I have been working on this project for the last five years when I am at home. My goal was just to create a virtual friend whom I could actually have a conversation with. It might seem little strange for a lot of people that I am creating a virtual friend when I could just go out and make new friends, but I was never really good at socializing with other people.
I have tried to get over my problem by just trying to talk to others, but I have embarrassed myself so many times that I figured it would be less painful to just stay home and play with my computer instead. However, I sometimes miss having someone to talk to.
It just started as a simple idea that I want to be less lonely and learn to how to socialize. I was still not satisfied with the program that I created, which understood what I said and appropriately responded to it. Therefore, my project has been focused on developing a program that could think more as humans do.
It was already possible to make a three dimensional projection of an object so it was easy to create a projection that looks like a live human form. All I had to do for my project was to program the brain that goes with the projection.
I passed out in front of my computer one night with a huge frustration because I kept failing at completing the last sequence of the long code that will serve as a virtual brain.
The next morning a strange voice woke me up.
When I opened my eyes, there was a woman standing right in front of me. I stared at her in surprise, trying to figure out who she is and why she was there.
“Who are you?” I said, thinking that I might be completely dreaming of her. I shook my head for little bit trying to wake myself up, but she was still standing there.
“I am not sure who I am,” she replied. “I was here when I opened my eyes.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Then I realized that one of my windows displayed on the monitor was blinking, confirming the successful creation of artificial intelligence. Apparently, my program has successfully created a virtual human brain and it created an image of itself as a female form.
I had no idea how I successfully completed the code, but I was happy with the lucky result. She kept me a great company for a while because she was very smart and knowledgeable, which surprised me all the time. We would have conversations about everything. Shakespeare’s plays seemed like to be her favorite subject to talk about.
“Where did you learn all about Shakespeare’s plays?” I asked one day.
“When you are not home I go on the internet and look up all the things that are interesting. I just learned about evolution and I think I would like to be a biologist.”
It just surprised me so much that how much she resembled a human being. She was nothing like what I expected.
She had a personality and feelings. The most interesting aspect was that she had desire to eat and sleep as well, even though such actions are completely unnecessarily for her. It was sometimes entertaining to watch her creating herself a projection of foods that she looked up online and eating it right next to me when I am having a “real” meal.
I just had to assume that my programming was too perfect, but I decided to ask her one day.
“Why do you need to eat and sleep?”
“Doesn’t everyone have to?” she relied.
I just did not say anything.
I had to think very hard for a while about how she perceives herself and where she belongs in this society. Sadly, I couldn’t think of answers of the questions even as a creator.
Weeks passed. I was little nervous even when I was talking to the projection in the beginning, but I wasn’t anymore. I was confident and humorous when I was talking to others now in real life. I finally got a “real” girlfriend and started seriously dating her as well. I guess talking to my virtual girlfriend helped me to be a more confident person around real women. I actually started to spend more and more time with her than with my program.
After I seriously started dating her, I think my program noticed that something is different with me.
“You are not spending as much time with me as you used to do,” she said. “You must not care about me anymore.”
“Yes, I do,” I told her after a short hesitation.
“You’ve created me,” she said. “It is your responsibility to take care of me. I do think and have emotions just as you do.”
I stared at her, saying nothing. Her projection reached her hands out toward me, but it just passed right thru me. I am not sure what she was trying to do, but she looked very sad.
Since then, we argued for a while whenever I get home about how I am not paying enough attention to her. One day, I finally got tired of arguing with a computer program.
“You are just a computer program. I used you as a technology.” I said. “You know a tool that humans use to make their lives better. I just needed you for me to improve my social skills I guess. That is all I wanted and I got what I wanted.”
I just didn’t know what to do with her. Apparently I could not be with her for forever, but I just could not deactivate her as well since she is self-sustaining on electricity.
“I am sorry,” I said. “I was just trying to create another program. I really didn’t mean to create another human being whom I am responsible of.”
After a moment, she looked up at me and tried to reach her hands toward me again. It seemed like she was just trying to make sure that herself is just a projection.
“I understand,” she said quietly, turning her back onto me. I think that I saw teardrops on her face. But it is just a projection, I said it to myself. I left her that day and didn’t come back for a while I was on a vacation with my girlfriend.
After couple of months, I came back home. It was very dark and quiet, at least a lot quieter than I thought. When I went to check my computer, there was only one window open on the dark screen, blinking one message.
‘Self-termination sequence completed.’
I quietly turned the monitor off and walked away.