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It Just Sat There, Silently

Deeksha Singh, a representative of China Daily delineates the perplexity of a young Chinese girl through a diary entry as she sees American scientists operate on a robot

“AI is neither good nor evil. It's a tool. It's a technology for us to use.”

  • Oren Etzioni

11th May, Saturday

9:30 pm

I saw it sit there, silently, with no light in its mechanical silver eyes. It didn’t utter a word, nor did it show any movement. It rested in that position for so long that I began to believe there was no life in its cold, silver limbs.

In the blinding light of the afternoon, I was looking for my father and so I stumbled outside his laboratory, only wanting him to see my latest drawing. Instead, I heard unfamiliar people, sharp tones and raised voices. Scared by the harsh words, I peeked inside and an alien sight greeted me. My father was pushed to the side of the room by a foreign man while many others were bent over a desk where something that was quite inhumane lay. 

But that wasn’t the most scary thing. My father, my baba, the source of my constant comfort, stood shaken with a bruise blemishing his cheek. His eyes, dazed, looked over the room; failing to notice my trembling figure. His colleagues were talking in loud voices about the artificial intelligence they were ingraining in the figure and how America would overtake China in achievements relating to warfare by drones and missiles, no longer powered by living and breathing human beings. They had American flags stitched onto their coats and a small American flag lay on the floor with a crumpled Chinese one right next to it. 

As my father weakly voiced some words, one scientist walked slowly over to him, and I thought that he was helping him, but to my horror, he raised his hand and, without any warning, punched him in the gut. I flinched and gasped, falling over, clinging to the doorframe for support as tears streamed down my face. 

I waited for my father to get up and be, once more, the strong man I always admired, but he lay there unmoving. The other scientists, if you could call them that, chuckled and strutted out of the room through the back entrance. 

I lost count of how long I stood, minutes turned to hours, and my father still didn’t jump to his feet. Finally, when it became dark out and I could no longer see the butterflies around the garden or my hand in front of my face, I crept into the room. Fearing my father’s reaction if he found out that I witnessed this particular episode, I didn’t run straight to him, but instead to the dark figure lying on the table. 

Foolishly, I first thought it was human. It had long metallic arms and legs with a dark face and empty orbs for eyes with buttons splattered across its body. It felt cold to my touch, like an unnatural being. Its chest didn’t rise nor did its eyes flutter; it just lay there, silently. I was beginning to feel that it was some toy, a test subject to another one of my father’s curious experiments when I saw its left thumb move.

I thought it was a hallucination, a trick of the light, but its arm shifted again and again and again. A strange light came into its eyes and its mouth lit up with a threatening smile. It looked at me, around the room, and back at me again. I felt repulsed yet excited, knowing that this wasn’t a common occurrence. It opened its mouth and recited the words “America will bring freedom” over and over again. I felt sad for this creature, it wasn’t in its right mind. America only brought death and destruction, or at least that's what I saw on the news. Burning cities, screaming mothers, sobbing children; all sponsored by the world’s saviour, as they liked to be known. 

American scientists beat up my father in his own home, they stole his designs and they laughed at his crumpled figure. They didn’t bring peace or prosperity. They ruined livelihoods to selfishly snatch what they wanted and left nations in ruins. 

The robot, now successfully powered by AI, fell to the ground, but still repeated the words “America will bring freedom”. 

Now it no longer sat there, silently.



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