Short Fiction: Fernando’s Invention

As a child, Fernando Chang showed an extraordinary aptitude for science. While other boys would be riding their bikes outside, Fernando would be dismantling his in the garage. When he showed the boys his reconstructed bicycle—now a model of the Milky Way’s planetary orbits—they just scratched their heads. A week later (after developing a shampoo to cure the neighbourhood of its head lice epidemic) he showed the other boys his bike again. This time they cheered.

Fernando’s father, also, encouraged him to pursue his scientific endeavours. The boy would research and experiment for hours at a time, providing the silence his father desired while he fed his online gambling addiction.

When Fernando graduated college at age fourteen, he was scouted by the biggest tech companies in the world. “Genius” and “Prodigy” were words he often heard, along with, “I thought you would be Asian.” He soon began work with a robotics company out of Tulsa specialising in the development of Artificial intelligence.

Three years later, Fernando was essentially a failed number one draft pick. His pioneering desire was as strong as ever, but he was miserable, and it had affected his work. He had been assigned to a team which—the company bigwigs had assured him—was comprised of people just like him. The team was not just like him. His fellow team members liked to give themselves titles like “Lead Development Scientist” and “Senior Research Expert”. Fernando just liked people to call him Fernando. When he would instigate a conversation about the ethical dilemmas that might arise from their success, the other team members would steer the conversation to the subject of what they would each do with their first million dollars. The final straw came when Fernando described his talent for and love of science as a calling. His team mates scoffed and insisted his “calling” was simply the hand evolution had dealt him. Fernando referred to them under his breath as, “F***ing imbeciles.”

Then he had an idea.

Quitting his job and the quest to create Artificial Intelligence, he turned his energy to inventing Artificial Stupidity. Within a month he had constructed DESMOND, a humanoid robot with an average I.Q. and below average common sense. During field testing, DESMOND lost his wallet, burned his tongue with soup, forgot to buy his wife a present for Valentine’s Day and joined two pyramid schemes. Public demand for Fernando’s technology was enormous. It seemed people craved the encouragement that would come from having a stupid robot. In this high-tech age, what would be a bigger confidence booster than a state of the art android that had to ask you for help?

Mass production never got off the ground. With the DESMOND technology posing a serious threat to the billions of dollars A.I. companies were banking on, an assassin was sent to Fernando’s high-security laboratory. The assassin posed as cult leader. DESMOND let him in.



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