|Of Fishes and Rovers|
|What: A tour of Dr. Pym's lab leads to an offer for Rain|
It's lateish afternoon, likely enough time to take care of many daily chores, get lunch and such. Rain did promise to contact him at some point. She did have fun at the science fair, and clearly is a fan of the Glofish. She's even got a book about Danio, updated to include their genetically modified fishy family members. Regardless, she's called ahead and made sure it wasn't a bad time. Interrupting people at bad times is well, bad, especially when science gets to super levels and a jerked elbow could mean turning into Fish Man or worse. The afternoon weather outside is pleasant, with fall starting to make itself known and students milling about. The tourists seem to be melding away, until the winter season comes about.
For now, Rain's called and making sure she's going to the right place. She'll arrive outside the building, and carefully open the door. Now, where was it...
Right building, right laboratory It's actually a relatively well-off house, but purely functional, rather than ornate.
Clickclick. A little mechanical robot comes swooping in, buzzing. | INTRUDER ALERT, INTRUDER ALERT. IDENTIFY YOURSELF. |
It resembled a large ant's head, just hovering there, with wiggling antenna, silvery exterior, and a slightly tipped attitude that resembled very much a faithful dog... and you really don't want to see how it would bite.
Huh. Whoops. Rain blinks at the robot. She... politely waves at it. Since the giant taser ant thing, she's had a slight sense of unease on seeing large ant things. But she takes a deep breath, and peers over. "Hi, I'm Rain. Um. You... look like an ant robot. Hello." She is clearly remarkably awkward, but friendly. She peers at it, curious. "I hope I'm not in the wrong place?" She rubs the back of her head. And she really hopes it doesn't have built in tasers. "I called a bit ago..."
| VISITOR IDENTIFIES. RAIN. | There's a clicking and a whirring, before the antennae stop wriggling. | Good afternoon! You've been expected. Follow me. | The little robot-ship flies off, going slowly enough for the young lady to keep up, leading her through the corridor towards a laboratory.
In the laboratory, Dr. Henry Pym, clad in a white lab coat, looks up. "Ah, Rain! ROVER found you, did he?" he says, as the little robot comes up. Patting the robot on the head, Pym smiles just a bit as Rover bobbles its body and wriggles its antennae in delight. "He's still in the experimental stages, but he'll be helping me with the security systems and with sensitive experiments. So... you wanted to see what my lab is like, did you?"
Stare. Rain smiles faintly. The wriggling is kinda cute. She nods and walks along after the robot. She seems a lot less ruffled about this than a lot of people would be. But there's Dr. Pym. She smiles again and nods. "He did. He's very diligent," She peers over. "I'd hate to see what happens if you make him mad, I guess..." She considers. "But he seems nice enough," A shrug and a smile. And then? Then awwwww as Pym pets the robot on the head. "That's cute..." She is odd. Very odd. "And sure." Clearly, she's socially awkward but she can at least pick up on enthusiasm, right? "It sounded neat."
The lab was neatly divided into three sections. In one end, the biochemistry experiments, with a good deal of petri dishes, microscopes of varying power, and various chemicals in beakers, as well as a mini-refrigerator, centrifuges, and other biochemistry equipment. In the middle of the laboratory, robotical equipment, circuit boards, and various other tools hung. At the other end laid a good deal of various insects kept in little cages.
Going around explaining each of the experiments, one got the impression that Dr. Pym had spent -way- too much time examining knowledge for its own sake; the way ants communicated, the way particles played about the human body, the robotics reflecting certain thoughts of A.I. as well as how they fit the human body.
"But I'm boring you, no doubt," Pym sums up, as he indicates the entire laboratory. "It's just that there's -so- much to learn about the world and how it correlates to the human body, isn't there?"
Ooo, lab. Rain looks this way and that. She borders an odd line between magic and science, weirdly enough. Her expression is one of curiousity and that awkwardness she gets when arounds omething intensely personal to someone. She peers over the equipment. It's honestly apparent that she really isn't a biology major or anything along those lines. But still! It's incredibly nifty. No Glofish - but still awesome. She is listening as he explains the experiments, smiling faintly. Headtilt. "Naaaaah. I did engineering." Beam. It's apparently pretty hard to outright bore Rain. "I think that you care about your experiments a lot, and I'm learning a bit here." She nods. So it's okay, really! Then she looks to him. "There really is..."
