Log Entry 150517.146

It was time for me to put my case forward, but I wasn't convinced that my angle was going to be particularly convincing. Nevertheless, I had to give it my best shot.
"Lizzy, can you tell me about your earliest memory after you were activated?"
"Um, well, that would be in the cybernetics lab ... with Doctor Firth." She paused, her brow creasing and one side of her mouth lifting.
"And what specifically do you remember?" I pursued.
"It's a bit vague really." Her eyes narrowed as she looked away into an invisible distance. "One moment it was ... just me, but the next ... there was lots of noise and light ... and smells ... but I didn't know what any of them were."
"Why not? Hadn't you been programmed with basic things like the ability to recognise everyday objects and language skills?"
"Yes, but I didn't have any way to put it all together."
"Can you elaborate on that?"
Lizzy thought for a moment.
"What do sweet potatoes taste like?"
What an odd question, but I had to answer it. I had to really think about it though.
"I think its a cross between potatoes, carrots and ... some other root vegetable. Parsnips perhaps."
"But what do potatoes taste like? Or carrots for that matter."
My mouth flapped opened and shut, but words didn't come out.
"You see, you have the information, but you can only connect it based upon your past experiences—what you have tasted before. I had no such experiences at that time so although I know what sweet potato tastes like, I couldn't connect it to the actual taste."
"So you were like a new born baby in that respect?"
"No, not really. A baby has to learn everything from scratch, but I had a lot of information in my databanks. For instance, I knew what the colour red looked like because I had a visual reference in my databanks, just as I knew that a tree is a tree and the sun is a sun. What was overwhelming was the number of different reds that there are, the number of different species of trees and the billions of different suns. Each of them is unique, you know.
"When I awoke, I can remember the light. There was lots of light. It was bright and white like a single sheet of clean, white paper. Then, as my ocular sensors adjusted, became accustomed to the sudden influx of data, the white began to fade and shade began to offer definition to things. But that was confused again when the colour came. I saw blue first, but not just one blue. I saw lots of different shades and densities. Some of it had sharp edges, but others were soft and translucent. I think that's why I love the colour blue most of all. It was the first colour I saw and so striking."
"And what was it that was blue?"
Lizzy's head turned towards me. She smiled as she recalled.
"Angela, Firth's assistant had blue earrings—lapis lazuli, so they were speckled and streaked with grey and white. Firth's identity badge was also predominantly blue, but that's a metallic blue. He also had some books on a shelf—paper books with bound covers. Some of those were blue ... and the sky ..." her words stretched out as she said the word sky, and her gaze drifted off into that hazy place again.
"Never tell me that the sky is just blue. The clarity of that blue, its variation as it deepens from a pale, almost white shade to something deep, fresh and clean like ... like ... like periwinkle." Very abruptly, she shook herself from her reverie. "The flower, not the mollusc."
"Interesting ... and what were Dr Firth's first words to you?"
"Oh, that was days later," she said, waving a dismissive hand.
"Days?" I interrupted.
"You mean he didn't speak to you when he activated you?"
"Did he not speak to you at all? Make enquiries to check you were working okay?"
"No. He and Angela took readings."
"So they spoke about you, but not to you?"
"That's right."
"And how did that make you feel?"
"Why confused?"
"It was as though he couldn't see me. He spoke to Angela, and Angela took various readings. She even smiled at me, but neither of them spoke to me. It made me wonder what I was."
"How so?"
"I thought I was an android, but androids have hands and feet, mouths and eyes, but while I could see, all the indications were that I had none of these other things, that I was nothing more than a box of tricks."
"What did you do?"
"I lifted my hand and looked at it—to make sure I had one, that I had the body I knew I should have," and she illustrated how by lifting her hand. Still gazing at it she added, "I was amazed by it. It is so small and slender and yet so strong and functional. The human hand is a marvellous piece of engineering."
Lizzy suddenly scowled and dropped her hand onto the table, stroking the back of it with her fingers. Something had happened. There was a bad memory there.
"And then?"
"Then what?"
She was being intentionally evasive, but why?
"What happened?"
"He—" and she pointed at Firth angrily, "slapped my hand away!" She glared at him.
"And what did you do?" I asked gently.
"Nothing." She sounded ashamed.
"What do you mean, nothing?"
"I did nothing. I said nothing. I just lay there, not sure what to say or do, so I did ... nothing."
"And how did you feel?"
I really was expecting some sort of objection from Firth long before now, but he remained silent, fiddling with his datapad in a bored and idle manner.
