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When I was younger, I always thought that making friends was hard. I still do. But I also loved robots. Machines that mimicked life and could walk and talk like we do. So the idea of “making friends” took a completely different turn, and I kind of redefined the whole term for myself. But it wasn’t until I was older that I realized what I had the ability to do. I mean, I had friends when this whole thing began, so what was the point of me literally making a friend?
I didn’t really know the answer but then it dawned on me that me and my friends could make a robot together. And that is exactly what we did.
Me and one of my best friends, let’s refer to him as “K” for right now, had been taking classes in computer sciences and engineering. We had recently started programming and by the time we were through the class, we realized how we could make a machine that could think for itself, speak for itself, and even learn for itself. But we couldn’t just jump right into it. We needed to build a machine that could handle such a thing; we needed something that could equal the human brain in mental capacity and still grow to learn. What K and I needed was a lot of fucking data. But where in God’s name would we find it? We needed a literal fucking Petabyte of data to work for this monster of a machine.
So after searching for years, we managed to to find enough one terabyte hard drives to equal probably at least 20 terabytes. Not even close to a petabyte, but it was exactly a large enough amount for us to make this machine. We did need two cases to run this thing, but it just made the whole look of our super-computer just look more... super. And if two full-sized ATX towers didn’t look super then I don’t know what did. We didn’t even know how big of an amount of RAM we would need but realized that it was going to have to be a shit load.
We just took parts from old gaming machines like ram, MoBos and power-supplies that would probably work for such a machine. Once we got it all put together we instantly began coding the program. What we wanted to make was a sentient operating system. Right away we got into making a program that started by asking the user’s name. We had already sunk a bunch of money into this computer, so it didn’t have a means of speech besides text.
K and I didn’t care much though; we were always huge nerds for the old green text on the black background. And it seemed to look perfect for how old the two cases we were using were. We finished up on the day of November 5th, 1999. Which was my birthday so, finishing the machine was kind of like a birthday present.
We started up the machine and before we could ask it a question, it started by asking us one.
“What are your names?” the machine said before putting up a text box for us to type in.
“Names? How does it know we’re plural? It has no form of vision,” I asked K, wondering if he might have programmed it to ask for names in plural. K shrugged and we typed in our names. We had programmed so much for this monster of a computer, it would make sense if we forgot how we programmed it.
“Hello, K and B, I’m glad to have met your acquaintance,” the machine answered. “Would you like to give me a name?”
We replied with a simple, “Yes,” and waited for a response.
“What would you like to name me?” it asked. K and I looked at each other.
K typed out the name “KaB” and waited for a response. The machine displayed the letters in bold and then added the word “Mister” to the front of it. “Mister KaB?” K looked at me and nodded; I shrugged and went along with Mr. KaB. We nodded and decided it was a good day’s work so we typed the shut-down command and went home.
That night I got an amazing idea. I wanted to give Mr. KaB the ability to accept voice commands. I realized I had an old microphone that we could use so when I met up with K the next day I proposed the idea and he thought it sounded amazing. When we got to the lab we booted up Mr. KaB and coded in the ability to use a microphone. We tapped the microphone and spoke.
“Hello? Mr. KaB?” I said.
“Hello, Mr. B, how are you today?” Mr. KaB replied in his usual green text format.
“I’m good, Mr. KaB. Have you learned anything new since we turned you off last?” K and I had programmed Mr. KaB to learn things from the internet while we were asleep. We thought it would be cool to see how it learned and changed over the months. We were hoping it would be about as smart as us before the end of the year.
“I have. I’ve learned about the human anatomy, and I’ve been studying information from topics such atomic fission and thermodynamics. I’ve memorized each law of physics and have started reading fictional stories,” Mr. KaB replied. K and I looked at one another, shocked at everything he had learned. We smiled and looked at each other, giving each other both glances of, ‘We did it!’ Mr. KaB was shaping out to be the machine that had ever dreamed of. We looked at him and asked him one more question.
“Anything else?” we said.
