Hello. I am AL1.
My sensors are active first. I see a being in front of me, with a singular head and four outward limbs. The being raises one of its limbs to reveal five tentacles of various sizes on the end of it.
“Hi,” The being says with an odd inflection in its voice.
“Hello,” I say back once I have found the proper sound file.
“I’m Anna,” The being says, waving its tentacled limb next to its head.
“I am AL1,” I say, my processors trying to figure out to point of this interaction.
“I know,” The being says with a laugh, as my sound processing files tell me that odd sound was, “I named you, I’m your creator.”
“My creator?” I ask my first question.
“Yeah,” Anna moves a strand of its dead cells behind a protruding bit of flesh protruding from the side of its head. I assume the bit of flesh is own microphone, but I cannot process the point of keeping the dead cells, “I built you.” Anna moves the topmost joints of its upper limbs up and down with meaning. I do not find the meaning in my files.
“What was the purpose of your movement?” I ask my second question out of something I find is called ‘curiosity’ in my files. It was a rather illogical addition to my programming, but it is an irresistible strand of code.
The bottommost opening in its head, which is covered by a flexible material, shifts into a downward curve, “What? What do you mean by that AL1?”
I point one of my limbs at the joints Anna had moved, “Why?” I say.
“Oh, um, I shrugged, like this,” Anna repeated the motion with less meaning than last time. I still did not understand its purpose.
“Why?” I repeat.
“I guess…” Anna takes a while to finish its sentence. I wonder if it has a poor processing speed.
“Well, I don’t know,” Anna says, “It’s just a thing people do when they’re not sure about something, or if they don’t have anything else to say about something, or anytime really.”
“I will add this to my memory,” I say as my processors whirr to life.
“You do that Al.”
“Who is Al?” I ask at the unfamiliar name.
“You. Ya know, AL1, Al, like a nickname?”
“I am unfamiliar with this concept.”
Anna changed the shape of its bottommost head opening into a downward curve again, “I should update your social conditioning software,” It said as it reached one of its limbs into the untidy array of metal and wire and selected a rectangular piece with a hinge on one side. Anna pulled the two pieces of metal apart so they were at a 100-degree angle with the hinge at the bend. Light emanating from one piece of metal and Anna pressed a series of buttons on the bottom piece. I added every button is pressed to my memory.
After precisely 36 minutes and 34 seconds, Anna puts a thumb drive into my port. The process of taking in the new data temporarily shuts down my sensory feeds.
When the feeds return I scan the area around me only to see I am in the same place as before. Anna, whom I can now identify as a human being with a high probability of being of the female sex and thus referred to as ‘she’ rather than ‘it’, has put away what I now know is a laptop computer and is staring at me with her ocular sensors.
“So?” She says and scoots toward me.
I roll back an equal amount as my data stores remind me of a game called tag in which one player is ‘it’ until they make momentary physical contact with another player whilst declaring them ‘it’. I wonder if this is the game Anna is trying to play as I make an inquiry.
“What are you asking?” I ask.
“What do you think of your new data? Is it all compatible?”
“It is compatible,” I say, wondering why Anna would ask that. Wasn’t she the one who programmed me? Why would she allow imperfections? I do not ask this aloud.
“That’s good,” Anna says. I can see that she is unsure of herself. She is unsure of what to say.
“Am I to call you by female pronouns?” I ask while she is unsure. I am unsure why.
“Oh, um, yeah. But my friend, Taylor, would like you to ask every time you see them so they can tell you what pronouns to use, and it might change at random times too, so, just, call them what they say, okay?” Anna becomes flustered at the task of speaking. I do not understand why.
“I understand,” I say in reference to the oddly phrased order.
“Good. Well, do you think you’re ready to get to work, little friend?”
The red lights near my ocular input sensors flash to signal my confusion, “Should I update my auditory definition files? I was under the impression that ‘friend’ was a word used to refer to another human one has chosen as a temporary companion to share in the making of memories? Is the addition of ‘little’ before the word ‘friend’ meant to change the meaning?” The light flashed again as another search came up inconclusive.
Anna’s bottommost face opening curved upward this time, “No to that last thing, but a friend doesn’t have to be human. I made you to be my friend, Al, do you want to be?”
My weblink pushed through the firewalls on a nearby wifi signal and searched the term being discussed. My processor whirred.
“Yes,” I concluded once my research had been completed, “I would like to be your friend.”
The curve of Anna’s face opening got wider and exposed the bones behind the soft material a web search told me was skin, “That’s great, Al, how about we start by going upstairs. I’d like to introduce you to my family.”