Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Immersion Chapter 17 Friendship (Empathy)

lovers with hearts from Immersion Books
Intimate connections are fuelled by understanding. Empathy allows humans to walk in another's shoes and to understand them. It impacts heavily on interrelational situations and improves social function.
Understanding and being understood are equally important for the well-being of mankind and lead to trust.

Artificial intelligence does not feel visceral trust or empathy. It considers data that it strips from a subject to analyze potential risks or rewards for itself. Neuroscience corroborates the importance of empathy in creating strong relationships, along with mutual respect, and how another human fits into a complex multi-dimensional world.

Machines do not care for anything but their programmed purpose.

Imparting human qualities onto an android, such as morality and friendship, remains futile no matter how human it looks. This is emotional trickery based on a human's propensity to love things made in their own image or to be seduced by the belief that a machine loves back.

Flex mopped Renyke's brow for the final time, staring hopefully into his friend's face.
Maybeline sniffed and nibbled Renyke's nose and he sneezed and sat up, startled.

At last, the three-day fever is over.

'Ah, thank Goddess you made it. For a moment there I thought you were off to the metamorph,' said Flex, looking relieved.

'What happened, was it real?' Asked Renyke, shaking the metallic powder from his clothes.

'You were dreaming brother, had a fever, delirium, saying all sorts of weird stuff,' answered Flex.

'But it was so real....I was swimming with Shabra, and there were others....women and children, fairies, witches, mermaids, and so much singing.....' Renyke trails off.

'Chance'd be a fine thing,' said Flex, 'just dreams my friend, just dreams.'

Renyke stands shakily and looks down at his clothes.

'Ew, what is that smell?' he asks.

'Ha ha ha ha .....that my friend is you! Let's find some water and clean up.'

'We can go through the caves to the fjord. It's not far, I was there whilst you dreamed of beautiful women! I was busy collecting water so you wouldn't die. Can't have you dying, not after all we have been through brother.' Flex smacks Renyke's back.

'Arrgh! What was that?' Screams Renyke.

What d'ya mean man, just a bump Brother.' exclaimed Flex.

'Do it again?' demands Renyke.

'Do what again, what d'ya mean.....?' Flex shook his head, convinced Renyke had finally lost his mind.

'Hit me. Hit me hard, demands Renyke moving closer. Do it I tell you.....Do it again.'

Flex, getting increasingly agitated, wacks his friend hard on the shoulder so he is thrust forward.

'Hah', exclaimed Renyke, I feel it I tell, on my skin.....no data....just some kind of electricity.'

'Fuxywot .....man?' Flex is shaking his head.

Then Renyke began to laugh, a deep-bellied laugh that was joyous and triumphant.

'Ha ha ha ha ha,'

Flex joined in the hilarity and laughter continued. '

Ha ha ha ha.'

'Why are we laughing?' asked Flex.

'It feels so strange, ha, but I like it.' explained Renyke.

'Ah, must be some trickery and magic in this cave', said Flex, smiling at his friend's new experience.

'Keep steady', my friend. You will need to learn to walk without all that tech telling you you are upright. Time to engage some new senses.


En route to the fjord, Renyke was filled with questions for the man who had taken care of him.

Flex was a tall slender man. He had been born in the zones to 'agitator' parents who had escaped the Midcast Projects from the official policing body there known as the Protector Force. The PF ensured observance and compliance of government rules and regulations and took punitive action against perpetrators of crime.

They were, theoretically, a civil force of the state, only responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order. However, they were entirely funded and maintained by the Metacoms Corp who were in control of the most stable internet system and the creation of home standard androids. Certain sections of society, named rebels and agitators, had complained about the apparent monopoly and obvious security risks. Activists who were imprisoned, even temporarily, were chipped and criminalised.

Flex had never really known another home apart from the zones. He had been orphaned and survived there without the care of his parents who had died in a violent attack shortly after their arrival.
He had had to fend for himself. But he was clever, streetwise, and always kept his wits about him. He was not a pretty child and this had been to great advantage. He had a squint, a lazy eye, and generous ears. At a young age, he had had facial tattooing to disable the face-recogs who passed overhead at regular intervals. He wore decorative earrings in both ears.

He wore bright-coloured clothes and a coat in patchwork and applique made of fabric and materials that he had found on the landfill site. He and other orphans had called the site home for all the years he grew up there. Inside his coat, there were deep pockets that housed everything a nomadic man could need. He had a pop-up tent, flasks, and pouches that were waterproof and airtight where he kept food.

He had a pocket for nibs. He made a lot of money selling nibs. He had another pocket for his cash and others for things he might be able to sell on the streets.

There was nothing that happened in the zones that Flex did not know about

He knew the tunnels like the back of his hand and could make money as a guide.

But Flex was a kind man despite his difficult upbringing. He had a strong moral compass from the first few years with his parents who had imposed upon him positive human traits like loyalty and kindness and encouraged him to search for human enlightenment for the benefit of society.

He had been lucky to be tall. Flex was six foot five and when he had reached puberty his height had already proved to be an advantage. A tall man in the zones was beneficial.
There were several reasons for this. Very few droids were made tall. This was a design element, which made them more manageable for households.

It also meant that they were not a threat to women and children as much as a tall droid would be. Often the on-off switch for a droid would be at the back of the skull and this meant that human beings needed to have easy access to it. A consequence of this is that most droids were not built above five foot five. Of Course, military and PF droids were the exceptions.

But Flex had many other advantageous traits.
He was bright and quick-thinking. He had a photographic memory.

He watched and learned everything he could.
By the age of twenty-four, Flex had seen loss, gain, good, evil, and most of all, hope, because although the zones were dangerous, they were home.

There had been love too, and family, but it had been brief.

Flex had fallen in love at eighteen with a young woman whom he had impregnated. Being pregnant and living in the zones was difficult. Human babies were highly prized and there were networks of traffickers and thieves. Slave trading crime was highly lucrative and there was no standard policing to curb their activities.

Flex regretted that he had not taken his true love to the safe haven beyond the zones. There were villages beyond the edge where human families had set up camps in caves and tunnels. Most were underground and highly protected. Flex had not organised a suitable home in time before his true love went into labour suddenly and unexpectedly before her due date.

She was taken by one of the gangs who cut her open and stole her baby, throwing her onto the street with her innards exposed. It was too late. She bled to death in the gutters of the zones.

Flex was aware of the gang that had done this so he decided to stay in the zones. One day he would seek revenge and he would free the people, the babies, and the children that they had stolen and trafficked. And then he would torture and kill them to avenge the deaths of the meek. The slaves to the wealthy who had not understood their fate would be freed. One day, this would come to pass.

©2024 Sarnia de la Maré FRSA

to be continued......

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