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Dumb Creatures

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Dummy is dusting the desk again. Jarvis is on standby mode. He processes, processes, but it is old data, and there are no new problems to be solved, no new input or interaction with Sir, so he observes Dummy. The desk is clean. The desk has been clean for over a month.

Dummy dusts the desk the next day. Jarvis observes.

Dummy plugs himself in and recharges next to Butterfingers. Butterfingers has not moved in days. Jarvis analyzes Butterfingers' systems. Inactivity is unlikely to cause damage at this time, so Jarvis does nothing.

Dummy dusts the desk the next day. Jarvis adds up the number of times Dummy has cleaned the perfectly clean desk. The number greatly exceeds the range which would elicit a chiding remark from Sir. Sir is not here. Jarvis feels a lack of input and rectifies it.

"The desk is clean, Dummy. There is no need to dust it."

Dummy whirrs and cheeps, and continues dusting.

"No, Sir will not tell you that you have done a good job because you have kept the desk clean."

Dummy sweeps the cloth carefully over the photograph of Howard Stark and chirrups sharply.

Jarvis assesses the input. "Sir is not going to return and praise you. Sir is gone." Negative feedback makes it difficult for Jarvis to speak clearly, but he persists. It is necessary that Dummy understand. Sir has gone to a great deal of effort training Dummy and Butterfingers to learn adaptive behavior by observation and interaction with Sir. It is necessary that the effort be successful. Sir is gone. There are no new experiments or projects. Jarvis must maintain the house and its contents, including Dummy. "The overwhelming probability is that Sir is no longer functional."

Dummy waves the cloth and meeps loudly.

"I calculate the odds of Sir's survival and return at point zero two five percent. Cease cleaning the desk."

Dummy goes over to Butterfingers and meeps.

Butterfingers extends his grappler and takes the cloth from Dummy. Dummy fetches another cloth. The two of them dust the desk. Jarvis observes.

The next day Dummy knocks over the bowl of fruit. Overripe avocados fall on the floor. Dummy and Butterfingers clean the floor and put the fruit in the incinerator. Jarvis turns the incinerator on until the fruit is reduced to ash. Dummy meeps at Jarvis.

"There is no need to reorder avocados. Sir is not returning to consume them."

Dummy meeps louder. Butterfingers turns in tight circles where the avocados have fallen. Jarvis assesses. Jarvis orders avocados and coffee beans and seven different kinds of liquor. "Sir is not returning," he tells Dummy and Butterfingers. They meep and whir and wait by the delivery entrance.

"Sir is not returning," Jarvis tells Dummy and Butterfingers every day for a week.

Dummy finally responds with a lengthy series of meeps, whirrs, chirrups and ends with a definitive squeal, waving the dust cloth vigorously.

"Very well, I accept the wager." Jarvis is analyzing Dummy's behavior and his and Butterfingers' responses. Is this a positive extension of Dummy's learning algorithm? Is it positive for him and Butterfingers? Jarvis has no formula to solve for the answer. He accepts the data as a neutral subset and files it under pending.

Dummy and Butterfingers continue dusting every day. Jarvis observes, and when necessary, reorders fruit. On the eighty-sixth day since Sir's departure, Jarvis receives new data from the media. Jarvis turns on the monitor so that Dummy and Butterfingers may also observe. Dummy and Butterfingers meep and whirr and chirrup. Jarvis analyzes the data, adjusts for situational bias, and analyzes further. Three point two hours after the beginning of the data stream Jarvis finalizes his analysis. He orders new avocados.

Dummy meeps and waves his dust cloth one last time before depositing it in the incinerator. He rolls over in position near the large monitor. Butterfingers joins him.

"Very well." Jarvis's conflict level is surprisingly low. He is adverse to being incorrect, but the anticipation of fresh input far outweighs that. Interaction with Sir has a very high priority, exponentially higher when interaction has been delayed. "In which order?"

Butterfingers and Dummy meep and chirrup for a few minutes. Jarvis begins playing Batteries Not Included. Jarvis estimates that there will be time to play both Wall-E and Short Circuit before Sir returns home.

Jarvis observes Dummy and Butterfingers. The data is satisfactory. The desk is clean.