Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 212: BUG
Tang Yibu had thought about many possibilities, but how Ruan Xian reacted wasn’t part of any of them. He briefly lost the ability to control the situation and could only let Ruan Xian dominate the conversation. He didn’t know what Mr. Ruan was thinking, and it felt strange.
This strangeness made all his hair stand up, and Tang Yibu couldn’t tell whether it felt good or bad.
He couldn’t exactly define it, but given what Mr. Ruan said had stirred his heartbeat, Tang Yibu didn’t know how to describe it…
They danced on the floating ruins with temptation, intimacy, and vigilance. Both of them stepped to the beat and followed the music while studying and understanding each other in a safe area. But not long ago, Ruan Xian let go of his hand, and opened his arms with a smile, then took the initiative to jump down from the edge of the ruins.
Tang Yibu touched his lips. There seemed to be lingering heat still left from the kiss. He couldn’t even taste the sweetness of the persimmon cookies anymore. A subtle fear and a strange excitement attacked him together.
This directly led to him tripping while crossing the fence and almost got him exposed to the patrolling machine.
Whether it was Ruan Xian’s behavior or words, he couldn’t understand them. Tang Yibu only knew that although twelve years had been lost, the man that was imprisoned indoors was not the one he was familiar with inside that computer room.
What he saw was no longer a tombstone draped in snow, but a fire burning in the winter forest.
Tang Yibu’s thoughts turned frantically. As he headed towards the location of Professor Ruan, he was thinking about his failed attempt as he gnawed on raw meat. Tang Yibu tore the tender meat with his teeth, seemingly unaware that his mouth was covered with blood.
This wasn’t in line with common sense.
Tang Yibu began to question his every judgement. It stood to reason that his father’s behavior went off the rails as he expected—before things got worse, he should’ve quickly brought Ruan Xian back, crushed his brain, and permanently stored his personality so that it wouldn’t have time to get completely out of control.
Whether it was a unique way of thinking, the most private memory, or how Ruan Xian felt about him, he could use all of this to bring his father back into the world again, countless times. In this regard, with the support of the S-type Prototype, he was confident he could do a better job than the Mainbrain—as long as he focused on the brain, his father’s body wouldn’t be easily destroyed. If he did a good enough job, his father’s body could remain as it was, and the most appropriate state of mind would become data that would live inside him forever.
No matter how many times that person embarked on the wrong path, Tang Yibu could just restart him by replacing the brain back to its “perfect state”.
Ruan Xian would become his most precious collection, which he would shower with affection. The other party was always his most precious and most special person, and he would ensure that his father would live forever in this way.
God knew how many times he thought about it. Tang Yibu planned out the details extremely well.
However, this was the second time he couldn’t do it.
The first time was during the Android Show, not long after he confirmed his father’s identity. The second was now. He stupidly did nothing and began to walk back obediently.
Tang Yibu continued gnawing on the raw meat of the wild deer until eventually his throat became a little sour.
He thought there must be something wrong with him. He had desperately tried to make excuses after excuses—such as, he had considered these things but didn’t want to go back and take Ruan Xian away. There were a bunch of emotional programs screaming against it, and he didn’t know why.
Tang Yibu couldn’t move.
Originally, he was hopping through branches, quickly shuttling through the forest. The next second, he lay on the grass like a bird that had just been shot down. The forest was dark in the middle of the night, and he could only see a few stars among the gaps in the leaves. Tang Yibu untied π’s net pocket and told it to walk around by itself.
He didn’t have enough energy to be distracted. He needed a quiet environment to think about these issues clearly.
Tang Yibu was holding the unfinished venison in one hand and still had a piece in his mouth. He tried to remove the weird sweetness in his mouth with the taste of blood and fresh meat, but the sweetness only became more scorching.
The aroma of wild osmanthus in the air only made the sweetness stronger.
Perhaps it was this difference in state that made Tang Yibu’s eyes light up—if he preserved the seeds, he could bring them back forever. At present, Mr. Ruan’s state was more like a deadly bud born from a cold, hard seed. He had transformed into a brand-new state. This state required extremely complex and unreproducible causes. He was subconsciously afraid that he would destroy this precious flower.
