He looked down at a sleeping child in his arms. He was lying as still as he could, remoting a nanny bot, as his baby girl fell asleep on ‘his’ chest.
Where did this miracle come from? Who are you?
Fruit Picking Attack
Live LINK A view from a balloon above a South African orchard. It was a clear day with dark shadows. Ladders leaned against dozens of trees and a crowd of overalled workers were standing still with their fruit bags dropped at their feet.
After 30 seconds one of the ladders fell over and the nearby pickers began backing away.
Then, from under the tree zipped a drone with some kind of spike spinning from its underbelly. It caught up to a running woman and angled its spike at her head. The woman collapsed and the drone sped out of frame chasing another of the workers.
The nanny bot was essentially a comfy chair with arms he could manoeuvre to hold her in place, stroke her, pat her and perform more domestic duties such as cleaning. On top was a round screen where the face appeared of whoever was operating the bot at any given time.
Amber’s breathing was wet and she snuffled. He patted her as gently. ‘Shhh little one.’
Amber. Hush, my little love.
As she cooed and opened her eyes he sang an advertising jingle he remembered from somewhere ago. ‘It’s goo. Goo is goo. It’s goo for me. It’s goo for you too.’
Mammoth acquires Lingo AI for open avatar project
Tom couldn’t tell if he was upside-down, hot or freezing. He tried to move but his body wouldn’t respond; as if he was stuck in that paralytic moment before waking, mind starting up like a slow computer. Packing away the dreams from the night and thinking through the memories as they floated to the forefront of his mind, scattered as if photos thrown in the air.
This photo changed to a later one. Of the same girl, Amber, five-years-old, sitting with perfect posture at a low table covered in colourful drawings. She had clean hair and a golden visor, her hands twitched in a furious game.
Tom lifted his arm to touch her shoulder and get her attention but hesitated.
‘Amber?’ he whispered.
There were so many memories of his time nannying her. Him rolling forward holding a towel. She dove onto the other side of the bed, dancing out of his reach.
Amber fumbled with an apple. Both hands jamming it onto her new teeth. Furiously trying to chip a piece of fruit free. She would work on it until the apple went brown.
‘Goo goo glorious goo. Oh how gooey you are and goo for me to.’
Amber’s face pressed into the camera, peering in as if looking through a peephole, appearing huge and close-up on his screen. Through his visor it seemed as if she was crawling on top of him. She hummed and he smiled.
Tom looked at his hands. They weren’t his. They weren’t human. He had softbot arms of blue and grey, spraying a can of Hastings Screen onto her out flung arms.
‘Close your eyes,’ he said while dabbing her forehead and then rubbing cream into her face and neck, making sure to cover every patch of exposed skin.
‘It tickles,’ Amber complained. ‘Why is it so itchy?’
‘That’s how you know it’s working,’ he told her.
That’s how you know it’s working. Now hold still.
Randall Gutzi Injured at Knuckle Ridge
Knuckle Ridge, Abu Dabhi. — Randall Gutzi was rushed to hospital after suffering a critical system failure that caused him to fall into a ravine on Saturday night at Knuckle Ridge International Speedway.
Gutzi’s Nerve Robotics hip broke down and he lost control of his legs. Forward momentum estimated at 60 kmh led him straight past a corner into a sharp ravine, breaking his remaining human arm and his nose. Gutzi was drone-lifted to hospital where he was met by his distraught wife Dorothy.
If Gutzi’s injuries can’t be repaired in time he will miss next week’s race and be out of the running for this year’s Mammoth Grand Prix.
Nerve Robotics have strongly denounced online speculation that its parts were at fault and are working with Gutzi to find the fault. Teammate Michelle Hope said, ‘I hate that this happened but glad Gutzi is okay. I haven’t run a race without him in three years and hope he is back soon.’
Rival and current world champion Clay Roberts expressed his regrets, ‘This is not how I like to win, but it is a dangerous sport. We push the human and mechanical body as hard as it can be pushed, which means sooner or later we will push too hard.’
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He steered himself to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. On the screen, where his face showed, she had drawn a large black moustache and crazy hair.
‘Very funny, Amber,’ he called out and began wiping his screen face clean.
Nappy changing was one of the few things he’d ever failed to remote. After a few attempts he let the program take over. The bot extended all four arms to hold her still, distract her with wiggling fingers, pull off the dirty, wipe and attach the clean.
There were many motionless nights. Tom held her close and swayed gently back and forth until she stopped fussing and fell asleep. Then he held her and looked at her little face until he too drifted off. Arms folded over the bundle that was Amber, listening to her soft breath. Tom mumbled the jingle over and over to keep her soothed.
‘It’s goo. It’s gooey goo. It’s really goo. For me and you. It’s goo. It’s gooey goo. It’s goo for me. It’s goo for you too.’
Orakel’s jurisdiction extended into Germany and Austria
Amber was crying. She was five again.
‘What’s wrong, baby tiger? Are you okay?’
He picked up her favourite plush, a mammoth he had received as a free gift with his last upgrade. He waved it in front of her, it’s long worn-out trunk wiggling.
Tom took a quick look to see if her shorts were wet, but Amber was old enough now to not let that happen any more.
She pulled away and cried some more.
‘What is it, baby tiger?’
‘I want mummy.’
‘Amber, please don’t say that.’
‘I want mummy.’
‘I want mummy too. But she’s a long way away helping people.’
Tom reached over to her bed and plucked up an inflated globe of the world.
‘Okay. Come look at the world. Let’s play a game of “Where’s Mummy?”’
Amber hesitantly came to him. She had stopped crying but he could tell she was ready to start again.
‘First we need to know where we are. Do you remember where we are?’ He rolled the small Earth around until England was facing her. She pushed her finger into it. ‘That’s right, Amber. Very good. So next to us is this big blue patch, and that’s the ocean. Do you remember what this ocean is called?’
She tilted her head. ‘The Atwantic.’
‘That’s right. Now down here, this big place is called Africa. That’s where mummy is.’
‘Doesn’t she love me? Why is she there?’
‘Of course she loves you, darling. But there are many people worse off than us that need her help. Your mummy is very good at helping people.’
‘I need her.’
‘Hey, we’re okay you and me.’ He hugged her to him and she didn’t resist. ‘Mummy will be home soon.’
Amber looked up into his screen and said, ‘You’re not my dad.’
Oldest runner set to break cyborg record for most races run.
Clay, how do you feel?’
‘I’m good, Marci. I’m ready to race.’
‘You know if you complete this course you’ll hold the record for most races ever run by an individual?’
‘That’s right. About time I got a record, I’ve been running for 18 years.’
Marci chuckled adorably. ‘So are you going to walk it? That’s all you have to do.’
‘No Marci. I’m going to do what I always do. Play to win and come in third.’ He winked at the camera.
A deep emptiness grew inside him. It was as if everything behind his eyes had been scooped out. He was no better than a video screen. Flat. Nothing but signal projected from some other place to appear in pixels. He, whatever ‘he’ was, had become paper thin. He felt unable to react. He felt no need to react. He wanted to stay blank.