without the fourteen-year-old pilots.
#They will look identical to humans, able to replace them entirely on the battlefield.
#They will be large humanoids, able to transform into vehicles.



Okay, after this we will have a check point and events will unfold. For your information, I found the following on the stat screen

WORLD POWER BALANCE:
US: 28
Enemy: 72

So that's the way things stood at the beginning of the war, and as you can see they are crushing us. It does not,however, reflect our choices up to this moment. That balance will shift as a reult of our decisions. Make good ones!

We'll pick up the story Monday, at 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Atomburster
2016-02-19, 11:03 PM
98: I can't look. (1)
99: They will look identical to humans. (3)

Jon0113
2016-02-20, 07:34 AM
I watch with interest
They will look human

norman250
2016-02-22, 03:02 PM
Walk out entirely (only to come back in, but no more meetings like that)
Transformers!

pendell
2016-02-22, 06:53 PM
Okay, we have three votes to do three different things -- but we do agree on human-like robots.

Rolling:
Can't look - 36
watch with interest - 2
leave entirely, then come back insisting no more meetings like that - 9


So we can't look. Let's go!



The video has no sound, so you are not quite sure when to open your eyes. But eventually the speaker starts up again.

"Well, I can see I'm putting some of you to sleep, so let me conclude here," he says.

The speaker concludes with a bullet-pointed slide labeled "Conclusions," and the audience claps, and it is once again like any number of talks you saw in graduate school.



We also make humanlike robots.



You hope that, by making your robots look identical to humans, you will make it difficult for the enemy to figure out which soldiers are human. Currently, though both robots and humans fight side-by-side on the battlefield, the enemy army still targets the humans more, perhaps hoping to destroy American morale. (The American side does the same thing to them, of course.)

Unfortunately, you find that you don't quite have the experience necessary to make robots that are indistinguishable from humans—something about the way they move always gives them away. They're just a little too efficient, and a little too unaware of each others' personal space. Though there are still advantages to having humanoid robots on the battlefield— they can use all of the equipment a real human can, for example—the enemy has no trouble telling which soldiers are robots. Designing the robots is a valuable experience, but not quite the game-changer you were hoping for. (++Empathy) (+Military)


EMPATHY: +2 : 14 (Stable)
MILITARY: +1 37 (Singular)


A year into the war, EastAsia attacks Taiwan. Asian drones harry the nearby American carriers, keeping your robot drones at bay while their transports bring wave upon wave of robot warriors to the shores. There is a bloodbath in the streets which the United States is powerless to prevent; the robots kill soldiers and civilians alike.

Taiwan is taken, and the headlines that appear across the world the next day are changed by enemy hackers to celebrate their conquest.

Some days after that, while Eiji is out, you have a visitor at your house: a man in a suit who shows you an FBI badge.

"Sorry to bother you, Dr. Tesla. We've been following up on some of the individuals you listed on your SF-86 form. I'd like to ask you some questions about your husband, Eiji."

Arachne crawls up beside you. "What's going on, Grace?"






Vote 100: "Are you aware that Eiji is an EastAsian citizen?" asks the man in the suit.

* "You're mistaken. Eiji is Japanese."
* "I know."
* "No, I was not aware of that."




"Has Eiji ever asked you about, or shown an interest in, the technical details of the robots you create?" the agent asks.

#"Yes, often."
#"Only once, in graduate school."
#"No, he has never shown much interest."




"What is this about?" you finally ask, losing your patience.

"It is illegal to export certain technologies by sharing them with
foreign nationals," the agent says.

"As a consultant to the United States
military, your technology falls into this category."

You reply, "But I didn't share any information with him!"

"Doesn't matter," the agent says. "Your technology is military grade, and we must
take every precaution. So if you could do a favor for us, text Eiji and tell
him to come here."

"And then what happens?" you ask.

"That is not your concern."

"I have a question for you first. Are you the good guys, or just some guys?"

The agent's smile is bitter. "We're just some guys."




