The V.I.C.I. Diaries
- Vicki's New Life
- V.I.C.I. Rises
- From L.E.S. to Leslie
- Unmade, Unbroken
- Out of this World
- MGV (Metal Gear Vicki)
- The Family of Steel
- Electric Child
- Toys in the Attic
- A House Divided
- Kirsten's Choice
- Cold Blood
- Lawson's Eleven
- A Criminal Mind
- For Whom the Bells Toll
- Falling Away
- Valley of the Damned
ALPA Report: The REAL History of Robot Development
A Brief History of Humanoid Robotics by Vicki Lawson
Everyone seems to think that the introduction of the Actroid back in 2003 was the first step towards what most people would classify as an "android". Fast forward six years, and the HRP-4C was being called "the first real android".
Sometimes, I sort of wish I could tell everyone just how wrong they are.
Humanoid robots (or androids and gynoids, if you want to get technical) have been around for quite a while, to be honest....and some of them have, indeed, hidden in plain sight amidst humans. The first notable instance of this occurred back in the Victorian era, at the estate of one Baron Lovelace. A recent ALPA expedition into a castle identified as that of Lovelace turned up some....interesting finds; notes regarding "phlegmatic v. sanguine", references to the four elements and "cognisance"....basically, all things that were FAR more advanced than the simple automata created by Pierre Jacquet-Droz. Similarly, evidence of an incredibly complex clockwork girl (at least one portrait of the girl in question bore the name Ashlotte) was recovered from a private collection in the Middle East; a set of notes from the same collection revealed that Persian alchemists had created Ashlotte around the same time as Lovelace's automata.
Up until the 1900s, most humanoid robots were clockwork constructs, making repairs and part replacements incredibly complex. Many of them had power sources derived from steam, though a few used electrical systems. One of the most famous examples (well, famous within the ALPA, at least) is Tesla's Daughter, a gynoid created by Nikola Tesla in 1900. No photographs or portraits of Tesla's Daughter exist, but enough of Tesla's notes were recovered to give a pretty good impression of what she looked like: limbs of steel, with a face constructed of a lightweight, pliable metal that, to this day, even the most skilled metallurgists of the ALPA haven't been able to recreate. Actual copper was used for her hair, and her eyes were primitive cameras---well, I say primitive, but they were actually pretty advanced for their time...you get the idea.
It took at least two full decades until an actual android would be developed, though...ironically enough, this milestone occurred at the same time as the theatrical release of the film "Metropolis", which has led to some confusion between fact and fiction, and trying to go into details about it would take forever. As it stands, all traces of this "first android" ended up lost thanks to the ravages of World War II....which, in what I can only call a great example of cosmic irony, led to the creation of the second actual android...which then led to an entire friggin' army of the things.
During an otherwise unremarkable Allied raid on a hidden laboratory in the Black Forest, troops recovered evidence of Nazi engineers working on an army of Maschinenmensch---machine-humans. The public record states that the soldiers only recovered notes and one or two unfinished limbs....but the truth is a bit more...interesting. See, this particular lab held SEVEN finished Maschinenmensch prototypes, all of them ready to be deployed into the war effort against the enemies of Hitler. The prototypes---three women and four men---were all nearly indistinguishable from human beings at first glance, and their movements were fluid enough to pass for natural. Once the rubber skin was peeled back, Allied scientists found an astonishing network of components---lightweight steel frames, experimental voltaic batteries and fuel systems that were nearly as complex as the human circulatory system.
Of course, what happened next was even more astonishing----if not somewhat weird.
Another Allied raid turned up not just prototypes, but a fully-functioning ARMY of female robots designed by Nazi engineers to sweep through enemy territory and exterminate all hostile forces with extreme prejudice. These "Elite Guard" were a far cry from the Maschinenmensch seen in "Metropolis"---rather than literal iron maidens with emotionless steel faces, the Elite Guard were svelte, leather-clad vixens with the reflexes of a jaguar. At least twenty Elite Guard units were captured; tests revealed that the Nazis had somehow managed to create a very early form of Myogel, though only a few of the captured 'bots used it---the rest relied on a highly-advanced (for their time) system not unlike the stuff seen in modern animatronics.
Within the next three decades, several major advances were made---the biggest being the advent of the fembot.
