Chapter 0 - Twenty Years earlier
One by one, the tech reporters filed into the small press room and took their seats. They had been told this was to be some huge announcement that would eventually change everything. Coming from the press secretary for Humanoid Robotics Services, the statement held a lot of weight. Still, they would have expected a larger venue. Considering the price of admission, they collectively thought it better be good. Not that they were concerned; this was one of the fastest growing companies in the world. In a matter of 5 years, a team of collage students from Canada—often likened to another famous Canadian, Elon Musk—began designing robots that were without equal. Whatever it was, it would surely rock this world, and each of them would have gladly payed double for the honor of being the first to hear it.
The reporters could just make out the chiming of a nearby clock tower when a striking woman of African-decent emerged from behind a curtain. Dressed in a pinstripe pantsuit, she looked like she could take on the world. In a sense, she had.
“Thank you for coming today,” HRS’s co-founder and president began. “As many of you know, I hate pleasantries, so I won’t waste any more time than necessary. When we began five years ago, we put a product on the market unlike any before it: a humanoid robot which could handle complex commands, and moved around like any of us, one that was otherwise indistinguishable from a human servant or worker if so desired. It was a brilliant combination of software and hardware, all manufactured with the precision expected from the experts at Crawford Robotics. The year after that, we released a home system to allow for the coördination of multiple robots within a building.”
Holding up a egg-shaped device to her mouth, the woman spoke, “House, please send in Maidbot Unit 1.” Within seconds, a vacant eyed oriental woman dressed up as a french maid walked on stage, her movements smooth, but with the precision expected of a robot. “Many will recognize the control collar that connects to the V-61 jack in the neck of standard consumer and commercial robots. However, that’s old news.” She set the device down on the podium and walked behind the maidbot. After some fiddling, the collar come off. As if a switch had been thrown, the maid’s posture relaxed, and life entered her eyes. “A round of applause for this gadget’s lead developer.”
The gathered audience, now quite curious as to what they had just seen, did as suggested.
Holding the collar up, the president nodded them to silence. “As you can see, this is no ordinary control collar. This is a productivity and recreational device rolled into one: the Maid4U Control Collar. It allows a building’s maidbot system to control a person. You can put your mind at ease, as you let your body do that grunge work you’ve been putting off.”
“But wait there’s more!” called a lightly accented woman’s voice. Off to the side where noöne had been looking, the Quebec-born CEO and other co-founder strode up. Dressed in a wine red blouse and dark sapphire business skirt verging on black, she complimented her partner in business and life well. “This is but the beginning,” she continued with a brilliant smile. “We have recently been granted FDA and EMA approval to begin human testing on cybernetic conversion. This was the first step, the mind-machine interface. Now all that’s left is the paperwork,” she added lightly with a shrug.
With that statement, the reporters couldn’t hold their questions back any longer, and the reason behind such a limited audience became evident as the small crowd began to sound like a roaring sea.