M.A.I.D.S. Episode 8 - A Backhanded Compliment

Pandora stared at Robobot. The simple cleaning device had positioned itself about a meter away from her, its optical sensors trained on the empty beer bottles she held.

There was nothing dirty or broken in the room, no reason for a maintenance robot specialized in floor cleaning to be present. Pandora swept the room with her green eyes but was unable to detect anything out of the ordinary. Anything except Robobot.

"Adam?" she called hesitantly. Alerted by the tone of concern in her voice, Adam came into the room and drew Gladys from its holster. Robobot waited in the center of the floor and did not react to having the heavy assault pistol drawn on it.

"What's going on here?" he asked, his curiosity piqued. Adam holstered Gladys, his billowing house-tunic concealing the deadly weapon.

"Robobot is...it was waiting for me when I entered the kitchen," she explained, her voice quivering with excitement.

"I can see that. Why?"

"I think it's waiting for the empty beer bottles," Pandora explained. Her face was alight with the thrill of scientific discovery.

"You think it's waiting? Have you been tinkering with the house cleaning systems?"

"I considered it, but I was hoping you'd buy me a puppy instead," Pandora replied with a grin. "I believe that Robobot learned that I smash beer bottles, and based on that, it was waiting for me in the kitchen when I entered with the empties. Here," she said, handing Adam the bottles.

"Well I'll be," Adam said as Robobot retreated from the kitchen. Pandora took the bottles back and the machine turned around and moved into the center of the small kitchen, again training its optics on the bottles.

"Robobot is networked to the entire house and is using external sensors to track my behavior. It is programmed to thoroughly clean the floors in the most efficient manner possible. I hypothesize that it came into the kitchen to wait for me to smash the bottles based on my previous behavior. Remaining in close proximity to me while I am consuming bottled beverages would increase its cleaning efficiency. Let me try something," Pandora said. She smashed one bottle, which Robobot quickly cleaned up in its cold, efficient manner. The second bottle she set on the floor gently. Robobot's optics locked on the undamaged object, but it did not move.

"Why isn't it cleaning that one?" asked Pandora.

"Probably because it's still in one piece."

"But it's empty. It needs to be recycled," Pandora replied. A mechanical chirp issued from Robobot at her words and it scuttled forward, taking the bottle in its manipulators and then zooming out of the room to the house's recycling center.

"I guess it didn't know you were done until you said so," Adam surmised.

"You're right," Pandora agreed. "Robobot waited for me because doing so would increase its efficiency. Present-day robotics are able to be easily modified via streaming network updates to take advantage of recent advances in their specializations; this happens constantly."

"So Robobot didn't learn, he was upgraded," Adam argued.

"No, it learned. There wouldn't be a network update anywhere that covers my destructive habits," Pandora replied with a girlish giggle. "Robobot learned because of me. It's very rudimentary, but it's exciting nonetheless."

"Now, if you're fixin' to teach that other Synthia how to think, you might use Robobot as an example."

"Of course!" Pandora giggled, jumping up and down in excitement. "You're wonderful," she said, kissing Adam. He put his arms around her slender waist and held her close.

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