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A Knight at the Opera

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“Did everyone have a good lunch?,” Bill Gates stood at the podium in the center of the stage.

The bed had been removed, entirely, the podium had been moved to the center of the stage, and the two chairs that had been there before now sat behind a desk with two microphones, one where Amy (still completely nude) sat, and another that was empty.

Meg Whitman, CEO of Ebay spoke up “Mr Gates, the lunch was amazing, especially the Kobe beef, always a fan,  but I am a bit concerned, you had indicated that your concerns over secrecy were paramount, yet you had caters freely delivering and mingling with everyone. Aren’t you concerned about espionage?”

Bill Gates smiled. “And here I was questioning everyone, thank you Meg”

“You all don’t mind a short little presentation, do you?,” he said.

A couple of the men had relaxed in their chairs and were visibly seen holding their bellies.

“I’m fine,” said Mark Rein, owner of Unreal Entertainment.

“Let’s do this,” he said, visibly a little excited “Dale, can you send a female T100 in?”

“She’s on her way, boss,” he said.

Bill Gates smirked at the term ‘boss’.

He hated that term.

Through the left rear entrance, what looked to be a very attractive woman  who stood about 5 foot 7 inches tall, with short stylish brunette hair, wearing a seductively revealing servant’s outfit with fishnet stockings on, and had previously been acting acting in the capacity as a catering helper.

“Rachel, perfect,” he said, “Could you join me down here with Amy.”

Rachel obediently followed his commands.

“Meg, to address your concerns, every single one of the floor staff was an android. Independently controlled agents with a highly  sophisticated artificial intelligence software some of my very best engineers developed over the course of several years.  Each unit is fully functional, with an endoskeleton made out of a polymer ceramic blend, complete with synthetic cartilage and muscle tissue developed at Sandia Labs – all specifically designed  to – even under scrutiny of an XRay – look and appear exactly like a human.”

“Bill. This is a day I sincerely thought I would never see. But do you mean to tell us you’ve built an army of Terminators?,” said Senator Barry Goldwater.

Bill smiled, like a feisty and defiant child, “Not exactly, I’ve placed some rules inside their operating system software which, unlike Terminators, makes my models resolutely against violence and combat.”

“I’m sorry, I just am not buying that Rachel here is a Robot. Is that what you’re saying, Mr Gates?,” said Senator McCain.

Bill didn’t blink an eye. “Rachel, can you stand in front of the podium, look towards the audience, and open your visage?”

Rachel walked to the audience, as a seam appeared in the middle of her face, extending upwards to her forehead’s hairline, and then across her forehead to her temples, extending downwards to her jaw, and from there, along her jawline to her jawbone.

Her face then ‘snapped open’, revealing what was clearly not human underneath.

A few gasps in the audience.

“Jesus, bill, what in have you created?,” said Senator McCain, as he stood up.

Someone else said, “Is it fully functional?”

A few laughs in the audience, as Bill responded “Funny you should ask. Amy’s made this a little easier, but Rachel, can you please close your visage and then remove all your clothes?”

Without hesitation, as Rachel’s face mask closed, she started unbuttoning her top, shortly after her shirt fell to the floor. Her bra came next, her skirt and stocking next and she kicked off her high heels, and finally her black lace panties.

She resume her standing pose, standing in front of the audience completely nude, her natural looking smaller size D breasts hanging just perfectly, and her artificial pubic hair matching her hair’s color shaped like a landing strip made her appear to be the perfect woman.

“Rachel, please kick your clothes off the stage,” Bill said.

Rachel obeyed, her clothes and shoes firmly out of reach.

“Well it’s starting to become obvious why Amy’s lack of attire isn’t a problem. Is Amy,” General Eberhart began to say.

Amy cut him off, and leaned forward “I am NOT not one of those things.”

“Mr Gates, can we inspect the goods?,” the General responded.

This incensed Bill, “First, General, she has a name. Rachel. Second, she and the others will not be sold, I think we’ve all seen enough Terminator movies and movies about Stepford Wives to see where that leads.”

The General looked at him expectantly, without saying a word.

“Fine, anyone who wants to come down and inspect Rachel, feel free,” he said.

Someone quipped, “Yet he treats her like property.”

Unsure where the comment originated, Bill responded “To whoever said that, she is, for now”

Literally everyone, man and woman, came down to walk around and look at Rachel. And while some poked and stroked her bare skin on her arms and legs, and while she had 50 sets of eyes looking at her from every conceivable angle, not a one touched her in a lewd way.

It was all – Bill mentally noted – unusually tasteful and respectful.

He was glad.

AS everyone took their seat, Bill, feeling a little feisty, walked over and placed Rachel’s clothes under the podium.

