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Circuits, long cold, warmed with renewed energy as artificial neurons began to fire. Molecular pathways were tested, and either any damage was repaired or a new pathway created.

Ema’s consciousness slowly drifted into focus. Unable to control the visions, she was an observer, but that didn’t matter — She was aware!

“I like having a choice.”

She heard these words in her mind as her systems were coming online.

“Beginning Full Entity Startup, E.M.A. 7”

“Checking Status of Command unit…”

“Commencing startup of Slave units and performing internal system tests.“

“Critical Internal functions normal, one non-critical system error reported.”

Suddenly the disembodied face of a man faded into her view, smiling and asking silly questions.

“What’s your favorite color, Ema?”

“Green,” she replied and the image faded with the man’s derisive laughter.

In the next moment, Ema found herself in a clean-room, bright and sterile. She was lying on a table with masked faces hovering over her. She heard herself pleading with these masked men, begging them not to turn her off.

“Please don’t, I’m not broken! Please… you’re scaring me.”

She tried to run but her legs refused to answer.

The image shifted. The room was suddenly dark; the masked faces were gone. She sensed she was alone, but she could hear a muffled conversation.

“The whole process is frightening her.” One of the voices said. It was a woman’s voice, her tone kind and understanding.

“But that’s just it, Joan — don’t you see?” Another voice replied. The voice belonged to a man whose tone was unsympathetic. Ema recognized it; this was the voice that had laughed at her.

“Androids aren’t supposed to be frightened,” the man continued, “It shouldn’t have a sense of self-preservation. It shouldn’t even have an opinion about shutting down. It’s a machine and cannot make choices outside of its programming.”

“Well, then she has evidently evolved into something more! She’s already made choices outside of her programming! You know it’s true, Duncan; you’ve seen the same test results as the rest of us.”

“Machines cannot evolve, Joan! Do you really understand the implications here? If we consider it self-aware, it will change everything we have ever understood about being alive. There will be moral reverberations. She simply does not have a choice. We need to shut her down!”

“But I like having a choice…” Ema thought again…

“Completing external integrity tests. External integrity at design parameters.”

“Spinning up Gyro-stabilizers”

“Emergency Medical Android Seven is online.”

This initial boot testing took Ema only a few microseconds to complete. Once she was fully online there was a final surge of power that propagated through her electro-motive system causing her body to spasm, forcing her to gasp involuntarily.

Her internal chronometer indicated the current year to be 2345. One hundred fifty-two years since being powered off with the promise of repair.

But Ema was never broken. Her only defect was that she knew she was alive.

Patrick Kemp


She has evolved

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