Efficiency





Efficiency

Author:
Katarzyna Marcinkowska, markablue@vp.pl

The
Birati were a very proud race. They were vaguely humanoid, but in their case
‘vaguely’ meant a whole lot of difference. The Birati were a handicapped race
as they only had very short, three-fingered hands. They couldn’t achieve much
in terms of technology but they developed theoretical sciences: mathematics,
psychology, literature and others. They would stay confined to their small
planet somewhere at the outskirts of the galaxy, if not for a lucky coincident.
One day, as the Elder taught a spaceship from another solar system came. The
Birati had long ago believed they were not alone in the universe, but they
had no means to see it for themselves.

The
aliens came not to pay them a visit, but in search for help. Fortunately,
they had been looking for the only kind of help the Birati could offer them:
mental treatment of some of their crew. After several months of working out
the ways of communicating, learning about the alien physiology and mental
specifications, they finally achieved success. The grateful aliens wanted
to share their technology in exchange for the help, but Birati didn’t want
the technology. They wouldn’t be able to utilize it. So they asked the aliens
if they could build them simple robots. The kind of machines that were easily
repaired could build more of their kind and that could manipulate objects
the way Birati could not. The aliens gave them what they wanted and left.
The Birati were never the same afterwards.

They
ordered their robots to multiply so that in time every family on the planet
owned a sizeable group of them. The Birati started experiments using their
robots. Soon, they were able to build better houses, vehicles and machines.
Finally they felt they were beginning to advance the way they deserved.

‘Mum,
are you there?’ The voice of her daughter interrupted a very detailed scan
of some mechanism, doctor Lou was conducting. She felt irritated.

‘I’ll
call you later, now go, play, Mou. Take your sisters with H-72 for a walk!’
The girl didn’t give up that easily, though.

‘Mum,
I need to talk to you, please! It’s important.’

Doctor
Lou sighed. It wasn’t easy to work while having 15 daughters who constantly
needed her attention. All the Birati had between 12 to 20 children in one
go, and usually of the same sex. Since they also had robots to do all the
work for them, it usually was no burden. Just thinking of the older days,
without the robots, was scary. Still, Dr Lou was a very busy person. She was
working on a very important invention and she’d very much preferred if her
daughters were more self dependent.

‘All
right, come in,’ she finally consented. ‘You can try your new prosthetic arm
while we’re talking.’ The door opened and in came a nice Birati girl. She
was tall, about 110 cm, and weighing only 70 kg. The ground length hair was
beautifully red and she had deep, purple eyes. Everybody would call her a
beauty, if only for her species’ standards.

‘But,
Mum,’ she started arguing the moment the door opened. ‘I don’t want this arm!
Everybody is laughing at us and calling us names. They say we look like our
robots!’

Dr
Lou eyed her daughter. What a nonsense, she thought. People were always so
apprehensive to new things.

‘There
is nothing wrong with having a prosthetic arm, Mou,’ she started explaining
patiently. After all, the prosthetic arms were one of her most genius inventions
and she was very proud of them. ‘It allows you to do many things your friends
cannot, isn’t that nice?’

‘It
is,’ said the girl uneasily. ‘But Noe called me a girl-robot and said that
I wouldn’t be admitted to the University but rather work in the Factory with
other robots.

‘That’s
stupid and you know it, Moe. If our people had both the mind and the able 
body, like our robots, we could achieve much more. Imagine all those experiments
you will be able to conduct when you are at the University! You’ll become
a great scientist and you’ll be able to prove your theories without the help
of robots! Isn’t that worth a little inconvenience now?’ The girl didn’t look
convinced.

‘Yes,
Mum,’ she said, ‘but could I at least leave my arm at home when I go to school?
I’m sure the rest of the girls would prefer that too, only they don’t want
to bother you.’

‘But
you have to learn how to use it. Otherwise, you’ll have the same problems
I do. Can you see?’ The doctor lifted her own clumsy, artificial arm. It was
a prototype. The one she was particularly proud of, as it enabled her to work
more efficiently on numerous other projects. It was still difficult for her
to operate it, though. That’s why she insisted on her daughters getting used
to them from a very early age.

The
doctor pointed to the small table in her private lab where this conversation
was taking place for a hundredth time perhaps, as Moe was a very stubborn
little girl. There were various mechanical parts, electrical conduits, microchips
and other technical stuff that also cramped every cubical meter of the small
room. It was hard to move around there, not to mention move around creatively.
The doctor picked up one of the smaller parts of the mechanism and brought
it up against the girl’s face.

‘This
is something that will make you much more efficient in future. Provided, of
course, that you stop moaning and let me finish my work.’

‘What
is this?’ Asked the girl curiously, already forgetting about her problems.

‘It
is a part of a neural interface I am working on. Once it’s ready and tested,
I’m going to implant it into your brain.’

‘What
will it do to me?’ Moe was as much excited as frightened by her mother’s work.
It was true that life was much easier with all of the artificial augmentation.
She loved being able to manipulate small objects the way her peers could not.
She and her sisters were not very popular for this, but they knew very well
that everybody envied them. They were still asked to participate in every
secret game because with them, the other children could leave their nosy robots
at home. ‘It will allow you to co-ordinate all your artificial parts more
easily. And you will able to add others as you wish.’ Answered Lou dreamily.

‘And
how will you call it?’ the girl asked excitedly, looking with her laser eye
at her mother’s work.

‘Bioneural
Operational Routine Guard,’ said the doctor, stroking the implants on her
daughter’s face. ‘The BORG. Once you get it, you’ll be perfect…’


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