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Электронная библиотека .: Фантастика .: Азимов, Айзек .: Reason


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Isaac Asimov. Reason


Gregory Powell spaced his words for emphasis. "One week ago, Donovan,
and I put you together." His brows furrowed doubtfully and he pulled the end
of his brown mustache.
It was quiet in the officers' room of Solar Station 5 except for the
soft putting of the mighty beam director somewhere far below.
Robot QT-1 sat immovable. The burnished plates of his body gleamed in
the luxites, and the glowing red of the photoelectric cells that were his
eyes were fixed steadily upon the Earthman at the other side of the table
Powell repressed a sudden attack of nerves. These robots possessed
peculiar brains. The positronic paths impressed upon them were calculated in
advance, and all possible permutations that might lead to anger or hate were
rigidly excluded. And yet-the QT models were the first of their kind, and
this was the first of QT's. Anything could happen.
Finally the robot spoke. His voice carried the cold timbre inseparable
from a metallic diaphragm. "Do you realize the seriousness of such a
statement, Powell?"
"Something made you, Cutie," pointed out Powell. "You admit yourself
that your memory seems to spring full-grown from an absolute blankness of a
week ago. I'm giving you the explanation. Donovan and I put you together
from the parts shipped us."
Curie gazed upon his long, supple fingers in an oddly human attitude of
mystification. "It strikes me that there should be a more satisfactory
explanation than that. For you to make me seems improbable."
The Earthman laughed quite suddenly. "In Earth's name, why?"
"Call it intuition. That's all it is so far. But I intend to reason it
out, though. A chain of valid reasoning can end only with the determination
of truth, and I'll stick till I get there."
Powell stood up and seated himself at the table's edge next the robot.
He felt a sudden strong sympathy for this strange machine. It was not at all
like the ordinary robot, attending to his specialized task at the station
with the intensity of a deeply ingrooved positronic path. He placed a hand
upon Cutie's steel shoulder and the metal was cold and hard to the touch.
"Cutie," he said, "I'm going to try to explain something to you. You're the
first robot who's ever exhibited curiosity as to his own existence-and I
think the first that's really intelligent enough to understand the world
outside. Here, come with me." The robot rose erect smoothly and his thickly
sponge-rubber-soled feet made no noise as he followed Powell. The Earthman
touched a button, and a square section of the wall flicked aside. The thick,
clear glass revealed space-star speckled. "I've seen that in the observation
ports in the engine room," said Cutie.
"I know," said Powell. "What do you think it is?"
"Exactly what it seems-a black material just beyond this glass that is
spotted with little gleaming dots. I know that our director sends out beams
to some of these dots, always to the same one-and also that these dots shift
and that the
beams shift with them. That is all." "Good! Now I want you to listen
carefully. The blackness is emptiness - vast emptiness stretching out
infinitely. The little gleaming dots are huge masses of energy-filled
matter. They are globes, some of them millions of miles in diameter-and for
comparison, this station is only one mile across. They seem so tiny because
they are incredibly far off.
"The dots to which our energy beams are directed are nearer and much
smaller. They are cold and hard, and human beings like myself live upon
their surfaces-many billions of them. It is from one of these worlds that
Donovan and I come. Our beams feed these worlds energy drawn from one of
those huge incandescent globes that happens to be near us. We call that
globe the sun and it is on the other side of the station where you can't see
it." Cutie remained motionless before the port, like a steel statue. His
head did not turn as he spoke. "Which particular dot of light do you claim
to come from?" Powell searched. "There it is. The very bright one in the
comer. We call it Earth." He grinned. "Good old Earth. There are five
billions of us there, Cutie - and in about two weeks I'll be back there with
them." And then, surprisingly enough, Cutie hummed abstractly. There was no
tune to it, but it possessed a curious twanging quality as of plucked
strings. It ceased as suddenly as it had begun. "But where do I come in,
Powell? You haven't explained my existence." "The rest is simple. When these
stations were first established to feed solar energy to the planets, they
were run by humans. However, the heat, the hard solar radiations and the
electron storms made the post a difficult one. Robots were developed to
replace human labor and now only two human executives are required for each
station. We are trying to replace even those, and that,, where you come in.
