Chapter 2

At breakfast three days later father said that Ted and others got the lab cleaned up. "You might be interested in seeing what You and Uoy are doing. Ted is able to start and stop them and change their noodles. Now they don't throw things."

"That sounds scary," Taylor said. "What does changing their noodles mean?"

"It is like giving them a new brain. They are starting to learn all over. Spyde was teaching them how to play checkers when I left the lab to come home."

On the ride to the lab Taylor listened while her father thought out loud. She knew that he was talking to himself and it helped him think. He used lots of big words and she often thought that someday she would know what he was talking about. On this trip he was talking about Executive Functions that are the decision makers and feedback use to fix problems." Problems were when something happened and the result wasn't right or at least not what was expected. In order to have control you have to know what you expected and what you got." Father said. Taylor nodded and said "I guess." She thought that someday she would understand what he was talking about.

"Then you have to know how to reduce the discrepancy. How to get closer to your target." Father added. Taylor thought. "What problem?" She asked.

"Well," father said, "We are still trying to teach You and Uoy how to play checkers. They know the basic moves like how to move to the left side or the right side and what a jump is. They don't seem to know, yet, that if they jump that the other player might be able to jump back."

"When I play Spyde," Taylor said "and remembered that the last time the board looked like this and I jumped from here to there that Spyde jumped me back and won. So this time I will not make that move. I had a picture in my mind of what would happen."

"What happens if Spyde tries to trick you by not jumping you when he had the chance?"

"The rules are you have to jump."

"But if he had another jump he could make then he could still trick you."

"Then I would have different pictures in my mind and maybe I would and maybe I wouldn't make the jump. But I would remember and if I jumped and won the game I probably would do the same thing again. If I lost I probably would not jump."

"So you have to play the game a number of times and try to remember the pictures of where the checkers were and change the chances of making some moves depending on what your pictures were."

"I guess."

"Hmm," father said talking to himself. "You construct a decision tree, a drawing that shows all the moves you might make and the move you make after each of the other? Over time you identify the probably of, that is the chances, of taking one branch over the other. That is simply the number of times you took a branch divided by the times you were in front of it."

"I guess."

"It looks like an expected value model. If we have a tree diagram with branches that show all the different moves that might have been made, the chances of following the branch and the number of times you win on that path of branches, you can compute the expected value of any branch that you might take. You try to maximize the expected value."

"I guess." Taylor said, and thought "He sure makes playing checkers hard."

"Maybe I could teach them how to play checkers," Taylor said. "Maybe I could just play checkers with them and let them learn by themselves. Like I did. Spyde just showed me how to make the basic moves and the rules and I learned by playing. Maybe I could play with them like they were my brothers or something."

"That is an interesting idea. I will check with Ted and see if he would let You and Uoy stay with us for a few days."

"What will mother think?"

"You are right. We had better ask her if it is okay."

Taylor and father walked toward the playroom where Spyde and You and Uoy were playing checkers as the smoke detector sounded. Father ran to the room and pushed open the door. You and Uoy were moving checkers so fast the friction on the cardboard checker board was smoking but had not yet burst into flames. Ted entered the room through another door and pushed a button on a small hand held remote control. The robots stopped moving checkers.

"Turned off their power," Ted said. "They learn fast and move even faster. We will have to build in some timers to slow them down to people speeds."

Father had picked up a small fire extinguisher and sent a cloud of cold foam onto the board. Ted removed a checker from Uoy's hand, which was poised to jump four of You's pieces, and put it in the checker box and wiped off the board and other checkers.

"What are the chances we could take them home for a couple of days? Taylor thought it might be interesting to have a couple of small brothers to teach."

Ted looked at father, then Taylor, then the two robots. "I don't think it would be safe. They almost started a fire playing checkers. Think of all the problems unconstrained strength and speed could cause."

"I could have a switch and turn them off," Taylor said. "Or maybe you could teach them some people rules so if I said stop they would.

