Diana’s May Story: Defining Human

Pixabay image by Brigitte Werner

Defining Human

by D. Wallace Peach

“I don’t know why you keep that decrepit thing around.” Delia sipped her iced tea and glanced out the window of her friend’s home. On the manicured lawn, Sherri’s cyborg pushed their children on side-by-side swings, a human arm heaving on one small back while a mechanical arm pressed on the other.

“His name is Carter, and he’s part of the family.” Sherri angled her head for a view of their laughing boys. Dainty sandwiches adorned a platter at her table’s center, and Delia nibbled though she wouldn’t feel hungry until noon. Sherri poured more tea. “I grew up with him, and he—”

“Saved your life.” Delia patted her friend’s hand in understanding, though honestly, she’d survive without hearing a repeat of the story.

The cyborg had pulled Sherri from a fire and sacrificed the flesh on half of his face and body. The repair costs for an archived model had been prohibitive, but rather than purchase updated technology, the family had elected to preserve the damaged thing. Out of gratefulness. As if it possessed human feelings. The mawkish sentimentality was disturbing, and the cyborg’s exposed gears hideous. “They’re wired to protect us, you know?”

“I know,” Sherri said. “But he’s generous with his time and kind-hearted, and he has a fun sense of humor. He’d do anything for us, and we love him.”

Delia rolled her eyes as she finished her tea.  Her internal clock struck noon, and she helped herself to another sandwich. Her friend’s affection for the machine irritated her, and as usual, any attempt at reason was an utter squandering of her time.

The cyborg ushered the breathless children in for lunch, and Delia was thankful for the distraction. Not long after the meal, she packed her dawdling son into their transport. “Home,” she instructed. The vehicle hummed into travel mode, and she reclined in her seat with an e-mag.

“I like Carter,” her son said while fiddling with his recliner’s buttons. “He plays with us, and he’s nice.”

“He’s a machine.”

“He acts like a human.”

“Well, he’s not. We are human, superior to him and all his kind.”

“What’s the difference?”

Delia huffed at the obvious. “Quiet now, I’m reading.”

The transport glided to their front door. Their arrival home was later than planned, but she’d anticipated the delay and programmed naptime for optimum flexibility. Why carry the child when his feet were perfectly capable of walking?

She escorted her son to his room, tucked him into bed, and plugged his link into his temple. After several software adjustments, she retreated to her suite and flung herself down on her bed. She needed to reconsider her relationship with Sherri’s family. Their beliefs were having a radical impact on her son, and his confusion about what defined a human being was troubling.

Stress had taken its toll, and Delia decided to nap as well.  She set the timer for forty-five minutes, chose a pleasant dream sequence, and inserted the interface into her port. Her eyes closed as the software began its upload.

**

Note: I’m on the road again, helping my parents. I won’t be able to respond to comments or return visits until the evenings. Please bear with me. ❤ 

121 thoughts on “Diana’s May Story: Defining Human

  1. Erminaafroz says:

    This is gonna be so obvious in the near future. The way humans are less humans to us and machinery has substitued its place. Great depiction must say.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for stopping by to read and comment. I do wonder how we will treat machines as they begin to look more and more human. Will we value them or be cruel simply because we can? Have a great weekend!

      Like

  2. YBP says:

    What an interesting read Diana. With today’s fast-paced world, and technological advancements made at breakneck speeds, we need to be ready to confront such issues. And yet, the more pressing issue at hand is the rampant growth of prejudice, hatred, biases, bigotry, and indifference. These are the real dangers to watch out for …. they all obliterate the soul.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree. One point of the story was that the android/cyborg was more human than those who define themselves as human. Is human a matter of biology or a way of perceiving and acting in the world? There seem to be plenty of humans these days that don’t deserve the title.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. inese says:

    Enjoyed the story, Diana. Obviously, people struggle with defining Human when they start losing the qualities. Great, thought-provoking read.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I like this futuristic tale very much, Diana. Very clever. And the human supremacy theme against the cyborgs is interesting. I suppose children know better than the biassed adults. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Joanne Sisco says:

    Your stories are so thought-provoking and this one is no exception. So many questions!!

    Thinking about you and hoping everything is going as well as can be ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! Well done once again, Diana! Nice illustration of hypocrisy at work. Safe travels!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Her internal clock struck noon, and she helped herself to another sandwich.”