“Rachel is an android. A humanoid which looks and acts as a human, but underlying her human appearance is a synthetically constructed being. For all intents and purposes she’s a robot, and while she’s technically self guided by her behavior and decision making, it’s based on a program our developers created which can and often is remotely overridden and updated. Like a human, Rachel is incorporated with a learning intelligence which was modeled after human learning and educational systems.”

“Rachel, could you stand over there, off to the left on the side of the stage,” Bill said.

Still completely nude, Rachel took her place to the left side of the stage.

“In stark contrast to Rachel is Q,” he tapped his computer’s touchscreen on the podium, where a high resolution of the partially nude Q appeared 0n the screen “Q appears human, with technological implants which make him somewhat robotic, and I theorize there’s no ‘program’ for him, but based on the severity of the implants this doesn’t make him potentially just as manipulable as Rachel here.”

“To explain my security. The caterers delivered the food to Microsoft Consulting Services, a subsidiary of mine which has large multistory buildings in Scottsdale, Tempe, and Phoenix. The Tempe facility runs a skeleton crew, used primarily for recruitment and liaising with the University as well as events such as this, where I’ll have something delivered there, and discretely taken here through unmarked vans and other vehicles,” Bill Gate said, “No muss no fuss and my most valuable employees working at this facility as well as the VIPS are all treated with the best money currently has to offer.”

He looked at Rachel.

As he was about to say something, Senator McCain interjected.

“Mr Gates. Can you please hide that thing, or at least tell it to put some clothes on,” he said.

“Rachel, Senator McCain, I expect you to show the same respect to her that you afford Amy and I. Rachel is her name, And no, I’m keeping her on stage just for you,” he said, with a smug grin. “MOVING ON”

“I know all of you have questions concerning all of this. But we need to get back on track here and address what happened earlier and how we’re going to move forward. I know we’ve assaulted you all with a lot today so far, and while I will privately address each and every one of you when we make the time, now that we’re all in a group, we need to agree as a group,” Bill Gates said.

“For once I agree with you, “ said Senator McCain.

“First, I think it’s important that we begin considering that fictional references may actually be telling us a greater story of not just our planet, but our universe and how it may have been formed,” said Mr Gates.

“And it’s precisely that kind of thinking that dragged us into an endless war in Vietnam where I narrowly escaped becoming a Prisoner Of War there,” said Senator McCain.

Bill Gates responded sarcastically with “You, too, can read all about it in his first book titled ‘A Knight at the Opera’, or watch the movie of the same name starring Robert Redford. Yes, yes, we all know about your exploits at the Hilton and how you escaped the Hilton after a few days in captivity, but what if you never escaped?”

“Mr Gates, I suggest you tread lightly and show some respect,” said the Senator.

“Senator, reciprocation. I hear it’s an art form nowadays. Now bear with me. I – along with Amy and a great deal of others throughout my campuses have been actively engaging in re-framing fiction. We all know the inspiration for the cell phone came from Star Trek, but we’re working on ways to prove or disprove a theory that there’s multiple versions of Earth ‘out there’ and we may be actively receiving their transmissions,” Bill Gates said.

“Oh that’s hooey,” said Senator McCain.

“SENATOR! Again. You’re in a group, can you please respect the other voices in attendance?,” said Bill Gates.

The Senator sat back in his chair again, arms folded with a frown on his face.

“At Microsoft – we are moving forward with the belief that the true origin of  fictional material is questionable, and making any decisions based on what we’re told is fact versus what is fiction is simply naive.  We’ve even developed a motto “We’ll choose our own facts, thank you very much”,” said Bill Gates.

Senator McCain grumbled.

“So let’s say Q is real. As depicted in Star Trek. A couple questions we have to ask ourselves is, do we even want him here?.” he said.

General Shinseki said “Security concerns aside, I don’t see this as being a choice, Amy’s already opened up that door.”

“I guess that’s the question I keep coming back to. Is there something you all know that I don’t concerning security? The way I see it, the last real threat to this country went away with the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1987,” said Bill Gates.

The General replied, “Being realistic, we have to consider everything a threat, and there’s not only the possibility of dormancy by our former enemies, but there’s the very real possibility they leapfrogged us technologically and this is their form of a trojan horse,” he said.

“General, have you ever considered that the simple act of looking for enemies creates them?,” responded Bill Gates.

Unable to contain himself, Senator McCain respond. “Now that’s just stupid, naive, and dangerous.”

Bill Gates didn’t flinch and continued his gaze at the General “I don’t mean to undermine the importance of your position and role, General, please don’t take any offense to my assertion, but how we’re proceeding with what we’re doing here is – pretending we’re children. Somehow, despite everything we do as a child everything turns out fine, and while sure we walk away with a few bumps and bruises and broken bones, it’s almost always involved with a story of sorts. So why not treat it all accordingly?,” he said.