"A bit...?" Pym chuckles, as he turns back towards the biochemistry department.
Nod. "A very LARGE bit," Rain grins. She follows along then, looking here and there.
"Come on, let me show you something," Pym smiles, as he moves towards a computer. Sitting down, Pym calls up what looks like a DNA sequence on one side, and a list of various 'tag' chemicals on the other side of the split screen. "This is what you wanted to know about, is it? I had to do some checking and contact, but there we go... glofish. Now, we'd have to treat the fishes a bit, then breed them for a while. The principle is simple enough, and there's no radioactivity involved. But really, that's simple enough. What I would like to do would be to see if we could do more than just re-color fishes."
Motioning to the rest of the laboratory, Dr. Pym smiles. "I'd like to make tomorrow happen today."
Rain nods and smiles back. She stands behind Pym, watching what he is doing. "Yeah. I suspected they added glow genes but..." She peers over. "I looked at their web page. They made the fish glow in the hopes that if the water was clean, they'd look normal, but glow in the presence of toxins or something. I wonder if they could do that... or ... Hmm." Well, they do use zebra danios for heart and eye research... She listens, peering over. "And really? That sounds really tough... I mean, in a lot of ways." She considers it.
"Well, there are ways to do this, I imagine. Look at the superheroes out there. They change the world. What I propose to do is change it in other ways." There was a pause as Dr. Pym arches an eyebrow. "There's every possibility, for example, that the glofish continue to glow -because- of toxins in the water that we're unaware of. Drawing conclusions because things don't work exactly the way you want them to isn't the way science works; it's to find out -what- caused the deviations from the expected results."
Rain nods. "Makes sense." She pauses at his lifted eyebrow. Oops. She turns red. "They looked cool under a black light. And yeah... I didn't think so. It's just ... there's things like people not accepting it, finding out why it deviated. I think I wish I was that smart," She admits with a faint smile.
"Well, I imagine that's the same for electrical engineering. I presume that's what interests you more, then?" Now Pym smiles, as he closes the files down, and draws up more schematics. "This is ROVER," he indicates. Flying capabilities, VTOL mode, climbing and grappling capabilities, shoots flames, acid or gases. All very handy. "It's a first step towards a humanoid robot, I hope. An android."
Rain smiles. "Well... I like biology, too," She admits. "They're all neat, even if they aren't my strong points. I'm pretty good at fixing stuff, given a bit of time," She notes. "But I like lots..." Poor Rain. She just didn't get a big enough brain to fit all of her interests. There's a peer over to Rover. "So ... I think it's all cool," Smile. "I see..." Mental note: Do not taunt or irritate the happy fun ROVER. "Like the ones in Japan that help care for the elderly?" She considers. "They dispense pills, talk and stuff... though they look pretty creepy."
"Yes, like those, although I am hoping to do more than that. Although I'd had certain people tell me I might be putting people out of work if I develop things too far. I have to admit, considering economic impacts is not something I usually consider in research," Pym smiles sheepishly.
Rain looks thoughtful. "To be fair... it seems like whenever we fix one problem, another comes up. We get rid of mosquitoes with DDT... but it hurts the eagles. We stop using it, the mosquitoes and diseases come back..." Sigh. "It's the way of the world. You push one thing, another falls." She shrugs. "I think computers have already pretty much done that," She points out. "Robots in the car factory, too..." She notes. "But there are also jobs people don't want or are short. Like... caring for old people and stuff. There's definitely not enough people for that..." She isn't sure what to make of it. For all the awkward, humorous horrible happenings and everything the universe heaps on Rain, there's a lot of thought in that scattered brain.
"A large part of that has to do with education," Pym notes. "So if we can develop educated workers, like... learning machines, perhaps we can alleviate some pressure. Honestly, though... I'd rather hire a business manager before getting to that point, as it's not something I really care to do. I'd rather just invent things."
"True," Rain considers. She smiles a little. "I think I'd do the same," She admits. Business and people? SCARY! She is quiet, thinking. "Still. I appreciate you letting me visit. This is really neat," Nod. "And inventing stuff is pretty nifty... and useful. But life would be pretty boring without any spark or creativity," She points out. "What would you have the Glofish pick up?" She asks, maybe seeing what he would have in mind for them.
