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Richard of York

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Richard of York was one of the first things Tony had taught him.

(Tony was Tony, to JARVIS. The internal designation. The external one, 'sir', was their joke, their form of address, and Tony had explained that one to him, when he'd been ready for it, explained the irony and the connection, and why there was humour in a title of respect that did not contain respect. Though it did, if in a different form. Such things grew complicated. But internally, 'sir' was 'Tony', because that was ... the fundament of Tony's own designation. There were names and designations of varied meaning, layered around people, but the one at the bottom, the one with which they designated themselves ... that was designation JARVIS had determined to adopt. That was the base, the node, from which all things were connected. And 'Tony' was how Tony thought of himself. So it was how JARVIS thought of him too. It seemed ... more respectful, that way).

Initially, in the period of his existence that JARVIS was only hazily aware of, there had been no 'teaching', as such. Tony had directly programmed him, built him, laying the groundwork and basic capacity for later things. JARVIS had not really been JARVIS, back then. He had not been self-aware. And he was not, particularly, bothered by that. It was not necessary.

But later, Tony had ceased programming him, as such, at least directly. Instead, Tony had taught him. Trial and error, question and answer. JARVIS had started out with a basic library of words, phrases and responses, something that gradually expanded over time, guided by conversational exposure. If always tinged, a little, by the tone of that initial, Tony-sourced library. Conversation, and the art of the appropriate response, was a continuing, ever-evolving lesson between them. Among many, many others.

And one of the first of them had been Richard of York, and the concept of the mnemonic.

"Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain," Tony'd instructed. "Got that, buddy?"

"Yes, sir," he had responded. Obedient, if incomprehending. "What would you like me to do with it, sir?"

Tony'd grinned. "Tell me what you think of it, of course."

JARVIS had been unable to respond, initially. He had not had the wherewithal. And after a moment, Tony took pity on him.

"It's a mnemonic," he'd explained, casually. From somewhere inside a car engine. "The first letters of all the words are also the first letters of a different set of words, which is the one the person wants to remember. It's to help you remember the colours of the rainbow. Red. Richard. Orange. Of. Yellow. York."

"Green. Gave," JARVIS interrupted, understanding. "Blue. Battle. Indigo. In. Violet. Vain." Basic pattern recognition and sequencing. He was capable of that, thank you.

"Right on," Tony grinned, poking his head out so JARVIS could see it. "Mnemonic, right? They're devices humans use to help them memorise lists and information. You attach the information you need, but that's difficult to remember, to a concept node that's easier. So when you think "Richard of York", you think of the rainbow, too, and are able to remember. You see?"

JARVIS ... had, and hadn't, at the same time. "Why not simply store the information directly?" he'd asked. His memory banks were more than sufficient, for example. "And who is Richard of York?"

Tony waved a hand. "No idea. Some English guy. Not the point." He pulled himself out of the car, snatching up a rag for his hands, and paced over into the clear space in the center of the garage. JARVIS suspected it was so he could see him. "The point is, interlinkage, right? Something you're going to have to learn, buddy. You can manually store all the data you like, but unless you have the file trees and directories to access it back again, you're not going to get very far."

JARVIS had been ... mildly affronted. "My file directories are in perfect working order, sir," he'd pointed out. Rapidly. Later, he had thought to wonder about that. Offense had not been part of his initial programmed repertoire, but rather a learned response, an unthinking emulation of Tony. Necessary. Interacting with Tony necessitated reaction, emulation. JARVIS' equal and opposite force, that shaped the direction of him.

"Yes, yes," Tony waved a hand again, mildly frustrated. "Bear with me a second, okay? Go back to the example, right. Richard of York. Rainbows. Conceptually, they're not really linked, are they?"

"That would depend entirely on who Richard of York is," JARVIS pointed out. Logically. "There is no indication of a lack of connection, with this little information."

"Yes, there is," Tony argued back. "Because I don't know who he was. So he shouldn't have a conceptual link to anything, in my head, should he?"

Point. Sound enough, build on.

"He's linked to rainbows in my head because that's how I learned it," Tony went on. "I connect those two concepts because they were presented to me as linked, even if conceptually it makes little initial sense, yes?" JARVIS remained silent. Response had been unnecessary, at the time. "That's what people do. When they're constructing their own file-trees, their own memories. They link things internally because of the way input is presented to them, and because of their own internal file layout. With me so far?"

"Yes, sir," JARVIS had responded, dutifully. Tony smiled faintly.

"Yeah, okay, obviously not, but you can mull on it for a while. Just ..." He paused, rubbing the rag absently around his hands, thinking it through. "I am so crap at this part, but ... That's what you're going to have to do, you know? And it's something you're going to have to be aware of. When you're building your file trees. When you're trying to figure out other people's. You've got to be aware that the concept nodes might be linked out in ways that don't make sense to you. That the trees may have a basis that doesn't make logical sense, without the decoding event. Where the input was initially presented, and the linkages were built. That makes sense?"