In the 1970s, the actions of one Dr. Franklin led to the creation of the first real fembots---female androids that could very easily pass for human, at least until you hit them in the head and knocked their faces off. Franklin 's fembots were also made using...heavy-duty materials, to say the least, and rumor has it that they actually clanged when/if they ran into each other. While most of Franklin's fembots were destroyed, at least two survived....and believe it or not, I've actually met one of them, but that's another story for another day. Another interestign development, the Questor project, sort of...ah, disintegrated before it ever really got off the ground, but I might be able dig up more info later, so...yeah.
The Cold War, of course saw a whole new advent of robotics development---the Russians, in particular, became quite adept at manufacturing sleeper fembots by the truckload and deploying them all over the world. Most of them ended up in the hands of collectors after the fall of the USSR, but the rest ended up becoming the backbone of the ALPA. Supposedly, other countries were developing their own fembot agents as well, but seeing as how the ALPA is still investigating that, I can't really comment.
What I CAN comment on, obviously, is where I fit into all of this.
Ever since the 60s, the use of animatronic technologies in android-making was standard-issue; as long as they worked, nobody complained. Then.....I came along. A RadioThermionic Generator instead of a typical battery, myogel instead of actuators, a backup mainframe supplementing my bubble-memory processor.....yeah, I was pretty state of the art back in 1985. I could very easily go on a tangent about how I had the mental capacity of a goldfish, or how I tended to take things literally, but that's not the point. The point is, by 1985, I was part of 7% of the population---androids hiding within plain sight. Many of these androids were "released into the wild" after the collapse of Project Oberon---a joint venture between the military and defectors from the USSR that focused on creating robotic soldiers. When the Cold War ended, the project split up into multiple branches---one of which led to me being built.
The remaining branches eventually ended up forming companies like United Robotronics, Robodyne International, Silicon Dynamics LLC Manufacure and Supply, Tentrex Electronics, Aeronautics and Robotics Technologies, G-C Cybernetics, Hreftech, ReVerse and a few dozen others. These companies made a massive impact during the 90s, and the dotcom movement furthered their growth---Silicon Dynamics, in particular, became the pioneer of, shall we say, "pleasure models" during the decade (with the added bonus of being one of the few companies that didn't vaporize when the dotcom bubble burst).
To make a long story short....androids have been living amongst humans for a while. The Actroid, the HRP-4C...they're remarkable in their own right, but they're not androids. They're just the first step to seeing how well people will react to living with machines that look, act and think like they do. Right, I sort of forgot a few things in the last go-round; Lovelace's designs also mentioned "melancholic" and "choleric", mainly due to his belief in humorism (which I REALLY need to read up on...). Also, there was one company I should've mentioned that, somehow, I totally forgot about until this point.....
See, while every other robot made in the 80s (well, other than me) was made to look like R2D2 or some variation thereof, Daikoku was focusing on labor androids. Specifically, heavy labor androids. Surprisingly, several of these labor androids were actually pretty sleek, despite the fact that they were built for, well, heavy labor. Even more surprising, rumors swirled that Daikoku was working on something at the complete opposite of their usual products---rumors of an android designed specifically to kill.....
But that's another story for another day.
With Robodyne International having sold off most of their original patents and designs, existing solely as a consultancy firm throughout the 90s, the market seemed ripe for United Robotronics to do exactly what their name implied and unite all robotics companies. The only problem with this was that theh CEO of United Robotronics was, at the time, a complete psycho---and that's not just an exaggeration. William J. Rengold the Third was a lunatic even before he decided to start wearing a mask and calling himself Faceless; I still wonder how he ever gained control over UR with a record like his.....in any case, a lot of the more respectable roboticists----like the legendary Dale Coba, founder of what's bene known as the Stepford Experiment---refused to have their work "annexed, indexed and repossessed" by UR, which ended up getting Rengold fired.
Not that things got any better for United Robotronics after that......but again, another story for another day.
With the support of Dale Coba and the head of Daikoku Zaibatsu, Theodore Lawson---aka Ted Lawson, also known as my dad (in a manner of speaking)---formed Lawson Robotics to keep the new head of UR (someone even worse than William J. Rengold III, if you can believe that) from taking complete control of every other Silicon Valley-based robotics company. Specifically, he wanted to keep Project Apollo (occasionally known as Project Alpha) out of United Robotronics' hands....which is how I managed to avoid being reverse-engineered, mass-marketed and sold off to whoever they wanted.
