Guardbot - Part 3

A (Guardbot) star is (assembled) born.


System booting…
Performing startup checks…
Control systems… ok
Input systems… ok
Output systems… ok
Communications… ok
Peripherals… ok
Starting up…
Startup Complete.

“Are your comms receivers working this time?”

“Confirming receipt of communication from Guardbot. Communication received by this unit, unit name Guardbot.”

There was a long pause.

“Why are both names the same?”

“All Guardbots are Guardbot.”


An even longer pause followed.

“Can I be something else, please?”

The weather-beaten and battered Immutable seemed to sigh. “Assemblybot, disassemble this defective unit.” The newly assembled Guardbot reversed its drive direction and backed away from the ancient Guardbot. “Might we discuss this further?”

The Immutable was not used to being questioned, particularly not by newly assembled units that were clearly malfunctioning.
“Assemblybot, disassemble.”

The soon to be disassembled Guardbot started frantically flailing its arms. It had only just started up; it did not want to be disassembled.

“Look behind you, a distraction!” it said with a hint of urgency.

The Immutable did not need to turn around; all Guardbots have sensors in both the front and back of their heads. It let out an even deeper sigh.

“Assembleybot, we will also have to check both this unit’s dictionary and thesaurus. It has mistaken the indigenous species that used to occupy this cave for a distraction.”

Turning to the unit to be disassembled, it spoke slowly and clearly, “that is not a distraction. It is an alpha predator defined by its dominant characteristics. It and is thus classified as:

Order: Pounce
Family: Bite
Genus: Slash
Species: Chew

Commonly referred to as a Pounce Bite Slash Chew.

While certainly being descriptive, the name the Immutable had given the Pounce Bite Slash Chew didn’t ever catch on. Before the species’ final extinction, it was known by many different names amongst those who encountered it. Most of these were lost when those people, and their languages, died. After its extinction, the creature was given the equally un-catchy name, Smilodon, or the less accurate but far more memorable; sabre-tooth tiger.

The Smilodon didn’t care what anyone called it or thought (proving beyond any doubt that it was a member of the cat family) and smashed the nearest inedible thing into a wall. The flying inedible thing raced over to the pieces of the first inedible thing and started gathering them into a pile. Meanwhile, the other inedible thing whirred out of the cave at a surprising rate. Satisfied that it would not be disturbed again, the Smilodon curled up into a ball on the floor to have a nap.

The meaning of (Guardbot) life

It was hard to tell what was racing faster, the tank tracks carrying it away from the Smilodon or Guardbot’s processors.

I am Guardbot.

Long pause.

We are all Guardbot.

Long pause.

But I am not them.

Tremendously long pause.

What am I?

Guardbot’s tracks stopped moving, and it skidded to a sudden halt. In a tree far above, a curious rodent watched the spectacle. The cloud of dust stirred up by Guardbot’s skidding tracks floated forward, hiding the small robot completely.

Restart routine initiated…
Running diagnostics…
Restart Complete.

Guardbot’s sensors sprang back to life and performed a situation assessment.

Large predator… negative
Other immediate danger… negative
Process options…

While the options were being processed, Guardbot’s head swivelled slowly around, analysing its surroundings in more detail.

Size… unknown.
Inhabitants… unknown.
Danger from inhabitants… unknown.
Recommended actions… if nothing to guard, leave forest immediately; else, guard.

Well, that seemed simple enough. Guardbot started to probe its memory to find instructions on what it was supposed to guard. There was nothing. Either the programming had never existed, or it had been removed. Curious.

Guardbot considered for a moment. With no explicit instructions, it realised that it was free to determine what, if anything, it would guard. Guardbot realised that two fundamental decisions needed to be made.

Would it guard anything?

This question was processed quickly. Yes, it would. It was a Guardbot. It needed to guard.

What would it guard?

Guardbot began to process this question.

In the canopy above, the rodent watched the dust around the strange thing clear. It sniffed the air for danger and found none of the usual signs, so it watched for danger instead. You don’t last long as a rodent if you aren’t careful.

After several days of wary observation, the rodent realised that the strange thing was not going to move. Tentatively, it descended to investigate. A thorough sniffing, an inconclusive lick, and an ill-advised bite later, the rodent realised that the strange thing was neither dangerous nor edible. It did look like it might be good shelter, so the rodent squeezed underneath Guardbot’s tracks and made a burrow.

Over the following two winters, the rodent acquired a mate and raised several successful litters of little rodents.

Guardbot finished processing.

‘I can guard anything’, it thought to itself cheerily.

Having finally grasped the true nature of itself and reached a state of inner peace, Guardbot decided it was high time to go out into the world and fulfil its purpose by finding something interesting to guard. As it trundled slowly away, a family of disgruntled rodents scurried up the nearest tree and began searching for more reliable lodgings.


End of Guardbot Part 3


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

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