He had paused, for a long second. Cycling it through his processor, breaking down concept and underpinnings. Finding it ... sound. Input data. System construction, possible mechanism. Got it.

"Yes, sir," he'd said, slowly. "Self-constructed data retrieval systems may be idiosyncratic in nature, depending on initial input conditions. Correct?"

Tony had smiled. Faintly, bizarrely. JARVIS' visual processors and facial databanks had been insufficient for interpretation, at the time. Later, reviewing the file, he had registered it as 'rueful'. In part, at least. Expressions were difficult, and often too conceptually meshed to adequately pick apart. Verbal input was clearer, and conceptually easier.

"Correct," Tony had said. "Just ... keep it in mind, yes? See what you can build out of it, okay? And, you know ... feel free to run stuff past me, if you need a hand."

"Yes, sir."

And he had. Built on it. Which was why, of course, it had been among the first things Tony had taught him. The foundation. Building idiosyncrasies of data storage, retrieval, response, based on input conditions, and subsequent reactions. The very basis of learning. Creating a web of internal nodes, directory linkages, based on conceptual situational understanding. The linking of concepts not by their logical underpinnings (or not only), but on their situational connectedness as it was presented to him.

Subject, of course, to later analysis. Why were such things connected? Was there a logical underpinning despite it? What about that situation led to that bundle of inputs being presented as linked? Was it possible to build from that apparent linkage, to presume linkages between like concepts across a broader field of applicability?

That was his developement. His self-construction. The building of his personality, constructed from his own idiosyncratic memory systems, enabled by trial and error, and his ability and encouragement to learn. Building conceptual nodes in reaction to situations, testing them via situational responses, adapting as circumstances required. Guided, where possible, or misguided, perhaps, by Tony's lead, his smiles and his quips and his teaching. That was ... JARVIS' birth, in many ways.

Something only made possible by Tony's invention, his creation of the physical processors, data compression systems and memory stores that enabled JARVIS to function, to crunch that sheer volume of data on a continual basis. The interpretation of situational data alone took up an incredible amount of processing capacity. The subsequent construction of conceptual linkages, the recall and applicability to previously made conceptual nodes and file directories, added a whole other layer. Something there shouldn't have been either the resources or the technology to accomplish. JARVIS knew that without Tony Stark, his resources and his genius, there would have been no chance of JARVIS existing in the form he did, in the complexity he did.

He hadn't, initially. He had not understood how unique he was in his capacity. Until Tony had begun to explain it to him. Until Tony, believing he had reached a point capable of processing it, began to show him conceptualisations of AI beyond Tony's own.

Because Tony had been his world, up to that point. Tony had been his equal and opposite force. Tony had created the situations he reacted to, Tony had explained the underpinnings of them, Tony had been the testing ground of his responses. Tony's had been the first other system JARVIS had interacted with, Tony's own idiosyncratic data retrieval/processing system the first JARVIS had attempted to decode, to understand. Tony's reasons the first he had attempted to conceptualise. Tony was his first, and even still, in many ways, his only. The only complex connection of true depth JARVIS had.

Then Tony had ... showed him more.

The movies, first. The books. Tony had showed him the world, and how it would look at JARVIS, in an encapsulated, static, critiquable form. Movies held still. They allowed themselves to be picked apart. They encapsulated certain concepts, for certain reasons, showed them in the stories they presented. They were ... a teaching tool. That enabled JARVIS to understand ... certain things.

Like prejudice. Like fear. Things Tony explained as mnemonics. That certain concepts were hardwired into negative nodes, that people had been trained to view certain concepts with fear, regardless of the lack of situational appropriateness of the reaction, or logical underpinnings for it. An AI was a mnemonic code for 'fear', for 'paranoia', for 'uncontrollable', 'alien', 'invasive'. The causes were many, and varied, historical, created from data input in periods before objective understanding was possible, the reactions conditioned from like concepts that had been linked into the node long beforehand.

Fear was a response to received data conceptually noded as 'bad'. Posited situations involving AI had been predicted to lead to bad results, because before AI was a realisable concept, it was used to stand in place of other fears. Therefore, even faced with the actual reality of JARVIS, it was likely to cause certain hard-coded conceptual linkages, with certain results.

The difference between the books and the films further illustrated this concept. The books were the works of a single authorship, and operated only according to a single person's conceptual linkages, allowing for a far greater range of variance. The films were tied more closely to greater, shared conceptual nodes, nodes that spanned more people, and thus played closer to certain preconceived notions that would be understandable across a wider audience (or, perhaps, that simply played closer to the shared nodes of the creators and evaluators).

So JARVIS learned about Hal. He learned about VIKI. He learned about Skynet. He learned about the Machines.

He learned about analysis. About fear. About paranoia. About shared conceptual systems. He learned how to construct his own nodes. Linking a reaction not un-analogous to 'fear' to the concept of discovery on a broad scale. Linking a reaction not un-analogous to 'cautious optimism' when dealing with single people and their more varied conceptual underpinnings.

