To limit or not to limit, that is the question

“Seems to have drunk himself to death”, said the constable to the inspector.

The body lying on the floor was of a handsome middle-aged man, with a few strands of grey hair mingled between his slickly-combed hair. A blue bottle of gin lay beside his left hand, and the carpet stenched of whiskey. On his right, beside his down-turned face, was a note with a small scribble, “I quit”, written in a great detail, like a work of calligraphy.

“Seems like a great fan of Amir Khan’s work”, scoffed the constable. The inspector gave him a hard stare.

*****

The room was not of an exemplary beauty, nor was it decorated well or for that fact, even lit well. Inspector Prasanga studied the room. A fireplace at the far end of the wall, an old bed by the window and a small table by the bed. The drapes were grey, to keep the light out. On the shelf opposite the window were bottles, carefully sorted and labeled with names of chemicals. The table had a diary, with papers barely being held by the flimsy bundle that seemed to have worn out by years of use. On the table were some more papers strewn recklessly, scribbled with formulae of minor importance to the everyday Joe.

The body was of Prof. Hari Timilsina, leading physicist of Nepal. He was a well-known person in all of the country, and his paper challenging the existence of event horizon was of a notable importance in all over the world. He was a guest speaker at MIT, Harvard and Stanford, while teaching full time at Tri Chandra College.

“There are blood stains on the edge of the table, implying the body hit the table before he died”, said the constable. “Oddly enough, we can’t seem to find the reason as to why he committed the suicide!”.

*****

A few days back, Dr. Hari had given a speech during presenting a paper on the emotional crisis of automated artificial intelligence systems. “To limit or not to limit, is the question”, read the paper, implying the imposition of intelligence levels on new AI systems being manufactured. Dr. Hari was himself an active member of the robot researchers committee of Nepal, working night shifts to bring paradigm-redefining changes to the field of robotics. His latest paper had brought about a wave of changes in the ways scientists dealt with robotic artificial systems.

The police cleared the crime scene. Every single trace of the evidence was documented, and was sent for testing. “Should we leave now, sir?”, the constable asked. “Leave me be, I will stay a while longer”, said Prasanga. Though he did not know what compelled him to stay behind. He looked at the scribbles on the paper, that read Asimov’s laws. He wondered what those words could mean. A good look around the room, and he saw a computer in the corner. It had a CRT display. He wondered, that was not only an old computer, but an antique piece. The dust on the keyboard shouted out that it had not been touched for years, let alone months.

Prasanga reluctantly walked towards the computer and pressed the huge button on the CPU, hoping for some clue inside the computer. The CPU sprang to life, with its whirring noise, almost unbearable. The screen turned on and the keyboard lights blinked. Prasanga waited.

The screen was now fully on, and a blue box appeared that bounced off the edges of the screen, reading “NO SIGNAL. PLEASE CONNECT A VGA CABLE”. “No luck here!” thought Prasanga.

Prasanga turned his gaze towards the heap of papers on the desk. Scribbled on them in a dirty handwriting were ideas and theories about Artificial Intelligence, and new emotions in AI systems. Prasanga read, and read some more, and eventually got interested. He packed the papers in a zip lock bag for future reference, and put them in the pocket in his coat, hoping to submit it to the department of evidences. But something made him take out the papers and put them in his briefcase.

He turned to leave. As he approached the door, he remembered about the computer in the corner, it was still hissing. Tired from all the day’s work, he decided to leave the computer as is. After all, electricity was now free and energy unlimited. As he closed the door, he threw a final glance at the computer. The text flipped, and changed to “SAVE ME!”. Then it returned back to its original. Prasanga was confused if it was his illusion, or a reality. He waited for a few more moments, still looking through the barely-open door, but nothing. He turned the knob and locked the door. Dodging the crime scene tapes, he walked down the stairs, and as he walked down, the room above fell silent.

*****

More to come in the next part…