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Thread: She Won't Hurt You

  1. #1
    Keikaku means plan Devour's Avatar
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    She Won't Hurt You

    A scene from a story I want to start writing. It's not as fleshed out as it could be since I'm not really started the story for real yet... I'm mostly testing out ideas and getting a feel for the characters in my head. Scenery and names and background character personalities haven't really been thought of at all.
    Basically what I'm hoping to find out is...
    -Did this scene come off as dramatic without appearing to try too hard to be dramatic?
    -Does the premise of the story seem interesting?
    -Whatever other thoughts you have.

    Anyways, here it is:
    _____

    Dr. Potrovsky stood before a council of officials, with Miu standing meekly at her side.

    “Doctor, we imagine you understand the dangers of having this… robot, capable of learning and thinking for itself.” An official treaded carefully with his words. “It is a dangerous, unpredictable creation. You’ve went too far, Potrovsky! You can’t let such technology exist in the wild. The world isn’t ready for it.”

    “Miu,” the Doctor corrected with a subtle sharpness, “is harmless. She may be a robot, but she is a kind, caring, thoughtful robot. More so than any of us could claim to be. She’s this way because I made her to be that way. I would sooner worry that lightning would strike me where I stand than fear Miu hurting someone.”

    There was a brief period of quiet conversation. “I’m sorry," one man spoke up after a moment, "but words and promises would do little to convince us when the lives of innocents are at stake. You can say all you like, but how will we ever know for certain that this… Miu, could never decide one day that she wanted to be free of humans? A robot uprising, you could say. You've heard how dangerous it could be to give a robot sentience. Especially one as dangerous as... her.”

    The Doctor eyed the council for a moment, examining them. She then turned to face her creation. “Miu, would you turn your arm into a gun for me?” She asked sweetly.

    Miu nodded, uncomfortable. Her right arm slowly folded away into itself, and from beneath the skin several pieces of metal joined together into the deadly shape of a high-powered machinegun. The council began to murmur, alarmed.

    “Hush!” Potrovsky raised a hand, annoyed. “Just because you couldn’t see the weapon before doesn’t mean it wasn’t already there.” She waited for the worried chatter to die down. “This is a modified M134 minigun, built to fire large HE and AP rounds as Miu’s strength allows her to handle the recoil. It’s possible to attach a belt to supply more ammunition if needed, among other things. This is only one weapon in her vast arsenal, you see.” The doctor turns again to Miu, whose gaze remained fixed awkwardly to the ground.

    “Miu,” she began, smiling. “Shoot them all.”

    Gasps of fear and outrage erupted from the crowd, some ducked for cover while others, in their shock, tried helplessly to shield themselves with their hands.

    “What?” The android whirled around, bewildered. “No!”

    It was dead silent in the court. Hearing the horrified response of Miu, some officials began to meekly peer out from behind their desks. Ten seconds of pregnant silence passed. Watching Miu carefully, Dr. Potrovsky smiled. She pulled out a small electronic device and eyed her audience. “I see…” Without another word, she pressed a button.

    Miu cried out in pain. At once, electricity crackled and buzzed. Streaks of lightning arced from her body as she screamed, scorching the hardwood floor as something invisible electrocuted her. “I’ll ask you again.” The Doctor said over the noise of Miu’s cries. “I’m ordering you, to shoot them.”

    “I…” She gasped through the pain, struggling to stay on her hands and knees as electricity arced through her body. Her face was grit with determination. “I won’t.”

    “Do it!”

    “No!” She cried. “Never!”

    With one last moment to enunciate her point, Dr. Potrovsky flicked the switch again and the sounds of electricity died away. The girl collapsed in relief with a gasp, and the room sat in stunned silence for a long time, save for the laboring of Miu’s breath.

    “It is not AI that humans should fear.” The Doctor murmured. “You fear a robot uprising, but it was humans who designed them. It was humans who wanted them to be capable of the destruction which they can do. The destruction which Miu can do.” She knelt down next to her creation. “A robot can be designed to kill… or it can be designed to be your friend and love you, with kindness and selflessness that a human could never dream of possessing. They do what they're designed to do, and it is those who build their creations who are responsible for them.” She was angry now. Accusatory, as if what she had done to prove her point to these people now filled her with disgust. “No. It is humans who created, who desired, the destruction which you fear. It’s humans that have the power and the intent to cause death and terror and havoc! But Miu…” The barest hint of tears welled within the doctor’s eyes. She placed an apologetic hand on the android’s shoulder.

