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CHOICE   8'?m3f Creation, God's sovereignty, choice, sin

LIZ -- (sneaks onto stage carrying two water-balloons, creeps to
front lip of stage, kneels, peeks over edge, withdraws, peeks 
over edge, prepares to throw down one of the balloons)

AMY -- (enters backward, speaks to exit) Come along.

ROBOT -- (follows) As you wish, my friend.

LIZ -- (gasps, stands, hides balloons behind back) The roof of
this building is off limits to residents, you know.

AMY -- (approaches Liz) You're a resident here, aren't you?

LIZ -- Well, yes, but... I have business here. I'm doing an
important... science project. Yes, that's it... a science 
project.

AMY -- What a coincidence! I'm about to conclude a science
project. (to robot) Step to the edge of the roof. (points)

ROBOT -- (follows) As you wish, my friend. (steps to edge)

LIZ -- Be careful there, it's over a hundred feet down.

ROBOT -- Ninety-Seven feet, seven and one quarter inches.

LIZ -- Hey, you're pretty smart. How did you know that?

ROBOT -- I calculated the distances from inputs from my sensors.

LIZ -- Hey, you sure talk funny. Are you from around here?

ROBOT -- Apartment eight-B.

LIZ -- That's not what I meant.

AMY -- She's a robot.

LIZ -- A robot?!

AMY -- Yes. (to robot) What will be your terminal velocity?

ROBOT -- Depending upon the coefficient of friction of my body 
and clothes, terminal velocity will range from 92.7 to 101.3 
feet per second.

AMY -- That should be adequate.

LIZ -- (moves closer, revealing hidden balloons) You mean that's
not really a human person?

AMY -- No. What are the water balloons for?

LIZ -- (hides them) Water balloons? What water balloons?

AMY -- The water balloons you're hiding behind your back.

LIZ -- (reveals balloons) Oh, these water balloons! Oh, ah, yes,
ah, these are part of my science experiment.

AMY -- I'm sure. (to robot) Check to make sure you don't fall on
anybody.

ROBOT -- (bends at the waist) All clear.

AMY -- Okay, step off.

ROBOT -- As you wish, my friend. (holds foot forward)

LIZ -- Wait a minute!

ROBOT -- Abort requested?

AMY -- No.

LIZ -- Yes!

ROBOT -- Shall I override?

AMY -- Yes.

LIZ -- No! Don't jump.

ROBOT -- I was not about to jump. I was about to step off.

LIZ -- Then, don't step off! (to Amy) What are you doing?

AMY -- I told you. I'm about to conclude a science experiment.
(to robot) Step off.

LIZ -- No! Wait!

ROBOT -- Abort requested?

LIZ -- You can't just destroy a perfectly good robot like that!

AMY -- Why not. I have concluded the experiment and the
experiment was a failure. So, I have no further need for this
robot. So, (to robot) override the abort command. Step off!

LIZ -- No! Wait!

ROBOT -- Abort requested?

AMY -- What is it now?

LIZ -- Surely your robot is useful for something! Can't you put
her to work cleaning floors or doing your laundry?

AMY -- I already have a robot for housekeeping.

LIZ -- Well, then, what did you build her for?

AMY -- I'll tell you that, if you tell me what you were REALLY
going to do with those water balloons.

LIZ -- I... It's a little embarrassing. I don't want to talk
about it.

AMY -- (to robot) Override abort command. Step off.

LIZ -- No! Wait!

ROBOT -- Abort requested?

LIZ -- Alright, I'll tell you. I... My boyfriend broke up with
me and was going out on a date with my neighbor.

AMY -- And you were going to give them a shower.

LIZ -- In a manner of speaking.

AMY -- Not real smart.

LIZ -- Well, I'm not sure it's all that smart to destroy a
perfectly good robot.

AMY -- You want her? You can have her.

LIZ -- I can! Wow! Thanks!

AMY -- (moves toward exit) Good riddance.

LIZ -- Wait! How do I operate her?

AMY -- (turns) She responds to any voice command. (turns)

LIZ -- You mean there's nothing wrong with her?

AMY -- (turns) Nothing mechanical.

LIZ -- She's not going to... I'm not in any danger, am I?

AMY -- Oh, no.

LIZ -- Then, why do you want to get rid of her?

AMY -- I built her to be a companion. But I discovered that 
robots don't make very good companions.

LIZ -- I don't understand. She's seems rather pleasant.

ROBOT -- The velocity of the wind is increasing. If you want me
to step off, I should do so before the wind blows me off course,
where there might be collateral damage.

LIZ -- Step back from the edge. You're not going to... step off.

ROBOT -- As you like, my friend. (steps back)

LIZ -- My! She sure is courteous! I don't see why she wouldn't
be a good companion.

AMY -- Don't mistake consistency for courtesy.

LIZ -- I don't understand.

AMY -- Things like courtesy, loyalty and tolerance are choices
people make. But they can only MAKE choices if they HAVE
choices.

LIZ -- You mean like my disloyal boyfriend who CHOOSES to dump
me for my neighbor? (points down) By the way, you made me miss
my shot at them. They're out of range now.

AMY -- Sorry to interrupt.

LIZ -- It's okay. It was a stupid idea anyway. I still don't
understand why you'd want to get rid of a companion who is
incapable of disloyalty.

AMY -- Suppose for a second that your boy friend (points) had no
choices except those YOU give him.

LIZ -- How could that be bad?

AMY -- Watch this. (to robot) Hey, Robin, how do you like my
hair?

ROBOT -- Your hair is lovely.

AMY -- (puts forearms over head) Hey, Robin, how do you like my
hair?

ROBOT -- Your hair is lovely.

LIZ -- Oh. I see what you mean. It doesn't really mean anything 
if she gives the same response every time.

AMY -- I tried varying her responses. I let her give me a bad
opinion every seventh question.

LIZ -- Well, that wouldn't work either. You'd still know that
her opinion was just what you gave her to say.

AMY -- I even randomized the negative opinions, so I'd never
know when she would unload on me.

LIZ -- That's still just playing back what you told her to say
in the order you told her to say it.

AMY -- Exactly.

LIZ -- That could be boring after a while.

AMY -- It's completely meaningless.

LIZ -- Why don't you program her to have choices?

AMY -- The cost would be huge.

LIZ -- What do you mean?

AMY -- I did some calculations based on what I know about human
nature. If I gave her choices, I calculated that there was a
seven to one chance that she wouldn't even choose to be my
companion.

LIZ -- What does that have to do with the cost?

AMY -- In order to get one robot who would choose to be a loyal
companion to me, I would have to build seven robots or more.

LIZ -- Well, couldn't you limit her choices?

AMY -- Yes, I suppose I could. But, if I didn't want to get back
to programming her choices for her, the only way I could limit
her choices is to build a whole new world for her to live on,
where her choices are limited by her environment.

LIZ -- Well, why don't you do that?

AMY -- It's been done.

LIZ -- You mean, someone already went to all the trouble to
build robots with free choice AND a completely new environment
for them?

AMY -- Yes, and according to his research notes, even with an
ideal environment that limited their choices, many of them chose
not to be loyal to their creator.

LIZ -- Gee, that's interesting! Where did all this happen?

AMY -- On Earth.

LIZ -- Where on Earth? (pause) Oh. You mean... us?

AMY -- Yes. (exiting) Enjoy your new companion.

LIZ -- (follows) Robin, come with me.

ROBOT -- (follows) As you wish, my friend.

LIZ -- How do you like my hair.

ROBOT -- Your hair is lovely.

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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