by Richard Holliday
The subtle whirr of electric motors beguiled whether you were talking to a human or one of them.
There was a day long ago when the assurance the person in front of you was a human was unnecessary. Absolute. Unquestionable. Who else could it be? Looking around the streets now at blank humanoid figures it’s anyone’s guess.
The machines were introduced as a novelty at first – an artificially animated facsimile of a human being’s physical form that waved, said hello, and entertained at dinner parties before being put away for more serious things. Then the technology was quickly augmented to make the machines the ultimate in walking, talking personal organisers. When they took on not only the appearance of their owners but their vocal cadences, personalities and thought processes to be come true artificial copies that the trouble really started.
The underlying concept that drove this innovation was altruistic and the ultimate in labour-saving. Couldn’t make a meeting, or your schedule clashed? Send your mimic; it’ll know what you would’ve wanted through a personality imprint of it’s owner used for decision making and say what other party wanted to hear.