“It’s the perfect task for the Y3.” Trey was talking a little too loudly, Hiro thought, and tried to remember whether he always spoke at that volume. “We’ve designed the Y3 to adapt perfectly to its environment, whether that’s out there”––he threw an arm toward the desert beyond his enormous and pristine windows without looking––“or Antarctica, or”––flash of a very practiced charm-grin––“Mars. The housing, which of course we can’t fully describe to you yet”––that smile again––“is both resistant and flexible, contributing to responsiveness. Also, we’ve put a lot of thought into developing parameters for shelters, so I think we’ll be ahead of the game there.”
This did not sound as studied or coherent as Trey’s usual spiels. Normally, no matter what subject he was opining on, the man came across as a TED talk without the headset mic. Good time to throw a few curveballs. It was so hard to really get at Trey’s genius. “What would you say is the biggest challenge for DevLok this round?”
Trey didn’t blink. “It’s a very challenging task, Hiro––of course, that’s its purpose.” Charm-grin. “We have to air-drop our AI into an as-yet-unknown location, it needs to self-print any necessary additional components, identify and employ materials at hand, locate a water source, and construct a shelter, all with an unknown distance delay in our communications.” This time, the smile was more like a smirk. “The Y3 is going to be all over this. It has faster 3D printing than anything on the market, already knows how to survey for water up to a depth of fifty meters in most soils, and can work proactively while we’re incommunicado.” The last word came out with a flat California twang.
That approach was too obvious. Hiro tried again. “I understand there are some differences in the AI . . . philosophy, shall we say, between DevLok and your rival, Watchover?”
For the first time in the interview, Trey leaned forward, and the glow in his eyes kicked up to a new level of intensity. “That’s because at Watchover, they don’t have an AI philosophy. They want it to emerge into some sort of superior consciousness as if that weren’t extremely dangerous and entirely missing the point! We are building this AI for a very specific and critically important reason: to save humanity by preparing planets for our arrival and survival in ways that we cannot do. Once you start dreaming about letting the AI decide what it wants to do, or have its own thoughts beyond the immediate task, forget it!”
Bingo, Hiro thought. “That’s great, we’re loving the competing frameworks.” Inspiration hit as Trey started to fume over the use of the word competing. If this was what it took to get Trey to notice him . . . “By the way”––Keep it casual, Hiro––“I was––er, my bosses really want to play up the rivalry angle, so they’ve asked me to do a few interviews over at Watchover, too.”
He didn’t have to wait for the response. “You want to know about Watchover? Listen, you don’t have to trek over there and dare their robot gatekeepers. No one knows those women better than I do. We went to school together, you know that? Of course you do. We went to school together, and then we worked together, here, for years! I gave them their start in business, and they left! Let me tell you . . .”
As Trey ranted on, Hiro doodled in his notebook, made sure his digital recorder was still ticking away, and nodded occasionally. It would be easy to convince his editors to add Watchover into his brief, once he described this to them. Besides, Cameron Davidson was one of the most exciting robotics programmers out there––Hiro had been desperate for an excuse to write about their work, and his editors knew that.
Besides, playing up this rivalry was sure to up the drama of his story. He didn’t have a good sense of Lakshmi Singh, but he was pretty sure that mentioning Trey’s name to Stephanie Bask would get a similarly newsworthy reaction.
It was a risk: Hiro didn’t want Trey to hate him. He didn’t want any of them to hate him. This stuff was too cool. But maybe, if he could impress them, he would be able to keep riding this story. After all, they would need journalists on Mars, wouldn’t they?
After the reporter left, Trey swiveled back and forth in his ergonomically perfect chair. He couldn’t believe that kid-reporter was going to waste his time talking to those Watchover ingrates. It gave them an importance entirely out of...