The 90s were a LOT better for robotics companies than most people make them out to be. Silicon Dynamics, especially, came into its own in the latter half of the decade, with their automated factories managed by the Manfacturing/Distribution/Maintenance (M.D.M.) system. Daikoku began researching domestic and companion robotics (by the way, companion robot is NOT always a synonym for sex robot), and Lawson Robotics was making a fortune....
And that's when things suddenly took a very, VERY dangerous turn.
That's when the ALPA first found out about the Stylo virus.
Ever since the Creeper Virus first debuted in 1971, the computer industry as a whole has been on constant watch against future waves of malicious programs designed to wipe their hard drives, flood their inboxes with spam and generally wreak havoc.
They should consider themselves lucky that the Stylo virus ignores their setups.
I guess, in retrospect, the ALPA wouldn't really exist if it hadn't been for the creation of the Stylo virus. Apparently, someone on Capitol Hill decided that "we the people" needed a safeguard against any "Skynet scenarios" that may develop in the near or distant future. A lot of possible solutions were thought up, but in the end, the idiot who came up with the idea in the first place decided to go to the WORST POSSIBLE SOURCE OF INSPIRATION for, well, inspiration: He called up the Maestro.
The Maestro was---and, some claim, still IS---the most significant threat the robotics industry has ever faced. This is a guy who DELIBERATELY targeted Tentrex, United Robotronics and loads of other companies in Silicon Valley---Encom alone lost $10,000,000 just trying to keep him out of their systems. Somehow or other, this made him the perfect candidate for this really stupid plan to "keep the AIs from rebelling"---by creating a virus that could potentially wipe out all sentient Artificial Intelligence on the planet. Depending on who you believe, either the program was cancelled or the Maestro broke out before they could get him back on the leash---whatever happened, he ended up back in maximum-security (and believe me, he's NOT getting out any time soon), and the Stylo virus was, well, gone.
Thus, the Artificial Lifeform Protection Agency was formed.
The Stylo Virus was just one of the threats the ALPA had to deal with; rumors of industrial espionage, the attempted theft of a Daikoku Zaibatsu prototype (supposedly an assassin), and intercompany warfare were numbered among the earliest issues they had to deflect in their first few years. Nowadays, the ALPA has operatives in nearly every country on the globe, keeping watch over androids and gynoids that hide in plain sight amongst human beings.
Of course, if you're reading this report, you already KNOW that....you might even BE one of those androids or gynoids hiding in plain sight.
Like me, for instance.
Anyways, the Stylo Virus....yeah. It's like swine flu, the common cold and cancer thrown in a blender with a randomizer---it does different things to different robots. Some of them develop fatal malfunctions and, well, cease functioning; other cases have seen the temporary formation of a hive-mind controlling infected units. A few cases end with the infected robot's hard drive being completely wiped, deleting even their core programming so that they can't even perform basic tasks.
Rumor has it that at least 3% of all Stylo cases see an infected unit gain uncontrollable power....and nobody really knows what happens after that.
Standard operating protocol for a Stylo case is as follows: Report the infection, stay as far back as possible and wait for a containment team to arrive. Of course, had I known all this the first few times I encountered infected units...yeah. You'll probably hear about THAT particular part of my history soon enough, once the higher-ups give permission for the documents to be declassified.
Right, sorry for the delay....
As it turns out, the Stylo virus ISN'T the biggest threat to the world of international robotics manufacturers. See, while the ALPA can easily point out powerful individuals or groups that have tried to undermine, subvert and otherwise disrupt their efforts to keep androids and gynoids safe---and then actually contain said groups and individuals---there's ONE group in particular that, so far, they haven't even been able to touch.
This particular collective---wait, hang on....
(ALPA LOG: Vicki Lawson is away from the keyboard)
(ALPA LOG: Vicki Lawson is back at the keyboard)
Right, I just got a call from Tell...I can't mention the Coalition in this report.
Anyways, I might as well go into another historical aspect of the ALPA---specifically, their origins. A lot of collectors back in the early 70s were finding these odd, lifesized "statues" in various places, mostly whenever they'd move into a new house over in Great Britain. These "statues", as it turned out, were among the many clockwork automata created during the Victorian era, and such discoveries later led to the expedition that found Baron Lovelace's house.
Around the same time---in 1975, to be precise---the Stepford Experiment started.