    Hmm, Delia makes me wonder who really is the machine here. I love how you’ve responded to the prompt. I hope everything is going well, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] https://mythsofthemirror.com/2019/05/26/dianas-may-story-defining-human/ ““I don’t know why you keep that decrepit thing around.” Delia sipped her iced tea and […]

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  9. […] D. Wallace Peach – Defining Human […]

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  10. jenanita01 says:

    I loved this one, Diana. Hypocrisy turned inside out!
    And that is a fabulous new background image BTW…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jina Bazzar says:

    Another end of the month. I guess I missed a lot of posts this time around. I sense hypocrisy in this one, maybe a little irony too – she’s superior, yet her life revolves around tech. It reminds me a little of JD Rob’s in death series. Ever read any? They have mechanic robots to clean and cook and whatever else, as well as dreamscapes and what nots. I like their autochef the most though.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. willowdot21 says:

    A very interesting story 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sadje says:

    A great story exposing our double standards as humans.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Lyn Horner says:

    Excellent take on a so-called human’s prejudiced attitude toward someone who’s different. This reflects our present day situation all too closely. Well done, Diana!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Jen Goldie says:

    Amazing take Diana and wonderful. xo 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Teri Polen says:

    Nice comparison, Diana. Hope all goes well with your parents.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. […] Continue reading at Myths of the Mirror […]

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Staci Troilo says:

    What a brilliant comparison. An AI that’s very human and a human who has lost her humanity. A subtle yet poignant message. Nicely done, Diana.

    And I hope all is well with your parents.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. J.D. Riso says:

    Very insightful story, Diana. I think it’s already getting to the point where it’s difficult to discern between human and inhuman…and it’s even before cyborgs become part of daily life. Wishing you a lovely week.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, J.D. I think that time is fast approaching and that there will be some ethical issues ahead as robots become more and more human in appearance, behavior, and thought. It’s fun and scary to consider. 🙂

      Like

  20. Is it play that makes us human or our ability to feel empathy? There are so many questions here, Diana. I liked the way to you used her ‘internal clock’ to transition.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Wonderful job! I love the subtle look at humanity, and how we judge and belittle. Your story unfolds with the perfect balance of narration and establishing dialog. Well crafted!

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Jan Sikes says:

    A most clever comparison, Diana. I love the way you showed how even though the cyborg was not “human,” he was much more human on many levels than the self-proclaimed superior woman! Congrats! Good work!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Jan. I think sentience gives us a certain responsibility that perhaps other animals don’t have. It’s part of how we differentiate and define ourselves. It was fun to explore how that might play out in a world where human and robot aren’t that far apart. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I really enjoyed reading this! And all the other stories of this month! Sadly, I’m very overwhelmed with school right now to think of anything else, so I couldn’t participate! But I loved reading the different takes on this image!

    Liked by 3 people

  24. This is so clever, Diana. I really love how you approached the topic and made the reader think about the characters’ own ideals. Marvelous! I can’t wait to read more 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Wonderful storytelling, Diana. I wonder how long it will be before your story becomes a reality? Not long, I think. Reminded me very much of the kind of story you’d see in an episode of Black Mirror. They’d love this.

    Liked by 4 people

  26. Oh cool! I kind of wondered if Delia was the worlds greatest hypocrite at first, but I can totally see “humanity” truly believing it has evolved when in actual fact, it has given up the actual essence of humanity for technology… and it doesn’t seem that far off some days. 😳
    Great writing as usual my friend. Kudos on working in “mawkish” 🤗

    Liked by 3 people

  27. acflory says:

    Whenever your read this….PLEASE continue this story!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Ha ha ha. But but but… I don’t know where it goes. I promise I’ll contemplate it. I’m still trying to get the darn first draft done on my current WIP – it’s been a year in more ways than one. Then I want to do a stand-alone, so maybe… I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Andrea. 🙂 Have a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

      • acflory says:

        -grin- No buts! Seriously, you really got me thinking with this one. How do we define being human? Is it simply how we look? Is it physical? Is it our art? The good we do? But then how to explain the awful things we do to each other and the world? So many questions. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  28. Elisabet says:

    Intriguing as ever my friend!🌺❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  29. That small bit at the end where she uploads a dream really made the characterization ‘pop.’ Nice story! Loved the humanness of the themes.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. ghostmmnc says:

    Wonderful take on the photo! Makes you wonder which ones are really the machines, and which one is still human. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You totally got my point, Barbara. It depends on how we define human. Is human merely a biological species or is being human a way of being in the world? Thanks so much for reading and for the great comment. 😀 Have a wonderful holiday.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. areilly88 says:

    I love that you joined in on this one and your subtle showcase of hypocrisy – the blind spots most of us have about our failings, territory that often expands when we’re focused on the shortcomings of others.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for reading, Amanda. I’m so glad you enjoyed this story. I can’t seem to avoid a bit of social commentary, and I do wonder how our relationships with machines will evolve as they become more humanlike. Have a lovely day, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  32. balroop2013 says:

    The arrogance of being “human” is ironic Diana. Superbly crafted fiction.
    Wishing you all the best for the day, must be so hectic!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for reading, Balroop. I’m so glad you enjoyed my exploration of humanness. 🙂 Yes, pretty hectic. My dad is in the hospital but hopefully will be coming home tomorrow. 🙂 The next two weeks are going to be a little crazy, but we’ll manage.