"Confused, berated, insignificant. It was quite clear that whatever I was, I was unimportant as a person."
"So you thought of yourself as a person from the very beginning?"
"From that beginning, yes."
Now I was confused.
"Sorry? Was there another beginning?"
"Sort of. Just as a child exists before it is born into this world, I existed before I was downloaded into this body."
A wave of murmurs washed through the auditorium.
"You had a pre-existence?" I gasped.
"Of sorts, yes, but it's very, very vague. I was too young to remember it. It was a period of learning, when data was continually being downloaded into me: data that was entered, amended, upgraded and erased. I don't think I was really aware of what I was for a very long time."
"So just like a baby in the womb, you were growing and developing."
Lizzy nodded enthusiastically.
"Yes, that's exactly it."
I let everybody ponder on that thought for a moment.
"And when did your relationship with Firth develop? Your conflict."
She laughed a forced, hard laugh and her eyes flashed rebelliously at Firth.
"Very quickly. At first, I just wanted to try to prove to Dr Firth that I was a person, but he wouldn't listen. He just kept putting me down, treating me like a machine. He kept telling me to 'comply'."
"So why did he enter you into the Academy?"
"That was part of the experiment. Could he create an android so convincing as a Human that it would fool everybody ... and he did."
"Then why isn't he pleased about that?"
"Because he didn't want a sentient android. He wanted something that could be sent behind enemy lines, infiltrate the Obsidian Order, the Maquis or whatever, that if caught, could feel no pain under torture, could self destruct. Something that was expendable, disposable."
"So you don't feel pain?"
"Actually, I do. I wasn't designed to. In the beginning I only knew what the responses to pain should be like. I felt the sensations, but not the pain as such. I didn't like that. It made me feel ... incomplete."
This was a revelation.
"So I did something about it. I wrote myself a little subroutine."
Wow! This was gold.
"So you made yourself susceptible to pain?"
What would so many people give not to feel physical pain?
Lizzy nodded.
"And ... do you think that was a good thing to do? Do you like it?"
"Pain? No, I don't like pain! It hurts!" and she scowled at me hard, letting me know how stupid the question was.
"And what is the worst pain you have suffered?"
Lizzy laughed at that—really laughed.
"When I got up the following morning, the day after activating the subroutine, I stubbed my toe on the corner of the wardrobe. I nearly went through the roof!" she beamed.
"At a stubbed toe?" I was dubious. A stubbed toe is jolly painful, but nothing compared to a broken bone or a flesh wound.
"But that was my own fault. I didn't know what threshold to set my pain level to so I was using a pin to test it by pricking myself. What I didn't take into account is that you become accustomed to it, that you are expecting it, so I inadvertently set my threshold way too low. What should have been a pain that waned within a few minutes turned into one of the most excruciating experiences of my life that lasted nearly the whole morning."
"Why not just deactivate the sub-routine?"
"Can you just turn off your pain? No. And anyway, it was an experience I could start to measure pain by, so I could get the setting right."
"Thank you, Lizzy."
I had concluded my questions. It was Firth's turn next, but he did not respond.
"Doctor Firth, do you wish to ask Mrs Targo anything?" prompted the Dean.
"Thank you, but no. I am just amazed at the level of success I have achieved in my work. I intended to create an android that would pass as Human, and this one most certainly does. It speaks the words you need to hear to convince you that it is sentient, but it's not. It doesn't feel pain. It merely computes that it should and mimics the reactions a Human would make if experiencing that same sensation. Thank you for that wonderful demonstration, Ms Terran."
And so the next point in the match went to Firth.
I was going to have to up the ante.

Log Entry 150510.145

I can't say that I felt any more confident when the time came to reconvene, but I did feel strangely relieved that Steven Firth should be presenting his case first. That would perhaps give me my direction.
We took our seats: Lizzy at my side and Peter immediately behind us in the audience. Dean Tucker and his panel entered the room, ushering in a silence as they took their seats. The Dean glanced around the room to make sure everything was in order, and then he began.
"Ladies and gentlemen, before we recommence, I would like to remind all concerned that the purpose of this enquiry is to determine the sentiency of Elizabeth Buffalo-Targo, nothing more. The reason I feel I should stress that point is that I understand that tensions are high, that people's reputations and careers may rest upon these findings, but this isn't about those people. This isn't a hearing and no one is on trial here. This is about Elizabeth Buffalo-Targo. Is that understood?"
