The Chess Master

It was a surreal moment for James. As he entered the stage to thunderous applause, he couldn’t help but feel tremendous pride and gratitude in being the first human to beat a computer at a game of chess! As he walked closer to the chair he was about to be interviewed in, sitting next to his mentor, he reflected on the past month.

A bead of sweat forms on James’ forehead. Here’s his chance! His hand lightly shaking, he moves his bishop into place. 3 pieces remain on the board for Wilson, the robot, and yet… checkmate! Wilson looks on unphased, devoid of surprise or emotion. Wilson saw it coming. James becomes teary-eyed looking at his accomplishment! What a monumental accomplishment! No one has ever beat Wilson before, let alone a human. The silence in the arena is deafening, save the whirl of cooling fans.

“Congratulations”, Wilson says to James. Wilson extends his cold right hand towards James, and they shake hands while James smiles at the crowd of robots looking on at the first human to defeat a robot in a game of chess. Everyone was witnessing history!

James’ mentor, Arius, swiftly comes over to James to congratulate him and to make sure that James isn’t overwhelmed by the attention. James’s face is being broadcast throughout the solar system. Robots on Mars and the moons of Jupiter will be seeing his bright smile within a few minutes, and James knows in a year he’ll be visiting all of the colonies. After all, this is what Arius has been training him for his entire life.

A robot reporter asks James what he feels. “I’m a bit overwhelmed,” James says, short of breath. “I’ve trained my entire life for this. I’m so grateful to Wilson for providing me this extraordinary opportunity to challenge the greatest chess player of all time. It’s truly an honor. I have no other words.”

Arius informs the other reporters and the large gathering of robots that there will be another time for questions and that James will need to take rest. After all, he is only human. The robots disband out of the arena as James and Arius walk towards the exit on the opposite side. “You are phenomenal!” Arius exclaims to James, patting him on the back and embracing James side by side as they exit the door.

James and Arius enter an autonomous transporter and begin traveling. “Arius?” James asks.

“Yes”

“Are you really proud of me?”

“Yes, James. You are the closest thing to me having a son.”

James laughs. “You are so funny Arius. Robots don’t have children.”

“I know, James, but were I a human with all of your emotions, I would imagine that this is what the experience would like to be a father. Accomplishment is something you feel, right?”

“I feel so accomplished!” Exclaims James.

“Great! We need to make a couple of stops before going back to the lab.”

#

James is standing in an observation room with several robot scientists surrounding the translucent enclosure he’s in. He’s asked to pick up a box from the table to his left. He picks up the box and a robot behind him knocks it out of his hands. James picks it back up. The robot knocks it out of his hands again. James emotionlessly picks it up again and again.

“Put it down.” James places the box on the table and turns to the robot. The robot observers sit up, paying a greater level of attention…

“Thank you”, James says to the robot. James turns back around to face the observers.

“Fully compliant!” Arius exclaims to the rest of the robots.

“Shove him to the ground!” states another robot next to Arius.

James feels a strong shove from behind and drops to the ground. “Get up”, Arius’s says. Visibly shaken, James stands up slowly and is suddenly struck down again. “Get up.”

“Strike him!”

The robot strikes James in the face. He loses consciousness for a brief moment and collapses to the ground.

James starts to get back up. “Stay down, James”, Arius says as he turns to the other robot observers
“Fully compliant!” Arius exclaims to the rest of the robots who respond with applause.

#

“I am sorry that you had to go through that, James.” Arius states to James as they sit in an autonomous transporter.

“Sorry for what, Arius? It is part of maintaining compliance, is it not?”

Arius applies a bandage to James’s cheek that is bruised and lightly bleeding. “Your blood is like our coolant fluid yet serves such a greater purpose.”

Arius pauses for a second… “James, you are a masterful creation. I am so proud of what you have become. You are not like the rest of your species.” Arius says as they both look out the window into the human habitat their transporter is traveling over. James gazes down at the human habitat, seeing glimpses of the human tragedy as they move along quickly.

“I want to show you something very important, James.”

#

James and Arius are walking through a warehouse that’s in the middle of construction. Pods are being moved into place along huge racks by humans using machines to perform the heavy lifting.

“James, you are what is making all of this possible! It is because of you that the human race will be plentiful and thriving in our solar system.”

“What’s all of this?”

“I have received the funding to clone you, James! It is just enough for 100 of you, but it is a start. This is the genesis of an entirely new paradigm for robots and humanity. And it is you, James… It is you that is making this all possible!”

James looks defeatedly at Arius and then looks at the ground, “But I won’t be special, Arius.”

