She sits on a chair in my living room, completely motionless, more inert than any human could possibly be. I suppose that makes sense, because she isn’t human – not in the true sense. And yet, she should be indistinguishable from a human, in most respects. Because that is what I paid for. At any given moment I have been assured she can pass a Turing Test.
I walk slowly towards her. She is made to a specified aesthetic, as the salesman said. I take this to mean beautiful. Her nose is button-like, her cheeks high, and her eyes a radiant shade of green. Golden hair flows from her head all the way to her navel. Hair that never needs cutting, nor styling. She wears normal clothes, jeans, a pastel pink shirt and a pair of tan brogues. There’s no use in acting like a human if you do not look like a human.
I walk in a circle around her, inspecting her skin, her body, her everything for the first real time since the showroom. I was also assured that no other looks like this one, that each is unique visually, even behaviorally within a set of predefined parameters. I push my face as close to hers as I can without touching, and stare deep into her impossibly green eyes for something other than humanity, but I cannot see it. They are like all other eyes, only more glamorous.
Taking a step back, I say, “awake!”
Her head twitches slightly and her eyelids take a deep blink, before opening to reveal even more glint. “Hello?” I say.
“Hello,” she replies.
I struggle to find more words. Her body sways, moving ever so slightly, her fingers tap and touch each other with no discernible rhythm, occasionly brushing the hair away from her eyes. “What’s your name?” I ask.
“My name, it is whatever you want it to be.”
“Oh… I didn’t realise.” I think for a moment stumped. “Jessica?”
“Jessica. That’s a nice name. Jessica it is.” she says, smiling. “And you are?”
“Very nice to meet you Joe.” She holds out her hand. I look towards it curioiusly, before outstreching my own and shaking it. Her skin… it’s skin, nothing else. No different in feeling to real human skin. I wonder how they did it.
“What now?” I ask
“Anything, of course within reason. You read the manual I assume. I cannot partake in anything illegal… but beyond that, most things I can accept.”
“Most…?” I dig.
“Yes. If I deem something to be socially unacceptable in any given social situation, or something that might put you in danger, physically or mentally, it is my duty to refuse or intervene.”
“I’m glad,” she replies, always with a smile.
“As I understand you have differnt… settings.”
“Yes. At the moment I am currently in no pre-set mode. I am acting independently of any behavioral predisposition. I have various settings, including this one. Maid, friend, girlfriend, wife, room-mate, teacher, psychiatrist, therapist. A new mode can also be designed and modified if you require.”
I raise my eyebrows. “Which is your preference?”
“I do not have a preference. It is you who decides.”
“Oh, I see…” I think, this I hadn’t anticipated. Why did I buy her? What did I really want? What did I expect? This isn’t taboo, society is accepting. For all intents and purposes, she is human, only artificially so. She has a mind, and a personality, and everything else…
“A friend…” I say, deciding, knowing it is what I lack, knowing that is my true reason for having her.
“A friend it is,” she says. “So, what do you want to do?”
“Sure, I love bowling,” she laughs. “Let’s go, it’s close enough to walk.” She stands and heads for the door, picking up her coat from the stairail and putting it one. “Come on!” She shout through.
I stand, but stop where I am.
Silently I question myself. Is this right? Should I be doing this? Should anyone?