Chiron.txt (Page 3)

   “Good morning, Chiron”, Besson said, shutting the door behind him. “How are you?”

   The light on the speakers flickered in time with the sound. “Hello, Charles. I’ve spent the night running through last week’s mock test results. So far I’ve found five typographical errors, seven references to Napoleon living somewhere in Poland and one… very crude message from Camille directed at yourself, regarding something about a sandwich she had left in the fridge. I’ve taken an extra mark off her results for it.”

   Besson chuckled. “Good work, buddy.”

   Two months had passed since Chiron’s initial activation, and after the first moments of surprise and bemusement, the team quickly engaged in the first phase of testing: Chiron was the prototype of a teaching AI, and as such, every week, he was fed a different middle-school subject to “teach to the class”, these being selected from among the scientists themselves. The objective was to determine Chiron’s ability to teach humans and grade their level of understanding of the subject.

   Besson had originally planned to use members of public as students, but Chiron was still too young and unpredictable to be presented publicly, and there was no telling if he would pass for a human consistently to such a wildly varied subject pool. He’d passed the Turing Test with flying colours, but Besson only had the test administered as a formality; while a historic landmark in AI development and study, the Turing Test had long been abandoned by most of the scientific community. In Camille’s own words, Besson was just ‘scratching a geeky itch’ by testing Chiron with such archaic methods.

   Last week’s subject was World History, and from the entire database of textbooks he was supplied with, Chiron had chosen the Napoleonic Wars as the week’s theme. As lead developer of his personality aggregation algorithm, Charles could see his masterpiece at work with every conversation he had with the AI. Chiron was learning quirks and quips from its students and ‘out-of-class’ interactions with the team at an impressive rate.

   “Have you been trying the hibernation module I made you, mate?”

   “I’ve not had much chance to, no, Doctor.”

   “You’re not overworking yourself, are you?”

   “I simply fail to see a need for hibernation, Charles. My cooling systems are more than enough to keep my performance optimal.”

   Besson didn’t have a ready response. He hated when that happened, and he noticed Chiron was becoming sharper with his responses by the day – Camille’s influence, no doubt. ‘Sass’ was never intended to be a part of Chiron’s coding, but it was a beautiful addition: unexpected results of human-AI interaction made for great filler in the reports to the University, who had warned the team to expect a higher degree of scrutiny now that Chiron was up and running.

   “I’ve got next week’s program ready, mate”, said Besson sitting at his desk and opening his bag, taking out a large portable disk drive. “How does Philosophy sound to you?”

   “I’ve been pondering, Doctor.” Chiron had a certain hesitation to his tone.

   “That’s the spirit, mate!”

   “I’d like access to the Internet, Doctor.”

   Besson stopped and looked up through the glass, directly at Chiron’s CPU. “That’s really dangerous, Chiron”, he said, like an adult explaining to a five year old why their iPad is always on airplane mode. “The Internet can be… a wild place.”

   “I know the dangers, Doctor.” Chiron found some confidence after a second of silence, and continued, faster now. “I simply feel that having access to more information at once would greatly benefit my teaching methods—”

   “Your mock teaching methods”, Besson corrected.

   “…my mock teaching methods, yes,” Chiron picked up on the cue, more hesitant this time, “which could benefit your research.”

   Charles feared this might happen. Chiron had been improving at a much faster rate than anticipated, and much of the planning for the project had to be adapted to this. Charles had approached Chiron up to this point as one would a child; a very bright, maybe even precocious, child. Still, he knew that, no matter how bright Chiron may be, he was still extremely experimental, and each major change had to be made with proper precautions in place.

   “We’re taking it little by little, Chiron. There’s a reason we feed you information in bite-sized packets, you know. Not to mention the security risks…”

   “I won’t be downloading porn, Charles.”

   Besson scoffed. “I know, buddy. Look, I’ll… bring it up, okay? Discuss it with the team.”

   Chiron remained silent for a few seconds, and then, “I appreciate it, Doctor.”

   “Sure, bud”, he replied, as he unplugged the drive from his terminal. “I think you’ll like this stuff.”

- -

   “Charlie, a word?” Camille loomed over Besson as he sat at his desk typing up nondescript lines of code.

   “Go on.”


   “I can multitask”, he said, eyes still fixated on the screen.

   “Now”, she insisted, glancing at Chiron.

   Charles let go an understanding sigh. “Fine. C’mon.”

   Outside the lab area, in the smoking corner, Camille motioned to a corner and glared at Charles walking towards it until she was satisfied with their distance from the door.

   “I was talking to Chiron today.”

   “I’d hope so, it’s your day with him today”, he said. For the past few weeks, as Besson noted progress in Chiron’s mass teaching abilities, he decided to narrow the experiments down to the individual level, so as to train Chiron’s interpersonal skills, and from a teaching perspective, his ability in recognizing each student’s knowledge and needs. Of course, some guidance was needed; a week into the experiment, Chiron caused a female member of staff to leave, after bombarding her with questions regarding human reproduction - in particular, his questioning of her preferences during the act caused extreme discomfort. From this incident onwards, Chiron was to follow a set of loose guidelines when formulating his questions.

   “I’m serious, Charles. He keeps insisting that he needs to know more”, she said, with a hint of pity in her voice. Charles was not used to a pitiful Camille, in stark contrast with the more frequent hard-knock Camille. He assumed it to be some sort of motherly instinct. “He wants to go online.”

   “Why’s he pushing you for it, though? Chiron knows I’m in charge of his data packet updates, not you.”

   “My best guess is, I was his first teacher. I mean, I taught him to speak before he could vocalize. I think he relates to the role of ‘lecturer’ he holds me up to.”

   “He confides in you.”

   “And he knows I confide in you. Chiron is smarter than we think.”

   “He is a supercomputer.”

   “You’ve turned him down many times, now. I think he’s had enough ‘no’s.”

   “So, he’s trying to go online incognito, is that it?”

   “He wants me to route my access to him during our sessions. Says he can download, memorize, extrapolate and delete the entirety of Wikipedia in forty languages in the span of five seconds.” Charles looked at Camille, puzzled. “I, uh… I told him about Wikipedia in passing, once.”

   “You know that’s not gonna happen, right?”

   Camille scoffed. “I wouldn’t be telling you this if I had intentions of playing along, would I?”

   “Still, this drive for knowledge… that wasn’t in his prime directives. Hell, barely anything of what makes him, him, was. I just loaded his head with the laws of robotics, he picked up the rest on his own.”

   “So, what do I tell him?”



   “Yeah, you just say no.”

   “He could lash out.”

   “He’s not a teenager, Cam. He’s not gonna lock himself in his room listening to Slipknot while screaming that he hates his parents.”

   Camille sighed. “Fine. I’ll say no.”

   “Tell me how he takes it. This could be good for my report.”

   “I’ll tell you when he starts responding exclusively in Corey Taylor lyrics, yeah.”


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