    “Miu is a better person than all of us.”

    Silence reigned. Miu rose back to her feet, unsteady, but no worse for wear. As the Doctor glared at her audience, daring them to say something, she eventually seemed satisfied.

    They turned to leave.

    “Doctor!” Someone called out. Potrovsky paused, not turning back. “If this is how things are,” He cleared his throat, nervous. “Why, then… Why did you outfit a pacifistic android with over a hundred million dollars of weapons and armor? What purpose could this ever hope to serve?”

    At first, there was no response. But then Dr. Potrovsky laughed, a cheerful peal that cut into their ears like daggers. “What a remarkably stupid question.” She said through a smile. “Your honor, Miu was not designed to kill.” She began to walk away once more, Miu treading carefully behind her, embarrassed.

    “She was designed to protect.”
    Last edited by Devour; 10-30-2017 at 06:44 PM.

  2. #2
    The Stickpage Ghost PitchEnder's Avatar
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    This passage raises many questions for me. One of the most prominent ones being: How is a robot, who seems to be pacifistic, able to "protect" someone with such weaponry? It seems like it would go against the AI's moral code. I also start thinking of Asimov's hypocritical laws of robotics that state that 1. a robot shall never harm a human and 2. a robot will always listen to a human. So, there comes the dilemma of which law outweighs the other. I don't know much about Miu, but I really think this concept could create some interesting inner conflict. In here, there doesn't seem to be much contemplation from Miu. She just says that she won't kill the crowd of people.

    There are a couple of smaller questions I would like to ask as well. It is obviously shown that Miu can feel pain. But, if this robot is actually designed to protect, why would they give it the ability to feel pain? Wouldn't that hinder its ability to protect quite tremendously? I'm sure there are other ways of keeping her from disobeying orders, such as an on/off remote. It feels like this was added to set up a reason for why this character would want to revolt against the scientist, since I've seen this used multiple times before, and it just seems a little illogical.

    I'll edit this if I think of any more questions.

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  3. #3
    Keikaku means plan Devour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PitchEnder View Post
    This passage raises many questions for me. One of the most prominent ones being: How is a robot, who seems to be pacifistic, able to "protect" someone with such weaponry? It seems like it would go against the AI's moral code. I also start thinking of Asimov's hypocritical laws of robotics that state that 1. a robot shall never harm a human and 2. a robot will always listen to a human. So, there comes the dilemma of which law outweighs the other. I don't know much about Miu, but I really think this concept could create some interesting inner conflict. In here, there doesn't seem to be much contemplation from Miu. She just says that she won't kill the crowd of people.

    There are a couple of smaller questions I would like to ask as well. It is obviously shown that Miu can feel pain. But, if this robot is actually designed to protect, why would they give it the ability to feel pain? Wouldn't that hinder its ability to protect quite tremendously? I'm sure there are other ways of keeping her from disobeying orders, such as an on/off remote. It feels like this was added to set up a reason for why this character would want to revolt against the scientist, since I've seen this used multiple times before, and it just seems a little illogical.

    I'll edit this if I think of any more questions.
    I don't know if these are questions you're asking me to draw out more ideas to flesh out the story, or if you truly want to know, but a lot of the answers to the question exist in the story I've fleshed out that isn't contained in this one scene. Basically, Dr. Potrovsky's a prodigy scientist who was given free reign to create a prototype android called a Cicada. Its purpose is to live within a society and be completely indistinguishable from a human being. That's why they can feel pain and emotion. They were given weapons and armor that surpasses even Iron Man suits so that, one day, dozens of these super weapons could burst from hiding and destroy a society from within. What the Doctor said about Miu being a protector was a lie, for both the council and Miu's benefit.

    The Cicada has two halves to it. One is its normal mode where it lives life as a human. Miu's is as a high-school-aged girl, with a still-learning AI brain trying to absorb the world around it. The other half is the Cicada itself. When that half is activated, the "human" part of the mind is silenced, pain receptors disappear, and Miu the girl temporarily ceases to exist. All that remains is a ruthless killing machine. Cicada mode can only be activated by a secret code or by being threatened with destruction.

    Rather than rely on laws, Miu refuses to hurt people because she genuinely loves humanity. She's totally unaware of the Cicada half within her and wants nothing to do with the destructive power she knows she's capable of. Every day of being alive is a blessing for her and she just wants to live a normal life, and her conflict is fighting against the fact she was designed to be a killer. Love is the most powerful emotion in the world, and the most powerful tool of restraint.
    Her love is also why she'll protect people if needed.

