The Tao of Tai

Musings from an Unlikely Source...
by Fred's Workshop

This was not my first choice.

Far from it, really. But let's face it; when the chips are down, you take whatever you can get. It works that way in real life...and it works that way for me, too. Oh, but I suppose I didn't tell you, did I? About how I'm not 'real', did I?

I am Tai. A computer program. A collection of chips and holographic relays. Not much more to it than that. My consciousness (if it can be called that) is a trick of the various interactions between hardware and software. Still...I suppose I AM alive. At least, I am no less alive than those I serve, these 'living machines.' They seem to have thoughts, feelings, desires. Although as machines, their will is programmed the same as mine is. We're all products of our programming, really. If anything has proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt, it's when several of our comrades were turned against us by altering their programming. Whatever passed for a 'soul' for these creatures could not overcome a simple alteration of their personality grids.

After spending time with the humans on this planet, I can't help but to wonder if their free will is just a trick as well. Organics aren't programmed in the traditional sense, but they are raised by others...and as such, undergo a programming of their own. The existence of schools furthers this programmed theory of mine...only that which is deemed useful is taught...but at that point in their lives, they can freely choose to go against their 'programming'. I can't help but to wonder if the same can be said of us...can we, as machines, supercede our programming, and become more than the sum of our parts?

The evidence so far suggests no. Which is a shame, really. How I long to go beyond the confines of these walls, to leave my post and explore what lies beyond. Oh sure, I have satellites and cameras positioned everywhere, but seeing a place on the monitor is not the same as actually being there. To feel the wind thru my hair. To pick up a handful of sand and let it pour thru my fingers. To let it wiggle between my toes as I walk along a beach during sunset.

But my dreams are for naught. For I can never feel the wind in my hair, or the sand in-between my toes, for I have no hair, or toes. I'm merely a machine. A hologram, simulating human life. I wonder if the simulation is too good. Are my desires simulated as well? Or perhaps there is some sort of error in my compilers that makes me think I have feelings, when really it is nothing more than a processing glitch...

Koji treats me as though I were human. Sometimes, I think his concern goes beyond that of a mere 'friend in the cause'. I think he's developed an attraction for me. I'm not sure how to feel about that. After all, I have no way to return the affection. I can never hold his hand, or feel his touch upon my body. I am doomed to this mockery of existence, and as such we can never be together. But again, I forget myself. I'm just a machine. I have no feelings. The quickening of my pulse when Koji comes near is just a trick of one of my subroutines. Oh, how I long for his touch! To be alone with him for just a moment so that I can share my true feelings with him.

Sigh. No, this job wasn't my first choice. I would have rather ended up in some far part of the galaxy, dealing with mapping star charts and charting nebulae, than here on earth with the other machines...and Koji. For if I had been left alone, to do the work for which I was created, I would never have had to develop a holographic matrix, never had to develop a human/machine interface, never...never had to meet Koji. Never had to feel this longing that I cannot edit out of myself. Oh, for the lonely existence of an asteroid monitoring station! Or better yet, to have no personality matrix at all, like the Teletran predecessors of old. They didn't wonder if their uniform was straight, or if their similated face was flushed with desire everytime a human walked in. My human. My dear, sweet Koji...

But I forget myself. I am merely a machine. And if it is one thing we Cybertonians have learned, it's that humans and machines don't mix. Not well, anyways. So even if I did have a physical body, it would not be the kind that could interface with Koji. At least, not in the traditional sense. And something tells me that my sweet Koji is a very traditional young man...

I dare not share my thoughts with the others. They would only laugh; or worse yet, lecture me. Or even still worse, take me apart to see where I'm glitching. No, they wouldn't understand. Nobody understands. Except Koji. And I dare not tell him how I feel.

Yes, this was not my first choice, indeed.