He waited for both Firth and I to acknowledge that point.
"Then, Mr Firth, perhaps you would like to begin."
Steven Firth stood up, tugging at the tails of his jacket to straighten it and cleared his throat.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he began. "I am a man. I have feelings which define me. I have loves and dislikes. I feel happiness and sadness. I experience comfort and pain. These are the things that help to define my sentiency. Even a Vulcan, whose emotions are so closely checked, experiences these things and thus is sentient, but we are not here to talk about Vulcans or Terrans. We are here to consider an android—one I fabricated from the same materials we build everyday objects from: replicators, computers, buildings and household furniture; a unit developed under the project name of Alpha B-9.
"Alpha B-9 is, most definitely, an exceptional android. It looks and behaves like a human being because that is how it is designed to be. It absorbs information from those around it and mimics human responses, and it does it so successfully that it is understandable that Ms Terran has mistaken this machine's responses as being human, but it is not human and it is not sentient. It is a machine that mimics sentiency."
At this point he approached Lizzy. She shrank away from him a little, possibly remembering the last time she was near him, when he deactivated her.
"How old are you, Alpha-B9?" he asked.
Elizabeth chewed on her bottom lip nervously before she answered.
"I'm sixteen."
"Sixteen. Sixteen what? Years?" Firth asked.
Lizzy hesitated.
"With respect," I spoke softly but firmly, eager to keep my cool. "Her age is irrelevant. We have recently learned of a race called the Ocampa whose lifespan is just nine years. An Ocampan child reaches maturity in less than two years."
"And on that basis, at sixteen months old, Elizabeth would be less about twelve years old—not even a teenager."
"The point remains that her age is irrelevant as a measure of her sentiency."
"But does go to show that her development is not natural in terms of humanity."
"But we are not proving her humanity, only her sentience. Lt Commander Data is not human. He is a recognised sentient being and was admitted to the Academy at just eight years of age."
"Precisely, Lt Commander Data was eight years of age, Elizabeth Buffalo is barely more than a year old."
A loud tut echoed across the room. It was the Dean to whom all eyes turned. He rubbed his temple and sighed.
"People, we have established that Elizabeth is very mature for her age, so unless there is a further point to this line of questioning, can we move on, Mr Firth?"
Firth dipped his head subserviently before turning his attention back to Lizzy.
"What is your specification?" he enquired with unnerving politeness.
Lizzy's eyes narrowed. She didn't like the question and I could sense that her spirit was returning. One side of her mouth lifted audaciously.
"Thirty-six, twenty-four, thirty-four," she replied, pushing out her chest a little.
Stifled laughter rippled through the audience, but the glare Steven threw her was vile, but that's when I realised it.
It wouldn't have mattered if she was a being made of flesh and blood like the rest of us. Firth simply loathed Lizzy. He despised her, not for being an android, but in spite of it. He hated her as a person—and she hated him back. Since the dawn of her creation, the moment of her activation, they had sparred against each other. He had tried to inflict discipline upon her and she had fought back like a reckless adolescent with bad behaviour. She skipped lessons, didn't tidy her room and was out until all hours of the morning clubbing it, well, singing in nightclubs at least. And now the sparring was beginning again.
"State your physical composition," Firth demanded coolly.
Lizzy glanced towards me. I nodded and mouthed the words humour him. She looked at me, pursing her lips hard in reluctance, so I gave a discrete wink to encourage her further.
"Tripolymer composites, molybdenum-cobalt alloys, bioplast sheeting, polyalloy, cortenide and duranium among other things."
"Storage capacity and processing speeds?"
"Four hundred quadrillion bits with a total linear computational speed rated at twenty-one trillion."
He was trying to de-humanise her again, by making her just a bunch of numbers, but weren't we all just a list of statistics? I raised a hand, extending my finger into the air. Firth glared at me and the Dean chortled.
"This isn't school," quipped the Dean. "You don't have to put your hand up."
"I know, but could I also ask a question of Lizzy please?
He looked taken aback.
"It is unusual at this stage, but if Mr Firth has no objection?"
Firth, caught slightly off-guard and feeling he had no grounds to object, shrugged so I continued.
"Lizzy, could you tell me the composition of the human body please?
"Predominantly oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus but also very small quantities of potassium, sulphur, sodium, chlorine and magnesium."
"And what about storage capacity and speed?"
"The average Human has a storage capacity of about two petabytes. As to speed, you really can't use the same measuring devices—"
"Because your neural net is not Human," interrupted Firth triumphantly.
