This short story originally appeared at Vice.
None of our robots have faces, per se, but it’s not hard to tell how they feel. Body language.
Today the medics dragged in one of their own — one of the medical battalion Bears. You know the Bears. Big ol’ things. Fat torso. Tank treads. Curved arms.
We don’t send a lot of human beings into the Engagement Zone, but when we do and one of them gets hurt, it’s the Bear’s job to literally scoop them up and carry them back to the aid station. The human aid station, I mean.
Well the medics — yes, we call them that even though “mechanic” or even “wrecker” is probably more accurate — came rolling in towing this beat-up Bear and the Bear was actually slumping. Shoulders rounded. Arms dragging. A defeated kind of gesture.
The latest Bears can actually talk, sort of. They’ve got sensors that read human expressions and simple algorithms that cue a range of pre-recorded phrases played via a speaker embedded in the robot’s chest. “It’s going to be okay” is the main one. And dammit if this Bear wasn’t saying that to itself, over and over at low volume, as though reassuring himself. “It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay.”