Scientists today expressed excitement that the pioneering android Chancellor, Gideon11, may have for the first time experienced something equivalent to human emotion. The waxen-faced facsimile of a humanoid was yesterday pictured with what appeared to be a single tear glistening on its plastic cheek.
As its mother node was being decommissioned, packed into a lead-lined container and deposited 30 miles below the Earth’s crust, the Gideon droid’s head began to twitch and it emitted a single droplet of fluid from beneath its left visual socket.
The Gideon was originally developed, ‘for a laugh’, by a group of robotics scientists, members of the Oxford University Bullingdon Club, and a team of Kwik-Fit fitters.
When asked for a comment, Boris Johnson one of the project leaders, said: ‘Let’s not get carried away. This could just be the latest in a series of glitches. Gideon has previously displayed no signs of artificial intelligence, or indeed natural intelligence. Even simple calculations have been beyond him. Frankly, we’d kind of written him off. However, if these data are correct then the implications for Gideon and others like him – simpler models like the G.O.v.eRT, May2-D2 or even the ED-2009 – could be immense.’
In 2007, development of an android Chancellor accelerated amid speculation that the job could be done more efficiently and reliably without human control, as was proved successfully in the mid-90’s. However, in recent years the Gideon project has come to be viewed as a costly failure.
‘For a time we thought it might have had some military application,’ said Michael Foster, an exhaust fitter, who was part of the original build team. ‘In many ways, it’s the perfect weapon: ruthless, dangerous, expendable. But when we demonstrated it to the Ministry of Defence it immediately cut a number of troops and slashed many others’ pay. It’s potentially more dangerous to our own side.’
Lori Tofler, a junior research scientist, who had some early contact with the Gideon, is one of those convinced that this is a watershed moment.
‘I remember one day, getting the news that my nan had died. She was a miserable old cow, but I had a little sniffly cry anyway. Gideon turned to me and asked, ‘why does water come from your eyes?’ I tried to explain about empathy, pity and suffering, but to no avail. It merely fixed me with its usual lifeless glassy stare then swivelled its head round and asked what Dave was doing?
‘But now… finally… if this simple machine, a Chancellor, has learnt the value of human life, then maybe one day we can too.
‘Or, it could just be fucked.’