A.J.: The First Companion Android

The sniper’s bullet struck A.J. above her left breast just below her collarbone. She had been “alive” just one day.

She is the most advanced android ever made by Cloud_IA, the corporate giant at the forefront in the field of Intelligent Avatars (IAs). The development of Companion Androids follows a simple dictate: “Be Useful; Be Human.”

But at what cost?

Haunted by the perils of Invasive Automation, some in this world of high-tech marvels oppose their creation. Robots have already stolen their jobs; they fear they will become the Servants of the Machine. And they will resort to violence to achieve their ends.

In 2038, a young quantum programmer is given a critical mission: revamp the “Wisp,” the Hard-Wired Human Safety Protocol (HWHSP), which prevents A, J. from harming humans. His second goal is to enhance her human interaction; his third, to find a way to give her emotions, intuition and foresight.

But does a more subtle danger lurks within this hard-science drama? Will amplification of the semblance of humanity in androids result in the diminishment of humanity — in humans?

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