    The scene wasn't used as a way to set up for Miu turning against her creator later. The creator will explain that she only did that because it was the only way to convince that Council that she could be allowed to keep on living, and that she feels absolutely terrible for doing it, begging for her forgiveness. It's all an act because Potrovsky knows better than anyone that her creation is nothing more than ones and zeroes, and it's sort of an abusive manipulative relationship.

    Hopefully these answers were at least interesting if the questions were in fact rhetorical
    Last edited by Devour; 10-30-2017 at 07:11 PM.

  4. #4
    The Stickpage Ghost PitchEnder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devour
    Hopefully these answers were at least interesting if the questions were in fact rhetorical
    They weren't rhetorical. Thanks for answering them! The story seems interesting indeeeeeed

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  5. #5
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    Right so I told you I'd be reading and critiquing this so here it is:

    So before I start talking about things not pertaining to the story directly, let me answer your questions. The scene doesn't really come off as dramatic because as of yet there are no stakes in the story. I haven't come to care about Miu or any of the scientists (yet). So when you threaten the reader with killing off the council, or decomissioning Miu, I won't really care because I don't know these characters well enough to care. As for the whole "is it trying too hard to come off as dramatic" thing, nothing is ever really over-acted or trying too hard. All a story or a scene can be is undermotivated. EG, a character reacting much more heavily than they realistically would in such a situation. Again, I can not make a proper judgment since I lack any sort of investment in the story. I haven't come to know either of these characters, so I can not tell whether this is 'trying too hard'. It establishes the characters, with Dr. Potrovsky seeming very ruthless in her desire to achieve her goals, and Miu being shown as perhaps very emotionally driven. Had these characters been established to be anything else in a previous scene, then perhaps I would say this scene is overacted.

    Does this story pique my interest? Well, without the context you later gave me, what I would've understood from the story is that this Potrovsky is insistent on getting this armed AI out there in society. Now, what strikes me as odd is that this robot is so heavily decked out despite the creator's insistence on her pacifism. Sure, she may be designed 'to protect' but I'm not stupid. If she turns out to be some weapon of mass destruction in a plot twist at the end, I'll have seen that coming from fifteen miles away.

    So using the context you gave below to enrich what I just said: You say she is indeed a sort of WMD designed to infiltrate in society. If this is the case it's best to either reveal this at the start of the story, and make it about Miu's (or her creator's) conflicting feelings concerning her purpose. If her turning out to be a WMD is supposed to be a plot twist, then I do suggest going through greater lengths to obscure this from the reader, because as I said right now it's VERY obvious.

    Now, I'll move on to the rest. Pitch, first of all, Asimov's laws of robotics go as follows: 1. A robot shall not allow harm to come to a human being 2. A robot shall obey any of a human's commands, unless conflicting with the first law 3. A robot shall go through any effort to preserve its own existence, unless conflicting with the first two laws. If we're following Asimov's laws for this story, there isn't any issue because Miu ignored a command because it was conflicting with the first law. Besides, Asimov in his own stories made obvious how flawed these laws are to begin with, so they're not really a good starting point to begin with.

    So let's talk AI now. It's a topic I myself am very interested in, which is also why I read this story in the first place once Devour mentioned it concerned an AI. Suffice to say, there's plenty of arguments I could make about the state of this robot, however most all of them are invalidated by saying that we could just assume they've been taken care of already, for the sake of the story. Still, a common mistake people make is in thinking an AI would think akin to us. I'm not going to go into lengths as to how this works. I don't know how interested you are in AI yourself, Devour, but if you are I'd suggest watching the series by Computerphile if you haven't already. It's very interesting. In fact I started rewatching it for the sake of this argument only to come to the conclusion it's much too broad for me to explain concisely anyways.

    To wrap this up: This scene in itself has little meaning to me ripped from the context that would give it its meaning. In its own right I wouldn't call it anything that blew me away. It didn't exactly do anything I didn't expect it to (also mind your exposition a bit concerning the minigun part, Devour), but neither would I say it has to. This moreso feels like something you'd see at the start of a story, to establish the world and characters. If, as you said, your intent is for the main source of conflict to be that of Miu's with her second nature as a killer, then my main tip for you would of course be to give the audience the knowledge of her true purpose early on in the story, so that it doesn't end up feeling like a contrived plot twist in the end.

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