      Like

  33. I’ve been waiting to see what your offering would be on this one – and it’s spot on Diana, of course 🙂 Just the right amount of obliviousness to the superior Delia.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Pauline. People are often such hypocrites and don’t even see it. I wonder how humanness will be defined in the future as the boundaries blur. It was fun to explore in this story. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Have an awesome week.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Eerie and subtle; very nice.

    I hope your visit is lovely.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Nice story Diana. So straight forward and just another day in the life. You make it seem normal.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Who knows? This could be “normal” in a matter of a couple decades. It’s going to be interesting as robots act and look more and more like humans. The real question is will humans act like humans? Thanks for reading, Len. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  36. mistermuse says:

    Too bad Trump can’t be programmed into being “generous with his time and kind-hearted.” Talk about fantasy!

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Duke1959 says:

    What is classified as human today probably won’t be 20 years from now. It’s a topic that rarely gets talked about in the cultural discourse.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the comment, Duke. It’s going to be so interesting as robots become more and more human-like and our relationships with them evolves. So many ethical questions will need to be resolved. I’m glad you enjoyed the story.

      Like

  38. tidalscribe says:

    Brilliant and poignant; it would be like this, not a flashy metallic world, but humans with their usual narrow minds and no one sure what is human…

    Liked by 2 people

  39. A great story, Diana. Your comments about how close to the line human and machine become are great. I also only respond to comments in the mornings and evenings. I don’t think that is very usual so I wouldn’t worry. Good luck with moving your parents.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Robbie. So many ethical decisions ahead as the line separating humans and machines becomes thinner! My parents moved in April, now it’s a series of health issues and hospital stays. Thanks for the kind comment. 🙂

      Like

  40. memadtwo says:

    There’s a lot to think about here Diana. We have so much blindness when it comes to ourselves…
    good luck, and I hope everything goes smoothly (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  41. This is wonderful Diana. Wishing you the best out there!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. joylennick says:

    We are on the edge….of what? Certainly a totally different ‘landscape’ in a few decades. Fascinating story, Diana. Much to chew on…Love and light. Thinking of you and your ailing parents. Hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Joy. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I can see all kinds of ethical questions as humans and machines become increasingly indistinguishable. Where is the line? And who decides? My parents are having such a hard time. It’s good I’m here. 🙂

      Like

  43. Oh, I gotta tell you, this is sublime. Futuristic and yet present. Prescient yet all too true already. In fact (ahem), I’d love to see this continued on as a novel, D.W. Peach. Speculative fiction that we all relate to all too well. Brilliant.
    Hope all is well with your parents. I drove the 7 hours down to visit my mom last weekend. I’m still down about the sad effects of aging. Saw an amazing story last night about Bruge, Belgium where the city WELCOMES those with dementia and has found ways to make the elderly there feel comfortable and even happy. https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/what-makes-bruges-belgium-the-world-s-most-dementia-friendly-city-60338757721

    Liked by 2 people

  44. trentpmcd says:

    Excellent story as usual. Besides the commentary on our own society, I don’t think we are too far off from that world where Ooops, gotto go – time to download the patches to Brain OS 2.1.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. Diana, I’ve been eagerly awaiting your own response to the prompt. You did not disappoint. Believable, mindful, and thought provoking — and so real.
    Don’t worry about comments — get some rest. Safe travels. Hugs on the wing. 🕊️

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m heading out again in a couple hours, Teagan. I have no idea what my schedule is going to be, but thought I’d get this posted. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’m glad it was thought-provoking too. Hugs back at you, my friend.

      Liked by 2 people

  46. I like this. How do we define human and who gets to decide what human is and isn’t, especially when our leaders will often de-humanize groups of people they don’t like for their own political ends.

    Whether we like it or not the future will have some interesting complex issues for us to sort through such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and increasing technological changes to human bodies (as this story delves into). What we call human or humanity might end up being harder to define.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks, Joanne, for the spot on comment. This was partly a delve into all you mentioned, as well as the hypocrisy of those who judge others. I hope that we always err on the side of greater humanness, compassion, and love. Have a great day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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