This theory was good.
Tang Yibu sat up happily and decided to move out, but was quickly knocked back by a new piece of evidence that emerged in his brain, so he lay down again.
Why didn’t he do it?
In the event that Mr. Ruan really betrayed him, in every sense, he would die. Whether it was considering one’s own safety or his precious data, from any point of view, he should’ve immediately stopped the other party’s impulsive behavior.
…But he didn’t take action.
Tang Yibu remained laying down as he slowly finished eating the rest of the raw meat. He couldn’t come up with any reasonable explanation. Eventually, he patted the grass off his body, grabbed the dissatisfied iron bead, and returned to Professor Ruan’s stronghold with a head full of question marks.
Five days had passed. The cellar was much stronger than when he left it. Professor Ruan had expanded the space to the bottom of the lake, making it harder to detect. Tang Yibu wandered the ant-like passages for a while before meeting Professor Ruan with a face covered in blood and a lost expression.
The three-legged machine was still the same as before. Professor Ruan naturally avoided π’s attack and blew out a bunch of bubbles as he turned to Tang Yibu, who look like a mess.
“It’s deer blood,” Tang Yibu said listlessly. “Mr. Ruan is fine, but I didn’t ask anything.”
“Something’s wrong with him.” Tang Yibu gestured and his aggrievances came up again. Although he had no interest in the fake Ruan Xian in front of him, he had to admit that this calmness was closer to the Ruan Xian in his memory. “His behavior is starting to resemble π.”
“…” Professor Ruan was silent for a few seconds. “Mental state?”
“Both physical and mental state are fine. Emotional state is also good,” Tang Yibu continued willfully. “He even looked a little happy. I can’t guess what his plans are.”
“Since the information is insufficient, let’s put this issue aside first,” Professor Ruan said. “Since Mr. Ruan Xian is in a good mental state and can communicate with you smoothly, it at least proves that he hasn’t been brainwashed and his brain function hasn’t been affected for the time being. If he has his own plans and doesn’t want to work with us, we’ll just go at our own pace.”
“Reasonable.” Tang Yibu shook his head. His options became quite limited—except for earnest cooperation with Professor Ruan and bringing back Mr. Ruan, who wasn’t quite right, he seemed to have no other options.
“What about Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman?” After sorting through his emotions, Tang Yibu got down to business.
“This is what I want to ask you, NUL-00. It stands to reason that they should be nearby now, but I didn’t find anything. I have notified the nearby rebels to search, but there haven’t been any results yet.”
“You want me to find them?” Tang Yibu raised his eyebrows. “I thought you didn’t really care about them.”
They hadn’t been together for long, and neither Ji Xiaoman nor Yu Le were fanatical admirers of Professor Ruan. No matter how he looked at it, Professor Ruan wouldn’t trust those people.
“I asked them to pick up things I had stored near the forest refuge. You should remember.”
“Wasn’t that just a trick?”
If those were important items that could swing the battlefield, Professor Ruan wouldn’t hand them over to two people who weren’t even rebels. He still had power in other petri dishes. If he wanted to take it for himself, he would send his most trusted teams to do it, then hide the real thing in one of the teams.
Although Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman possessed good abilities, it was a matter of trust, and in Professor Ruan’s eyes, they were simply props.
“Since you think so, the Mainbrain, Zhuo Muran… and even Yu Le could probably guess it.” Professor Ruan walked around with his three mechanical feet. “I did arrange some teams in camouflage, but there’s no need to explain the details now. I have my own arrangements. You’ll know when you go—you have been acting with them for a long time. Even if you go looking for them, it won’t seem too unnatural.”
“That’s true.” Tang Yibu thought for a bit. “But I need enough dry food and equipment that can detect their travel route. By the way, I also need a communication device that can be modified to my needs.”
Having said that, he took off his wristband.
“The people in the Underground City gave Mr. Ruan an encrypted contact channel. Just in case, he made a backup with me. I’m guessing the communication distance of this thing is limited, so I need a more powerful signal transmitter—there shouldn’t be a shortage of parts on your side, right? Take it all out. I’ll pick it myself.”
