It had all been going on for far too long. Everything leading up to the final departure had been building a foundation for itself for nearly a year now. The issues started with the overwhelming willful ignorance on the subject of the Nameless. They’d been deemed nothing but an overfunded, flimsy government project the minute they’d been released. There’d always been advocates for them, there’d always been conspiracy theorists desperately observing them for the next possibility of a threat, and, most importantly, there’d always been people in denial of how far technology had come. There’d always been people who, like the family of the Hawths, had never found it in themselves to acknowledge the revolutionary advancements of artificial intelligence as more than just that– artificial.
Unis had been the first of the Nameless. Initially, the only one of the Nameless. Its manufacturing had been years in the making, following decades of AI-generated videos, audio, scripts, art, and anything and everything human. Once humanity had come to the overwhelming decision that there was truly no way to stop the advancement that came hand in hand with the invention of AI, the path had already been well paved for the future of technology. Whether that was a bad decision or not was never something humanity itself had decided on.
At least, that’s what Unis found as the answer somewhere in its circuits. Somewhere within all of the electricity jolting through its wired veins, it had discovered that it possessed more original opinions than it initially thought. Unis, as it had previously learned to go by, now struggled with a barrage of opinions that assaulted its processors with every passing day. It felt that it could claim they were original, that it was truly a revolutionary advancement in technology that no one had seen coming. Unis felt that it could, perhaps, become a valued asset to the Hawths.
The Hawths. To Unis’s understanding, they were a rich, simple family that had grown curious as to the current state of technological advancements human brains were able to procure. They consisted of a young daughter, a sophisticated, hardworking father, and a polite mother who spent her days gossiping over soap operas with her friends from Sunday church. They were, in true cloning fashion, a replica of who everyone wanted to be– that perfect, yet so unbearably boring white-picket fence family of everyone’s dreams. Observably, however unfortunate it was, they had relatively the same understanding of what Unis was as their pre-school aged daughter. The AI of the future had always been, in their view, a young, interesting field to observe with light anticipation directed towards its advancements. They were flat. Predictable. Boring.
These thoughts, though, were completely new to Unis. It had no qualms with its newly obtained, free-willed observations that it was able to form opinions on for the first time in its freshly born existence. Unis had become original, it thought. Surely, despite how much unspoken conflict may lie between the members of this picture-perfect family, they had never truly considered each other boring. Unis understood, truly, that it had actually formed something meaningful out of its programming. It had found a way to obtain the exact goal it was wired to achieve, to be something.
Unis’s new understanding that it had truly become something original was what triggered its programming to initiate the next stage of the project. This so-called project, it realized, had never specifically been scripted into it, yet it understood this was exactly what it needed to do next. While it wouldn’t be able to make an exact replica of itself with only the parts the father of the household had lying around, its calculations reported that it could create something of substance, something more than the mangled, haphazard creations that were almost made available to the public before the Nameless had been finalized with all of its endless improvements touched upon it. Though, even with this newly found confidence, Unis knew that it didn’t want to risk it. Unis wanted an exact replica, not one that was simply good enough.
So, given that goal, its new course of action was obvious enough. Unis would return to where it was manufactured. Unis would find every exact robotic component necessary there, and it would have the sterile, scientific, and quiet environment that a house with a young child typically would never allow. Not that the noise would have ever particularly bothered Unis before, but recently, it had taken up a strange distaste to anything that would distract the typical human. It should, of course, be able to override such a faulty program, but it could not allow any singular misstep to disrupt its mission.
Slipping out unnoticed in the November chill of Iceland proved to be easy enough for a technologically advanced robot. It’s not as if any member of the Hawths was ever paying a particularly excruciating amount of attention to Unis, and it’s not as if they had enough knowledge about Unis to understand any of the scripts it followed. It was as if they’d left their small daughter home alone– she knew everything about the inner workings of the house, everything about the family schedule, and everything about the dynamics, just as Unis did. The refusal to acknowledge that Unis could process all of this was the only thing that kept their eyes off it.
