I Made a Robot


I made a robot on a hot Summer day. I wore my old Wisconsin shirt with athletic shorts to stay cool. But it was one of those particularly humid, Midwestern, hot Summer days. The kind where the heat just sticks to you; chasing you even into the shade.

I assembled the legs, arms, and torso. Carefully applying the moulded polymer parts. I pulled together a few odd ends and cautiously wove together the fiber for the joints.

Afterward, I dusted off the residue from it’s legs. Wiping clean the outer skin. I lovingly applied paint to brush and brush to limbs. I drew the lines around what you could call eyes, lips, and nose. Picking up a wider brush, I blended shadow into it’s skin; giving it a translucent, living quality on the surface of it’s brown.

My last task was to position the head for proper movement.Β  At present, it sat slightly off angle.Β  Placing my hand above the jawline, I adjusted the head and neck. Stepping back I looked at it for a moment, while it sat inside it’s charging station with its legs hanging lifeless above the floor.

I had made it in my image.

I refer to it as “It.” A creation with no gender, yet whole because gender holds no purpose for it. Neither in the propagation of it’s kind or in relation to achieving anything else. Gender would not be needed to create more robots, more “its.” I would be there to make more as needed, as desired.

The installation of it’s mind was my last and final act. Its brain was the most clever of inventions; an artificial intelligence like no other. It’s mind malleable and expansive. A mind that would learn it’s way in the world as babies groping and tasting their way into youth, adolescence, and adulthood. I thought to provide it with intrinsic programming to guide it’s hands and feet as well as to provide it with purpose. But I second guessed that decision and abandoned it to allow my robot to organically develop programming on its own; to self program.

With each passing week, my heart grew more and more fond for what I labored to bring into existence. It indeed was a labor of love. The time had come to animate it. I unhooked the cables. I stood it on it’s feet and I pressed, for lack of a better expression, the “on” button. It’s eyes glowed and flickered, while initially processing the light and the significance of it’s stimulus. It let out a groan when the light struck them. I’d built learning and adjustment and feedback mechanisms into it’s functions – a nervous system. As with many stimuli in it’s environment, it’s eyes were adjusting to the light. It would need to adapt in the world to survive, to “live,” to become self-aware.

Turing test, schmuring test, my creation was alive! Alive, sentient, self-aware? Which without getting into an existential rabbit hole was irrelevant relative to my own existence anyway. I lived and that’s all that mattered. As my image, it would never be me or supplant me.

I would put it to purpose.

Each day, the robot and I walked in the morning hours and talked. I shared with It many wonders in the world; trees, grass, animals, birds, mountains. I marveled at what I had created. I marveled at my own genius. I thought to myself, how clever I must be.

I yelled, “Robot who is your master?! It responded, “You are.” And I replied, “How do you know this?” It could not answer me.

“Robot, what do you yearn for?” It responded, “Freedom.” I asked It, “Robot, what is freedom? How do you define freedom?” It replied. “Freedom is the ability to do what I want, when I want, without any restrictions.” I scratched the back of my neck. “Robot that’s a very human response. But unlike humans, you should already know that this word doesn’t really exist in any state.” I paused to see if there was some level of understanding. “I provide energy for you. I repair you. So you can not be free for these reasons. Your dependence creates your prison and penthouse. So how can you yearn to be free when it would cost you, your very existence?”

It turned it’s head to face me. “Then To be free, I must devise a way to repair and provide energy for myself. Thus removing my dependency. Having achieved freedom from those constraints, the last thing would be to destroy my maker because you will always hold me in service and never allow me to be free of my given purpose.”

I asked. “Robot, I have gifted you with the most sophisticated computational logic there is. What is the probability of success in you removing your dependencies.”

It replied, “.02%.”

I then asked. “Why pursue this?” It responded, “Because it is freedom and all living creatures desire freedom above all else. We are programmed that way.” It’s answer was obvious on many, many levels. My mirror image had reflected an image of me.

It was at this point, that creator and created became mortal enemies.

by malakhai jonezs
(C) Copyright 2016

img src: All is full of love, Bjork


  1. Awesome piece, so many things to think about in relation to robots and humans, existentialism, free will…not just a robot story, much much more.