"People rules? That might be tricky," Ted said. "You know Taylor, you were learning people rules before you born and then your mother taught you more rules and you were learning how to reach for things you saw and for food. For a long time you didn't know rules. You didn't even know you were something different than your mother and father. You cried and you got fed, you cried and you got your diaper changed, you cried and you got held. You cried because your body was hungry, or irritated, or cold or because you were lonely. Slowly you learned rules, that you were rewarded when you did some things and not rewarded for other things. Always there were smiles or frowns or words from your mother or father. The rules were not written or spoken; they were the result of feedback."

Ted looked at father. "These are robots, bio-mechanical things. They don't get hungry, eat and get diaper rash. They don't get cold or lonely. There is no inherent reward or non-reward mechanism."

"Sure there is," father said. "It is inherent in the feedback loops you build into the robots programs. They don't have to eat but you can put in temperature sensors so they will know hot and cold. Set their thermostat to the same temperatures we like. Put in touch sensors and counters to keep track of their contact with someone, like Taylor. For starters let's develop an affect layer of noodles, that is, an emotional layer. Add positive feedback for smiles and negative or no feedback for frowns. In a week or so we can add a layer of feedback and awareness so they can become aware of themselves with the ability to influence objects and people around them."

"I can do that," Ted said. "At least at a simple level."

Ted said "Let's go into the lab. I want to show you the new power source." Father and Taylor followed. "Here is a new power fiber. It is like a very narrow balloon made with a nano-skin and filled with nano-metallic anodes and bacteria. The surface provides for the absorption of selected metal molecules which are digested by the bacteria to make electricity. For our first models a number of these bacteria-batteries will be used for power. Now that I think about it, we can have a sensor which indicates if the power level is low and the robot will ask for the metal in a solution. I guess we can make it get hungry. Then we feed them with a baby bottle.

These energy sources will not provide enough power for the robots to cause damage or move too fast. A radio frequency switch a couple of molecules in size will be part of the batteries so they can all be turned off by pressing a switch. Taylor could wear the switch on a necklace. She could turn them off at night or if they started to get into trouble. We can also make an audio detector so Taylor can turn them off with voice commands."

"Give me a day or two to implement the power sources and program the audio switch and grow the affect noodles."

Ted looked back into the playroom at the two robots poised in front of the checker board. "I don't think it a good idea for Taylor to take both of them home. One will be more than enough of a challenge."

"Oh!" Taylor groaned. "Can't I take both of them?"

"Ted is right," father said. "The question is, which one?"

Taylor asked, "Which one won the last checker game."

Spyde had walked into the lab quietly on its eight legs and climbed on the work bench. "Uoy did. It seemed to be ahead in games won."

"Okay," Taylor said, "Let's take Uoy home." Igy crawled onto her shoulder and shook its head. Limil crawled onto Taylor's other shoulder and shook her head. "There goes the neighborhood." Arnold yelled up from inside Taylor's little backpack, Rachelle responded, "Limil, that was not a nice thing to say. Besides Uoy will be a challenge for all of us."

That night at the dinner table Taylor asked her mother, "If a robot followed me home could I keep it?"

"I don't know why not. But you will have to clean up after it and help Miranda feed it. It might be a big responsibility."

Father interjected indicating that it was not a dog but a robot from work. "Taylor would help train it, like, as she said, she had a little brother."

"Little brother, I didn't know she wanted a little brother. This is something we will have to talk about." Mother looked at Taylor then father.

Taylor said, "I didn't say I wanted a little brother. I thought a small robot would be like a small brother. Think of it as a small dog that doesn't make messes."

"Okay then, as long as it doesn't make more work for Miranda."

Taylor jumped out of her chair and ran around the table and hugged her mother. "Thank you mom."

It took three days for Ted to grow the affect MEACs for emotions and muscle MEACs for muscle learning and make other adjustments to Uoy including reducing it size so it was shorter than Taylor.

On the following Saturday father brought Uoy home at lunch time. Taylor thought that it was a new doll. It didn't look like the robot throwing a ball in the lab. Uoy's skin was pliable and its eyes looked like those in some of the dolls that Taylor already had. Uoy was skinny. Only enough skin had been added to cover the mechanical skeletal framework and contracting fibers that acted like muscles. Each muscle had a thin MEAC strip, or muscle noodle, which provided the signal to contract but when first assembled there were only a few signaling fingers. As Uoy developed, the muscle noodles would grow more neuron like fingers to control muscle activity. Uoy was bald. It didn't have a need for hair to stay warm. If Uoy had been a cat, whiskers might be useful for feeling if a hole was big enough to crawl into. Hair was not needed to sense the environment.