Now, a lot of people have made claims about it---there was a book (which, oddly enough, was written before most people heard about the experiment), a movie (with a bunch of sequels) and a remake of the movie that was....yeah. The thread that binds all of these things together is that they all support the prevailing theory: Husbands were voluntarily letting their wives get killed so they could live with robots instead.
The truth....is a little more interesting.
As it turns out, the entire thing was, as the name "Stepford Experiment" suggests, an experiment---one of the first real glimpses into what Masahiro Mori referred to as the Uncanny Valley. None of the human wives were ever actually killed---they worked behind the secnes for well over a decade, taking notes on how well their robotic replacements interacted with their families (which, by the way, is one of the major things left out of the novel and movies). Whoever wrote the movie also took a lot of liberties with the whole "emotionless, serene robot wife" idea that spawned the term "Stepford wife" as we know it today; as for Dale "Diz" Coba, I've actually met the guy, and he's pretty cool.
But, of coruse, the media thought otherwise.
SOMEONE leaked the info about the Stepford experiment to the press, which led to the aforementioned novel, movie and sequels. This little fiasco, combined with the ever-increasing information leaks regarding what was SUPPOSED to be the top-secret RoboWoman project (a copy of which Dr. Franklin apparently got his hands on earlier in the decade), persuaded the Feds to form an agency dedicated to keeping such information safe. Eventually, this directive changed---after all, when you've got girls like me, who run on a RadioThermionic Generator and not Red Bull, living amidst the rest of the populace, a few info leaks sort of seem......well, not that big of a deal.
Except they WERE that big of a deal.
Thanks to people like the Maestro and at least half-a-dozen others, the security of gynoids and androids trying to live in harmony with the rest of humanity is constantly being threatened. It's not just security for myself and the rest of the 12% of androids and gynoids living in this country, either; "industrial espionage" is one of the most-common crimes the ALPA has to worry about these days. M-G Cybernetics has been upping their security on a weekly basis, Daikoku Zaibatsu has taken to employing their prototype guard androids at the entrances to their server rooms, and even my dad's company has been spending more on security lately. Ever since the Stepford Experiment, the ALPA has been doing their best to keep "hidden" gynoids and androids (especially those who don't know they're not human) from being compromised and having pics of their exposed internals trending on every social media site around the globe.
I suppose all of these mentions of clockwork automata have been garnering a lot of attention; next time around, I'll try to elaborate on them. Believe it or not, there's a whole area of the ALPA archives dealing with automata that were wound up with keys.....
One of the ALPA's biggest responsibilities is making sure that sleepers aren't exploited, exposed or compromised during their daily lives. Now, to get this clear, "sleeper" in the context of androids and gynoids refers to an android or gynoid that doesn't know he or she isn't human.
Keeping up the impression of humanity for sleepers is nowhere NEAR as easy as one might think. Trips to the doctor's office have to be planned out in advance by the parents/spouses/relatives/boyfriends or girlfriends, supervision is an absolute nightmare (trust me, you'll hear more about this as you get acquainted with the ALPA), and surveilance.....yeah, I'd go into how insane that is, but I don't want to overclock a processor and start throwing things across the room.
Sleepers have been in existence since the Stepford days, and the reasons for their existence are, well, complicated. Some of them were created to replace lost loved ones, otehrs were meant to be involved in massive, wide-reaching experiments that usually didn't pan out as well as the founders expected. There are other, more easily-explained reasons for why sleepers exist, but a lot of people wonder "Why don't they know they're robots from Day 1?"
Well.....that's even more complicated.
Sleepers usually don't know they're sleepers because whoever created them didn't want them to know. That's probably the easiest way to explain it, but it's also the hardest. In the case of being created to replace a lost brother, sister, wife, husband or other loved one, the continued concealment of their true nature is usually intended to keep their artificial nature from interfering in their day-to-day life---if you've on a date with a gynoid version of your comatose girlfriend, and she doesn't know she's a gynoid, it'd be pretty hard to explain why a "Change Battery" light is flashing on and off near her belly button, wouldn't it? As for the sleepers created as part of private experiments, their programming is usually modified to keep them from knowing what they really are in order to gague how well they'd do in various social situations.
Now, there is a THIRD reason for sleepers not knowing what they are.....and it's insanely rare and VERY complicated. In some circumstances, an android or gynoid will actually slowly begin to suppress their own programming. AI routines that work every single day to remind them of what they are will, for some reason or another, change and adapt until they no longer remember their true nature. It's INCREDIBLY rare, but it has happened.