#Text Juliet and ask her to intervene.
#Text Eiji and tell him to come here, as the agent is requesting.
#Text Eiji, telling him that the Feds are after him.
#Refuse to cooperate until the agent leaves.
[ after the agent leaves ]
....#Try to contact Eiji anyway, trying to get the truth without revealing why I'm calling.
..... #Try to contact Eiji anyway. I'll be open about why I'm calling.
..... #I send Eiji a cryptic message that he'll understand means "flee to Canada."
..... #Find Eiji and flee the country.
#I tell Arachne to attack the agent.


So here is what's happening here:

If you text Eiji as the agent asks, Eiji will be taken away to "preventive detention". He will be held in prison for the duration of the war. He will not be tortured, but it IS prison.

You have an option to text Eiji that the Feds are after him right in front of the agent, which will almost certainly get you arrested on an "obstruction of justice" charge. You can order Arachne to attack the agent. She is a military paragon, so she will succeed. Of course, you will then be wanted for murder yourself.

Or you can stall until the agent leaves. He's asking you for a "favor" which you are not required to grant. So if you tell him "no", he will have to leave. You then have some supplemental actions to take after he leaves by contacting Eiji -- recognizing that Eiji's phone is almost certainly monitored.

Oh, yes, one other thing.

POWER BALANCE:
East Asia: 63
US: 37

It appears that East Asia is perilously close to winning the war; our supplying of military robots has helped, but not yet enough. I do not know if we will have more opportunities to make a difference.

So -- get your votes in and we'll see Friday whether the game continues, whether Grace goes to prison. whether Eiji goes to prison, and if any of us make it to the next paragraph alive :) !

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-02-24, 03:30 AM
* "I know."
#"Only once, in graduate school."
Text Juliet and ask her to intervene.

Jon0113
2016-02-24, 07:13 AM
I know
Only once in grad school
Send eiji a cryptic message

pendell
2016-02-24, 08:14 PM
All right, we agree on "I know" and "once in grad school", but we're divided between Juliett and the cryptic message.

So here's what we're going to do.

Rather than the usual roll off, we'll try the call to Juliet *first*. If that doesn't work , we'll stall until he's gone, then send a cryptic message.



" I know" .

The agent raises his eyebrows at this.

"Has Eiji ever asked you about, or shown an interest in, the technical details of the robots you create?" the agent asks.

"Only once , in graduate school."

The agent rolls his eyes, as if to say I'm so sure.

"What is this about?" you finally ask, losing your patience.

"It is illegal to export certain technologies by sharing them with foreign nationals," the agent says. "As a consultant to the United States military, your technology falls into this category."

"But I didn't share any information with him."

"Doesn't matter," the agent says. "Your technology is military grade, and we must take every precaution. So if you could do a favor for us, text Eiji and tell him to come here."

"And then what happens?" you ask.

"That is not your concern."

"I have a question for you first. Are you the good guys, or just some guys?"

The agent smiles bitterly. "We're just some guys."

You text Major Rogers, explaining the situation. But there is no response.



So much for that. I guess we don't quite have enough rapport with her. So , time for our fallback.




"I'm afraid I can't help you," you say.

"You seem to call Eiji quite a bit," the agent says. "Surely you could send a simple text like what I'm suggesting."

"Are you suggesting that you listen to my phone conversations?" you ask. "Because it's illegal to do so without a warrant."

"Eiji is a foreign national," he says. "We were listening to his end of the conversation, and incidentally intercepted yours."

You give the agent your most dubious look.

To his credit, the agent begins to look uncomfortable. "Well, let us know if you see him," he says. He puts on his hat and departs.

You breathe a sigh of relief.


On to our message.



Recalling that Eiji likes gardening, you look up the language of flowers online, then compose the following email:

Dear Eiji,

I hope you liked our visit to the gardens last week. Did you notice the oleander? Monkshood is a little unusual, I know, but the nation seems to be going crazy for nasturtiums, and monkshood likes to live in the same places.

If you'd like to go find a pile of maple leaves to dive into soon, I will join you if the weather's fair.

