R8PR grabs Lamar by the shoulders and makes a series of rapid chirping sounds. Lamar falls to the floor unconscious instantly. He’s out, and so is his AI. For how long, though, is impossible to tell.
“Well, we have learned quite a few things from the past day,” R8PR says. “I am quite satisfied with all of the research that you inadvertently obtained.”
“Uh, thanks,” I say.
We’re in the hospital again, and I dropped Kobi back at the apartment so he could finally sleep, though it is more likely than not that he will still be playing Earthbound when I get home. I had to make up an excuse to Lamar about how Poo has to separate himself from the party for a little while, but he bought it.
Now we’re back to square one.
“Your discovery that mind-altering substances severely affect Lamar’s AI system is invaluable to ascertaining exactly how the process operates,” R8PR says. “From now on we must make absolutely certain he avoids drinking, of course, but at least we can figure out one thing: Lamar’s brain and the AI are actively combatting each other in terms of controlling the rest of the body. That means that the AI may not be quite so vital after all. I love gathering new evidence.” I followed very little of what he just said.
“No more drinking, ever? That’s really sad,” I say. “Last night was actually pretty hilarious, at least until he turned into an Earthbound character.”
“It won’t be hilarious if he gets himself caught by police and then gets higher forces involved,” R8PR says. “That AI is not something to take lightly; the technology level here is beyond anything else I’ve ever seen. Aside from myself, of course.”
“Very modest of you.”
“And there’s one more thing,” I tell him. “I noticed it while we were chatting about, uh, an old friend of mine. Lamar’s AI kicked in and instantly gave the public profile information for this… person, like it’d been passively looking up all this information on the internet while we talked. I think this thing is automatically connecting to wireless modem any chance it can get and… it doesn’t feel good to me.”
“Do you think it’s violating the First Protocol?”
“No, but it’s in a pretty gray area, isn’t it?”
“Perhaps,” R8PR says. “If it is working that extensively, it may also be recording everything Lamar sees and hears. Which means, of course, that my existence and hideouts are completely exposed if that data falls into the wrong hands. That increases his priority for us. We need to keep an eye on him. Make sure he’s safe. Make sure we’re safe.”
“I completely understand.”
Lamar is still unconscious on the hospital bed, his eyes closed but not moving whatsoever other than reflexive breathing and heartbeats. Whatever happened to him in the years since we last met, they couldn’t be good. I wish we had the capability to do some full investigation into what happened to him, how he got a computer embedded into his skull.
“What are we going to do with him for now?”
“Well, I’ll keep him for another day or two,” R8PR says. “I’ll run some tests, perform some more binary signaling towards the AI, and figure out a way to at least trap the AI in a program loop so it can’t harm him as much anymore. What I did last time obviously wasn’t good enough. But it was also exceedingly simple– it was the same shutdown request signal that any designated robot can tell to another, and clearly this isn’t any designated robot.”
“Still, robots are stupid and predictable,” I say. “You’ll figure it out.”
“I know I will.”
So much has changed these past few years in Lamar’s life. The last time I saw him, he wore a confident grin and held a firm grip on his life. Now, with all of that gone, I wonder what will happen with the rest of his life.
Same as always, I’ll be there to help whatever he needs. I’ll make sure that I get it done, because he deserves as much.
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