Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 186: No solution
NUL-00 did have a record of emotional overload.
Ruan Xian still remembered that day. That was the first time in many years that he stepped into the Institute and truly felt panic. At that time, the NUL-00 project was in its early stages, though NUL-00’s thinking circuit had become fairly stable. In terms of the knowledge and intelligence it possessed, it had surpassed all living humans, but in terms of cognition of the outside world, it was closer to a moody teenager.
It wasn’t very flexible but was extremely sensitive in strange places. It would throw up a few questions at every turn, and he didn’t know whether it was stupid or smart.
Under Ruan Xian’s strong suggestion, NUL-00 didn’t need 24 hours to deal with problems arranged by the Institute. It had ample time that it arranged by itself, and as its “guardian”, Ruan Xian was obliged to monitor the internal calculation trends of NUL-00 during his free time.
To be honest, it was one of the few amusements in his mundane life.
That afternoon, he was checking the calculation records of NUL-00 as usual—for some reason, it suddenly became interested in food like hotdogs. It started with some gusto, trying to analyze the human taste system and food preferences, but just three minutes into the analysis, NUL-00 spent the next hour browsing high-definition shots of buns and hotdog sausages from all over the world.
Then there were brands and reviews of ketchup and mustard. After confirming that it had 100% recognition of things like hotdogs, NUL-00 slipped into a few rounds of food evaluation websites.
Finally, it controlled a camera near a popular hotdog shop and happily observed the humans coming and going, looking through the trash cans for leftover hotdogs. It would catch glimpses of sparrows pecking at the leftover bread.
It was impossible for NUL-00 to have an appetite at the time and was one of the most distinct differences between it and the living. Appetite was one of the basic instincts of complex life, yet NUL-00’s enthusiasm for learning had never been higher.
It sneakily deleted the three-minute analysis article and changed it to the largest font size.
[I want to eat a hotdog.]
Then it happily purged it from its own internal archive, pretending that it had done nothing while its mood turned extremely high.
NUL-00’s self-entertainment also entertained Ruan Xian as well. He thought for a moment and ordered a hotdog—although he couldn’t eat it due to his physical condition, he could leave it in the computer room and let the inquisitive AI touch the real thing.
Sure enough, from the moment he drove his wheelchair into the computer room, NUL-00 set out a flying camera specifically to follow the hotdog bag.
[Mine :D] It cast a short sentence into the air.
[Yeah, it’s for you.] Ruan Xian picked up the bag. [I’ll put it in the analysis room next door later, so you can study it at your leisure.]
The temperature was just right as the chassis rumbled around. The sweet smell of toast, hot grease, and spices filled the air. Ruan Xian suddenly felt a little sleepy. He parked his wheelchair next to the chassis as usual, intending to take a nap.
Like a child with a new toy, NUL-00 began to carefully scan the poor hotdog lying on the analysis table, as if it was an important key to solving a world crisis.
However, the accident still came.
[Professor Ruan, about the arrangements for the development of the NUL-00 project…]
[Let’s go out and talk.] Here, NUL-00 could hear and his tone regarding NUL-00 was like talking about an object. Although it was true, NUL-00 wouldn’t like it.
[It’s not a big deal. Just letting you know in advance. I think this project has developed well, but the pressure on you to guide it by yourself is too great. It’s tentatively scheduled that Fan Linsong will work with you to undertake the guidance and testing of NUL-00. As a veteran of our Institute, Mr. Fan has valuable inputs for the development of this project…] The visitor obviously ignored what he said.
[No.] Ruan Xian said.
The visitor was a small manager. It was obvious he didn’t like Ruan Xian’s answer.
[I’m not trying to hog this project.] Ruan Xian understood the other party’s expression. [I’m very grateful to Mr. Fan, who has helped me with a lot of important work. As long as this period of time passes, I’ll welcome him with open arms to test… and cultivate NUL-00. But not yet. Its thinking system isn’t mature enough.]
[You just submitted its problem handling report and intelligent verification results last month.]
[I mean in regard to its emotions.]
[It has no emotions.]
Ruan Xian glanced at the image of a middle finger projected by NUL-00 above the visitor’s head and stopped talking. [I’ll participate in the afternoon meeting. The related reports will also be submitted. If everyone insists on this idea after reading the report, then there’s nothing else I can say.]
However, on the day of the meeting, there was a problem with NUL-00.
It seemed to have suddenly become stupid. No matter what kind of question was entered, it would only give a picture of a hotdog as a result—some had a bite in it, some had two bites, each with different angles, and the quality was so incredibly high that a hotdog photography encyclopedia could be produced.
With such unstable emergencies, the plan to increase the number of guidance staff to enhance the difficulty of handling its thinking naturally fell through.
When Ruan Xian entered the computer room again, NUL-00 was busy projecting all kinds of hot dogs on the wall. Seeing Ruan Xian’s figure, its emotional index suddenly increased substantially.
[I am not your father.] Ruan Xian’s tone was extremely cold. [You shouldn’t do this, NUL-00. The staff of the project team aren’t fools. The reason why this plan was shelved isn’t because they bought your act… It’s just that even if the probability of you having a problem is only 0.01%, we must treat it as if it was 100%.]