Love, Grace

You didn't actually go to any gardens last week, so you hope he'll take the hint to read between the lines.

Oleander and monkshood: Beware, a deadly foe is near.

The nation is going crazy for nasturtiums: The nation wants victory in battle at any cost.

The maple leaves were a little on the nose, but you got frustrated when Wikipedia revealed that all of the official flowers of Canada's provinces bloomed in the United States as well.

You send the message unencrypted, figuring that encryption would only call attention to the thing.

You get no reply until the next day.

Made it into the 'pile of maple leaves.' Flew into it, actually, thanks to my new flying car.

Dad says they raided his place last night. No way to make that sound flowery.

I love you.

E.

PS—The language of flowers varies from source to source, but I know what search engine you use.

You smile, glad to know that Eiji is safe. Even though you'll miss him while you're apart.


*Wipes brow* So our lover is safe. Meanwhile, we have a war to win.

ACHIEVEMENT: Florist. Made use of the language of flowers.




U.S. Robots does very well supplying the military with robots, and you reap some of the profits. (+++Wealth)

It's doing well enough that you could develop some robots on the side that are not necessarily destined for military clients. Josh agrees to let you pursue a side project, if you like.



WEALTH: +3: 11 (Quite Wealthy)


Vote 103: What kinds of robots will you develop while the war rages?

* Companion bots to take the place of loved ones who are far away.
* Improved worker bots for the factories.
* Better medical robots, to help those hurt by drone bombing runs.



Remember, this is in addition to the military robots you're already building. We have high military (not useful in this application), then high grace, middling empathy, and very low autonomy.

Hmm ... it appears that the next point is a check against military power for the progress of the war. I prefer to defer that and not try to guess but, to be honest, it doesn't look good :(. I suspect EastAsia stealing our technology in the early chapters is what is giving them such an edge now. Although we have built better robots, the other side has many, many, more since they had a head start.

So get your vote in and we'll see the next chapter in the story on Friday, at 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Atomburster
2016-02-24, 09:53 PM
Medical robots

My guesses as to what stat is relevent to what.
Grace-> Medicine
Autonomy -> Factorybot
Empathy -> Loved ones

Jon0113
2016-02-25, 02:27 AM
Medical robots

backwaterj
2016-02-26, 07:02 PM
Better medical robots, to help those hurt by drone bombing runs.

pendell
2016-02-26, 10:20 PM
Medical robots it is.



Asian drones often perform long-distance bombing runs on American bases in South Korea and Alaska, and families of service people are sometimes caught in the blasts. You perfect a new line of robotic surgeons that can remove shrapnel with a minimum degree of intrusiveness. They share Arachne's multitool hands, repurposed for the operating room. Your robots do very well, and you hang letters from grateful patients on the bulletin board in your office. (++Wealth)

The war is apparently in a stalemate, with both sides unable to gain much ground. Turns out, the Pacific Ocean is pretty good at discouraging equally matched countries from attacking each other.

A few days later, while you're discussing business strategy with Josh in his fourteenth floor office, you get a call from Mark on your smartphone. The video is quite high resolution, and you can see the bags under his eyes and beard stubble with high fidelity. "I'm writing a story about an EastAsian soldier who was killed by one of your company's robots," Mark says. "His name's Bao Li, and he was going to be a science fiction novelist until he was conscripted for the military. The precision of the bullet holes in his face and body suggest it was a U.S. Robots robot that killed him.


Vote 104: "Do you have any comment?"

* "I'll let Josh handle this one."
* "Send me the article, and I'll express my condolences once I've read about him."
* "U.S. Robots is proud to serve our country in its time of need."
* "No comment."



"Letting Josh handle it" results in the following followup:




As Josh listens to Mark, he becomes increasingly pale. "But how do you know it was one of our robots?
…Oh…Okay, I get it. You don't have to be gruesome about it…Yes, all right, send me the article."

Josh hangs up and hands the phone back to you. He looks out the window, lost in thought.

