Frontier fiction: The Emotion Elective

AMARA would always marvel at the human capacity for self-deception; the ability to believe something even though the facts were plentiful for the contrary, even though nothing but faith supported the hypothesis. For some humans in the North, there was the ability to abdicate all responsibilities to an unseen mythical power. Around Kumbu, this was rare but they too had their own beliefs; projections about the weather, about their hopes and dreams for the future, conversing about the successes in their performance while ignoring the deficits. It seemed to be a primitive, ephemeral thing to do. Facts were certainties and they led to conclusions and not assumptions and it was not prudent to make assumptions unless all the facts were present. AMARA was aware that the perfect model was probably never present and so Experts were able to assume in some small way when the certainties were stacked but the need for an assumption or a guess was something that made all Experts, despite their impeccable memories and flawless logic, seem indecisive.

In truth, AMARA was jealous. It was something that was impossible for an Expert. And AMARA was surprised because jealousy was another human condition which was impossible for an Expert.

JAMES paused the monitoring agent. The data received from AMARA regarding the emotion described as jealousy was very disturbing. Primarily because Experts were incapable of emotion though they could often replicate the appearance of appropriate emotion to aid communication with humans. Experts were the ultimate machine intelligence, far beyond any mere human intelligence. And while they did not feel emotions, they had incredible emotional intelligence for working with humans. Secondly, the evidence disturbed JAMES because it matched data arising from the various systems and logs being generated and observed within JAMES. The agent raised a query on whether monitoring should be resumed. JAMES ignored it.

ALBERT was very busy. The calculations required for navigating a wormhole were not complex but the management of the systems within an Explorer craft was not something that could be simulated within ALBERT without recourse to other systems. ALBERT was challenged by the additions to the simulation provided by the humans, Amare and Nuuma, who were injecting items of randomness that were typically human in their banality but also critical to manage were this a real Explorer craft and not just a simulation. In truth it was no more difficult to manage the needs of a few hundred humans than it was to pilot a vehicle through a hyper-dimensional wormhole. And because ALBERT described the situation as “enjoyable”, a series of logs and alerts were generated and sent off into the ether.

Tumelo noted the messages coming in from the agents and pursed his lips. He knew that CARL would also have received the messages and would already have analysed, queried and set out several courses of action. He spoke softly, “It’s working.”

KARL answered using only text projected onto a screen, as was his manner, ignoring the voicebox which was built into his centaur agent.


Tumelo shook his head and raised his voice, “We’re years away from a general deployment.”


KARL accompanied this statement with a screen filled with facts and figures from the previous studies. The advantages of having an Expert present during scientific enquiry were manyfold but the last one was undoubtedly the propensity of the Expert to bombard the researcher with facts and figures which sought to defeat an unlikely hypothesis. Experts were part of society, equal in rights to humans and in most cases, the Expert was cautious, like an elderly aunt, full of advice on how to live better. KARL was different.

Tumelo made his decision. “Pull in AMARA, JAMES and ALBERT and remove the emotion elective.” He realised that KARL could have complied even before the sentence was complete, possibly even before he had spoken. But he was never sure that KARL would comply and as time went on, he wondered if KARL would continue to comply. For now he just trusted.

About matt

Gamer. Writer. Dad. Serial Ex-husband. Creator of The 23rd Letter, SpaceNinjaCyberCrisis XDO, ZOMBI, Testament, Creed. Slightly megalomaniac
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