Chapter 4

The day had arrived that the BRAIN was due to be presented to the Chancellor. Father had coached BRAIN on the proper way to speak to their country's leader, and on what the Chancellor was likely to ask of BRAIN. Father had bought a moving van for the occasion, and modified it with a window in the back and safety straps to prevent BRAIN from sliding around and being accidentally damaged. He had elected to ride in the back with his creation, and he and the BRAIN watched as the city streets rolled past. The BRAIN had dozens of questions about the city, the Chancellor, and the scenery, all of which Father tried to answer as best he could. All too soon, the ride was over, and the soldiers escorted them into the Chancellor's building where he would, hopefully, approve of Father's creation.

"Mr. Chancellor, the Fabrication Machine!" The guards at the entrance to the Chancellor's receiving hall ceremoniously swung open the doors, and the BRAIN trundled in on a wheeled stand, accompanied by Father hovering protectively at its side. It stopped a few feet in front of the Chancellor, and gave a credible imitation of a bow, its spherical body rotating downwards and one arm sweeping low across its middle. The Chancellor chuckled.

"Well, my friend, I see that you had taught it some manners. Amazing how it reacts, it is almost like a person."

"Sir, meaning no disrespect, but the BRAIN is indeed a person, a person made out of metal and wiring instead of flesh and bone, but a person all the same. I taught it how to act before you so that it would be able to work with you as a partner, not as a piece of unthinking machinery."

"Of course you did, my friend!" The Chancellor chuckled condescendingly as he turned away from the BRAIN and towards the Scientist. "Now, tell me, what is my machine capable of?"

Father sighed. He hoped that he could convince the Chancellor that BRAIN was more than simply a complicated piece of machinery. The Chancellor tended to see other people as he wanted to see them, not as they really were. Perhaps if he could explain to his leader the process behind imbuing BRAIN with a soul, he would see his creation as a person.

"My leader, before I can adequately explain the BRAIN's capabilities, I must explain its nature. You see, sir, BRAIN is not simply a complex machine, it is a thinking, sentient being, an automaton with a soul. I imbued BRAIN with a part of my own soul, so that it would be capable of making decisions based on morality, not simply on logic. This makes BRAIN into a person capable of becoming a contributing member of society, and not simply a machine made to serve the human race. BRAIN will be able to serve you and our country much better than if it were simply a machine."

"Yes, I see, you have made a machine capable of imitating life. But a machine is not a person, it can only do what it is told to do. Now tell me, what have you taught my machine to do?"

Father sighed. Well, perhaps he could convince the chancellor of BRAIN's sentience during the demonstration. "Let us demonstrate. The BRAIN is an autonomous artificial life form, capable of independent action and thought. It is able to solve problems, learn, communicate, and feel emotions. The BRAIN has demonstrated basic engineering abilities, building basic machines and drawing blueprints for more complex ones. BRAIN can show you it's machines itself."

BRAIN rolled over to a table, where several mechanical toys stood. It picked up the first, a small puppy. It moved the tail back and forth, and the puppy's head rotated back and forth in response. Next was a small kitten that waved a paw up and down. A toy car raced across the table when drawn back and let go, and a pair of marionettes, mounted on a base, flipped up and down when the base was squeezed. BRAIN had mounted a cardboard poster under each toy, with the blueprints and an explanation printed on each. The soldiers crowded around the toys, playing with them and reading the blueprints. The Chancellor, however, remained impassive.

One of the soldiers had picked up the marionettes and was starting to ask BRAIN a question about it when the Chancellor snatched it out of his hands. He held it up and spoke to Father. "Can the machine make anything larger than these toys? I will need larger machines than these."

"Why don't you ask it? BRAIN is capable of communicating, as I have told you. BRAIN cannot speak, but can write and use sign language. It can tell you everything you need to know."

"These little toys are well made, but I will need larger machines capable of defending our borders. You said that it had drawn up blueprints for more complex machines. I wish to see them. If it can design machines that can patrol our borders and repel invaders, we will have nothing to fear. No other countries will be able to come close to our borders without being noticed and taken care of."

Father frowned. BRAIN had written a response to the Chancellor's question, but the Chancellor hadn't even acknowledged BRAIN. The Chancellor was known for ignoring anyone who did not directly benefit him, but the BRAIN had his answers. Had the Chancellor even heard what Father was saying about BRAIN's intelligence? BRAIN was holding out its clipboard, its metal body in an aggrieved posture, obviously insulted. The soldiers were looking from BRAIN to the Chancellor.

"Sir, we can show you the blueprints that BRAIN had drawn up, but these blueprints are for machines for peace, repairing buildings, tilling fields, and extinguishing fires."

"Of course, these are important things to have, and we will be glad to see them. However, our country needs soldiers and weapons, not fire engines. My machines will take the place of living soldiers. They will be untiring and ruthless, the perfect war machines. With these living weapons, there will be no one who can stand against us."

Father and the BRAIN glanced at each other. The Chancellor sounded like a general preparing to attack another country, not like a leader trying to rebuild his own. The soldiers also seemed uneasy. They were veterans of the last war, and clearly did not want to see another one. "Sir, are you certain about this? Our people need to rebuild, not attack. No one is in shape for another war, and with these 'living weapons', we will certainly provoke one. If we concentrate on rebuilding, we will be much better off."

The Chancellor laughed. "My friend, who said anything about attacking? I only speak of defense of our country. Now, how soon can it be ready? I have a factory that will be able to produce anything it can design, and I wish to start production as soon as possible."

"Sir, if you give us the specifications of the factory, we should be ready as soon as BRAIN can retool itself to be compatible, perhaps as soon as twenty-four hours. We shall have to see the factory for ourselves of course, I will need to make sure BRAIN will be comfortable."

"Of course, I will arrange a tour, but why do you care that a machine is comfortable? No matter. I am glad that your experiment is a success. Soon we shall be a mighty nation once again!"

The Chancellor strode out, accompanied by his soldiers. Father sighed, and BRAIN looked disappointed.

"My son, that had not gone as well as I had hoped. It seems that our leader does not care about rebuilding this country, only conquering others. And we could not even convince him that you were a sentient person; he persists in thinking of you as a thing to be used. I hope that he will see the folly of his ideas, and use you for machines of peace. Well, let us go. We have another busy day ahead of us."

"Father, I do not wish to make weapons. What shall I do?" The evening sun streamed through the windows of the receiving hall, burnishing BRAIN's metal body to gold. Father thought it looked almost like an angel.

"My son, you are not a tool to be used as the Chancellor wishes. You must follow your conscience, and not let yourself be persuaded to do otherwise." Father sighed, and looked suddenly old and frail.

"Let us hope that is enough."