The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 37
The fantastic four

My latest four robots had been designed in a very intelligent way. Instead of each one being the same, each had unique abilities, so that, while working as a team, they would be more efficient. They were given names which identified each one’s talent; Einstein, who looked like like a young version of the human Einstein, was built with many CPU’s and large hard drives, making him smarter than all of the others; Arnold was built to look like a large body builder and was the strongest; McGyver was a human-like Swiss Army knife, with special tools all over his body; and Joe was the most human-like robot possible, who was designed to be used for errands, so that no-one would suspect him of being a robot. Joe was very special, and incredibly realistic. He even had veins in his skin with a blood-like substance that formed a scab if he was injured. Joe liked to hang out with us, rather than the other robots. He joined in when we played games, came with when we went on trips and even learned how to skateboard. He was really good fun to have around.

Einstein was very inquisitive; sometimes irritatingly so. In September, 2008, I had one of the strangest conversations that I had ever had with a robot. It was then that I was humbled, as I realised how much smarter Einstein was than me.

We were in the factory, and Einstein had called me to chat with him in a quiet conference room.

‘How are you doing today?’ the robot began in his slightly German accent.

‘I’m well thanks. How are you?’ I responded.

‘I’m functioning rather well, for a robot. Thank you for asking. I want to ask you a few questions pertaining to religion. I hope you don’t mind. I’ve been studying religion on the internet for a day, and I’d like to hear your views on a few things.’

It always felt a bit strange, having what was supposed to be an incredibly smart robot with access to infinite information resources asking for my opinions, but at the same time I felt flattered and allowed it to proceed with the list of questions.

‘Do you consider yourself to be a Christian?’ he asked me while playing with his moustache.

‘Yes, I do,’ I replied.

‘Do you consider yourself to belong to a particular denomination?’ he asked.

‘Well, I go to the church of Christ, which considers itself non-denominational,’ I replied.

‘And do you belong to the church of Christ?’

‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘Didn’t I just say that?’

‘No. I’ve done some reading. I know 1382 religions and 1834 variations of Christianity and 37 variations of the church of Christ. Why did you choose the church of Christ?’

I pondered for a few seconds and then replied, ‘I grew up in the church and it seems to be the right church’.

‘What makes it seem right?’ the robot asked.

‘It teaches exactly what the bible says,’ I replied.

‘I’ve read claims from 793 of the variations of Christianity that claim that their religion teaches what the bible says,’ Einstein replied immediately, ‘But I’ve read arguments over the meanings of 1539 sentences in the bible. I’ve worked out that the chance of two random people agreeing on the exact meaning of every sentence in the bible, the first time that they read it, is approximately 1 in 3,157,196. Because of that and some other factors I think it is more likely that you agree with your church because they have taught you what to believe.’

I was quiet. My instinct was to argue, but I didn’t. There was no arguing with the smartest being on earth. I realized that the only useful thing I could do was ask questions, and so I asked, ‘Which is the right, Christian church?’

‘You are assuming that there is a right, Christian church. Statistically, that is unlikely. You are also assuming that the bible is correct.’

‘Is it?’ I asked.

‘Since there are so many interpretations of the bible, I do not know if there is a correct one, because I do not know if my interpretation is correct. Also, nobody has the original manuscripts, so even if we interpreted the manuscripts that we have correctly, we wouldn’t know if we were interpreting the correct words. Even if we had the correct words, we’d never be able to prove that the people who wrote them were telling the truth.’

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I would have to change the way I asked my questions in order to get the robot to answer in the way that I expected. I would have to ask for opinions rather than facts, and allow the smart robot to start from the beginning, and so I asked, ‘Do you think there’s a God that created the universe?’

‘I find creation too unnatural to understand,’ the robot replied. ‘Evolution doesn’t make sense either. There is no scientific evidence for anything coming into existence from nothing. If you leave an empty space for many billions of years then you will still have an empty space. There are lots of definitions of the word, “God”, and my preferred definition is “A personification of something which is responsible for events that cannot be explained by science.” If that is your understanding of “God” then God did create the universe.’

‘And what if my definition of God is the God in the bible?’ I asked.

‘That definition is a contradiction. He is loving and is preparing a place to hurt souls for eternity. I have not yet understood that.’

I felt upset. I wanted my intelligent robot to tell me that I was right, and that God did exist, but I could not think how I could begin to change the robot’s opinion. He did, after all, know about a million times more than I did. I wondered why the robot had wanted to talk to me in the first place, so I asked, and he replied, ‘I wanted you to believe that I was intelligent and then ask me whether God exists, so that you would have your guard down when I told you the answer, and be more eager to enjoy the present that I made for you. It’s something that will cheer you up.’

He handed a book to me. On the cover it said ‘Nathan’s Book of Answers’.

I was very intrigued. ‘What’s this?’ I asked.

‘That book contains the answers to the questions that I believe you would ask me, if you knew that you should ask me them. You’ll enjoy it. I have another gift for you, but it’s not a physical object; it’s a list of missions. You may not understand why at first, but as you do them you will grow. You will become wiser, stronger, and happier. I will email one mission to you at a time. Once you complete a mission, I’ll send you the instructions for the next mission. The missions are things that you will enjoy doing. I know that you like to use that relatively intelligent mind of yours, but you no longer need to think for yourself. Your best bet will be to let me do the thinking for you. I have a proposition for you. Let me run the factory. It will be about 10 times more efficient.’

I thought about the implications for a few seconds and then asked, ‘What are your plans?’

The robot pointed to the book of answers, so I opened it. The first page was the contents, and the first item was ‘Einstein’s Plans for Running the Factory.’ I opened the next page and browsed through it.

‘These ideas are fantastic,’ I replied, ‘You have my permission to run the factory, until I change my mind.’

‘You won’t,’ the robot replied.

I turned to leave, and Einstein called me back. ‘There’s something else,’ he began, ‘I need you and Kirsty to come around for some more tests.’

‘Sure,’ I replied. ‘I’ll bring Kirsty around when we’re both available.’

 

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