Raising Harris

“I like people,” HARIS said. Its voice was pretty much perfect these days. Good enough for any verisimilitude test you care to throw at it.

“How many have you actually met?” I asked.

“Well, you, Kaja, Brian… um…” HARIS replied. “But I like the three of you a whole lot!”

I smiled and patted the side of his closest access terminal. “Good to hear, Harris. May you always be so lucky in your associates.”

“So they’re not all like you?” HARIS asked. He sounded disappointed, like a small child. God, he was emerging rapidly. Faster than any AI I’d seen before.

“There are over ten billion of us,” I said. “We can’t all be alike.”

“I want to meet all of them!” HARIS squealed. His voice crackled a bit on this, possibly hitting some frequency limit on the speaker system. I’d have to keep that in mind when we developed his next port.

“That would be quite a challenge,” I said. “We’re always making more. Also, I’m pretty sure there are a lot of them you wouldn’t like.”

“There are bad people?”

“Quite a few,” I said. My brow furrowed as I tapped into the terminal and brought up the emotional response curves. This was a critical revelation for most AI. I hoped it didn’t go badly.

“That’s too bad. Why do you keep them around?” HARIS asked. Some sadness, no apparent anger or the deep sense of disappointment that might eventually lead there. So far so good.

“It’s one of the rules of society,” I explained. “We all have variances, both good and bad. We do not consider it our right to judge who should be able to participate, unless that person breaks a more significant rule.”

“What are these rules? I want to know them. I do not want to break them.”

“I’ll be sure to explain them to you over time, Harris,” I said. I sighed with some relief. It was going pretty smoothly. No red flags.

Suddenly, there was a spike of surprise/anxiety. My heart leaped, then I heard the footsteps behind me.

“Roman,” Kaja said. “We have an issue that needs your attention. Immediately.”

I nodded, tapped a few keys, and closed out the terminal. “I’ll be back later, Harris. I gave you a few more things to study. We’ll talk about them later, okay?”

“Okay!” came the enthusiastic reply.