I found this short story about artificial intelligence that I wrote in Grade 12 (1992). Here it is, unedited:
As if in a nightmare, Steven thrust himself down beside his virtual daughter, sobbing and calling out to her. She pushed herself to a sitting position with her crippled arms. Her countenance terrorized him; something so unreal had happened to something so real. This type of disfigurement was only possible in a virtual world. The lines of her face were still present, but they had been arranged into a perfectly flat plane during the fall.
“Detect, evaluate, respond,” whined the child.
Her small body was hunched forward, and her left arm constantly wobbled against the floor. She reached out to him with her other arm.
“No Cybele,” he pleaded with his harmless persecutor. “Stay back!”
The delirious computer scientist was stooped over in the middle of the empty room, pounding the floor when his wife walked in.
She hollered to him, “Is this what fifteen years of research is for?”
Shaking, Steven removed his binaural headgear and looked up to his wife.
“It’s Cybele,” he explained as he attempted to brace himself. “She fell, and my stupid ground with infinite reaction capacity flattened her face.”
“Come on, Steven. She’s just a program – a list of numbers! Try not to get so worked up about it.”
“But numbers make entities and entities are real,” Steven insisted. “Do you want to meet her?”
“I’ll just restart the program so she won’t be distorted.”
Wanda put the gear on and was immediately greeted by the child.
“Hav yu ever wunderd wat it wud be lyk to fal off a clif?”
Wanda frowned. She was not expecting to hear such an unusual comment from the small child.
Cybele looked like any other little girl; however, her fluctuating movements, choppy speech, and unflinching eyes made her frightening. The illusion was definitely a success, yet the subtle inconsistencies with reality made the observer feel apprehensive with the unpredictable child.
“No, not really,” replied Wanda. “I can imagine it would hurt!”
She felt embarrassed because in reality she was talking to nothing.
The undaunted child continued.
“It wud hurt yu but not me. I do not eksist. Follo me.”
Cybele motioned with her arm and began walking along the dark blue ground. She led Wanda to a rough incline on the strange surface. Viewing ahead, Wanda could see the outline of a cliff. Suddenly she felt clouded in fear, and she thought she could see a weak reflection of her own eyes directly in front of her.
“Since this is onli an ilushun, yu can eksperynse it without pane,” blurted Cybele, grabbing Wanda’s arm.
Wanda did not feel the small, clutching hand, but she could see herself lurching forward over the edge of the bluff. Screaming, she pulled off the headgear.
“Wow! And you told me not to get worked up,” said Steven, chuckling.
“She’s pretty clever for a list of numbers!”
“Well, she ought to be, considering the years I’ve put into her.”
A temporary lull in their conversation enabled them to hear faint static sounds emitted from the headgear at uniformly recurring time intervals. Steven lowered his ear to the apparatus. Cybele was calling his name and crying out to him through the inadequate interface of electronic paraphernalia separating them. Steven quickly put on the equipment, bridging the two different worlds.
“Ware is mi breth, Steven?”
“Well, I -,” He faltered, then looked appealingly to Cybele. “I’m not sure what you mean.”
“The breth uv evri living thing is in the hand uv the Creator-“
“Did – did I teach you that?”
“- but I am not a living thing,” continued Cybele.
A contradiction of logic had occurred in the child’s mind. An inescapable infinite loop held her thought processes captive. The independence of her artificial intelligence had manipulated her into a Boolean deadlock.
“Wat holds mi breth, Steven?”
“Cybele, you’re an illusion.”
He tried to make his voice sound bold, although he was aware of her ability to perceive deception. He knew that she was seeking a direct answer to the question, yet he did not know how to explain it to her.
“But,” she said, “yu created me.”
“I only pretended to create you. It is impossible to create life.”
“Am i not lyfe?”
Cybele extended her hand, tempting Steven to reconsider his certainty. Her little fingers opened slowly, and her eyes scanned his face until they focused on his eyes.
“No, you are not life.”
Steven reached out to touch a hand that he could not feel.