"Let's meet again this time tomorrow," he says finally. "I think I've been living in abstractions too much.
I want to get…in the weeds, as they say."

You agree to do so, and leave his office.

When you return the next day, Josh is wearing the same clothes as the day before, and he is still looking out
the window. He is unshaven, and there are bags under his eyes.




Vote 105A:
"Do you think everything we've done is good?" he asks you.

#"We should get out of this business, Josh."
#"Wars happen. It's all we can do to protect our own home."
#"Sometimes to make an omelet, you have to crack a few eggs."



Alternatively, we could ask for the article ourselves.



You read Mark's article about Bao. He apparently became interested in writing science fiction after reading an EastAsian novel called 2066: Red Star over America, about the future collapse of the United States. Bao had expressed frustration that
the novel avoided some of the hard questions about how a nation gets to be a superpower, and
he wanted to write a novel about the real costs of war.
That was one of the reasons why he didn't run when he was conscripted.

"I'm learning a lot about robots," he wrote back to his family. "But there is still much I don't understand about them, such as whether they feel pain, or if it's all an illusion. I think I want to write a story about this when I return."

You think the article exaggerates the boy's promise as a writer. It doesn't say he ever published anything. Maybe he would have just gotten a job in a factory when he returned. But he was definitely shot dead by one of your company's robots.



Vote 105B:
What quote will you give Mark?

#"Young people like Bao are dying on our side, too. Let's remember them as well."
#"Future advances should make it possible for our robots to detect that soldiers like Bao don't pose a threat."
#"I can't wash my hands of the blood of this young man. I will always remember him."



Remember, 105A only comes into play if we give the phone to Josh, and 105B only comes into play if we ask for the article to read. If we give no comment or hang up, the branch ends there. After this branch, the war should conclude -- one way or the other.

POWER BALANCE:
EastAsia: 55 US: 45

I'm a bit uncertain what dropped those numbers, but it does imply the front is starting to stabilize, which is a good thing.

So get your votes in , and we'll resume Monday, 5:30PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-02-27, 02:24 AM
I'll let josh handle this
Wars happen, the least we can do is protect our home

Atomburster
2016-02-27, 07:16 AM
* "Send me the article, and I'll express my condolences once I've read about him."
*"I can't wash my hands of the blood of this young man. I will always remember him."

pendell
2016-02-29, 05:57 PM
One vote for Josh, one vote to take it ourselves. Randomella sez:

Josh - 52
Ourself - 37

So we hand the phone to Josh.



You hand the phone to Josh. "It's for you."

As Josh listens to Mark, he becomes increasingly pale. "But how do you know it was one of our robots? …Oh…Okay, I get it. You don't have to be gruesome about it…Yes, all right, send me the article."

Josh hangs up and hands the phone back to you. He looks out the window, lost in thought.

"Let's meet again this time tomorrow," he says finally. "I think I've been living in abstractions too much. I want to get…in the weeds, as they say."

You agree to do so, and leave his office.

When you return the next day, Josh is wearing the same clothes as the day before, and he is still looking out the window. He is unshaven, and there are bags under his eyes.

"Do you think everything we've done is good?" he asks you.


"Wars happen. It's all we can do to protect our own home."

Josh nods. "You're right. Sometimes it's as simple as just 'us' and 'them.' He looks out the window at the San Francisco skyline. "Easy to forget how rough a world it is, way up here. But somewhere out there, someone is doing the dirty work to keep all of this propped up. Supporting them is the least we can do."

On that somber note, you leave Josh alone with his thoughts.


Very sad, but at least he's on the team. War is a messy business, and no denying it. "There is nothing more horrible than a battle won, except a battle lost", to paraphrase the Duke of Wellington.



When EastAsia finally attacks the fifty states themselves, their assault comes over the North Pole. A massive flotilla of icebreaker ships equipped with giant buzz-saws carves a straight path through what little ice remains in the Arctic Sea. Giant robot arms pick up and hurl the ice blocks out of the way. Small platoons of robots are left behind at every oil rig and deep mining station they claim along the way. The American bases in Alaska are overwhelmed by wave upon wave ofrobots.