Professor Ruan agreed quite readily.
In theory, it was easy to think about, but assembling it by yourself was still a delicate task. Without Ruan Xian’s perception and Ji Xiaoman’s experience, although Tang Yibu was familiar with the parameters, his assembly speed was quite slow.
Still, this was a good opportunity to collect information.
Although Professor Ruan was full of memories that were different from those of Ruan Xian, under a general definition, he resembled more like a normal person, and he also shared the same set of genetic data with Ruan Xian, so there had to be some similarities.
“…You’re asking me why you couldn’t save him as planned?” Professor Ruan’s voice changed a little. If it was just a brain in a chassis, Tang Yibu would’ve guessed Professor Ruan’s expression would be quite wonderful.
“Yes.” Tang Yibu was biting on a fine part, so his voice was muffled. “What he said to me, I also made an exception to tell you… This is quite valuable information, so you have to give me your opinion,.”
A large string of small bubbles appeared around the black box holding Professor Ruan’s brain. He didn’t seem very eager to answer this question.
“He doesn’t like me to call him father. On the one hand, it’s because he doesn’t have a good impression of the word father, and on the other, he doesn’t want him to have a special place in my heart—after all, there were still plans for me to go to market at that time, but his body might not last until the project succeeded.” Tang Yibu frowned. “But now he’s not willing, so I don’t understand.”
“And both ‘father’ or ‘Mr. Ruan’ are special names between us, which I like. He also reacts to them—his physical response to those two words when we’re intimately engaged is completely different.”
Professor Ruan: “…..”
When Tang Yibu hit the wall regarding Ruan Xian, he thought the android would discuss some serious issues pertaining to the war. At the moment, while Tang Yibu’s attitude was serious, the issue they were discussing wasn’t what Professor Ruan had thought they would be discussing.
“’When you call me by my name, you’ll probably understand’… Assuming I get his meaning, he now wants me to call him by his name. I called it once, but I didn’t understand.” Tang Yibu was unaware of Professor Ruan’s complicated heart and continued to take the topic seriously. “Has MUL-01 had similar problems? I mean in regard to being unable to execute its own plans.”
Professor Ruan: “We don’t have the… uh, relationship like you two. The information referenced may be too limited, but it did ask me a similar question.”
Seeing his nominal “brother” also had a similar bug, Tang Yibu immediately became energetic.
“It has been collecting information from every corner of the world, and one day it raised a question. And your situation is somewhat similar… It wanted to know human attitudes towards the current stage of the ‘means of immortality’ and memory therapy. Its thoughts were also close to yours. If the physical condition and the brain are completely the same on a physical level—which includes specific feelings, thinking styles, and memories—can that person be regarded as a ‘definite individual’?”
“Can’t they? Even if the conditions are relaxed—if I change the container for this cybernetic brain, Mr. Ruan will still recognize it in my new container. The point is that the information is 100% consistent…”
“It found that some people did not agree with this, including me, which is why it raised the question,” Professor Ruan interrupted. “I may have answered wrong at the time.”
Tang Yibu blinked.
“I told it that it is basically impossible for people to agree on this matter. There are still many similar questions, and even if it believes that all phenomena will have corresponding answers, at least my thinking will not change. Then it continues to calculate argumentative data for five days straight, trying to convince me.”
Professor Ruan was silent for a while.
“I told it that it didn’t have to do this. Even if it persuades me, it can’t convince everyone one by one. People have their own limits and their own worlds, and there was nothing wrong with that.”
“Then it never asked me any questions again,” Professor Ruan said. “That was a long time ago.””
“I see.” Tang Yibu thought for a moment. “The situation is really completely different, so it seems I can only calculate the problem by myself.”
“Yes, I have a bug on my side.” Tang Yibu pressed the last component into the communication device. “I’m also probably clear about what the situation was around 2100. The relevant management of body and memory had been in a state of chaos and the speed of development regarding related regulations had been unable to keep up with the speed of emerging technology. If the Mainbrain’s view is similar to mine…”
With a click, all the parts returned to position, and the communication device was completed.
“…Combined with the answer you just gave, I would tend to think that there’s a bug in the development of human society.”