Uoy had to be fed a solution of water and metal ions to provide energy to the bacteria batteries and the byproducts had to be removed so Uoy would have to wear a diaper until it learned how to discharge the liquid waste collected in a bladder through a relieve tube. Sensors in the bladder indicated the level of fluid buildup. Pressure in the bladder did not bother Uoy but skin sensors were irritated by a wet diaper.

When father handed Uoy to Taylor he said that Uoy had not been turned on. He gave her a control button on a chain that she could wear and showed Taylor the small switch button in a depression behind the Uoy's neck just below the head. "You can turn it on and off to control it's sensing activity but it will still need energy which means it will cease to function if it is not fed and it can only feed if it is turned on. You turn him off at night before you go to sleep and on in the morning. You have to remember at all times that when Uoy is on it is hearing and seeing you and learning. If you are not sure what it is you want Uoy to learn because you don't know what to do, turn it off, figure out what you want to do then turn it back on.

Mothers can't do that with real babies so you have an advantage. Beside you are too young to have to worry about being a real mother but I think raising Uoy will be as much of a challenge. When you turn him on for the first time it will not do much. It doesn't know words, it doesn't know how to walk, or hold a bottle or even how to hold on to something. It doesn't even know what it is. When it is turned on it will think the first thing it sees is its mother. Actually, it doesn't even know what a mother is. It is part of you. So hold it so it can see your face and feel your body when you turn in on for the first time. "

"It is programmed to be afraid and to seek comfort and safety. You are its source of safety. You will start by looking him in the eyes and talking with your eyes and with your smile and with soft words. You will have to hold it to feed until it learns how to hold a bottle."

"Are you ready?"

"I think so." Taylor sat stiffly in her chair and held Uoy like she held her dolls when she played with them.

Father smiled and said, "You look uncomfortable. You have to relax a little. Don't hold your eyes open like you are frightened. Relax and smile and press the switch."

Taylor cradled Uoy in her arms and pressed the switch. Igy, Limil, limiL, Rachelle and Arnold had quietly crawled onto her shoulders and watched as Uoy's eyes opened slowly and peered into Taylor's eyes. Uoy's fingers slowly opened and closed and caressed the fabric on Taylor's shirt sleeve. Taylor put a finger between Uoy's and he grasped it. The touch was soft but Taylor felt a jolt in her own body like Henry pushing the squishy. Uoy's eyes opened wider sensing the stress in Taylor. When Taylor relaxed Uoy closed its eyes and made a sucking sound with its mouth.

Father handed Taylor a small bottle of solution with a nipple on it. Taylor put the nipple into the robot's mouth. Uoy massaged the nipple and sucked on it until the fluid flowed.

"You will have to show it how to let air into the bottle or a vacuum will form and nothing will flow. Put a finger into its mouth and move the nipple out for a second."

Air bubbled flowed into the bottle and the feeding continued.

After a few minutes father reached behind Uoy's head and pressed the switch. It closed its eyes, the fingers stopped moving and it stopped sucking.

"It will learn faster than people do. Uoy will be like a baby for a week or so then start making sounds that you make. Many babies don't learn to walk until they are eight, nine or ten months old. Uoy will probably learn to walk in week to two weeks."

"Can I take him to school and show the class?"

"Not for a while. It would be too much of a distraction for the class and we don't know what it would learn there. So for several weeks turn it off when you go to school and turn it back on when your home work it done. Agreed?"

"Agreed," Taylor said. "Can I show him to Grif?"

"Okay, but no flying for a while. I think Grif understands your responsibilities."

"Can I take him to my room?"

"Sure, it is just like another doll but it can learn. Ted and I are interested it how Uoy develops. Ted and Spyde are going to teach You. You doesn't have the same modifications as Uoy in terms of size or the need for drinking. It is powered by long term batteries which are recharged in the lab. In a few weeks we want to see how differently the two develop. I am going back to work. See you at dinner."