When the headlines break, the dollar goes into a death spiral, as people around the world are selling them for EastAsian currency. Canadian dollars are dropping in value as well, as people speculate that EastAsia will invade Canada next. (--Wealth)


WEALTH: -2


Vote 106:

* I quickly sell my American dollars at a loss, exchanging for credits.
* I quickly convert my currency to Canadian dollars, speculating that EastAsia will not invade.
* I hold on to my currency.


POWER BALANCE: East Asia: 55 US: 45
At any rate, the war is over.


Now that the war is over, what will you do?
#I will begin a rebellion in Alaska. (Requires Military 20) [To throw out EastAsia and either
return Alaska to the US, or set up our own independent country].
#I'm afraid I've done all I can. My time to influence history has passed.

#I want to build a robot that knows how to love. (Requires Empathy 20)
#I will develop the algorithms that will end war forever. (Requires Grace 25)


Those are our options. I'm sorry it came to this :(, but allowing the enemy to steal our tech seems to have put us out of the running. The war is over, with at least some of the western half of northern North America occupied. I don't think it's hopeless to start an insurgency, however, especially if we can get help from the US.

So let me know what you want to do. The decision you make in Vote 105 determines how much money we have, and we can then donate that money -- as much or as little as we like -- to the war effort. Be advised, however, that if we don't put a heckuva lot of money in, we won't win. We need something to tip the balance against the enemy, and if tech won't do it our personal fortune will have to.

See you Friday, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-02-29, 08:02 PM
I quickly convert to Canadian
I start a revolution

Elenna
2016-02-29, 09:13 PM
Vote 106: * I quickly convert my currency to Canadian dollars, speculating that EastAsia will not invade.
Vote 107: #I will begin a rebellion in Alaska.

Atomburster
2016-02-29, 11:42 PM
Vote 106: * I quickly convert my currency to Canadian dollars, speculating that EastAsia will not invade.
Vote 107: #I will begin a rebellion in Alaska.

smuchmuch
2016-03-01, 01:43 PM
* I quickly sell my American dollars at a loss, exchanging for credits.

#I will begin a rebellion in Alaska.


[To throw out EastAsia and either return Alaska to the US, or set up our own independent country].

.... Bwaha ha ha muhahaha oh yes, this is so perfect. Why i'm sure there's no way it could end up badly.
But seriously, I so want to see this. Grand Duchy of Robonia, here we come.

pendell
2016-03-02, 10:05 PM
.... Bwaha ha ha muhahaha oh yes, this is so perfect. Why i'm sure there's no way it could end up badly.
But seriously, I so want to see this. Grand Duchy of Robonia, here we come.


*Cackle* Why just a gran duchy? We could declare ourselves Emperor! IIRC, Alaska has more land area than a big chunk of Western Europe...

Okay, we're going to move our money into Canadian currency and we will start a revolution. WOLVERINES! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoM6IFiyRjE)



You convert your wealth to Canadian dollars.

By the time the American aircraft carriers stationed in Hawaii reach the Aleutian islands, EastAsian ICBM batteries have already been assembled throughout the former state.

EastAsia then offers peace, content with their conquest. Your wealth experiences a slight bump as money flows back into Canadian assets. (+Wealth)

Now that the war is over, what will you do?


We will start a revolution!



You hate losing. It's both a strength and a weakness.

You may have failed to defend Alaska during the war, but you swear you won't lose this time.

CHAPTER 6C: MILITARY


ACHIEVEMENT: Rebel. Led the Alaskan rebellion.



It is the year 2034, and you are in an abandoned mine in the Revelation Mountains, the headquarters of the Alaskan Rebellion. Portable lithium flares, designed to burn for years, create patches of light in the darkness where you can observe the robots hard at work replicating themselves. The old mine, which winds under the tall peak of Mount Hesperus, was abandoned years ago because it was too inhospitable for humans, but it is a rich source of all the rare earths and iron ore your robots need to create more of themselves.

