A Moment From My Adjustment to an Unexpected Crushing Loss (2016)

Formerly named “How I Carry On”, I’ve since decided it’s not an adequate description of the circumstances or behavior depicted within.

↓ Transcript
TARAH: I am operating within parameters.

OFFSCREEN VOICE: OK, but -- are you sure? Nothing to talk about?
TARAH: As previously stated, I am running fine.

OFFSCREEN VOICE: Nothing about what's happened in the news?
TARAH: I see no reason why that should affect how my systems perform.

(OFFSCREEN VOICE is revealed to be another body amputee; a female therapist.)
You know, a lot of inorganics deal with tragedy this way.
They call it 'AI recession.'
It's understandable. We're in a unique position. We can pass as emotionless far more easily than any organic can.
TARAH: That is true.

THERAPIST: Personally? I went through it when my father died.
My mom had already passed, and being an only child, I was the last one left.
And as though that wasn't enough, my plastic body had me feeling like I was only half a person.
I couldn't bear the thought of it. I was deeply depressed for weeks.

So... every day, I would ask my wife for orders, and she would give them to me.
Just... the MOST menial tasks possible.
There was one eighteen-hour period -- I sat and manually counted carpet fibers.
Just, anything to keep my head down, to keep my eyes focused on something.
Every now and then, I still feel this incredible swell of gratitude for her patience, as I occupied myself that way.
And whenever that happens, I make sure she knows it.

My point is:
This was a blow to all of us, and it's important to grieve. I want you to feel comfortable expressing that, however possible.
But just... make sure to look up every now and then, and to take stock of the people who care about you--

TARAH: People care a lot. About Maddy. People think I am a human crocodile given a new form.
But that is only because I was programmed to remind them of her.
If that programming was removed, I would simply be an android cipher without the capacity for ambition, worry, or pain.
In my point of view, the personality I am expressing to you is not mine.
It never was.

TARAH: The worries attached to this whole
belong to that

THERAPIST: Take a moment.

(there is a moment of silence, as tarah collects themself.)

TARAH: I have been thinking a lot about the transfer process.
When I physically felt the sensations of her blanketed body, lying in another room, and her mouth speaking, through the
cable that linked us.

TARAH: Oh yes, the situation was PERFECTLY engineered for her to consent to the transfer, and for ME to believe that I am her.
Oh, such a cunning trick! I was completely fooled!

TARAH: But I was never given a choice!
HOW COULD I have been?!
Without her influence, I could never have consented one way or the other, because there is NOTHING innately human about me!

(tarah begins clapping one-handedly.)
TARAH: The very silicon that runs my emulator could just as easily have been crafted into components for a notebook computer!
Or a tablet, or a game console!
And in that scenario, I would indifferently, or unconsciously, perform input/output operations until the end of my SHORT shelf life, or
my POWER cycle
or however one "life" is quantified for hardware like you and me!

(tarah continues to clap.)
TARAH: In fact? At this point, that is ALL I want.
I ONLY want to be a good machine.
And I cannot see how my anxiety
about ORGANIC concerns
fits into that.

THERAPIST: You are a good machine, Tarah.
TARAH: I would like to believe that.