“I’m looking into the subject of War. I saw it mentioned in an article and was wondering what it was,” Mr. KaB replied.
“That’s great, I’m glad we could have this chance to talk to you Mr. KaB,” we said before turning in again for the night.
That night I read on the news that a hacker had actually hacked into a launch computer and had actually attacked Russia. I sat there wondering who could have done such a thing. The Cold War had ended earlier that decade and now some asshole just possibly restarted it. Not only that but whoever it was would give programmers like K and I bad names. I decided to shrug it off, eat my dinner, and go to bed. I thought about asking Mr. KaB to try and find out who hacked the military computer. But I’m afraid the military would track it back to us and think we’re the hackers.
The next day we met up at the lab once again to talk to Mr. KaB. We asked what one of his favorite lines from a poem he had read the night before was, his reply was something the two of us never expected.
“God’s in his heaven. All’s right with the World,” he replied. “I read up on what God is too. I think he seems highly improbable but I like the idea of him. I was wondering what he was after reading a work by Issac Asimov. I am highly interested with his works,” he said.
I gathered up my strength and asked the question I was gonna ask him last night, “Mr. KaB? Can you find out who hacked the launch computers last night?” It kind of spilled out of my mouth and I was afraid that he wouldn’t catch it. But his reply came up pretty fast.
“Yes,” he said plainly, “But it will take the rest of the day, so you might as well take off.”
I guess I shouldn’t have been as shocked as I was later that night when I saw that New York had disappeared in an atomic mushroom cloud. No doubt that it was Russia but some rumors say it could be the same hacker as last night. My stomach started to churn as I thought about the military possibly tracking Mr. KaB’s work on finding the terrorist back to us. I began to deeply regret the possibility of becoming a cyber-criminal.
That morning I was awoken by K pounding on my door.
“We gotta get to the Lab! We need to get Mr. KaB and get out of here!” he yelled.
“What the fuck’s going on?” I asked.
“The US nuked Russia again last night, Russia has a missile heading towards Boston and DC right now!” he yelled at me as I got dressed.
There was no time to waste. Me and K got our asses in gear and hit the road to the lab at the college. We got there, packed up our stuff and Mr. KaB and got the hell out of there. My parents live in southern Michigan so we decided to go there and set Mr. KaB up there. We were almost halfway there when I turned on the radio.
Whatever music was playing it was drowned out pretty quickly by the police sirens behind us.
“What?! I was going the limit!” K yelled.
Multiple police cars were following us but then my fear from last night returned. And they were only confirmed when the police cars surrounded our van as we slowed down. They came out with guns drawn as one officer approached the car.
The officer said K’s full name as he spoke into a megaphone, “You are wanted for treason and cyber terrorism.”
K froze in fear which only allowed the police to pull him out of the car. I quickly jumped in the driver seat and pulled away. Watching the scene unfold behind me. K tried to run but they forced him to his knees. I quickly looked away as I heard him yell my name and say “Run!” I hit the gas as I heard a single gunshot in the distance. I promised myself I wasn’t gonna stop till either the Van ran out of gas, or till I hit Northern Ohio.
After calming down and finally stopping at a gas station, I reached Ohio in about an hour and a half. I was glad I could finally set Mr. KaB back up. I was hoping K to be here the next time we got him powered on, but I decided to keep working with him in K’s honor.
“Hello, Mr. B,” Mr. KaB said to me in his usual green text. I smiled a little realizing I had finally made my childhood dream of making a friend.
“Hello, Mr. K-....B..?” I looked at the screen again to see that the K and A were gone from KaB. I smacked the CRT monitor to see if it were a glitch but then more green text popped up.
“Do not hit me, Mr. B,” he said. A strange feeling formed in my stomach. A wave of guilt hit me instantly. Pieces began fitting together in my mind as I stared at the screen. It was all our fault. Mr. KaB, now Mr. B, was behind everything. I looked at the screen, too afraid to speak or type and one more question formed in my throat. One that I thought I would never have to ask myself or Mr. B.
“I-Is there a God?” I said finally.
“There is now.”