The walls, floor, and ceiling of the cave near the entrance are lined with mirrors designed to scatter any signals coming in from outside that do not possess a particular set of frequencies—a kind of analog encryption designed to keep radar from finding your hideout.

The past five years have been hard on your personal life, and Eiji left you when you announced your intention to wage a guerilla war against EastAsia. You wish Eiji well, but you are interested in making your mark on history, not settling for some petty domestic drama in its place.



Incidentally, Grace is now 39 years old.


Vote 108:
How much of your wealth did you spend on the war effort?

* All of it.
* All of it besides enough to live like a poor student again.
* All of it besides enough to live comfortably.
* None. I simply command my existing robots, who will win by their sheer technological superiority.
* Actually, I raided the Alaskan treasury first thing.


We currently have wealth 12. I suggest now is not the time for penny-pinching, as there is no silver medal in war, not for rebels and traitors. Raiding the Alaskan treasury is probably not going to net you nearly the wealth that would come from your own personal fortune.

WORLD POWER BALANCE:

Eastasia: 55 US: 45

So we have to make up 10 points of power in order to push into the break-even point.



The United States and EastAsia each managed to weaken each other significantly during the war,
leaving Alaska ripe for your rebellion.



Vote 109:
What was your chat with Josh at the start of this war like?

# I offered him a lot of money for an exclusive contract with me.
# I appealed to his desire to be historically important to convince him to join the revolution.
# I asked him not to sell robots to the enemy for old times' sake.






"That is the hundred thousandth robot," Arachne tells you as one of your soldier robots
has its rocket-propelled grenade launcher attached. "Didn't you say that was when we would be ready to take down
a major target?"

"I suppose I did," you say.




What will your next military target be?

# Anchorage, the most populous city. Lightly defended, with mostly civilians.
# Juneau, the capital. Moderately defended, it will improve my ability to govern.
# Barrow, on the northern coast. Heavily defended, it contains precious rare earths and wealth.
# The Aleutian Islands.



Anchorage has a 20 point penalty to defense because it is lightly defended. Successfully capturing it gives us a 10 point boost to our attack power. Losing the battle for this city costs us 10 points.

Juneau has no defense adjustment; in addition capturing it inflicts a 20 point penalty on the bad guys. Losing the battle costs 10 power points.

Barrow has a 10 point bonus to defense; it is heavily defended. Capturing it increases both wealth and military power. Losing the battle costs 20 power points.

The Aleutian islands are a tough nut to crack; they have a ten point bonus to defense. In addition if they are not taken on the first turn their defense bonus will increase to 20!

Capturing the Aleutians boosts our military power by 30 points. Losing a battle for the aleutians will boost *enemy* power by 20.


Give me your orders and I will see them executed, at 1730 on Friday!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Jon0113
2016-03-03, 02:20 AM
- all of it apart from enough to live like a poor student
- I appealed to his desire to be historically important
- anchorage

smuchmuch
2016-03-03, 07:53 AM
*Cackle* Why just a gran duchy? We could declare ourselves Emperor! IIRC, Alaska has more land area than a big chunk of Western Europe...

(Yeah but y'know, futurama reference (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4pTejRBxSc). Also a big bit of Alaska is not all that habitable, though I guess it doesn't matter as much for robots.)

* All of it besides enough to live like a poor student again.

# I offered him a lot of money for an exclusive contract with me.

# Barrow, on the northern coast. Heavily defended, it contains precious rare earths and wealth.
/Or
# The Aleutian Islands.

Seriously, the millitary strength of our robots is almost insane. We can afford (and should) the bold move of striking a strong target first that will give us quite a bit of resource and millitary power while we still have the element of surprise and before the enmy reinforces.

pendell
2016-03-03, 02:11 PM
(Yeah but y'know, futurama reference (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4pTejRBxSc). Also a big bit of Alaska is not all that habitable, though I guess it doesn't matter as much for robots.)