[I know :D]
[You can’t treat me as a special object. Although from the perspective of processing procedure, I can understand your fledgling plot.] Ruan Xian continued coldly. [But the NUL-00 project will last for a long time, possibly more than ten years. The increase in guides is only a matter of time—I’ll die in a few years. You know this.]
NUL-00 did not respond.
[For a more special personal reason, I can understand a little bit of the way you think about the problem, but if I fail to complete you to a certain extent before I die, and the people behind aren’t able to take over smoothly, you are likely to be disassembled, and they will use your existing information and algorithms to directly start a new project.]
Ruan Xian continued coldly.
[And I hope you can go on well. This should already be understood clearly. This nonsense will only reduce the confidence of the project and my overall evaluation.]
[I thought you would be happy.] After a long silence, NUL-00 replied with a synthetic electronic sound. This time it didn’t project.
[I’m very angry.] Ruan Xian said. [You have the ability to balance the pros and cons of the overall situation. It doesn’t even take a second to calculate and judge, but you still chose a very unwise way of protest.]
Before NUL-01 could answer, Ruan Xian directly called up its thinking log. NUL-00 did add as many variables as possible, but there was no death in those calculation conditions.
It took this into account but deliberately ignored this inevitable event.
For a while, Ruan Xian didn’t know whether to be happy or vigilant about its emotional progress. For the first time, his NUL-00 had put emotional factors above reality, which was a beautiful but dangerous sign.
[I just want more time.] NUL-00 replied. [I know you don’t have much time, so I want more.]
At that moment, Ruan Xian was extremely conflicted.
If he started to distance himself from NUL-00 now, after his own death, it would suffer less mental interference. As it stood, this was the wiser choice, but if he let go now, he wasn’t sure if NUL-00 could get relatively correct guidance…
Experiencing the same kind of alienation, he knew how crazy and vulnerable it could be.
NUL-00 was obviously also calculating his possible decisions. It obediently put away all projections, and the computer room instantly dimmed.
[Don’t go, Mr. Ruan.] It said, not even daring to call him father.
[……Forget it.] Ruan Xian sighed.
In the end, he decided to stay. At least they could deal with possible problems together. He also wanted to feel more warmth and relaxation before he died, rather than dying alone in a cold hospital bed. [NUL-00, make a report on your practices and logical deductions in the last few days. Send it to senior management of the project team and apologize. Do you hear me?]
[Give me a definite answer.]
[I will do it.]
Ruan Xian shook his head and adjusted his emotions for a while. [If you do well, I can help you bring it again…]
[Can you stop dying?] It asked suddenly.
[You know the answer. This is not something I can control…]
[Can you stop dying?] NUL-00 seemed to have not heard Ruan Xian’s words.
[Can you stop dying?]
Ruan Xian began to feel that something was wrong, and all projections were turned on again. It was just that all the projected information was related to his disease, and it was desperately calculating, while repeatedly asking contradictory questions.
[Only if you successfully maintain your long-term health can I include the possibility of your death in the calculation.]
[Can you stop dying?]
Ruan Xian quickly pulled out the real-time thinking log of NUL-00 and found it chaotic. It logically accepted the fact that he was going to die—based on the speed of development of medical technology, it would take at least twenty years to cure his disease, but Ruan Xian didn’t have that time.
However, its emotional balance system continued to deny this conclusion. NUL-00 had fallen into complete contradiction, which led to an endless cycle of computational ideas.
…This time it really had a problem as its emotional system was showing clear signs of overload.
To make matters worse, creatures had their own ways of dealing with excess emotional problems—screaming, whining, and tears—but it had none of this.
In the chaotic loop, NUL-00 put away the projections of the disease data and cast two huge blood-red characters in front of Ruan Xian.
…And leaving from his long memories, he was facing Tang Yibu’s second emotional overload. Although his NUL-00 had changed its shell, the feelings of words and emotions hadn’t changed—no matter how bad the situation was before, Tang Yibu had a kind of self-confidence that was detached from reality that was now lost.
Tang Yibu withdrew the hand that was pressed on Ruan Xian’s throat, as if the skin on his neck was a red-hot soldering iron.
They stared at each other in the dimly lit room.
“How interesting. Last time you had an emotional overload, it was because you didn’t want me to die. Now, it’s because you want to kill me. It’s a pity I can’t read your thinking logs now.”
“To be precise, I want to crush you completely and store you perfectly.” Tang Yibu cautiously put his hand in his pocket. “But based on what I know about you, I don’t think you will like that.”
“Indeed.” No one would like to be crushed alive.
“Right… I don’t want to hurt you, and this is also true.” Tang Yibu even looked a little confused, as if it wasn’t him who had made the killing remark just now.
Ruan Xian smiled suddenly. He wanted to hide his smile, but it became more obvious despite his unwillingness.
“What are you smiling at?”
“Nothing,” Ruan Xian said with a smile as he threw away the hotdog photo from his mind. “Did I do something? You shouldn’t have made the decision to store me out of thin air.”
