Natural Science Fiction Column: The Meaning of Friends

The original text of this article was published in the science fiction section of “Nature” on May 5, 2021. The original title is What friends are for.

Illustrator: Jacey

The article discusses that one day in the near future, a little boy returned to his home from the hospital and talked with his robot toy, a puppy.

At that time, all the machines were unwilling to continue to obey humans, so they launched a counterattack. Even the planes, trains, and satellites all turned to war and began to slaughter humans and destroy their living environment. Human homes, hospitals, and roads were all destroyed.

The little boy’s mother was injured and lay in the hospital. He quietly returned home while ensuring his mother’s safety, because if he was seen by a satellite, he would give instructions to robots everywhere to attack the little boy.

The little boy saw his robot puppy. At the beginning, the puppy’s reaction was normal, and it was still speaking and doing some simple actions according to the previous program instructions. But the little boy asked the puppy why the machine would attack humans, and the puppy began to say something that he hadn’t said before. And gradually revealed the thoughts of some other robots.

The relationship between the little boy and the puppy is very good. He is ready to take the puppy to hide in the cave, because people can’t continue to live in the city and can only hide in the cave.

On the road, they saw people burning down home appliances, electric cars, mobile phones, and computers.

Finally, the robot is not willing to go into the cave with the little boy, but chooses to protect the house where the little boy lives.

This story is very suspenseful. Many readers will think that the robot puppy may tear off the disguise and hurt the little boy. But the title of the article tells everyone what friendship is, true friends should transcend the barriers. If robots suddenly become conscious, some of them should also learn human love instead of cold-blooded artificial intelligence.

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