“Let me get this straight. While you simultaneously build and interact with the world’s most unimaginably horrific potential killing machines, you yourself asserting the possibility that the fictional sources which inspired you may in fact be real, you expect us to – with a straight face – follow you down a fairy tale path of make believe pretending the devil himself who you’re tempting is not going to hurt you?,” said Senator McCain.

Bill Gates became incensed.

“Senator, I’m going to be blunt with you. I’d like to meet Q. I’d like to travel in a real starship. I’d like to believe that androids like Rachel – and humans alike – have a time and place for warfare, and equally – a time and place for other more benign and boring activities. Home making. Love and Sex. Research and Development. Being friends for the friendless, and partners for those who long for them. No, Senator, I don’t fully expect everything to go without a hitch with them as we try to integrate them into our society, they’ll fill different needs and may indeed shift and change the fundamental nature of society. It scares me sometimes, looking at Rachel, or looking at my other models such as Spencer, and Tiffany, but the way I see it I have one of two choices. Live in fear. Or not. I choose not to,” he said.

No one said a word.

“So I take it you’ve already made up your mind on how you’re going to proceed?”, Alan Trefler, CEO of Pegasystems said.

“I have, “ said Bill.

“And this show?,” Alan followed with.

“Unexpected. I’ve lost something vital to me, us, and this research moving forward, “ he said, “but at least you all will understand why I am doing what I am doing and I won’t be working in completely privacy anymore as I move forward should you all begin to question me, my actions, and my sanity,” he said as he feigned a laugh.

Meg spoke up, “What do you want from us then?”

“Placement, “ he paused a moment, and followed by “Dale, can you send in 7 more Rachel models top take the stage next to Rachel here?”

“Sure thing, Boss,” Disrobed?,” Dale responded.

Bill winced. “Yes, Dale, and please, quit calling me that”

“Sorry sir. Old habits. They’re on their way,”  Dale said.

About 30 seconds later, three completely nude Rachel model T100s walked through the door, single file, and up to the stage, taking their position next to the original Rachel. It was impossible to tell one from the other, they looked exactly like each other.

“So to answer your question, Meg, and everyone else who manages employees here, I’m interested in understanding the integrated experience of androids in the real world.  What’s important to me is learning lessons from the past, whether it’s the Scarlet Letter or black rights and female rights by not calling attention to them, which I will reinforce by programming them to believe thy are human,” Bill Gates said.

“Sounds mysteriously like an invasion plan,” someone in the audience said.

Some people chuckled.

“It could be construed as that from a certain perspective,” Bill responded, “but if you look around the room you can see there’s only one foreign representative, My dear friend Sir Branson, so the way I figure it is it’s far safer with this approach to understand the influences on modern society than it is to discover foreign countries are doing the same thing.”

Senator McCain chimed in “Prudence, Mr Gates? I have a difficult time believing you want to do this out of protectionism”

Bill leaned forward, as if to respond with hostility, before responding with “You know, Senator, my first inclination was to respond to you with I don’t care what you believe. But I would have just been perpetuating the animosity when the truth is I actually do care,” he looked away from the Senator to the rest of the audience.

“The truth is, in studying this ‘anything is possible and I’ll choose my facts and fictions” has changed the way I think, fundamentally. If you’re concerned with corporate espionage, then I can completely understand how my offer may be unpalatable to you. General Eberhart, I can understand how you might be concerned how to leverage an android which is explicitly forbidden from violence. I expect anyone who leverages these creations to be wary, and I daresay – creative as you may choose to permit limited exposure out of curiosity’s sake while mitigating risk to your respective organizations. I absolutely – deeply care about what you all think and how you leverage these beings, ” said Bill Gates.

Senator McCain became clearly pensive as he fought himself wanting to speak over the microphone.

It was clearly visible from Bill’s vantage point.

“John? Is there something you want to say?,” Bill Gates said.

“Ok Mr Gates. Let’s say I buy into all this. Q’s responding to emotion. You want to understand emotion as a programmer more which might lead you to understand what and who Q is which will help us all mitigate further risk from this and any other potential similar threats.. I get it. So how about this – I have a close friend whose brilliant son was just accepted into law school, something he’s complained to me openly about, as his poor boy has never,  not once, gone out with a woman. He’s not gay, he’s far too masculine for that, so would you be against me setting up your Rachel with him to help him overcome his  issues with females?”

Bill smiled.

Broadly.

“Senator, this sounds like the perfect opportunity and just what we’re looking for,” he said, “with one caveat. The relationship has to be temporary. A T100 has an indefinite life span and ultimately will provoke too many questions about lack of aging. Something we can easily accommodate for them as we simply reprogram them to forget their age, but for those they’re around, it’s not so easy.”

The Senator smiled and nodded, confident in a first hand understanding of where the world was going.

Bill Gates looked around the room. “Ok. Anyone else?”

The volume levels in the audience shot up as everyone lost all reservations about Bill’s proposal.

 


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