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Vote for Kilgore

by Carl Perrin



Carl's
stories have appeared in Mountain Laurel, Northern New England Review, Short-Story.Me, Commuter Lit, Mad Swirl, Kennebec, Every Day Fiction, Bindweed, and Bewildering Stories among others.


             The Nashua Telegraph, August 23, 2047                

Candidate Speaks at Rivier College

Congressional candidate Frank Kilgore spoke Thursday evening at Rivier College. He emphasized his dedication to education with these words: “And so, my friends, education is the answer to a lot of things in life. Education will lift citizens from welfare. Education will improve the economy. Education will help the federal budget, and education will improve the quality of life for all our citizens. If you elect me to Congress, I will fight for you. I will fight to make a good education possible for every citizen.

After the speech the event took a new tone when Kilgore invited questions from the audience. The first question came from a woman from Hudson: “How can you expect people to vote for you? You’re a robot.”

            The moderator leaned into the microphone on the stage and said, “Please, ma’am, limit your questions to Mr. Kilgore’s speech.”

            Kilgore stood and came to the center of the stage. “No, it’s all right,” he said. “She has a right to have her question answered.” He turned to the audience and said, “I know I look like a robot.”

            Of course it is meaningless to say that Kilgore looked like a robot. As everyone knows, high-end robots these days are so realistic looking that it is hard to tell the difference between a robot and a live person.

            “I may look like a robot,” Kilgore continued, but there is a world of difference between robots and me. Robots can be programmed to do almost anything. They’re really smart when it comes to gathering vast stores of data and analyzing it. But robots don’t really think. They just follow some algorithm that they have been programmed to follow. Robots lack consciousness, self-awareness. In short, robots lack a soul.

            “I am not a robot. I have a birth certificate to prove it.”

            “You also have a death certificate.”

            “Yes, my body died, but before that, a digital copy of my mind, a neural network, was created. Then when my body died, that network was loaded into this body,” lifting his arms.

            The woman sat back down, and a heavy-set young man took her place at the microphone. He cleared his throat and said, “Maybe you did all those things, but with that robot body, you still ain’t a regular person.”

            Kilgore conceded that he was not a regular person. “But in my mind, I’m still the same person I always was. I have a friend who lost his arm below the elbow. For several years he has been using a prosthetic arm. My cousin lost his hearing in one ear. Now she wears a cochlear implant. I once worked with a man who had a lost a leg. He got around just fine with an artificial leg. We all know people who use hearing aids to help deal with hearing loss. Are these people any less human because they have some kind of prosthetic device? My whole body is a prosthetic device.”

           

The Nashua Telegraph, October 11, 2047

Court Decides for Kilgore

            Congressional candidate Cindy Phelps sued her opponent, Frank Kilgore, alleging that he was not legally qualified to run for Congress. She contended that Kilgore was not a citizen and not even a person. In court she alleged that Kilgore was “just a robot.”

            Mr. Kilgore responded by saying, “I was not manufactured like a robot. I was born 63 years ago in Lynn, Massachusetts. I went to the University of New Hampshire and taught English at Hollis High School for almost thirty years.”

            Perhaps the most persuasive element in the trial was Kilgore’s ability to cite facts that would not have been known by anyone else.

            The court ruled that although there was a death certificate, that certificate was in error. His body had died, but his mind had been preserved in a neural network. The robotic body that carried that network was a prosthesis that allowed Mr. Kilgore’s mind to continue functioning.

 

The Nashua Telegraph, November 7, 2047

Phelps Elected to Congress

            In a surprise upset, Cindy Phelps was elected to Congress by a nine point margin. Although this is a first time that an electronic person has run for office, Frank Kilgore had been a popular English teacher. Followers were inspired by his story of coming back to life by having a digital copy of his mind implanted into a robotic body.

            Yet, the story that inspired some voters turned others off. Typical was a remark by Margery Floss of Amherst, New Hampshire: “I know a lot of things have changed in recent years, but I still ain’t going to vote for no robot.”


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