The Robots Karamazov
by Marie Vibbert
All robot logic is alike. Every human's logic is logic in its own way.
I was the newest of Frida's creations. The only one of my siblings "at home" was Irving,
who had been returned due to error. It was good having Irv around, because Frida rarely had use
for me. I'd missed her attention since the day she'd patted my ceramic cheek and said, "I think
Like myself, Irv was smaller than an adult human, with stylized, child-like features. He
looked delicate perched on the table in the repair lab. The table was rough-hewn wood with fat
goblet-shaped legs. The lab had once been a dining room and the faux-gothic decor was an
artifact of that more domestic use.
Irv hugged himself. "I'm not crazy."
"I don't think you are." I patted his arm. "You passed all the tests. I think your owners
just didn't like you talking to yourself."
Irv's heels tapped disconsolately on the bulbous carvings beneath him. "No one will link
"I'll link with you," I said, and opened the channel. Irv looked at me like I might be
Personally, I didn't see a difference between speaking and linking directly. Sure, it felt
more intimate, more immediate, to get text code than to have to interpret sound waves, but Frida
built us to communicate with humans, so it seemed most appropriate to speak aloud.
I sent Irv a salutation packet, which he returned.
Because frame information on his text packet indicated a high level of internal parity
tests, a sign he was afraid of losing data, I asked, Did someone hurt you?
He took hold of my hands. They make no sense, Alana. Humans. They tell you to fix a
problem and then get mad when you do! They say they'll do one thing and do another and then
insist they hadn't said what they said at all. Their memories don't even work! I tried to help them
by recording and playing back conversations and that just made them angrier. I can't choose what
to do if every answer is wrong.
He started sending me recordings, incidents like he had described. I have no experience
with this, I sent. He sent more data. "I'll study it," I said. "If there is a proper, logical answer, we
will find it together."
"Humans invented logic, but I think they operate without it."