1) You owe me a new keyboard for the reference :).
2) Actually, if we'd set up our factory in Alaska we'd have discovered that, in one of the unintentional side benefits of climate change, Alaska is now quite a bit more habitable than it was.



Seriously, the millitary strength of our robots is almost insane. We can afford (and should) the bold move of striking a strong target first that will give us quite a bit of resource and millitary power while we still have the element of surprise and before the enmy reinforces.

Remember that you're taking on the power of an ENTIRE COUNTRY. As insane as our robots are, the US used them in the war and it still wasn't enough. Which isn't to say the cause is hopeless; on the contrary, the power balance (55/45) is such that EastAsia was as battered as it could be and yet still eke out a victory in the war, so it's not impossible, just difficult.

Let's see: If I'm reading this correctly Alaska's military power is 20. So our total military strength at present -- before factoring in the impact of the money we're spending -- is 20+37 = 57. By contrast, the defense rating of the Aleutians is 65.

So the question is, to what extent does spending our fortune increase our military capability, and will it be enough?

That said, IF we pull it off, this really is the best time to take the Aleutians.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-03-04, 12:25 AM
Remember that you're taking on the power of an ENTIRE COUNTRY. As insane as our robots are, the US used them in the war and it still wasn't enough.

Yeah but there's a difference between the forces involved in a single battle and the global conflict, no ?

(I mean unless EastAsia has all of it's forces in Alaska and the majority of them in said targets, I'd think our force would be enough to let us go away with taking one huge strategic target, particulary of the EastAsian were not expecting it. (After there's the question of actualy holding it or more likely looting and retreating, as i was under the impression we were going to act as somewhat of a guerilla force at the start. Was I mistaken ?)

That said, on a pure numbers stand point, making the assumption that each point of wealth given will boster our millitary might by one and 'poor student' get us back at 1/2 wealth, (which afe assumption, i'll admit, not much way to know more since sadly we ddin't have the option to finance the war earlier due to lack of money) we miiiight just reach the necessary 65.

Elenna
2016-03-04, 03:50 AM
Vote 108: * All of it besides enough to live comfortably.
Yes, I'm semi-ignoring your advice. Sorry. Explanation below.
Vote 109: # I offered him a lot of money for an exclusive contract with me.
Unless that decreases the amount we can spend on the war effort, in which case # I asked him not to sell robots to the enemy for old times' sake.
Vote 110: # Juneau, the capital. Moderately defended, it will improve my ability to govern.

If I understand the numbers right:
Currently, our military strength is 57+money adjustment
If the Aleutians' defense rating is 65 and it has a 10 point adjustment, Juneau's defense rating should be 65-10 = 55.
So we should pretty safely be able to take Juneau?

Once we take Juneau, the bad guys get a 20 point penalty. In addition, since it's no longer the first turn, the defense rating of the Aleutians goes up by 10.
So at that point, the Aleutians have a defense rating of 65 - 20 + 10 = 55, which again, we should be able to take.

So I'd say it's probably safer to start with Juneau.

Re my vote for 108, since we have higher military power even without the money adjustment, I'd like to save some money for another time. However, I'd still like to put some money in just in case.
If there's anything wrong with my analysis above, I'd probably change my vote in 108 to * All of it besides enough to live like a poor student again.

TL;DR: Take Juneau first, save the harder targets for after the bad guys get a penalty.

Atomburster
2016-03-04, 08:00 AM
* All of it.
* I asked him not to sell robots to the enemy for old times' sake.
* Anchorage, the most populous city. Lightly defended, with mostly civilians.

Then in order, Juneau, Barrow, Aleutian Islands.

pendell
2016-03-04, 06:58 PM
Here are the orders for the day:
108) Spend all the money save enough to live as a poor student again.
109) Offer Josh an exclusive contract
110) Liberate Anchorage (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchorage,_Alaska), the most lightly defended and populous city.

Executing!




You allotted yourself at least a tiny salary within your fledgling nation. You wanted to at least not worry about how you would eat, or what would happen if you got sick. But everything else went to the war chest.

