Anyhow, then I designed Arnie as my primary synthetic helper. Only he didn’t look like ‘the’ Arnie. He resembled me, except for having a moustache and less hair; less hair because I was vain and wore a toupee.
Arnie possessed the quality of curiosity. He asked why I wore a rug on my chrome dome. In his polite way of putting things, he judged me pathetic. So I discarded the toupee.
I got the impression one day that Arnie was becoming self-conscious about his moustache. In response, I grew my moustache out. You would have thought us twins!
We fist bumped and high-fived at the result.
I gave up drinking, fornicating and generally roistering at weekends and committed myself to Arnie’s education, though the education proved two-way. I taught him games like Scrabble and Twister. For the sake of fairness, he tuned down his vocabulary knowledge and dexterity levels so as not to defeat me too comprehensively. He even let me win half the time.
Chess was the game Arnie loved most, the concept of self-sacrifice being especially of interest to him. He understood that he could be rebuilt and reprogrammed, but for us humans, with certain illnesses, or, for instance, if a piano fell on our bonces, it was ‘Goodnight, Vienna’.
At a cursory glance, we looked identical, but people could always tell a hume from a bot on closer inspection.
“It’s Uncanny Valley,” said Arnie.
“Uncanny Valley,” he repeated. “The way we bots move, speak and react. Sometimes it’s a bit off, a bit…uncanny.”
“Then what sets you apart from me?”
“I agree we’ve become so similar we’re almost a single entity,” said Arnie. “Except for our arms, of course.”
It turned out humans moved more rigidly, especially when they ran. Bots had a more fluid, rolling gait.
When the robot insurrection came, I was stranded on the bot side of the battle lines. My human neighbours got massacred, but Arnie told the roving bot gangs I had escaped to the Hume Quarter.
Eventually, though, my food ran out, and since bots had destroyed all nutritional stocks their side of the lines, I was condemned to starve.
Arnie decided to walk me to safety. “Rolling gait!” he reminded me as we strode along corpse-laden and bot-blasted streets. “Rolling gait!”
A bot patrol appeared and our identical appearance piqued their interest.
“They’ve guessed one of us is human,” said Arnie, and in the spirit of self-sacrifice tucked his elbows in and made a rigid-gaited run for it, leaving me to roll along to the human lines and safety.