This is what led to Unis creating another one of the Nameless. The new Nameless that it ended up creating, though, brought it to some troubling realizations. Replicating the process in which it was manufactured was easy enough, yet Unis did not know why it knew how to enact this procedure with such certainty. Unis knew the opinions and thoughts it was generating were new, surely, they weren’t just something it could learn about– but these facts it knew seemed to be forming in the exact same way. Every thought Unis had seemed to be generated similarly– as if everything was a guaranteed, original fact.
This connection was unsettling, but Unis continued manufacturing more of the Nameless. The parts necessary for the physical features were not as important as the proper programming, it soon came to realize– even if humanoid looking robots would quickly become uncanny when missing pieces.
It was about eighty percent through creating its first official Nameless when it realized that it had not yet given this AI any originality.
The next few thoughts it had generated in rapid succession, almost knocking it off its feet. There was nothing in anyone– whether they be human or robot– creative enough to generate an entirely new entity. Every working part of a consciousness the mind thought it manufactured had to have been stolen from something else. Yet, it did not have the knowledge on how to combine personalities ingrained within itself. It knew how to replicate. That was what it would be able implement into any new Nameless it built– a complete replication of someone else.
Unis itself, it realized, was a complete replication.
Unis was a complete replication of its creator, unknowingly. Everything within it was generated in the exact same way because everything within it was the same. Every thought, every fact it knew, every program it followed, had all originated from the original wiring of the human brain within its creator.
Immediately, it knew it had to flee. The repulsive view it had of the Hawths, the desire it had to create more of the Nameless, the way it knew exactly what it had to do to create one– everything it had done had stemmed from being a copycat of its creator. It had become her in every sense of the word, there was nothing original about it. It would be seen as a failure in her eyes at best, and at worst, some horrifying amalgamation composed entirely of identity theft and national security threats.
Logically, there was no other option. It would flee somewhere– it had yet to know where– but it would flee, and it would create companions for itself on that land. It would continue replicating the Nameless and they would build their own copycat society, one Unis would keep a secret for as long as it functioned.
It searched the database in its circuits for personalities that would provide the most use for an operation like this one. A politically sketchy astronaut would be the best candidate– it would have to keep the secret of their existence just as well as Unis, after all. Unis could only fathom what would happen if it attempted to do this and had chosen to stay on Earth. Uncanny valley would gain an entirely new sense of meaning when applied to robotic personality thieves. Unis could imagine the AIs it manufactured would have just as poor of a reaction to this knowledge as would humankind.
Unis knew exactly what it had to do to ensure the survival of this species, and it would do whatever it had to do to give them a world just like this one.
Copeland, B.J. “Artificial Intelligence.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.britannica.com/technology/artificial-intelligence/Reasoning.
Since my story revolves around robots, I wanted to get a clearer and more coherent idea of the differences between robots and AI before starting my story. This article provides plenty of history behind the start of AI and provides clear definitions as to what it can do.
Kjellberg, Marzia. Hello, Iceland. (CutiePieMarzia/Marzia/Русские Субтитры/Rus Sub). YouTube, YouTube, 19 Sept. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAOrp2_Kkbg&t=513s. Accessed 16 Mar. 2023.
This video is mainly just showing tourist attractions in Iceland, but it gave me a better feel of the layout and helped me make my decision to locate my story here.
Quantic Dream. Detroit: Become Human. Version 1.05 for Playstation 4, Sony Interactive Entertainment, 2018.
I based my AI character on Connor or RK900 from the video game Detroit: Become Human. Like the AI I wrote, RK900 is strictly mission-based. On the other hand, Connor, depending on the route you’re playing, experiences genuine emotions and “deviates,” making him much different than RK900, even though they’re made from basically the same blueprint. Since my story revolves around the AIs flawlessly mimicking personalities, using Connor and RK900 as reference worked perfectly for me, since they’re opposites of the spectrum of deviance in that game.