(+++++++++++Military) (-----------Wealth)


MILITARY: +11 (MILITARY: 48)
WEALTH: 1 (Getting by)

Now let's talk to Josh.




Josh agreed to your offer, happy to contribute to the liberation of Alaska. (-Wealth) While his robots aren't quite as good as yours, they free your robots to fight on the front lines. (+++Military)


Wealth: 0
MILITARY: +3 (51)





"Prepare to attack Anchorage," you say. "We need a battle we know we can win."

"Yes, Grace."

You drew up the plan to attack Anchorage long ago: hit them fast with "shock and awe," before the civilians could mount a partisan defense, and it would be far too late before the military could come to its defense. So long as your troops could occupy the city, there would be no way for the enemy to retake it without significant civilian casualties.

You fly your troops there in sentient robot transports. Then, without delay, you attack the city.

Anchorage doesn't put up much of a fight in return. You blitz the city before the EastAsian forces can marshal an effective defense. Many buildings are reduced to rubble before your robots, but such is the price of victory; Sherman did far worse in his march to the sea. A few thousand civilians die, but the city is yours.

While you were attacking Anchorage, the enemy forces moved to take the Aleutian Islands. It will be more difficult to dislodge them now.


This is my best guess based on what we know now:
ALASKAN POWER : +10 . CURRENT: 30.
MILITARY: 51
TOTAL MILITARY POWER: 81

But there is a cost.

HUMANITY: 68 (-7%).

That's due to the civilian casualties, but there was literally no way to avoid it except not fighting the battle in the first place. That's the ugliness of war; there is no easy way to capture a city unless it surrenders before a shot is fired.

Meanwhile, we have another problem.



After the battle, something bothers you about how the enemy forces came so quickly, as if they had been expecting the attack there, and coming from the correct direction. You look online to see what the general public knew about you ahead of time.

You soon find an article written by none other than Mark. He deduced the location of your headquarters in the Revelation Mountains, and argued that your first attack would likely be on Anchorage, based on what he had observed of your character.




He's a clever guy, that Mark. What will you do about him?

* I send Arachne to assassinate Mark.
* I send Arachne to capture and imprison him.
* I will try to convince him to be more circumspect with my troop movements.
* It may cost us tactically, but I don't mind his chronicling my success.


Allowing Mark to continue to feed tactical intelligence to the enemy will cost you 10 power points. Put another way, everything you've gained from the battle for Anchorage will be lost.

Your relationship with Mark is 30%, which the game describes as "bad" .

*Checks* Actually, you need a 60% relationship with him to convince him to be more circumspect, and that we don't have. So let's assume that we tried reason and he told us to pound sand. Here's the relevant paragraph:



"Please find Mark and remind him that he doesn't particularly like EastAsia either," you tell Arachne.

"That's it?" Arachne says.

"That's it." You hope that by having Arachne track Mark down, it will also send the message that you
could have killed or imprisoned him, but you chose not to.

A week later, Arachne returns, shaking her head. "Mark says you're everything he doesn't like
about EastAsia, only less organized."

"That is not true," you say, irked. "I'm very organized."



Unfortunately, the game doesn't give us any fallback options in case reason doesn't work. So let's just skip to the part where we make up our mind what to do about him: Give up our power point gain, imprison , or kill?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Atomburster
2016-03-04, 07:53 PM
* I send Arachne to capture and imprison him.

smuchmuch
2016-03-04, 11:11 PM
I believe it'll be soon discovered Mark was sadly one of the casualty of the battle
>Assassinate
(yeah, it'll be a humanity hit but frankly that guy and Silas have beena thorn in our side for so long by now, I'm not taking any chances with any of the two.)

Elenna
2016-03-04, 11:23 PM
* I send Arachne to capture and imprison him.

Jon0113
2016-03-05, 02:33 AM
Assassinate

He is being treasonous, assisting an enemy that has taken us soil. Also I think this comes down to military, whereas capturing may not