Tuesday, August 19, 2008

#60-Pashinyan- The Other Side of the World

60. «Ո՛չ» ռոբոտացմանը

Իր պատմությունը պատմելիս Կիկուձի սանը ահավոր հուզված էր: Խոսելիս նրա ձեռքերը երբեմն դողում էին, աչքերը կարմրել էին, եւ թվում էր, թե ուր որ է դուրս կթռչեն կոպերից:

The Other Side of the world

60. No! to Robotization - N. Pashinyan

Kikoutzi San had become very emotional while telling his story. While he spoke, his hands sometimes shook; his eyes were red and looked like they were about to jump out of his eyelids. I was trying to put a sad expression on my face, with a lot of effort. If I’d been really honest at that moment, I would have said to Kikoutzi San, “my black heart- your flowery brief.”

I knew, of course, that what Kikoutzi San was telling me was a very important and century defining event. But that event didn’t trouble me. At the beginning I didn’t want to admit it and asked him questions to clarify things. I think I wasn’t troubled because I didn’t believe his story. I asked him why the security guard had not noticed the movement in the room, to which Kikoutzi San answered that the online supervision was limited only to the laboratory to the windows and the entryways from the outside, while the other areas were simply videotaped. Those videotapes were looked at only if there was an unusual occurrence. Then I asked why Kikoutzi San was so distressed, considering that robots already assembled automobiles and industrial commodities, to which he answered that those were under human supervision and direction, while in their case they had not given the command to assemble to their robots and had not even planned such activities:

“In general, we are here dealing with a programmatic mutation,” explained Kikoutzi San and said that they have removed the processors from all the robots, and that their programming was being analyzed in detail to find out if there was a new program had emerged there or whether the existing programs were responsible for the consequences.

I was curious as to why the problem had come up only after the third robot came into being. Kikoutzi San didn’t have an answer, although he thought that if two people were necessary for human reproduction, for the reproduction of robots three units might be needed. I continued to ask him similar questions, which led Kikoutzi San to think that I didn’t believe him. Finally he showed me a segment of the video on his cell phone. And indeed, three robots, whose bodies were reminiscent of metal tubes one meter and a half in length, were busy doing something. Of course, I could have thought that all of this was made up, but I believed that they were real. The reason was not that I saw the video where three robots were giving life to a fourth, but Kikoutzi San’s genuine distress. He was really confused and agitated.

Nevertheless, the story still didn’t trouble me. By sheer circumstance, I was probably witness to an event which would soon appear on the front pages of the world’s progressive media and in the first few minutes of broadcast news. It could also be kept secret for a long time. Regardless, I wasn’t troubled by it.

Okay, so the robots had gotten out of the control of their creators. A thousand films have been made about it, and a thousand books have been written. What had happened was bound to happen. Kikoutzi San was telling me that the problem was not that the robots had gotten out of the control of their creators, but that they had succeeded in the process of reproduction, that is, they have shown that they can reproduce on their own, and that they can share a common goal:

“How can you not understand? This is a tragedy of cosmic proportions,” said Kikoutzi San.

I did understand it, but that story still didn’t bother me and that those beasts shouldn’t multiply. This can’t bother me because it’s the problem of another world, of a world with which I have no relationship. Would Kikoutzi San be troubled if I were to tell him that my friends are in prison for their political activities? I didn’t even try to tell him because I was convinced that he would think something like “Hey, you idiot, the future of the cosmos is at stake here, and you’re thinking about the imprisonment of a few people.” This would have been the logical answer. Kikoutzi San, in an emotional state, was explaining the significance of what had happened in his laboratory. I realized that he wouldn’t be able to drink till dawn and let him talk as much as he wanted to. What did bother me was the thought that he and I belong to completely different worlds. We can speak in a common language but obviously we didn’t understand each other. Vardan from Armenia and Joe the Korean did not have a common language but they understood each other as if they were brothers.

The idea that Kikoutzi San and I didn’t understand each other was somewhat painful, so I was trying to find commonalities between us. After some searching I found it: “Weren’t you telling me No! to Robotization?” I said, smiling to myself. My smile encouraged Kikoutzi San and he began to talk and drink with renewed vigor. I, too, was drinking, looking at Kikoutzi San but continued my private thoughts. I remembered how the slogan No! to Robotization was born.

I think it was in 1994, wasn’t it, that the skinheads had thrown eggs at the political activists of ‘dhol’ who at that time were considered opposition, and a few other activists gathered before Nairi theatre. Reporters had tried to photograph them, but the skinheads had attacked them and had broken their photo and video cameras. Our newspaper had suffered damages, too. Ridiculous preliminary hearings and court procedures had taken place. But that’s not the essential point here. On the day the court was to hold its first session, our reporter called from the courtroom and said that the situation was outrageous and asked me to go there. The hallway by the court was full of skinheads. The door of the courtroom was guarded by two skinheads, who tried to keep me from going in. I don’t even remember how I eventually got in. In the courtroom, except for the reporters shrinking in a corner, skinheads occupied all the rows of seats and were directing everything.

Judge Rubik Nersessian looked like he had wet his pants. I went in. I don’t know what happened, but I started screaming at Rubik Nercessian: “They’re the bosses here, the owners of the place, are they?” I was saying. The judge didn’t disrobe. Then I turned around and looked at the people sitting in the courtroom. Maybe I’m still under the influence of what Kikoutzi San had told me and the Sake, but the people sitting in the courtroom all looked the same: the same size, the same expressions in the eyes and wore the same clothes.

Kikoutzi San was telling me his story. I wasn’t sure if my memory was right. I got up and went to splash some cold water on my face. But no, memory did serve me right. That’s how they were: the same faces, the same clothes, the same sizes. Then I remembered something even more horrific: I noticed that there was a woman sitting in one of the rows. If I hadn’t been embarrassed, I would have sobbed right there in the middle of the courtroom. She was a woman, but she had the same expression on her face, was of the same size and wore the same things as the other skinheads. On that day was born in one of the niches of my brain the slogan “No! to Robotization.” Alas, I don’t have that scene in my cell phone; otherwise, I would have shown it to Kikoutzi San so that what he called a cosmic event was also familiar to me.

When I returned from the washroom, Kikoutzi San asked me a favor I had not expected:

“Please, let’s go home together. Offering you hospitality would console my wife; she will believe that I continue to be human,” he explained.

No comments: