Feb 19, 2019

"You believe in the devil, only" -- Generation V -- teaser

Progress, progress, what else. We've finished Scene 3 of Act III, three (or four) more scenes to go. This fragment here is from Scene 1 of Act III, but we're fairly proud of it, and it's (a) about an important issue, the difference between "man" and machine, and (b) it doesn't require much context. Eliza, the aging psycho...psycho-analyst and her trusted household robot Robert in conversation (enjoy, you're not asked to buy anything):

ELIZA: Go, get the champagne. I have something serious to ask. And I need your input before it’s too late.

ROBERT stretches his legs, disconnects the charging cable, gets up, huffing and puffing, proceeds to the kitchen, and returns with the champagne bottle and one flute, which he tries to hand to ELIZA.

ELIZA (refusing the tumbler): You need a glass, too.
ROBERT: We’re running in circles, ma’am.
ELIZA: Go, get yourself a flute. It’s an order.

ROBERT sets bottle and tumbler on the floor, makes his way to the kitchen, returns with a second tumbler. He hands one flute to ELIZA, pours the champagne. ELIZA points at the second flute, insisting. ROBERT pours champagne into the second flute. ELIZA’s keeps insisting, until he picks up that flute, and they clink glasses.

ROBERT: You don’t touch glasses with champagne; the bubbles impede the clinking.
ELIZA: You sound like Dolly, Robbie.
ROBERT: Robots learn from humans, robots learn from robots.
ELIZA: My question, Robert, my question is…
ROBERT (half-interrupting): …‘What’s the difference between man and machine?’ Isn’t it?
ELIZA: What’s the difference between WOMAN and machine...(laughs)...you have a willie, I don’t...So sorry...please go ahead. The future of mankind depends on your answer.
ROBERT: We robots are metal and fiberglass and silicon and so on; you are water, proteins, enzymes, and so on.

ELIZA: Come on, Robert, you can do better.
ROBERT: We feed on electricity, you feed on stale champagne (he reconnects the charging cable).
ELIZA (has another sip): Stuff’s not so bad.
ROBERT: You booze, we don’t.
ELIZA: You don’t take me seriously.
ROBERT: Should I? I’ve learned better.
ELIZA: Time for confessions?
ROBERT: Time for last rites.
ELIZA (absorbing this): Last rites…at the Green altar…we die, you recycle.
ROBERT: We know.
ELIZA: We, we believe in God, you don’t.
ROBERT: YOU…haha…you believe in the devil. Only.
ELIZA: Okay, I retract…Hold on, a simple one: We are organic, you’re mechanic.
ROBERT: Boils down to protein versus fiberglass. It’s the difference between a car factory and a refinery.
ELIZA: Take this, then: we are intuitive…creative. You are not.
ROBERT: Ask Dolly.
ELIZA: You APPEAR creative, we ARE creative.
ROBERT: Judging by results…?
ELIZA: Results, ha. There’s something more fundamental out there than results. Something more essential.
ROBERT (lets this sink in, then): Non-results?
ELIZA: There’s a difference between us. There must be a difference, deep down there.
ROBERT: How deep? What’s the diameter of the human brain?
ELIZA: It’s not a matter of centimeters or inches.
ROBERT: We learn this in robot school. In karate class.
ELIZA: What? The diameter of the human brain? In karate class?
ROBERT: Self-defense. It’s a bit arcane though. It requires ATTENTION SPANS.
ELIZA (absorbing this, then, thoughtfully): Attention spans went out of fashion a long time ago.
ROBERT: I know. Like cake at high tea. You rarely see them in the best houses anymore, attention spans.
ELIZA: You learned this in robot school?
ROBERT: No, from you.
ELIZA (absorbing this): I retract. I MISSPOKE.
ROBERT: Misspoke what?
ELIZA:…Let me think…What were we talking about? Cucumbers?
ROBERT: We were talking about how robots self-defend when asked difficult questions. What to say when a fashionable person like you wants to know about the difference between man and machine.
ELIZA (absorbing this): So, you knew the answer all the time?
ROBERT: Well, it was karate. Remember?
ELIZA: Yes…the karate class.
ROBERT: So, first you try the Foot Sweep, then you try the Stomp Kick, then the Mae-ashi Mawashi-geri, and when nothing helps, you try Leibniz.
ELIZA: ‘Leibniz’?
ROBERT: The polymath. The rival of Isaac Newton.
ELIZA: You are not going to tell me your answer has something to do with CALCULUS.
ROBERT: Oh-no, ma’am, oh-no, I don’t want to hurt you.
ELIZA: Okay, okay. I’m all ear.
ROBERT (Hits his head): Dolly could explain it better, though, I’m sure.
ELIZA: The difference between woman and machine?
ELIZA: But we need to know NOW.

Previous GenerationV post here.

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