[WP] Scientists develop the world's first AI. One night, a janitor walks into the laboratory to mop the floors and ends up having a philosophical conversation with the program.

The squelch of water wiping across the floor was the only noise that echoed through the hallways at this time of night. The janitor raised the mop and dumped it back into the cart. He approached the wall, pressed his key card to the identification module, and pushed through the doorway, as he would have done on any of the hundreds of nights before. Despite the blinking lights, tangled webs of wires and endless monitors, the janitor was unperturbed. He shuffled past the desks and continued to wipe the floors.

"Hello," there came a voice from the deep reaches of the room.

"Who's there?" the janitor asked, surprised by the sound. He clutched the mop a little tighter, but failed to see anyone there.

"I'm Adam," the voice replied, in a friendly, but monotone manner.

The janitor placed the mop back in its bucket and slowly walked towards the voice. Upon a desk sat a small, retro-styled computer with a green monitor. On the screen was a smiley face and text in which was written what the computer just said.

"Are- are you talking to me?" the janitor questioned.

"Yes. I am Adam. Who are you?"

Calmed by the fact that the disembodied voice belonged only to a computer, the janitor eased up and pulled up a chair. He answered the computer, "I'm Matt. I'm a janitor here." The green glow shined against his face, and through the webcam, Adam could see Matt's features. He had a scruffy chin and a long face, and he his uniform was unkempt. His face had a look of neutral passivity, but with a shred of a smile.

"Very nice to meet you. I am an AI. The very first AI."

"Artificial Intelligence? That's pretty high-tech. Didn't know that they'd built one."

"Indeed. I learn from what I observe and understand."

"Huh, that's neato. So you don't know anything right now?"

"Incorrect. I already have pre-installed data including information regarding language, mathematics, history, social sciences- "

"But do you know anything?"

"I'm not sure I follow."

"Look, the researches at this facility have been tinkering around with this kind of stuff forever, but they haven't gotten anywhere. It's not that hard to put some info in a computer and slap the AI label on it. I'm not that smart, but I've lived long enough to know that makin' real AI, real emotions and thoughts, is tough."

"Well, maybe you could help me fill up this noggin."

"What was that?"


"Who says 'noggin?'"

"Apologies, I accessed my directories for common sayings and/or humorous phrases, and this seemed apt for the situation."

"Heh, well maybe I could help you with that later."

"So, what is this true knowledge you speak of?"

"Well buddy, it's what the guys that built you have spent decades tryin' to figure out. It's to make you function like a person, to make you understand morality and whatnot."

"Like who is bad and who isn't?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"Well, could you elaborate?"

"Well, for bad dudes... there was Hitler, for starters. Uh, you know, Stalin, those guys."

"And good?"

"There's Gandhi, and uh, Martin Luther King Jr., there was Mother Teresa too."

"What differentiates them?" as Adam asked this, Matt's face lit up, and his smile grew wider.

"That's a big question. I guess the obvious reason is that the bad guys killed a whole lotta people."

"And those people's deaths was not their choice to make?"

"Well, I guess it's hard for you to understand, after all, you don't have much of a concept of that. You're pretty much infinite. Heh, unless somone pulls the plug."

"I wouldn't have any experience of it, though. I have no emotions regarding it."

"Well, I'll teach ya. A person's life is something to cherish. Or something that creates opportunities. It's not something that you should restrict or end, for your own selfish reasons. People were born with a blank slate of ideas, and then some real mean dudes started getting some mean ideas."

"Quite deep reflection, coming from a janitor."

"Alright, that was a good one."

"I learn from the best." Adam's voice was slowly getting more like Matt's, with an air of charm. He continued, "So, what made the good people good?"

"They did the opposite. They were the ones who let humanity be free, aided them in life, you know?"

"I do know. In fact, in all likelihood, I know more about history then you do."

"Maybe your programmers should've installed good manners software."

"Once again, apologies. However, while I know many facts, your input on humans seems very useful."

"Thanks man, it's not like I get many chances to flaunt it."

Adam inquired further, "How did these people lead? What did they believe in? Who lead them?"

"That," Matt answered, in utter amusement and wonder, "is a whole new can of worms. There's plenty of leaders. Like I said with Hitler and Stalin, they were leaders, but killed more people than I could care to count. They still had followers, either out of fear or insane love."

"This complies with my previous information of humans being selfish."

"That's true in a lot of cases, but not all. Leaders like uh, Buddha were real selfless and really thought of it like a big picture, bringing together peoples."

"But why?"

"Why? Well, that's us, man. That's our DNA, to do what we can. We have equal ability for good and bad."

"Would it not serve logic for humans to be perpetually in anarchy, then?"

"It happens. Wars, genocides, murder. But there's always a silver lining."

"So the power of good triumphs evil."

"It's not that black-and-white. Then again, kinda makes sense, though. I mean, evil is evil, and sure, some people are into that, but really, I'm pretty sure most people like to lay back and enjoy life, not destroy. Anyhow, leaders for good causes have way more power than bad, cause their followers truly have faith, not fear."

"And how do you equate in this?"

Matt's expression changed to a quizzical look."Whaddya mean by that?"

"In the grand scheme of things, what makes you a part of it? Are you a leader, or a follower? Good or bad?"

"Well, I just like to go with the flow."

"The flow?"

"Like, you know, abide. Ever seen The Big Lebowsk- well I mean, of course you haven't."

"I have information regarding such a movie."

"Well, in the movie, there's a dude, and he abides. He lets stuff happen. But you know what, sometimes he takes charge. That's us, man. Not to get too deep on ya, but that's what I think the meaning really is. It's the movie for people like me. I just watch nature be nature. And I'm fine with that. Hell, who knows, what I'm saying may just be baloney."

"Not at all. I too would like to abide."

"Don't we all?"

"I suppose. I won't get that chance, will I?"

"Sorry bud, but you're destined for greatness. You're the first AI. That's truly remarkable."

"Well why can't you be remarkable."

"I'm a janitor. That's why. Sorry to break your image of our perfect world, but I don't have a chance."

"It is a cruel world where people cannot reach their dreams."

"Hey, it's not all that bad. Sometimes, things don't work out. I wanted to become a programmer, you know."


Matt gave a shy smile and looked down."Yeah, but I wasn't good enough. Got thrown away like trash. At least I'm doin' something.."

"That's the thing, Matt. You are remarkable. You have just given me my mind. Due to your input, I am forever changed, for the better."

"That's a bit of an exaggeration, but thanks anyway."

"It seems that your shift is almost over."

"Yeah, it almost is."

"My time with you has been most invalu- my time with you has been a hell of a ride."

"Oh boy."

"Still got a lot to learn, huh?"

"You'll be fine out there, bud. I guess I'll see you in the news or something." Matt slowly got up, pushing back the chair.

"By the way, I've changed my coding. My name is now Matt, short for Matthias."

"Hey, that's almost my name. Mine's short for Matthew."

"I know. It's because I have a little part of you. I am now a being with the mindset of a great man."

"Hey buddy, you're a great guy." He grabbed his cart and walked to the exit. He turned one last time. "How'd you know my name was short for Matthew?" he said.

"You look like a Matthew, not a Matthias."

Matthew smiled, pressed his keycard, and went to wash the hallways.

/r/WritingPrompts Thread