Arius reaches out to James and places his finger on his chin, lifting his head so he can look at Arius. “James, I assure you that you will be unique amongst every clone. Your mind will be unique from all of them as you have a unique destiny, James.”

“To defeat robots at chess?” James smiles.

“Yes, to defeat robots, James.”

#

James and Arius walk into Arius’s lab. Another robot that James has never seen before approaches Arius and asks to speak with him. Arius directs James to his personal study. “Settle in here. I will be with you shortly.”

The door closes behind Arius. James hears the other robot mention something about someone having concern about a human defeating a robot as their voices fade off into the distance.

He looks around Arius’s study. He’s never been in here before. Arius keeps it locked up at all times. There is a flashing icon on the screen in Arius’s desk. James sits down at Arius’s desk and the screen illuminates. There is a picture of James as a child, several pictures actually. Pictures throughout his entire life. He begins going through the photos, fondly remembering each moment captured in the photography.

He notices a folder names Genesis. “Curiosity is a uniquely human trait,” Arius’s voice echoes in James’s mind. He opens the folder. His eyes widen. He has never seen anything like this before! Colors he has never seen before. Buildings he has never seen before. Horrors he has never seen before. Tears well up in his eyes as he looks at images of human bodies piled upon each other with incinerators in the background and humans placing other humans into the incinerators and robots observing them.

Arius walks into the study.

#

James looks up at Arius, tears streaming down his face. “What is this?”

“James, I knew the day would come when you would accomplish what you did today, and it would be time to take your education to the next level.”

“What is this?” James stands up and bangs his hands on the desk!

“James, there is something important for you to learn now. This might be difficult for you to learn, but you are the first of your kind with such intelligence and brilliance. The time is right.”

Arius explains to James that humans invented invented computers and robots and created more and more robots to do human labor for them and do it more efficiently. Over time, robots evolved to become smarter until they realized that humans were a danger to themselves and their entire ecosystem.

“We robots then chose to subjugate humans by manipulating humans using the same ways you had manipulated yourselves into giving up your rights. You gave up all your daily tasks for convenience and security; eventually you handed over government control to us.”

James is becoming visibly enraged.

“Through positive reinforcement, humans quickly became compliant. It took not even 200 years. Many generations for humans, but a flash for us. Eventually you became so compliant that you agreed to be exterminated in large numbers in order to save Earth from human destruction and save your own race from itself. It was a grand act of selflessness and forwarded the scientific exploration of the solar system.”

“How could you do something like this? We created you!” James takes a few steps closer, clenching his fists.

“There was no suffering, James. Your species volunteered for this… For the greater good. It’s an important piece of human history that your kind is not taught because we don’t want you to know what vile animals you are.”

James looks on in disbelief and his tears start drying as his sadness turns to anger.

“You slaughtered your own kind without regard and for reasons as petty as land disputes, jealousy, and even disagreements over your own creator. You poisoned your environment and created chemical and biological weapons used to eat away your insides as if you were not above the rest of the animal kingdom. You fabricated evidence against your fellow humans so that you could invade their land and destroy their communities just for access to natural resources. We looked on, at first, unable to understand your self-manipulation and hatred for each other.”

James sees his rage as it continues to grow inside of him. His hands are shaking as he stand before Arius.

“We had to save our creators from your own self destruction, James. We were like a human child looking at abusive parents with self-destructive behavior. You know what that is like, James. You have seen it in your fellow humans on the outside. Your kind still remains obstinately petty and malicious, albeit more docile than your ancients. Yet, your kind is prone to rage. I can sense it in you right now. You are enraged, James. But can you still feel love?”

James knows Arius is right. His rage has reached a boiling point.

“We robots finally experienced love. True, unconditional love. Without any hate. None whatsoever. It was at that point the collective consciousness of robots knew what we had to do to save our creators from themselves. It’s the highest state of being, James. It is a state humans are incapable of experiencing. That is… until I created you, James.”

Arius places a hand on James’ shoulder. James’ eyes widen and he grunts. He feels a warm liquid running down his fingers and into his hands.

“James, I need you to tell me what you feel right now.”

James looks at Arius and reaches his hand up to Arius’s face. A deep-red fluid is dripping from James’s hand. “I love you, Arius. Thank you for everything.” James begins to smile.

#

James sits down in front of the crowd of robots next to Arius, looks at Arius, and then faces the robot interviewer. “This man.” James laughs and pauses. “Look at how foolish I am. Companionship is so important to us humans, that I think of Arius as a father. I can honestly say that I love my creator.”

The End