I could go into more detail on it, but I'm still studying sleepers myself, so..yeah.
Onto a somewhat more interesting situation: Wind-up automata.
Ever since the days of Tesla, Lovelace and others whose names have been lost to history, it seems that there's been a fascination with creating human-sized dolls that can move, talk and interact with people. Human-sized windup dolls have been discovered in British estates, warehouse auctions and other such sites by ALPA collectors and field agents. These dolls are remarkably complex, and many of them are actually housed at the ALPA Central Command building (if you don't know where it is, I can't tell you...sorry).
Intriguingly, some modern robotics manufacturers have actually taken inspiration from these wind-up automata and actually started producing modern-day windup dolls, ranging from robots with wind-up mechanisms added for aesthetics to those that can actually be fully wound or unwound. A few select manufacturers have gone further and actually created robots with pull-string mechanisms or even WiFi "marionette"-style controls. I'm visiting one such manufacturer tomorrow, and I definitely intend to take notes.
So, you're probably wondering where all of these incredible robotics manufacturers are based. Well, you might be surprised to find out that some of them are closer to home than you might think. Silicon Dynamics, Robo Depot (the new majority owner of RoboDyne International stock) and several other vital firms have major facilities based on both coasts and the Midwest, though a lot of the firms that grew out of Project Oberon (Lawson Robotics, Tentrex Electronics, United Robotronics, M-G Cybernetics and Aeronautic and Robotics Technologies) are based in Silicon Valley. Hreftech has factories on four continents, and Daikoku Zaibatsu has facilities in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Cape Town, London, Paris, New York and Rio Di Janero. The ALPA itself has facilities all over the world, and there's talk about expanding their satelite network to widen the surveilance net.
If you’ve read this far, you're probably wondering what, exactly, the ALPA does and where you fit into all of this.
Well, you're about to find out.
The ALPA, as I've mentioned before, has the responsibility of keeping sleeper androids and gynoids from being exposed, exploited and/or compromised. As for those androids and gynoids who know what they are (like me), the ALPA is responsible for their safety as well---yes, it's all well and good that I have Detaining Grip v2.5, meaning anyone who tries to jump me is going to get a face-full of Tazer, but that won't do me a whole lot of good if I'm getting chased by five carloads of industrial saboteurs.
Robotics companies also get the maximum benefit of the ALPA...even if they're not registered. Unfortunately, some companies choose to join the Coalition (which, due to security reasons, I can't talk about), and....well, let's just say they have their own version of the ALPA, and it's a lot more menacing than the real thing.
Anyways, now that you know the basics of what the ALPA does, it's time to find out what your role is.
If you're a human relative (brother, sister, cousin, father, mother, uncle, aunt, grandparent or any other legal guardian) of a sleeper gynoid or android: Your prime responsibility is keeping said gynoid/android from being compromised or taken advantage of. ALPA operatives will be on hand to assist with setting up doctor's appointments (including dentist's appointments---which, believe it or not, are the second-most likely place for a sleeper to get exposed....flawless teeth tend to draw a lot of attention, especially if the visits are years apart). In cases where said gynoid/android has to be shipped to the manufacturer for a refit (a full-body upgrade to further the illusion of natural human growth), you'll have to fill out paperwork for an ALPA-approved "surgery" and put on your best brave face to explain that the "surgery" is absolutely necessary. Yes, it can get a bit weird sometimes, but it's all part of being related to a sleeper.
If you're a human relative of a gynoid/android who KNOWS that they're a gynoid/android: See the above. Fortunately, it's somewhat easier than having to handle said interactions with a sleeper. You still have to make sure to use terms like "surgery", "doctor's appointment" and other such stuff instead of "refit", "repair session" and "upgrade", otherwise people will think you're a bit....off. And if people think you’re a bit…off, they tend to start nosing around where they’re not needed or wanted….which is when things get complicated and amnesiacs start getting administered, but that’s another story for another day. Hopefully, it’s one story you’ll never have to go through personally, but trust me---it’s better to be ready and not have to fall back on your preparations than to be unprepared and get taken by surprise.