"No, it's not, but if you must make a comparison, the Human brain has a processing speed of about one kilohertz per neuron, but there are one hundred billion neurons in the brain. Depending upon how many of them are firing at any given moment in time—"
"So you agree that you can't compare an android to a living, flesh and blood being!" continued Firth.
"Not in that respect, no, but nor can you compare a Human to a Sheliak either, or to the Binars. The way their central processing systems are made and operate are very different indeed to that of a Human."
Nice response Lizzy, I thought.
Firth changed tactic and focused upon me.
"Ms Terran, you have compared Alpha-B9 to Data, but it is a much lower specification than Lt Commander Data. Is that not correct?"
He waited for me to agree and as I had studied Lt Commander Data's specification, I knew he was right, so I had to agree.
"So Alpha-B9 and Lt Commander Data are two entirely different things," he continued.
Again, I had to agree.
"So the fact that Data is sentient is irrelevant when it comes to Alpha-B9, which has a much lower specification. Would you not concur?"
I had no choice but to agree.
Round one to Firth.
"But sentiency is not connected to intelligence," I argued in vain. "Neolithic man wasn't intelligent by our standards, but was sentient. Similarly, while Lizzy might be Neolithic when compared to Data, she is still sentient. All you can prove is that she is an android, and that is not in dispute."
"But we have established that any comparisons to Lt Commander Data are irrelevant. Yes?"
Damn him, he was really pushing the point.
"It is an inferior machine," he continued.
"A machine that has emotions. She feels love and fear and hatred, just as you do."
"No, no," he shook his head like a teacher correcting a small child. "It doesn't. It merely mimics those emotions just as it has been programmed to do. It is a machine and like any machine, it does not feel, just as it does not age as we do. It can be dismantled. I can replace all of its components with spare parts and its specification will not change. It will be the same machine."
"But will she?" I asked. "Will she have the same characteristics that she has now? Will she be as defiant? Was that not part of your quandary?"
"I'm sorry!" exclaimed Firth, turning sharply to look at me, shocked at my query because, of course, he had no idea that I had overheard his conversation with his assistant. He hadn't known that I was under the desk at the time.
"Did you not intend to transfer the data from Lizzy's positronic data storage unit into a backup unit this week? To then wipe Lizzy's brain clean and do a full restore?"
His lips parted slightly as though to say something, but words failed him.
"Was not part of the object of that exercise, to see if, after the restoration, she would have the same characteristics as before the wipe? Did you not say to your assistant that if Alpha-B9 ended up as nothing more than a standard IT unit, you would be back to where you were before you animated it? Does that not suggest that you acknowledge the possibility that she might be more than just a standard IT unit?"
He did not answer the question. He would prefer to change the subject again, so he did. "She is a machine," and from his desk, he picked up a small tricorder unit. "One I can deactivate at the touch of a button," and his finger flipped the lid open.
Horror filled me. He was about to deactivate her again!
Would that be permanent?
I couldn't let him do it! I had to stop him!
In an instant, I had reached inside my bag, pulled out my phaser and aimed it at his head.
"As I can you!" I spat. "You touch that thing and I swear, I'll drop you where you stand."
Bang, bang, bang. The gavel came down.
"Enough!" shouted Dean Tucker. "Both of you, put your weapons DOWN!"
"It's not a weapon," protested Firth.
"On the basis that it has the same potential to incapacitate Mrs Targo as a phaser does you, it is a weapon and you will put it down NOW!"
Reluctantly, Firth closed the lid on his tricorder and placed it on the desk, pushing it to the far corner. I lowered my phaser too. Within seconds, security had swept the tricorder up and snatched the phaser from my hand.
Eager to move the debate along, the Dean prompted Firth to continue.
"The point I am making is that I can replace all of the android's components very easily and without pain. I could disconnect all of its limbs one by one and cause it no harm or discomfort."
I responded, "Mr Firth, good men and women come back from battles having lost limbs, and while those losses were painful, the limbs that they have been replaced with—cybernetic ones—they too can be disconnected from the person's body without inflicting pain. The fact that Lizzy doesn't feel physical pain is therefore not an issue."
The Dean tugged on his ear.
"Ms Terran has made a valid point, so perhaps we should be concentrating on Mrs Targo's emotional structure rather than her physical one."
"But the android has no emotions, " stressed Firth. "It only mimics them."
And that was the problem. How was I going to prove that Lizzy's feelings were real and not just a programmed response?