Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Clue Research Center, Canyonlands, Utah

Mr. Green hit Scarlet with the candlestick in the study and she crumpled to the floor, dying instantly. Diane White passed by and witnessed the blow. Diane’s eyes went wide, as she put a hand to her mouth. Professor Plum joined Diane at the door and gaped at the dead Scarlet.
          “We have to call the Collector.” Diane murmured.
          But the Professor shook his head. “No, no, that would be a disaster! If we call the Collector then they will shut us down, close the research center and our home here abandoned.”
          Diane caught her breath, debating with herself. What the Professor said was true. It would be the end of the Canyonland facility, the breakup of their psychological-sociological team. Plum rubbed his trim goatee and suggested that Diane call a meeting for the evening where they could discuss the situation and look at options. Puzzling was why Jake had killed Scarlet. Jacob Green was their most advanced SA-5 model, athletic, flexible, and an advanced thinker. What had Scarlet done to provoke Jake? Was something awry in Jake’s code?
          “We have to try and stay on, keep together.” The Professor insisted.
          “I agree.” Diane responded.

That evening Professor Plum chaired a meeting of the Institute’s staff, the principals sitting around the large, mahogany table, the assistants and security staff, mostly early S-model robots, were in chairs against the book-lined walls.
          Plum began the meeting by recalling history, noting that automatons were introduced 10 years ago to replace fast-food workers, who hated their work and only made a minimum wage. A living wage for fast-food workers meant the mostly small-business outlets would go bankrupt. What to do?
          “Yes, it was a success.” Mrs. Peacock, the owner of the facilities, a former sprawling Mormon farm, chimed in. “Fast food service and efficiency increased overnight. The robots made the difference!”
          The professor agreed and went on to describe how the use of automatons evolved exponentially with increased artificial intelligence and agility. The mission of Canyonlands was to study the interaction between humans and new advanced robot models such as the SA-5, Jacob Green.
          “I could always beat them in tennis,” piped up Colonel Mustard from the end of the table. “That is, until Jake came along.” The Colonel groused.
          Looking to his right at Jacob Green who was two seats away, the Professor nodded, saying the SA-5 was the most advanced model and should be at the institute for a year of testing and adapting.
          “Maybe we should call the Collector,” Mustard suggested. “It’s odd that Jake struck Scarlet. I've never known that to happen… hopefully just a one-off.”
          The Professor waved his hand, shaking his head. The Collector was a last resort; better to try other options.
          “It is strange. I've never heard of this happening.” Diane White said. “We've had our first incident.”
          A cloud of gloom descended over the meeting as the participants glanced at the handsome Jacob Green. Professor Plum finally said the best option was to send Green to the Regional Advanced Center in San Diego for a diagnosis and a review of his code. Worst case would result in SA-5’s disassembly.
          The group around the table nodded, wondering about the implications of Green been sent to San Diego. Colonel Mustard muttered about his tennis game. Mrs. Peabody nodded knowingly. She had colleagues at San Diego and they might be able to keep the incident quiet.
          The Professor leaned forward to speak again when suddenly Green pushed his chair back, stood up, and pulled a wicked-looking hunting knife from a sheath attached to his belt. Jake took two quick steps and plunged the knife into Plum’s back. Green then calmly returned to his chair.
          The stunned group gaped at Professor Plum sprawled face down with his arms flung out on the table. The robots seated along the wall stared straight ahead motionless, not comprehending what had just taken place. The S-models were not coded to deal with conflict.
 After a few minutes of quiet, Diane White pushed her chair back and slowly stood up. She gazed at the service staff, and then at the humans huddled fearfully around the table. Jacob Green‘s head was down as he doodled on his note pad.
“So it begins.” Ms White said.

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