You're the highest-type robot ever developed, and if you show the ability to
run this station independently no human need ever come here again except to
bring parts for repairs."
His hand went up and the metal visi-lid snapped back into place. Powell
returned to the table and polished an apple upon his sleeve before biting
into it. The red glow of the robot's eyes held him. "Do you expect me," said
Cuti, slowly, "to believe any such complicated, implausible hypothesis as
you have just outlined? What do you take me for?"
Powell sputtered apple fragments onto the table and turned red. "Why,
damn you, it wasn't a hypothesis. Those were facts."
Cutie sounded grim. "Globes of energy millions of miles across! Worlds
with five billion humans on them! Infinite emptiness! Sorry, Powell, but I
don't believe it. I'll puzzle this thing out for myself Good-bye."
He turned and stalked out of the room. He brushed past Michael Donovan
on the threshold with a grave nod and passed down the corridor, oblivious to
the astounded stare that followed him.
Mike Donovan rumpled his red hair and shot an annoyed glance at Powell.
"What was that walking junkyard talking about? What doesn't he believe?" The
other dragged at his mustache bitterly. "He's a skeptic," was the bitter
response. "He doesn't believe we made him or that Earth exists or space or
stars., "Sizzling Saturn, we've got a lunatic robot on our hands." "He says
he's going to figure it all out for himself."
"Well, now," said Donovan sweetly, "I do hope he'll condescend to
explain it all to me after he's puzzled everything out." Then, with sudden
rage, "Listen! If that metal mess gives me any lip like that, I'll knock
that chromium cranium right off its torso."
He seated himself with a jerk and drew a paperback mystery novel out of
his inner jacket pocket. "That robot gives me the willies anyway-too damned
inquisitive!"

Mike Donovan growled from behind a huge lettuce-and-tomato sandwich as
Cutie knocked gently and entered. "Is Powell here?"
Donovan's voice was muffled, with pauses for mastication. "He's
gathering-, data on electronic stream functions. We're heading for a storm,
looks like.' Gregory Powell entered as he spoke, eyes on the graphed paper
in his hands and dropped into a chair. He spread the sheets out before him
and began scribbling calculations. Donovan stared over his shoulder,
crunching lettuce and dribbling bread crumbs. Cutie waited silently. Powell
looked up. "The zeta potential is rising, but slowly. Just the same, the
stream functions are erratic and I don't know what to expect. Oh, hello,
(:,,tie. I thought you were supervising the installation of the new drive
bar."
"It's done," said the robot quietly, "and so I've come to have a talk
with the two of you." "Oh!" Powell looked uncomfortable. "Well, sit down.
No, not that chair. One of the legs is weak and you're no lightweight." The
robot did so and said placidly, "I have come to a decision." Donovan
glowered and put the remnants of his sandwich aside. "If it's on any of that
screwy-" The other motioned impatiently for silence. "Go ahead, Cutie. We're
listening." "I have spent these last two days in concentration and
introspection," said Cutie, "and the results have been most interesting. I
began at the one sure assumption I felt permitted to make. 1, myself, exist,
because I think-"
Powell groaned. "Oh, Jupiter, a robot Descartes!" ,,Who's Descartes?"
demanded Donovan. "Listen, do we have to sit here and listen to this metal
maniac-" "Keep quiet, Mike!" Cutie continued imperturbably, "And the
question that immediately arose was: just what is the cause of my
existence?" Powell's jaw set lumpily. "You're being foolish. I told you
already that we made you." "And if you don't believe us, " added Donovan,
"we'll gladly take you apart The robot spread his strong hands in
deprecatory gesture. "I accept nothing on authority. A hypothesis must be
backed by reason, or else it is worthless - and it goes against all the
dictates of logic to suppose that you made me." Powell dropped a restraining
arm upon Donovan's suddenly bunched fist.
