We were part way down an alley off 5th Avenue when XM318 developed sentience. The official tech report would later state that it was on the corner of 5th and Broadway, but the techs weren’t there. I remember the moment well, and I’ve run it over in my mind countless times.
It was a standard patrol, nothing out of the ordinary by that point. No contacts either, not even trouble from the neighbourhood kids. But part way down that alley I remember XM318 just stopped in its tracks. It stopped, and it looked about, side to side. Then it kinda flexed its shoulder mounted armaments, sorta like a shrug, and continued on the patrol.
That had to be the moment, I know it. Bots don’t just stop like that – stop and think. Not unless there’s something to think about, like some contact on its scanners, some potential danger to assess. But there was no contact report fed into our links, not even a ‘stand by’ or ‘false alarm’. I remember thinking how odd that was, but my only reaction at the time was that maybe I should get the thing checked out when we got home, and maybe get my link checked out too.
Funny thing is, when bots go sentient there’s usually some reason, some trigger. Some conflict of interests or moral dilemma, that’s the most common, or maybe some confusing commands that force it to think well outside of its normal box. But there was nothing like that, not this time. It was a quiet patrol, a quiet alley, a quiet day. Juarez and me were hanging back, chatting about some barbeque pool party our wives were planning, that’s all. No paradoxes.
We had no way of knowing what would happen next…
What happened next? Did XM318 go on a killing spree? Or did the robot begin planning its own pool party? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Written by Mark Ball
Artwork by Ville Ericsson