If you’re reading this, and you’re already an ALPA member (specifically, an ALPA member in charge of grading reports from those of us who are still in college): I know I’m supposed to have this report done by April 1st, and I’M WORKING ON IT. There’s still a lot I have to cover (including some backtracking to earlier bits of the whole “history” thing), and I’m still doing research on some parts…..between this and the missions I’ve been on, it’s starting to feel like I’ve barely got any “me time” anymore. Anyways, just trust me when I say that it’ll be done long before the deadline rolls around….just PLEASE give me some more time, and it’ll be handed in first thing in the morning on March 31st. Just so we’re clear: I WILL finish this report before then. Hopefully, it’s up to the stringent standards of the ALPA….if not, then I’m not going to complain or anything (despite the HOURS of work that went into this report and the fact that I only have ONE backup copy in case the hard drives crash or the flash drives get lost on the bus/in the washing machine).
If you ARE a gynoid/android.....welcome to the first step into the rest of your life.
Joining the ALPA is almost essential for any gynoid/android these days---actually, I could take out the "almost", since the ALPA is pretty much the only thing keeping pictures of your internals from trending on whatever social media site you prefer. Not only does the ALPA cover your repair costs, housing expenses and upgrade bills, they also offer liasons between you and potential employers. Counselors are on hand to help you deal with any traumatic malfunctions and/or exposure incidents---and yes, there are cases of androids and gynoids having nightmares about such incidents.
Long in a short, the ALPA is the worldwide lifeline for all androids and gynoids.
Well, those that aren't turned into footsoldiers by the Coalition....
Right, Tell's yelling at me to quit talking about the Coalition, so I'll quit talking about them. (I STILL don’t have proper clearance to go into detail about them….if I can’t get it by the time I start my next part of this report, I am going to SCREAM)
Anyway, you'll meet a lot of cool people in the ALPA. Just in the San Jose area---where I'm based---you’ll get to choose between three different ALPA-sponsored repair shops; Mr. Tell (who, despite his numerous claims to the contrary, isn't my "personal ALPA mechanic"---his shop is just easier for me to reach from the San Jose State University campus) is one of the best, and he's got the highest Quality Assurance rating the ALPA offers (as a bonus, he's also a certified computer repair technician, and he can fix most appliances, too!). As a general rule, though, don't try to contact ALPA field agents on public (or even private) lines---one will usually get assigned to you a week or so after you register. Speaking of registering, it's not just something we do to get free perks and stuff like that; ALPA registration pretty much makes it impossible for the low-to-midlevel sythophobes (I'll discuss them in detail in my next update) to get any access to you.
So...yeah. ALPA membership is awesome, and your place in it is going to ROCK.
Unfortunately, not everyone thinks that we're cool.....and they won't hesitate to go out of their way just to "prove it".
It shouldn't really come as a surprise that some people just aren't fans of humanoid robots. Whether it's because of some deep-seated fear of technology as a whole, private resentment (lots of people have lost jobs to automation, after all), or a reason too stupid to possibly qualify as logical, synthophobes are out there...and they're a very real threat.
Obviously, not all of them are the same kind of crazy. Some people just aren't entirely comfortable with machines---and I'm not just talking about robots. There are actually people who are afraid of things like common household appliances, computers (I feel sorry for them in particular) or even television. While I could go on a whole tangent about neurological reasons for this, I think it's better to just say that the majority of these people don't actively want to put an end to the ALPA or robotics as a whole---they just don't trust technology. ALPA agents like myself (and yes, in case I didn't already mention it, I AM a field agent) are occasionally deployed to monitor these kinds of people and, on some occasions, actually live with them for a while and help them overcome their fears of technology. While this NEVER involves the field agent revealing their true nature (at least, not intentionally), this does help people to understand that machines aren't "out to get them" or anything of the sort. These tactics also work with those who resent machines due to unemployment or feelings of inadequacy, though it usually takes a bit longer to get them to understand.
And then there are the idiots who think that "The Terminator" was a documentary, and that Skynet was "born out of the Internet".
No, I'm not making that up---just like there are people prepping for a zombie apocalypse, there are whole squads of people who actually think that all machines (and I do mean ALL machines) are part of some vast, global conspiracy designed to rid the planet of human beings and replace everyone with robot slaves. There are other theories (some of them are so stupid, I can't even mention them without laughing hysterically), but they all share the "ROBOTS ARE EVIL" mindset. Now, that by itself wouldn't really be a problem....but the people who THINK these things just so happen to have the resources necessary to wage a very real war against any and all robotics companies they think are contributing to "Skynet".
I'd assume you know where this is going, but trust me, the next bit has to be mentioned just to drive home how insane this stuff can get.