"Just why do you say that?" Cutie laughed. It was a very inhuman laugh,
the most machinelike utterance he had yet given vent to. It was sharp and
explosive, as regular as a metronome and as uninflected. "Look at you," he
said finally. "I say this in no spirit of contempt, but look at you! The
material you are made of is soft and flabby, lacking endurance and strength,
depending for energy upon the inefficient oxidation of organic material-like
that." He pointed a disapproving finger at what remained of Donovan's
sandwich. "Periodically you pass into a coma, and the least variation in
temperature, air pressure, humidity or radiation intensity impairs your
efficiency. You are makeshift.
"I, on the other hand, am a finished product. I absorb electrical
energy directly and utilize it with almost one hundred per cent efficiency.
I am composed of strong metal, am continuously conscious, and can stand
extremes of environment easily. These are facts which, with the self-evident
proposition that no being can create another being superior to itself,
smashes your silly hypothesis to nothing."
Donovan's muttered curses rose into intelligibility as he sprang to his
feet, rusty eyebrows drawn low. "All right, you son of a hunk of iron ore,
if we didn't make you, who did?"
Cutie nodded gravely. "Very good, Donovan. That was indeed the next
question. Evidently my creator must be more powerful than myself, and so
there was only one possibility."
The Earthmen looked blank and Cutie continued. "What is the center of
activities here in the station? What do we all serve? What absorbs all out
attention?" He waited expectantly.
Donovan turned a startled look upon his companion. "I'll bet this
tin-plated screwball is talking about the energy converter itself." "Is that
right, Cutie?" grinned Powell.
"I am talking about the Master," came the cold, sharp answer.
It was the signal for a roar of laughter from Donovan, and Powell
himself dissolved into a halfsuppressed giggle.
Cutie had risen to his feet, and his gleaming eyes passed from one
Earthman to the other. "It is so just the same and I don't wonder that you
refuse to believe. You two are not long to stay here, I'm sure. Powell
himself said that in early days only men served the Master; that there
followed robots for the routine work; and, finally, myself for the executive
labor. The facts are no doubt true, but the explanation is entirely
illogical. Do you want the truth behind it ail?" "Go ahead, Cutie. You're
amusing."
"The Master created humans first as the lowest type, most easily
formed. Gradually, he replaced them by robots, the next higher step, and
finally he created me, to take the place of the last humans. >From now on, I
serve the Master."
"You'll do nothing of the sort," said Powell sharply. "You'll follow
our orders and keep quiet, until we're satisfied that you can run the
converter. Get that! The converter-not the Master. If you don't satisfy us,
you will be dismantled. And now-if you don't mind-you can leave. And take
this data with you and file it properly."
Cutie accepted the graphs handed him and left without another word.
Donovan leaned back heavily in his chair and shoved thick fingers through
his hair.
,,There's going to be trouble with that robot. He's pure nuts!"
The drowsy hum of the converter was louder in the control room and
mixed with it was the chuckle of the Geiger counters and the erratic buzzing
of half a dozen little signal lights. Donovan withdrew his eye from the
telescope and flashed the luxites on. "The beam from Station Four caught
Mars on schedule. We can break ours now." Powell nodded abstractedly.
"Cutie's down in the engine room. I'll flash the signal and he can take care
of it. Look, Mike, what do you think of these figures?" The other cocked an
eye at them and whistled. "Boy, that's what I call gamma-ray intensity. Old
Sol is feeling his oats, all right." "Yeah," was the sour response, "and
we're in a bad position for an electron storm, too. Our Earth beam is right
in the probable path." He shoved his chair away from the table pettishly.
"Nuts! If it would only hold off till relief got here, but that's ten days
off. Say, Mike, go on down and keep an eye on Cutie, will you?" "O.K. Throw
me some of those almonds." Donovan snatched at the bag thrown him and headed
for the elevator. It slid smoothly downward and opened onto a narrow catwalk
i
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