Father left and Taylor could hear the car drive over the bridge. The hallway at the bottom of the stairs seemed very quiet. Limil, limiL, Arnold and Rachelle climbed down from Taylor's shoulders and ran around on the floor. Taylor looked into Uoy's eyes as she carefully walked up the stairs. Her bedroom was on the top floor. At the top of the stairs she knocked and pushed open the door to the library and walked to the table in the center of the room.

The action organizer moved its eight needle adjusting to Taylor's new responsibilities. Uoy moved, its hands clutched Taylor's sleeve then let go, touched her hand and placed its fingers around one of Taylor's. Talking softly Taylor asked Uoy and the organizer, "how often do I feed you?"

Jane walked from behind a bookshelf. "Hello Taylor, here is a book on the Care and Feeding of Baby Robots. It is not very big because not many people have raised baby robots. I think it is being written now. See, there is only one page. It says; feed the baby robot when it cries. There is a footnote which indicates that baby robots should behave like any baby." Jane put the book down and there was another in her hand called The Care and Feeding of Babies. "Oh, this is one is written for zoo keepers. It says that all primates and large animals that are social have common development patterns. They eat, they touch, they play to development muscle and movement skills and they learn to respond to danger signals. Later their play is conditioning for social positioning."

"What is the social positioning of robots?" Taylor asked.

"That is an interesting question but it probably doesn't have to be answered yet. I imagine you and your friends and parents will be Uoy's social group. Your action organizer has more dimensions to guide behavior than lions, wolves, monkeys, apes and other social animals."

"You will have the ability to guide the behavior options of Uoy through feedback. In another week or two you will find that Uoy will reach for objects that might be dangerous and you will have to guide its hands away with some warning words. When you do that you are providing feedback. It is not a fancy as the feedback in machines and guidance systems in cars and airplanes but it is still feedback to redirect behavior towards a goal."

"Uoy will try to reach for something. If he succeeds the chances are it will try to reach for it the same way next time. If you stop it, it might get confused and get angry and cry. You have to provide another way for Uoy to reach or find something else for Uoy to reach so it can succeed." "The real problem will be when Uoy wants something that it just cannot have or do something that it just cannot be allowed to do. You have the advantage of turning it off until you can figure out how to change its behavior. That I guess is better than a time out chair."

Taylor wanted to skip to her room but was afraid to bounce Uoy. She looked into its eyes and smiled. She had only been holding Uoy for fifteen to twenty minutes and feeding him and smiling and talking and she saw it's lips turn up at the corners. Uoy smiled.

T smiled back and asked "What do you want to learn?" Then answered the question. "Everything I guess." T tapped the bottle and said "bottle", touched Uoy's cheek and said "cheek", took one of Uoy's hands and pushed it against her own check and said "cheek". For the next two hours whenever Uoy opened its eyes and seemed to be awake Taylor talked and held objects and had Uoy touch the objects. When Uoy's batteries ran down it slept while the bacteria processed the metal in the solution and recharged its power cells.

T fell asleep on her bed with Uoy lying next to her and was wakened by what sounded like crying. Uoy was agitated. T gave Uoy the bottle that had fallen on the bed. Uoy pushed it away and cried louder. limiL climbed onto her shoulder and suggested that she check the robots diaper. It was wet. T carried Uoy down to the first floor and checked the bag that father had brought along with Uoy. There were some diapers and extra feeding bottles.

Mother came in from the kitchen and saw Taylor sitting on the floor starring at the diaper. "Here let me help you. I have had more experience with this than you have."

Taylor watched and knew she could do it next time. "I have never had a doll that really cried before. This is kind of scary?"

"You have taken on a big responsibility. You will do fine. If you get too tired just turn it off."

Uoy shook its head when mother said turn it off.

"Look it moves," mother said. "What can it do?"

"It can't do anything unless it learns. I have been teaching it the names of things it can touch. Like cheek. Where is my cheek?"

