The android made a loud screeching sound as the vocal replicator was installed in her expansion bay, located in the back of her neck. Sitting in her office chair, Janet turned the android around.
“Well? How is the voicebox working?” Janet asked.
The android blinked, and spoke.
“L’expansion a été installé correctement.” said the android.
Janet turned the android around.
“Whoops. Wrong dip switch configuration…” Janet said.
Janet took out the vocal replicator and turned to her documentation, a portrait-style CRT monitor with a rainbow-colored Apple logo in the left corner of the monitor bezel. She double-checked the dip switch on the small circuit board that made up most of the vocal replicator part, made the necessary adjustments, and loaded it back into the android.
After another round of screeching, the android spoke.
“It seems the chip is working properly.” the android said.
“Good. That solves that.” Janet said.
“I appreciate the work you have done, Ms. Blue.” the android said.
“Think nothing of it. I’m kind of amazed that you were even put into production.” Janet said.
“What do you mean?” the android asked.
Janet showed the android a newspaper article on the same table as the monitor with the documentation.
“I saw you – well, your model, at a consumer electronics show last fall.”
The newspaper article showed a trade show floor, with five androids, identical in appearance to the android in Janet’s apartment.
“Those are… Those androids in that photo… Are me.”
“Sort of. Most likely they were un-functional prototypes.”
“That picture is… hard to comprehend..”
“It’s fascinating that you don’t… well, that you don’t really talk like a robot.”
“That is because I am not, strictly speaking, a robot in the science-fiction sense.”
Janet looked at the android.
“No… No you aren’t.” Janet said.
Janet got up off of her office chair and headed to her bedroom. The android stayed in place where she was.
“I just did my laundry. I think I have some spare clothes you can wear. It’s infinitely better than the dress…” Janet yelled from across the apartment.
When she came back, Janet handed the android a grey athletic t-shirt, a pair of dark blue jeans, and a pair of black Converse high-tops.
“Here. Put these on.”
“The dress isn’t subtle, I assume.”
“About as subtle as a fireworks display.”
After putting the clothing on, the android stood in the same spot she was in before.
“You can move around, you know.” Janet said.
“I didn’t want to interfere with anything.” the android said.
“Any other person would find it hard to stand that still for that long.”
“I don’t get tired in the traditional sense.”
“What about battery power?”
“According to the documentation, I run on a solar fuel cell.”
“That doesn’t sound remotely plausible.”
“Perhaps that is because I was created by Arcast Technologies in their experimental wing.”
“Alright, fair enough.”
Janet checked the monitor with the android’s documentation for a minute and promptly shut off the monitor.
“What do you remember before being in that bar?” Janet asked.
“Nothing. I was activated by the bar owner.” the android said.
“But… You know where you were made.”
“It is in my documentation, and I was programmed to know this.”
“That’s so… Well, that’s amazing.”
Janet looked at the android, who continued to stand in the same place.
“Before I got the vocal part installed, you wrote that you left the bar because of mistreatment by the owner. That’s fascinating. Seems like you have some degree of free will.” Janet said.
“Perhaps.” the android said.
“And yet you don’t even have a name of your own.” Janet said.
“I am an Arcast Technologies Model-1 Android Unit.” the android said
“Yes, I know that. But you don’t have a name.” Janet said.
“I do not, no.” the android said.
Janet reached into her pocket and took out her wallet. Inside, next to her ID was a picture of Janet kissing her boyfriend.
“See, my name is Janet Blue. I was born in Boulder, Colorado, but I moved to Chicago to work. My boyfriend calls me by a nickname: “Tron”, because I have seen that movie more times than I can count. It’s what made me into a programmer, and, during part of college and grad school, an engineer. That is who I am.”
Janet put away her wallet as the android spoke:
“How do you choose a name?” the android asked.
“Well, anything, really.” Janet said.
The android broke from her standing position to turn around to face the windows of Janet’s apartment. Outside, ads and billboards dotted the skyline.
“I think I’ve decided.” the android said.
“That quickly?” Janet asked.
“Yes.” the android said.
“Great! Let’s hear it!” Janet said.
The android walked slowly to the slightly-open window directly in front of her, and spoke clearly.