The Robot Who Couldn't Lie
by Sunil Patel
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I will tell you a true story. You can be sure it is true because I cannot lie. To lie would be against
When I first woke, my light bulb turned on. I came into being and said, "Hello," which is the
truest greeting there is. "Good morning" can be a lie, and "What's up?" is not an inquiry about
the events occurring above a person. Silvi responded with "Hey there, little guy. Don't be
alarmed, but you've got a desk lamp for a head."
She held out a hand, palm out. "Come on, give me a high five." She glanced at my appendages.
"High three." I did not understand her command. "Well, it was worth a shot. I can teach you that
later. She'll like that."
Silvi stroked my desk lamp head and cooed. Accessing my initial memory banks, I understood it
to be a gesture associated with babies. I was not a baby. I had two arms and two legs, but I was
not a baby. "You're the one, little guy," she said. "I finally got it right."
Over the first twenty-two days of my existence, she would come into the workshop and ask me
"Where is the Eiffel Tower?"
"What city do I live in?"
"What is that?" She pointed to the garage door with its four small windows. I identified it
correctly. Along the wall of the workshop hung many instruments, including wire cutters and
soldering irons. If I answered a question incorrectly, she used them to adjust the pieces inside of
me: microchips, capacitors, pins. Then she ran her thumb across the screen of her smartphone.
After some swipes and presses she asked me the question again and I answered correctly.
"That's the stuff!" she said.
"That is the stuff," I repeated, adding the word to my lexicon.
One day she walked in with her hand on her head, rubbing it. "Baseline time's over, little guy,"
she said, her eyes only half open. "It's raison d'etre time."
Then she told me stories. A story was not true except when it was, but even a true story could be
a lie. Silvi told me stories about a fat man in a red suit who delivered gifts to children around the
world, which could not be true because the world is very large and he could not visit all the
children in one night. She spoke of creatures from another planet coming down and destroying
famous buildings because famous buildings are the best buildings. Some stories she sang, a
narrative in rhythm and rhyme, and her voice echoed throughout the entire workshop.