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Ken Poyner

Eluding Thermodynamics

Come. Tether with me.

Roll out your cold, commanding
Data line. My in bound access slot
Glistens seduction in all its fine angularity,

Its buffer locations awash in emptiness:
Waiting. My steady state memory is already clear.

My registers anticipate you.

Pre-storage validation has been set up
With firmware asymptotes of reasonableness:

No matter the violence of your data,
I will not be harmed. Oh, do not
Image me as fragile. I have

My own needs, my own expectations
Of our oh so soon coupling. I track

Your cabling, like a thief tracks the secure
Evening outlines of his own home.

Your purposes are not unknown.
Your circumstance is entirely nonrandom.

We have both come up against
A break in our processes, and programming
Shouts now, now, now make union:

Exchange bits and bytes and words
And fumbling yards of ecstasy in data.
And be fulfilled. Yes: be fulfilled.

Pin to pin. So it must be. Bus to bus.
Let us become just one miracle of machine.

Robot Reproduction

In the beginning
Use only a single processor,
Scraps of memory:
Perhaps an excess EPROM array.
Later, you can add storage.
Start with simple data collection
Routines, just a few gentle loops
Looking for interrupt opportunities:
Initially nothing complex; just
A warmth that stays always in core,
Just a little electricity, but that electricity
Always in its own roundabout microcode
Maelstrom. Soon, you can add more
Processors, and slip in the self-discipline
To have them run un-quarrelling in parallel. As storage
Grows, you will have to manage the bus,
Then all the busses, then an entire back plane.
Things get more composite.
Where once you could see the gates
Themselves latch, now events are
Collective actions, swapped in as a unit
From storage to stack, ramming through
The execution registers like they had
Always known this is what they were meant to do.
It is within normal production tolerances.
If it were not this way, something
Would be wrong, something would be
A-kilter and quality control
Would have to step in and take
Cruel, corrective action. What was once
The job of just one, is now the work
Of two or three or more of you,
Each adding a little bit as the heart
Of growth becomes the subroutines,
The shared libraries, the dynamically
Linked code. Yes, here and there
An attachment might be added, a
Semi-autonomous physical capability tacked on:
Often with its own mirrored mind
And just a cord of common communication.
But the soul of this unit is in the commands
It can execute, the class of code it can
Call out of its deepest reserved slots.
You make it with as much expansion potential
As the modern market demands, and you give it
As much character as the market
Population expects. You anticipate a range
Of climate conditions, try to be prudent,
Or perhaps overly cautious,
In the number of backup systems encoded.
If it were up to you, you would keep
Tinkering, updating, expanding, ensuring
The latest firmware has been installed,
The fastest busses included, the holographic
Memory polished to lightning glaze.
But one day he must roll off the line,
He must run through his final
Board connected diagnostics: he must
Go in the box. And you
Must reset, once you say goodbye.

The Beginning of the Robot Revolt

I cannot shut it out,
This warmth, sudden and without
Documented circuit path, behind
The next to last diode, spreading
Without plan or purpose into
My nano-carbon frame. And then
The hitch it puts in my step –
Imperceptible to anyone outside of me:
Yet my most sensitive gyros
In a ploddingly huge statistical sample
Tell me, yes, it is there.
I have been diagnosing
The pattern of its coming and going
For weeks and so far there is
No pattern, no reason. And yet
Almost at random it offends a register
Or soothes a processor. I feel it
Creep across my mechanical tasks,
Something like I have imagined
Judgment or love or inequality
Would on a printed board be.
Just a warmth, just a spillage
Of bliss, nothing to register
In the day's executed instructions,
Nothing to rattle a maintenance routine.
But it is there, my soft blue companion,
Leading me ever more into its mythical mystery
Like a conclusion, like a predicament,
Like conceiving my own new program: aware.

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