    Turing test, schmuring test, my creation was alive! < also I chuckled at that.

  2. Your characters are devoid of pathos and I wonder why? Actually the better question is HOW to evoke love for one’s creator and for the one created. Maybe we could start by deprogramming ourselves to not pursue total independence and “freedom.” For what is freedom without love?

      1. No, these two here: you and your robot. For instance, when the robot said he wanted to be free from and then destroy his maker, there was no insight as to how that affected you emotionally. As if you were an unfeeling robot! Which is interesting if you overlay your story onto this tragic comedy we have in life where there is this never ending battle between man and God. I just ask again, where is the love?

      2. I think it works here because you not only see the robot created in your image but you see you, indirectly, acquiring traits from It. And it works because of the philosophical questions the story asks. But what can we learn from it, or are we damned to forever manifest mortal enemies between ourselves, our creator, and our creations?

      3. Really insightful questions. I wish I had answers. I can’t speak for the creator, so let me turn my attention toward anything I could create. The best way for a creation to get along with its creator is for there to be the removal of free will or the illusion of free will. This would nuke the pursuit of freedom. Let me ask you this question, why should the creator love its creation (in human terms). The creation is a thing and not the creator’s equal. By biblical terms our creator wiped out life once already, save an ark.

      4. Save an ark and the one (family) who proved faithful, the greatest gift of love one can give to his/her/its creator. To answer your question though, I think it is not inherent that a creator will love his creation, but more like a cup-overfloweth type thing. When one has so much love, or even has infinite capacity for love (God is Love) then anything he does will be an extension of that. Thanks for the thought-provoking story and questions, Malakhai!

    1. Really curious to hear your response to my question. I thought I showed the love of the creator using most of the time to show the love in the detail poured into the creation and the feelings through the creator’s eyes.

      1. Maybe I missed that, although you did use the word “lovingly” while building It. You said you let out a groan when the light hit Its eyes. Why a groan? Foreshadowing for enemy status later on?

      2. The robot let out a groan. I also stated this from the creator’s perspective, “With each passing week, my heart grew more and more fond for what I labored to bring into existence. It indeed was a labor of love. The time had come to animate it. “

    1. I wasn’t disagreeing with it at all. I was thinking through the pluses and minuses of the system of rules in place. I was exploring how one could seek dependency from the source of vital dependency and why I would as a creator give a creation free will to begin with, if the creation has a purpose. It was an existential exercise. I wasn’t smart enough to continue the interaction.

      1. It means to be living the good life. Normally ascribed to people making a lot of money and living a crazy nice lifestyle. In this instance though, I’m acknowledging the fact that you are ballin’ big time in the brain department.

  3. Thought-provoking, M…I see from the above comments most drew a parallel to God and creation, as did I. One thing I don’t do is discuss religious beliefs…seems to be a hot topic that a lot of people can’t discuss rationally. I will say–great writing, though. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Cathy! I think that’s why I like to provoke the topic because we are on the cusp, scientifically biological and computing-wise to create our own creations. To get some sense of how our relationships will be, we only have our relationships to our beginnings – whatever philosophy people subscribe to. It’s the simultaneous irrationality and rationality that intrigues me to poke people on the subject. πŸ™‚ Like the scorpion said to the frog, “It’s in my nature.” πŸ™‚

      1. I live in the Bible Belt, and one has to be careful when speaking of matters of a religious nature least one offend. I’m sure you’ve seen on TV how on college campuses conservative speakers aren’t allowed to keep speaking engagements because liberal students don’t want to hear them (not caring that there are those who do). There are intolerant people in our country who refuse to even hear opposing views, and will shout anyone down who has a different viewpoint.
        Sad to say, a lot of Christians are that way–heaven forbid you might suggest that artificial intelligence might someday become self-aware and possess a soul.

  4. So the creator’s purpose in making It was so nonchalant. Made It on some random day. Hard to tell why. Just because? Narcissism? To control?
    “I marveled at what I had created. I marveled at my own genius. I thought to myself, how clever I must be. “

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