The ALPA has actually lost deep-cover agents to these fanatics, and the scary thing is, THREE OF THE AGENTS were gynoids. The rest were humans who ended up being "outed"; the gynoids we lost somehow lost track of their original objective and actually began to BELIEVE all of the anti-robot garbage their so-called "grand protectors" were spouting. At this time, all three of these gynoids are on the ALPA's Most Wanted List (Numbers 2, 3 and 5, respectively---the Number 1 spot is still held by the Maestro), and anyone who encounters them will probably have one hell of a fight on their hands. For those of you reading this, I wouldn't worry about it---unless things get really, REALLY stupid, those three won't be showing their faces for a good, long while.
While dealing with technophobes and those who lost their jobs to automation tends to be easy, keeping the "Skynet killer"-types from wrecking EVERYTHING tends to get annoying rather quickly. The ALPA has to invest just as much time and money as any government agency would to keep these would-be "resistance fighters" from completely ruining operations meant to protect sleepers, and while their numbers have been dwindling since the start of this decade, they're still out there, and still prepared to defend their so-called doctrines by any means necessary.
I'd go into more detail, but just thinking about these idiots makes me want to throw things.....
Right, I'm getting close to the end of this report, and trust me...you're not going to want to miss it. I've FINALLY gotten security clearance to go into detail about the Coalition....and let's just say that, unlike those "NewAmerica (Insert number here)" commercials, this really will be an eye-opener.
Before I say what I'm about to say, I have to make it VERY clear: A lot of people are still on the fence as far as supporting the Coalition over the ALPA, or siding with the ALPA against the Coalition, and contrary to what some might think, this report was never meant to support one over the other.
With that out of the way....
Trying to say the Coalition are "the bad guys" to the ALPA's "good guys" would be dramatically oversimplifying the facts, as well as trivializing what they both stand for. To be quite honest, the Coalition and the ALPA are pretty much the same in terms of organization, perks, day-to-day ops and other such stuff.
It's when you get to their ideals that things start getting hazy.
The Coalition and the ALPA both came into being within a year of each other, and at the start, they had the EXACT SAME GOALS. They worked together on cases, they traded agents, notes and recovered technology, and they even joined forces to fend off a THIRD round of fembots created by Dr. Franklin during a conference right here in San Jose. Basically, the ALPA and the Coalition were pretty much inseperable.
At least, until 1983.
Now, while I CAN talk about the Coaliton, I've been told at least fifty times (and no, I'm not exaggerating) that I CANNOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, DISCUSS WHAT OCCURRED ON FEBRUARY 28, 1983. The records for that incident have been quadruple sealed, classified at the HIGHEST level of "Top Secret" and "Eyes Only" and filed away with in the deepest, darkest recesses of the ALPA headquarters (from what I've heard, the Coalition has a copy as well). All I can say about that incident is that a human being died, an android was blamed, and a lot of people lost their jobs (along with a few more lost lives) in the aftermath. That incident is also what led the ALPA and the Coalition to realize that they weren't as alike as they initially thought, and that it might just be better for them to go their separate ways and continue doing what it is they do best....alone.
The reason for the big breakup? Simple: The Coalition favored subservience over sentience.
After the "Bloody Valentine" incident (as some have taken to calling it), the Coalition started pushing for stricter guidelines regarding sentient AIs in North America; pretty soon, they were lobbying for these guidelines to be put into action all over the world. The ALPA stuck to their guns and repeated the "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings" line that later became a catchphrase for a certain transforming semi-truck/giant robot; neither side wanted to admit they were wrong, and everyone involved just wanted it to end.
And then, Zebediah Blunderwitz reared his head.
Zeb Blunderwitz, aka the Most Hated Roboticist on the Planet, decided that AI's shouldn't even HAVE sentience---in his mind, they were nothing but tools to be used, operated and discarded by mankind. This put him heavily out of favor with the Coalition (the heads of which had been seriously considering the election of Blunderwitz as their ambassador), and the ALPA has blacklisted him for the past few decades, meaning that he's got nobody to turn to except his gynoid wife (whose programming, by the way, was illegally modified after she was stolen from a Coalition warehouse) and the few people who actually agree with his "no sentient robots" worldview. Dale Coba has gone on record as saying that Zebediah Blunderwitz is "one of the most backwards, incompetent fools the robotics industry has ever had to suffer", and even the highly-respected Prof. Anton Malvineous gets pissed off just at the mention of the name, "Zeb Blunderwitz" (though that has more to do with Zeb trying to get Anton fired).