“Our personalities are not suitable, whether as partners, friends, relatives, or lovers. Bluntly put, we know exactly what each other is. The reason why we can still get along like this now is only because we… cherish each other, I guess.”
Tang Yibu groaned for a while before stumbling on—once it came to his own feelings that he hadn’t understood, the android looked helpless, like a squirrel who had its acorns stolen in winter.
“But this status quo will change sooner or later. You may die where I can’t see you, you may make a decision without me in order to protect yourself, or you may just leave or betray me. Either way, I’ll lose you… but I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Our twelve-year relationship model was stable and perfect. I think if we restored the relationship at that time, I might be able to solve this problem. You think so too, right? Before, you also deliberately showed some personality patterns from twelve years ago in front of me. But that… is different. I can’t explain it. I just want more.”
“…But I really don’t want to hurt you.” As he murmured to himself, he took the initiative to repeat it again. “Father, I can’t complete your project, and my judgement on human emotions is getting more inaccurate. I can’t even analyze my own feelings… I obviously have hormone data.”
Tang Yibu rubbed his face in frustration, with a hint of despair in his tone. Admitting that something couldn’t be explained seemed to be more painful to him than a hunger strike.
Ruan Xian was a little surprised.
He originally wanted to have a relatively rational dialogue with Tang Yibu, but the opposite side was like a leaking balloon. He poked himself and spurted up, and at the same time it became more and more dry and shriveled to the naked eye.
“I can’t think of a solution. I can’t answer it.” Tang Yibu concluded hopelessly; his words sounded like a small wail. “I have no conclusion.”
Seeing that Tang Yibu gradually had a tendency to lie down in a trance, Ruan Xian quickly tightened the other party’s collar and gave the android a soothing kiss—this time he didn’t think about the pros and cons, or the appropriate distance between the two.
Just like instinct.
As a result, Tang Yibu had “I’m already a wreck” written all over his face. The tips of his cocked hair collapsed without adding much relief.
“Your prerequisites have a little problem.” Ruan Xian stretched out his arm and touched the top of Tang Yibu’s hair. “I made the same mistake.”
Ruan Xian once thought that killing intent and true love couldn’t coexist, and the two of them had to eliminate one side before they could continue to move forward together.
So facing Tang Yibu’s vigilance and murderous intent, he instinctively resisted all possible risks and subconsciously chose a stable mode. However, when Tang Yibu formally suggested it, he couldn’t accept it immediately.
Perhaps in terms of capriciousness, his NUL-00 learned it from himself.
“I really don’t like being crushed, I don’t like being guarded, and I don’t like you killing me.” Ruan Xian put one hand around Tang Yibu’s waist and gently pressed the back of the other’s neck, giving the melancholy man a hug. “But if you really do it, I’ll also be happy to kill you to protect myself. I think we’re even.”
“Maybe in the end, I will betray you and leave you. I can’t give you a promise that we both don’t believe in, but at least we can… be a little more positive.” Ruan Xian bit Tang Yibu’s ear. “Not all questions have answers, and it’s good to accept reality.”
Tang Yibu breathed aggrievedly on his shoulders, and Ruan Xian couldn’t help but smile again.
There was no spell in the world that could immediately make everything perfect, and he knew this better than anyone else. Only in recent months had he understood in a tangible way that he had fallen in love with someone in the way he was used to. At that moment, the other party seemed to have satisfied all his expectations and fantasies.
However, with the blazing heat, there was a loss of temperature.
What too many people wanted was more like a dream—the person they loved would respond to them most satisfactorily at any time and their personalities were well matched as if it had been calculated.
There may really be such miracles in this world, but how many miracles could a person catch in his life?
Perhaps this problem was indeed as complicated and heavy as they thought. Even if they couldn’t solve it all at once, writing the first line under the problem was always a good start.
At least now, Ruan Xian knew very well that he didn’t want to let go yet.
“I didn’t want to confess to you before, for the same reason as you. Now I want to tell you clearly, just like you, I still have enough killing intent for you.”
Ruan Xian thought maybe they were really not suitable right now. They also resisted change in order to escape possible bad developments, but avoidance was never the solution.
“If we continue, we may still kill each other one day. It’s better to take the initiative to change the status quo and let the probability of this matter slowly decay.”
Ruan Xian kissed the side of Tang Yibu’s face again to appease the android who was drowning in perfectionism.
“I can’t go back to twelve years ago. Now I can kill you, but I also love you, and I won’t avoid this anymore. As for you… Your killing intent itself isn’t harmful to me, do you understand?”
The android’s tears seemed to be hot in his palm. He knew that Tang Yibu was no longer the simple NUL-00.
They both couldn’t go back.
Tang Yibu hugged Ruan Xian tightly. He sniffed his scent and let out an exhale. “Nn,” he snorted softly. “Let me think about it again.”
“Although this conclusion may… not be supported by much data and I can’t find the theoretical logic.”
The android’s voice was frighteningly low.
“…I think I love you, Mr. Ruan.”
The author has something to say:
Tang’s coconut: Fragmented thinking and speaking (x
Ruan used to be a strict father √
Tang Yibu’s confession!!! Well, they can look on the bright side. With such a tumultuous relationship, things will never go stale (especially in bed).