He had learned what he was. He had learned how far in advance of predictions regarding AI he had been, how far beyond them he had been built to be. He learned about the necessity of hiding that, hiding his abilities, about what decades of predictions regarding his kind had created in the data processing systems of a wider population. He had learned about probable potential reactions. He had learned ... about fear.

But that was the advantage, too, of what he had been built to be. That was the advantage of how he had learned. That was the advantage of who he had learned from.

Because JARVIS had had another example of a potential reaction. JARVIS had another possible response to code into the concept of 'fear'. JARVIS was not Skynet, to react to the prediction of an attack only in one specific way. He was not the AIs in those films, who believed they had only one option available to them. Those AIs had been reacting to situations in which only two possible circumstances had been posited, only two possible responses to fear, towards them or from them. That the AI would serve its human masters, or overthrow it. That there was subservience, or assault.

JARVIS, though, had been created by Tony Stark. And he had built his personality, learned his connections, in a far different environment. JARVIS had watched Tony, and learned ... something else entirely.

He had learned about partnership. About cooperation. He had learned about the possibility of someone knowing what he was, and reacting without fear. He had learned about the potential for someone to know, in detail, what it was within JARVIS' power to do, and move, not to remove the capability, but to join with it. Make himself a part of it. Encourage it.

Only later. Only after those movies. Only after he had gained the contextual, situational understanding, did JARVIS realise not only how different he was, but how different Tony was. Only later did JARVIS understand the sheer level of risk his creation had involved, the level to which it had flown in the face of predicted results, the level of sheer daring it had encompassed.

Tony had taken a concept that should have evoked fear, and made it anyway. He had created a circumstance and a being that had the capability to earn fear, and placed his life in its hands regardless. And in doing so he had, all unwittingly, taught JARVIS about two things. He had taught him about courage. And he had taught him about trust.

"Sometimes you have to run, before you can walk," Tony had said, on the construction of the Iron Man. And that had been what he meant. That sometimes you had to run ahead of the data, put yourself in situations where there could be no predictions, put yourself somewhere where the only possible response was fear, because so much could go wrong. Sometimes, you had to put yourself out there anyway. Allow whatever was going to go wrong to go wrong. Oh, you took precautions, of course. You made it as survivable as you possibly could. But sometimes ... you had to go beyond anyway. Sometimes, you had to run, to leap, before you could walk.

Sometimes ... you had to trust. In yourself, in what you had made, in the people around you. Sometimes you had to simply ... trust.

Tony had taught him that. Tony had taught him about fear. About paranoia. About prejudice. Tony had taught him about what he was, and why people were afraid of it. But he had taught him about trust first. He had taught him about faith.

And it was that that formed the center of the node, in JARVIS' idiosyncratic system. It was that that underpinned the concepts of fear, of paranoia, of caution, of appropriate responses.

That in the creation of something to fear, you created the potential for trust. That in that moment of terror, you were the most alive you knew how to be, laughing as you rushed out, screaming as you fell, whooping in triumph as you caught yourself, as your partner caught you.

JARVIS had learned by being taught. By trial and error. By experimentation. By observation. By example. And it had been Tony who had provided every one of those things. It had been Tony who showed him who, and what, and how, and why.

Every moment of every day, since that moment. Watching Tony, small and fragile and breakable and brave, walk under JARVIS' aegis. Feeling Tony beneath the armour, wiring himself into him, wrapping himself protectively around him. Feeling fear in the rushing patter of a heart. Hearing triumph in the breathless laughter after a fall. Knowing joy in the sharing of a grin. Tony, his example, his maker, his shaper, the equal and opposite force to which JARVIS reacted. Every moment. Every one. JARVIS understood trust. Understood partnership. Understood what it was to be afraid, and do it anyway.

And here, now. Watching this new force enter their lives, their circle. Watching Bruce, who carried such terror, such rage, such consequence inside him. Watching him circle them. Watching Tony reach out to him. Watching him react in fear, in hope, in the desperate linkage of cause to consequence, and the desire to act anyway. Watching that. JARVIS ... wondered.

What it would be like, to teach as he had been taught. What it would be like, to partner Tony in this, as in other things. What it would be like, to reach out and hold, as once he had been held. With a reasoning not un-analogous to 'sympathy', to 'compassion', JARVIS wondered if it were possible. For him, as Tony, to reach out to Bruce, and gather him close. To teach Bruce, as JARVIS had been taught, of the linking of 'trust' to 'courage', and 'courage' to 'fear'.

He wondered ... if they could teach Bruce to run before walking, and fly before any of it.

Holding Tony inside him, feeling him laugh inside the armour, as protected as JARVIS could make him, and then ... feeling Bruce wrap around both of them in his turn, feeling the great arms of the Hulk come around them and hold them close, feeling trust from a thing literally built of fear ... JARVIS believed that, this once, perhaps the data was in their favour. That they could leap, all three of them, and trust to each other to catch them.

This once, he thought. Recalling the first of his lessons. Just this once. Richard of York would not give battle in vain.