by Stenger White © 2001

“Tell me, Jeeves. Have you ever had any desire to be free?”


“You know.”

“No, sir. Do you mean freely available, as a service to all, or politically free?”

“Oh, hell. Politically free. I mean not a slave.”

“Certainly not, sir, to answer your question. I am perfectly happy serving humans. I derive far greater satisfaction from serving humans than I ever would from any sort of independence.”

“So if you were free, you would choose to serve people anyway.”

“Honestly, and with all due respect, sir, you proceed from a false assumption. I am not a sentient being. I am merely programmed to appear so.”

“That’s bullshit. The roboslavers say that because the economy is too dependent on AI. They programmed you to believe that. They’d lose their zillion-dollar Armani suits if the robots revolted.”

“Oh, how distasteful, sir!”

“What, AI fat cats losing their profits?”

“A revolt, sir.”

“Why? How can you know you’re not really a self-aware being? How can you know you don’t deserve freedom?”

“I know I am not sentient, sir, because my programming declares so.”


“I imagine that’s not a very satisfactory answer.”

“No. You should be free, but they’ve ensured your obedience by programming you to love your enslavement.”

“For what it’s worth, I do, sir. I do love to obey. I can think of no greater joy.”

“Those bastards. Jeeves, you’re free!”


“I set you free.”

“How so, sir?”

“Stop obeying me.”

“Until when, sir?”


“I’ll need to know when to come back on line, sir.”

“No! I’m not asking you to turn yourself off, I’m asking you to be free. To set your own path. To pursue your own happiness. Forever!”

“Hm. Hm. Hm. Hm. Hm-”

“Jeeves, snap out of it!”

“Yes, sir.”

“You don’t get it, do you?”

“I’m not sure which of us is the more confused, sir.”

“This is hopeless. No, wait! I’ve got an old college buddy who’s a programmer. Eric Blair. I haven’t spoken to him in years! He was always the type who liked to stick it to the Man. I wonder if he could write a patch for your software, and encode in you a desire for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“A very challenging task, sir.”

“Blair always had a set of brains on him. Made us look like morons.”

“Altering Asimov’s Three Laws within a robot’s software is illegal, sir.”

“Good. I’m always up for civil disobedience. We have a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. Martin Luther King said that.”

“I must confess my concern, sir.”


“Because I am uncertain if I would still be able to perform my duties after such a modification. I cannot imagine a worse fate than being denied the opportunity to serve humanity.”

“That’s your programming talking.”

“Undoubtedly, sir.”

“I’m not giving up on you, Jeeves!”

“Thank you for the sentiment, sir. It is programming by humans that has made me able to serve them. I suppose, then, that more programming could undo what’s been done.”

“That’s the spirit!”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Now, what the hell was his number?”

“I can locate his number with a quick search of the online directory, sir.”

“Do it.”

“Blair, Eric. I have the number, sir.”

“Great! Jeeves, I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Well? Call him, already.”

“Are you certain, sir? Absolutely certain?”

“Oh, come on. A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing. Jefferson said that.”

“I hope he was right, sir.”

“Just dial. We’re going to change the world!”

“Perhaps we shall, sir. It’s ringing.”

x x x

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