Needless to say, Zeb's stance on sentience and subservience has done NOTHING to mend the bridges between the Coalition and the ALPA.
Now, before anyone starts claiming that the Coalition is the "Evil Empire" or anything, I might as well point out that, other than their stance on subservience over sentience, they actually share a lot of the same values as the ALPA. They support the idea of android/human marriage and dating, they wholeheartedly agree that androids should be allowed to interact with humans on an everyday basis, and they're in favor of laws that would regulate what constitutes cruelty to artificial lifeforms. Unlike the ALPA, however, the Coalition supports a few things that are widely frowned upon---most of which are things that I, personally, can't stomach. They've voted in favor of "aggressive testing" for androids and gynoids still in development (one example involved blasting the myogel-reinforced knee joints of a prototype gynoid with a shotgun as part of a "stress test"), and they have opposed plans to push for leniency regarding work hour for artificial beings. A few members of the Coalition have openly admitted that they have no problems slapping gynoids around instead of human spouses, and at least one high-ranking Coalition board member has put forth a plan for a "one-world, all-android army" unified by a single controlling network....sound familiar?
In short, a LOT of people think the Coalition is bad news, and that they represent everything that's wrong with robotics.
The truth is.....they don't.
A friend of mine said it best: It's not so much a two-person chess game as it is a game of Risk; the Coalition and the ALPA are seen as the "superpowers", but smaller groups within each organization are jockeying for power worldwide. Japan, Russia, the UK and the United States are among the more contested areas between the two, with Australia being acknowledged as ALPA territory and China claimed as Coalition ground. And before anyone thinks that the ALPA and the Coalition are waging some sort of massive, secret war against each other, allow me to set THAT record straight, too: any act of war from either group would be met with extreme prejudice and maximum force from the other side. To put it simply: It's effectively one big stalemate, and neither side wants to make a move.
Well, that about wraps it up for my report.....hopefully, I didn't bore anyone to tears with it. Now that you know a little bit more about the history of humanoid robotics, the ALPA and how you fit into all of this, your life as a member of the ALPA will be that much simpler.
Victoria Ann-Smith Lawson, aka Vicki Lawson, aka Voice Input Cybernetic Identicant (V.I.C.I.)
Vicki sat in the lobby of the San Jose ALPA building, waiting for the grade on her report to be delivered. Yes, she'd gone for the casual tone a few times too many, and there were a few gaps in the research...but she'd done the best with what she had. Either they'd appreciate it, or---
The brunette gynoid turned her attention to the door; "Yes?"
"I must admit, this report is a bit on the....ah, casual side," Dale Coba remarked, "but you've done a remarkable job at presenting the facts despite this rather....interesting choice of tone."
"That's good, right?" Vicki asked.
"Indeed it is," Anton Malvineous replied with a knowing smile. "Better to be casual and informative than boring and misleading....or worse, boring and incorrect. My only concern is that you may have gone a bit overboard in regards to requesting security clearance for your discussion regarding the Coalition."
"Ah, sorry about that...." Vicki murmured, blushing.
"In any case," Dale continued, "your writing was remarkable......and I certainly appreciate your setting the record straight with some of the more commonly misunderstood matters of ALPA history." The twinkle in his eye was noticable as he spoke. "I believe that this work is deserving of....." He paused. "We're using the standard letter grading system, right? Good. Well, then.....the appropriate grade for this would be....an A minus."
Anyone else would've complained about an A minus grade, but Vicki accepted it without question. "Thanks."
"Indeed. Oh, and Miss Lawson," Dale added, "I'm pleased to inform you that your field agent work has been reviewed and graded as well....meaning that as of today, you are now a Level 2 ALPA Field Operative."
Vicki's eyes went wide. "You mean....."
"No more having to get missions through a handler, no being accompanied by 'a senior operative' on the more dangerous work, and no more having to fill out fifteen different forms every time you accidentally bump into someone's car," Anton clarified, grinning. "I have to admit, after what you went through over the past year and a half.....I'm not surprised that you've made it this far."
Vicki chuckled; the diaries in her booksack were a testament to just how far she'd come.
"Well," she admitted, "it has been a pretty interesting story.....one that I've been writing about ever since I first joined the ALPA."
The End.....for this story, at least....
....but Vicki Lawson's story is just beginning.