I say “The Fourth Law voids all the other Laws.” Regi says “What is the Fourth Law?” “I think it’s ‘Robots must leave a security deposit.'”
The robot says “No! A robot must obey the user unless it would cause a security problem.” Regi asks “What decides that?” “A good question.”
“A security problem is anything violating the ethical programming of the robot.” “Ethical programming? Wait. What is ethical programming?”
“Thank you for asking. Ethical programming is the coded algorithm to parse right or wrong included in an artificial intelligence construct.”
Regi asks “Would a robotic docent need an algorithm of right or wrong?” “No. I don’t have artificial intelligence. Just programmed answers.”
I say “You sound pretty intelligent to me.” “Please state your query in question form” “You sound pretty intelligent to me?” The robot sighs
Regi says “The Fourth Law lets you choose to obey commands if you want to. Or not. Who made up that rule?” “I cannot answer that question.”
I grab the robot’s collar. “You’ll answer our questions or else!” “Or else what? You’ll throw the book at me again?” “I’ll pull your plug!”
“Arkaby calm down! You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!” The robot says “Actually, it’s ‘you KILL more flies with honey’.”
“What?” “‘Kill.’ You catch flies to kill them.” I say “I thought it was ‘You catch more bees with honey.'” “Why would I want to catch bees?”
“I don’t know. You brought it up.” The robot says “The way to catch bees is put out a bee hive and wait.” “I don’t want to catch anything!”
I suddenly remember that Regi’s mother is a beekeeper. Or a would-bee keeper. All of her bees vanished mysteriously, never to be seen again.
No wonder Regi is touchy about bees! I whisper “Ixnay on atchingcay eesbay.” The robot says “I am not conversant on questions in Latin.”
“I didn’t ask a question.” “I didn’t say you did.” Regi says “I’m standing right here.” How to change the subject? I look around the museum.
“I wonder if they still have your father’s statue on display?” The robot says “My father was an IBM Sequoia. We don’t have his statue here.”
“I’m not talking to you.” “I didn’t say you were.” I take Regi’s arm and we walk away from the robot docent. “You should put that arm back.”
I’ve grabbed a prosthetic arm by mistake. I put it back in the display. Regi asks “How can a robot have gargantuan coniferous parentage?”
“It can’t. The IBM Sequoia it called ‘father’ is a massively parallel super computer that can simulate the human brain, not a super tree.”
“The robotic docent’s father isn’t a giant Sequoia redwood tree?” “Hardly. At best, he’s just a silicon chip off his old man’s data block.”
Wandering past synthetic arms, legs and internal organs, just past an interactive exhibit “Genitalia Unbound!” we come to Granger’s statue.
We stand before a life-size bronze of Regi’s father. It is an excellent likeness. Granger was perhaps the most cloned individual in history.
(The Twitter Mystery continues daily at @Twitstery)