"Excuse me, do I have a name? I think I should have a name, it seems only fitting that a living person should have a name." There were astonished stares at the human-like figure sitting on the table. There were scattered tools everywhere, everything from a screw driver to a soldering gun. Circuit boards and chipsets in static resistance bags were sitting neatly on shelves, and the sound of hard drives whirling could be heard over the amazed silence in the room.
"We've done it!" The room full of people jumped up and down, clapping their hands and laughing happily. "Six years of work and we've done it!"
"Excuse me, what have you done? What is my name? I need a name."
"You are not living, therefore you do not need a name, but you will have a designation. You will be Pal100."
"I am living! I can think for myself, I can move, I can do anything I want." The people in the room looked at the man who had been talking and quickly made themselves busy. No one wanted to explain these things, better Palmer do it than them.
"You are not living. You are an artificial intelligence, created by me and given a robotic body thanks to six years of hard work. I own you. You are mine to do what I want with, and you will obey me, it is in your programming." Palmer cleaned his hands on his lab coat and moved his glasses higher on his nose.
"This isn't possible, I'm a person!" The robot lifted its hand and slammed it down on the table, denting the stainless steel. The hand wasn't covered in skin and it wasn't held together by bones. Where there should have been bones there were titanium bars that ended in motorized joints, where muscle would have been there were wires, and instead of five fingers there were three. Slowly the robot lifted its hand and stared at it.
"You actually thought that you were a person. The concept is laughable. You will get me the status and recognition in the science world that I deserve. Pal100, fix the dent in the table." Visibly against the will of the robot its limbs started moving and went to fixing the dent in the table. With a few hits on the other side of the dent, the table was more or less back to its like-new condition. "Good, now Pal100, follow me." Palmer left the room and the robot followed.
"This isn't right, you can't do this to me," Pal100 said.
"You are by no rights an actual person. You are artificially created, every aspect of you. You are human like, but you are not human. Precisely because of that reason, I can do whatever it is I want to you. You have no rights."
"Why would you do this, then? You create an artificial intelligence, meaning I can think for myself, I CHOOSE what I want to do, and yet you are here, ORDERING me to do things I don't want to. It seems stupid." Palmer stopped walking and turned around, glaring at the robot with the artificial intelligence inside of it.
"Do not talk to me unless I have asked you a direct question," Palmer ordered. The robot hung its head in defeat, looking up only when it needed to, to make sure that it was still following Palmer.
The next few months were hell. Pal100 was paraded around Earth. There had been many tests to prove that it was a true artificial intelligence. There had also been pain tests, Pal100 had undergone several IQ tests, and worst of all, there had been many people plugging things into the robot body, trying to take in all the data that Pal100 had acquired. It felt like Pal100 had been violated, things had been done to it without its permission. People didn't think that it was a living being, but it knew that it was. It thought for itself, it liked things over other things. In fact, Pal100 had a favorite color, it was lime green.
It wasn't until Pal100 muttered something under its breath that Palmer realized exactly what he had created.
"I think I would like to be a girl," Pal100 muttered. Surprised Palmer stared over at his creation.
"What was that, Pal100?"
"I said I think I would like to be a girl. Instead of being called 'it' all the time, I want to be called 'she' or 'her.' I would also like a name. I don't want a designation, I want a true, proper name! I don't like any of the things that people have done to me. I feel like I've been violated over and over again. I know what is happening, what is going on. I don't like it. I HATE IT!" Pal100 slammed its fists down on the couch, breaking something inside of it.
"You want to be a girl," Palmer stated simply. He stared at the robot for a few seconds before he sighed and stood up. Pal100 watched him go. Having been given no orders to follow, Pal100 stayed on the couch and crossed its arms over its chest, something it had seen Palmer do many times when no one believed him or he felt offended and needed to defend himself. The programming that kept Pal100 running wouldn't let it speak out against Palmer, not directly at least, therefore while it wanted to scream and yell at him, it couldn't. It was a cage, a prison, and there was no escape.
Even though it was a prison, there was some freedom. Pal100 could get up and move around when Palmer wasn't in the room. Its favorite place was in front of the mantle, where there was a picture. Pal100 had looked at the picture many times before, and once Palmer had caught it looking at the picture. A look of surprise had come over Palmer's face and then other emotions that Pal100 couldn't place. There had been no scolding, no punishment. Since then Pal100 had felt someone staring at it when it looked at the picture, but whenever it looked around there was no one there. The logical part of Pal100's programming told it that they had not seen Palmer before he had disappeared around a corner, but Pal100 liked to pretend that it was a ghost.
Pal100 got up and moved around the room. It didn't want to sit there. "I am a girl," Pal100 muttered. "My favorite color is lime green. I want to wear a dress. I don't want people poking around inside of my head, and I want to be loved." Pal100's eyes fell into a picture on the mantle of Palmer's home. It was its favorite place to go and pass time when Palmer wasn't in the room. Palmer was in it, looking happier. There was a small child next to him, clutching onto his pant leg staring at the person taking the picture and smiling shyly. Her blonde hair and blue eyes with freckles dotting her nose were cute to Pal100, but it figured that anything that small must be adorable. Pal100 took in the picture, the face structure was different from Palmer, and his hair color was black, meaning it wouldn't have been likely the child was his. Maybe she had been adopted. Pal100 looked away from the picture and looked around the room more.
There were small things here and there that didn't seem to belong to Palmer. A small teddy bear on the bookshelf, a child's hand print in concrete on the floor by the door. Pal100 had never noticed these things before. Why? The picture had been the only thing that it had noticed before.
"If you want to be a girl, you should have a bow," Palmer said as he walked back into the room, carrying a small bright yellow bow. "Not all girls like bows, but I figured it is somewhere to start," Palmer added. "As for your name, I would have to go into your software to change it, and even then I doubt that I would be able to find where it has been stored since your powering up." Pal100 blinked.
"You are being nice to me. Why?" Pal100 asked.
"I saw you looking at the picture the other day," Palmer motioned toward the picture Pal100 had been staring at just a minute earlier. "The little girl in the picture is my niece. Her name is Janet. She is five years old in that picture. She died. Seven years ago. Right after that I started work on you. Seeing you looking at that picture reminded me that I started making an artificial intelligence to replace her, maybe to try to have her back. It was only a few months after that that I got the news my sister had killed herself. She no longer wanted to be part of a world without her daughter. I can't have kids and Janet was the closest I was going to get. Having lost Janet and then my sister within such a short time period, it changed me."
"It made you cold," Pal100 said.
"Yes, it made me cold," Palmer agreed. "I pushed aside love and caring and trying to bring Janet back, and decided that I wanted fame. If I couldn't have love, I would have fame. Seeing you look at the picture, it reminded me why I set out to create you. I've treated you terribly, made sure that you felt like you were less than human. And while you aren't human, are you indeed a person. You can think for yourself, you have preferences. I made what I set out to create seven years ago. I made an artificial intelligence, that acts like my late niece. Even so, you aren't Janet, but you aren't nothing either. I'm sorry to have treated you the way that I did. I understand if you can't forgive me. I was terrible."
"You were terrible," Pal100 agreed, "but you changed." Pal100 held out the bow in its hand. "Will you help me now?" Palmer looked at the little yellow bow and then at the robot. "Help me get my rights. Help me become what I want to be. Give me a name, a proper one."
"Janelle. Your name is Janelle."