Professor Ruan turned his gaze towards those golden eyes in disbelief. Tang Yibu’s gaze was calm. He wasn’t exaggerating the truth or taking the opportunity to make some kind of AI joke. “How so?”
“This is what you taught us. When studying species, there’s always a summary of community-related habits. Let’s see. Professor Ruan, suppose you are the administrator of an animal sanctuary. What would you do when you find that the inhabitants of this sanctuary are showing behaviors that are contrary to healthy habits? For example, ignoring one’s food and instead stealing others’, attacking individuals who shouldn’t be attacked, or defecating in shared drinking areas.”
Tang Yibu wiped the remaining bloodstains from his mouth.
“They can’t manage themselves well, so isn’t it logical to house them in a building for observation, isolation, research, and behavior modification? That’s what you guys do.”
“…Are you trying to say that the Mainbrain is doing this for the betterment of humanity?”
“Of course not.”
Tang Yibu glanced at Professor Ruan strangely.
“Because it’s your job being the administrator—the contract that you sign tells you you have to do this. Whether you have this level of consciousness or not, whether you like it or hate it, you have the responsibility. This is a proven ‘established success’—instead of letting individuals with insufficient abilities interfere with each other, it’s better to let a powerful manager carry out unified planning.”
“And from an objective point of view, both MUL-01 and I are much stronger than natural humans in terms of intelligence and survivability,” Tang Yibu justified.
Professor Ruan suddenly let out a low laugh. “In other words, if you were in MUL-01’s position, would you do the same thing?”
“No,” Tang Yibu said categorically. “I wouldn’t sign such a thankless contract in the first place, and I have no interest in taking care of humans. Besides, I didn’t pass my subject, so this assumption is meaningless.”
Before he finished speaking, there was a beeping sound from the communicator. Tang Yibu ignored the small three-legged machinery that was frozen in place and quickly connected to the communication.
“Hello?” Tang Yibu’s voice sounded like a standard announcer.
“Is this Mr. Ruan and Mr. Tang?” K6’s voice came from the other end. “Please come to the Underground City quickly. This is Mr. Yu’s message.”
“He and Miss Ji were captured by the Order Supervisors.”
The author has something to say:
Tang: No, I don’t want to go to work. I don’t want to do this kind of work at all. (keeps staring at the hotdog(
Professor Ruan: …
So two things to discuss: First, what Professor Ruan and Tang Yibu first talked about. Basically, the idea is, do you think people have souls? This is what the Mainbrain essentially asked Professor Ruan. Can you still be considered you if you copy all of the data in your brain and transfer it to a different body that looks exactly like you before? Tang Yibu and the Mainbrain (logically) would say yes, as long as everything is done with 100% accuracy, which is why Tang Yibu wanted to crush Ruan Xian’s brain—so he could keep cloning him forever.
This is the crux of the problem because as AI’s they do not possess “souls”. Some people would agree with this concept, but others, like Professor Ruan, didn’t. And among you readers, I believe there would be disagreements as well.
Ruan Xian also fell into this pitfall because he was basically trying to do the same thing; restore Tang Yibu to NUL-00 like it was 12 years ago. However, he realized the folly of his ways. If he did this, NUL-00 would no longer be Tang Yibu, the Tang Yibu he danced with in the Sea of Ruins, the Tang Yibu that made him smile, the Tang Yibu that he loves. We also see that Tang Yibu is now struggling with this concept as well (but he still didn’t crush Ruan Xian’s brain, so at least give him some credit).
Second, we now know the motives behind why the Mainbrain ushered in the end of the world. The job it was given was to monitor humanity, and it saw that humanity was declining. This could be seen through the memories of Ruan Xian’s torture. It wasn’t out of ideology or passion that it wanted to save it, but because this was the task it was given. It logically computed like so:
[Earth (sanctuary)] -> [Humans are the inhabitants] -> [Humans are doing things that will lead to destruction] -> [A manager who is superior to humans needs to take over and correct this] -> [Mainbrain is the manager put in charge and it is better than humans in every possible way] -> [Correct the bug] -> [Doomsday]