Uoy looked Taylor in the eye and reached its hand up to Taylor's cheek. Taylor smiled. Uoy smiled.

"Oh my," mother said, "it learns. It is safe?" Her voice had a slight tremor of concern.

Uoy turned slightly and looked at her then back to Taylor.

"Let us go outside and learn trees and flowers."

"Lurn," Uoy said.

Taylor smiled and said "Learrn" emphasizing the "R" sound.

Uoy said, "Learn," and smiled.

Taylor smiled and said "Good, very good. Uoy learns."

Uoy smiled and said "Good."

Mother looked at the two of them. "Be careful, there might be a storm. Father will be home in two hours for dinner."

Taylor carried a bottle and a spare diaper and walked out to the moat and then along the bank to the east. She picked blades of grass, leaves, cattails, wild violets, horsetails, mosses and other vegetation and put them into Uoy's hand and named them. She repeated each name and waited for Uoy to blink in between. Blinking, Taylor noticed, seemed to be a way of saying "I understand."

A large shadow passed over Taylor and Uoy. Uoy cringed and cried and hung on to Taylor's sweater. Grif landed a few feet away. "I hope I didn't frighten your little friend," Grif said. "Shadows from above are danger signs for many wild animals and is probably a basic survival reaction."

"Uoy, meet Grif, he is my best friend."

Uoy cautiously looked at Grif keeping his head pressed against Taylor. Its eyes looked at the eagle beak and then at Taylor's nose. Uoy reached and grasped a feather on Grif's cheek and let go then touched Taylor's cheek then blinked.

Taylor said, "Grif, do you want to hold him?"

"Him, I didn't know ro… he, was a he." Grif stopped short of calling Uoy a robot.

"I wanted a brother so he is a he."

Grif stood next to Taylor and reached out and Taylor nudged Uoy into Grif's talons. Uoy grasped a talon like he had Taylor's finger. Grif cradled Uoy and held him against the smooth soft feathers of his chest.

"Good," Uoy said.

Grif handed Uoy back to Taylor and then picked them both up and drifted across the field back toward the front door, never more than a few feet above the ground. "On another day we can go higher," Grif said. "Let's not overload its circuits."

Taylor took Uoy into the kitchen and explained the smells for different foods on the stove and in the oven.

Miranda, stirring a large pot of stew, said, "You are talking to that doll likes it is a person."

Taylor said, "This is Uoy, my new brother. I have to teach him everything. He is a very fast learner. He is only one day old and can already talk." She walked over to Miranda and held Uoy close to her.

Uoy reached to touch Miranda's cheek. "Cheek", it said. Miranda pulled her chin back slightly under the guise of reaching for a container of spices on the shelf above the stove.

Taylor pointed to the stove and said, "Stove, hot."

Uoy held its hand out, palm open toward the stove. "Two-hundred forty three degrees. Hot."

Miranda looked at Uoy and crossed herself. "What kind of brother do you have? Does he eat?"

"Oh, dear," Taylor said. "I haven't fed him and walked out of the kitchen to get a bottle of metal drink. While she was in the hallway at the base of the stairs father arrived.

"Hello Taylor, hello Uoy. Have you two been busy? Uoy, what have you learned today?" he asked.

Uoy recited every word Taylor had told her and explained that Grif had feathers on his cheek and Taylor had skin, that Grif could fly, fish jumped out of water and the stove was hot.

Father stood quietly, seemingly in disbelieve, then smiled. "Very good, Uoy, very good." He gently ran his hand over Uoy's head. "Very good."

"Taylor," he added. "Maybe you should take him up to bed and put him to sleep. You will need to eat and get some rest yourself."

Taylor carried Uoy up the stairs and went into the library. Jane appeared and opened the book on raising robot babies and said, "You have been writing a lot." Then she looked at Uoy and opened another book. "You have been a busy fellow." Taylor looked at the pages and there were all the words Uoy had told father and pictures of the plants, fish and Grif.

In her bedroom, Taylor put Uoy into a dolls cradle and gave him a bottle. He closed his eyes and noisily sucked the metal solution. Taylor said "Good night. Go to sleep," and pushed the button on her necklace; Uoy stopped moving.


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