Her name was LUCY and she was a first-generation HelperBot®. They were all named LUCY, but this one was special. It was his LUCY. By today’s standards, the LUCYs were crudely built: aluminum shell, too many circuits, AI no better than the AI in some of the better reactive toys on the market. But they could perform all the basic child-minding tasks needed to allow mothers and fathers to go off to work for a day. A week. A month. The LUCYs were, as his mother once put it, “A Godsend.” LUCY looked after Xavier for years. She fed him. She bathed him. She put him to bed and played him soundBITS® of lullabies stored in her memory. He was told they had no emotion. He was told they were programmed to do what they did. But in those memories of her (because how could he call something he had loved, an “it”) he also felt a consciousness coming from her side. He had felt it on several occasions. LUCY loved him and when her circuits overloaded and the lenses in her eyes stopped focusing in and out and her head slumped forward and did not rise back up again, he wept for weeks. He wept more for LUCY than he did for his own mother when she slumped forward and did not rise back up.
Excerpt from THE BALTHAZAR EXPERIMENT, a middle-grade/early YA serial novel by Christopher Millin that takes place in the not-too-distant future. It is a novel about a troubled boy named Xavier Kind and a troubled planet named Earth...and the sacrifices both entities must make to survive.
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