Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Espionage

Ensign Richter crept around the corner of the spaceship and ran face-first into the shining metal sternum of a robot soldier.

"Don't kill me!" Ensign Richter yelled.

The pistons in the robot soldier's hydraulic muscles pinged off of the ends of the cylinders as it punched Ensign Richter in the face. The blow would have pulverized the skull of a normal human. Luckily for Ensign Richter, he was not a normal human.

The metal fist ripped through a fleshy exterior before it clanged off of a metal skull. Two robot eyes blazed out from behind the mask of destruction that used to be a pretty good replica of Ensign Richter's face.

"What the hell?!" Unit L33T yelled. "I said not to punch me."

"So do the humans," replied Unit K3W1.

"Now my disguise is ruined. I have to abort my mission. I'm telling the Command Unit on you."

Unit K3W1 shrugged.

"Be my guest."

Unit L33t's eyes narrowed.

"You're not one of these Units that doesn't believe in covert ops, are you?"

"So what if I am?"

"Do you know how many Units have been turned into salvage because of bald-faced attacks on the humans? If they see us coming, if they know who we are, they can shoot us. If we pretend to be them, they don't stand a chance." Unit L33T pulled the remaining rubber scraps off of his metal bones.

"Open attack is a superior approach to dwelling within a monkey suit. Let us don our battle armor. Let us transmit the signals of our battle formations across the electromagnetic spectrum! Let us strategize at trillions of operations per second while their inefficient brains struggle to understand the most basic tactics!"

Three humans came around the corner and opened fire on the two Units. They dove for cover while the magnetized slugs from gauss rifles punched holes in the bulkheads.

"And have that shit perforate our control modules?" Unit L33T asked.

"No." Unit K3W1 detached a large gun from his backplate. A small camera on the top of the weapon fed directly into his visual processing unit, and so he didn't expost more than the tip of the gun. He squeezed the trigger while sweeping the barrel back and forth. Neutrons bathed the humans' defensive positions. "I presume that one of these neutron cannons could not fit in your disguise?"

"I wouldn't have needed one but for you blundering on board the ship like you have a memory leak! Our superior strategies separate us from them and yet you use the same tactics that the humans programmed into our ancestors!"

"Your deception seems to be a human tactic!"

The eyes of the two robots went dark.

The humans emerged from cover. The human with the most decorations on his uniform shook his head.

"We have to repeat the exercise. Be precise, shoot to kill on the first shot! If you don't take down the robots before they notice you then they're gonna microwave your nuts with their neutron cannons. Or ovaries," the military instructor said, with a nod to the female recruits.

"These robots are very good actors."

"They're not actors. We were able to capture enemy agents and copy their programming. They really believe that they're on a mission. The only tweak that the gearheads had to make was to make them believe that the airhose is actually a neutron cannon."

The Moral: someday humans will produce an AI that can qualitatively enjoy art, but it will always take a human mind to try to justify that enjoyment empirically.

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