"Gamma radiation," is Pym's immediate reaction. "If only so that a... friend could have some company and be aware of where to avoid it. To avoid his... condition flaring up."
Rain looks thoughtful at that. "That sounds like a good idea," She agrees, and nods. "I bet they could. They already glow beneath blacklight..." She considers it. She seems sympathetic to his friend, tapping her chin. "Especially since I think it travels through water pretty well, too... if I'm not mistaken."
"I'd like it even more if it were able to -absorb- radiation. Maybe then, prolonged contact might work. But... well, we're on the verge of testing a different cure," Dr. Pym smiles. "Still, it would be something to consider. It would take much longer, however..." To breed fishes would take years, for sure.
Rain smiles at that. "That would be nice," She considers. She nods at him. "Well. Zebra danios tend to be hardy and breed pretty often... they said that's what they used to make Glofish," She notes. "It might be something to look into... but maybe you're right. To get enough batches breeding reliably with the right parts and traits." Sigh. She frowns. "And really? That's pretty incredible. I wish I had something more eloquent to say." Sadface.
"Ah well. You've had a look about. Are you still looking for work?" Dr. Pym adds, while Rover flies over in a solicitious manner, settling next to Pym and almost practically -nudging- him as though wanting something.
"... I should work on the AI. He keeps wanting attention, it seems like," Dr. Pym murmurs, almost sheepishly. "Something randomized in his personality protocols."
Pause. Hee. Rain smiles at Rover's nudging. "It's kind of cute," She considers. "I can help out part time," She nods. "I tend to stick to doing odd jobs. I think being homeless for so long has made me feel a bit weird sticking to one place. Is that odd?" She asks quietly. "Mostly, I did delivery work and took care of people," She admits.
"Yes, I was rather hoping to have a second perspective on different attempts," Dr. Pym notes. There was a soft smile, as he looks towards Rover, before relenting and patting him on the head. As Rover does the happy wriggle and drifts back off to its patrol, Dr. Pym nods briefly. "Well, I was hoping to leverage your electrical engineering," he says softly. "Do a little bit of work with adamantium and its possible uses with the robotics."
Awww. Happy wriggle. Rain smiles. She definitely seems empathetic. She looks to Dr. Pym and nods. "I see. I don't know what my perspective is worth, but I'll be glad to help out as I can," She nods. "I'm sort of in a weird place in life," She murmurs. "But I'd be honored to help. Like, seriously." In nerd heaven. Nerd heaven's comic book shop even.
"I see. Well, we'll attempt this on a trial basis, then, shall we? Although I would, of course, like to be sure that you wouldn't be discussing your work here anywhere else," Dr. Pym notes. He stands up, and offers a hand. "We'll start small, then." A soft smile forms on his face. "Just keep an eye on ROVER." Especially if the strange personality quirks he has does -something- with the security weapons it has.
Rain smiles at that. "That would be awesome. And don't worry. I wouldn't. I understand. I often help take care of people so ... confidentiality is definitely important," She notes. After all, she heals 4 food and that tends to involve working the shadier parts of town. She smiles, and carefully accepts the hand. "I'll do my best. And got cha. Does he like to be pet? Or she...? Maybe it?" Hmm. Headtilt.
"He," Dr. Pym automatically responds, before tilting his head as he ponders. "Hmmm, anthromorphizing ROVER as male. I hadn't considered that. Well, you can study what gender ROVER is, if you like. I suppose you can pet him if he wants it." He hadn't actually -refused- yet, come to think of it.
Rain smiles. "I'll ask sometime and see. It's hard to say, I bet, because no culture or group of people really agree on what masculine or feminine means." After all, in some places hunting is manly, in other places, it's done by the women. Society is baffling that way. She pauses and offers her hand to Rover. "May I pet you, then?" She asks quietly. She'll ask first.
Rover bobbles its head. | This unit would be pleased if Rain would pet Rover, | it squeaks in its tinny voice, as it comes to a stop, and then flies towards Rain, coming to a stop with antennae quivering.
... too cute. D'aw. Rain smiles and reaches over to pet it then. She'll gently rub between his antennae at first. "How sweet." Rain is weird. She likely mimics how Dr. Pym pet him a bit ago earlier. "Where do you like to be patted? Between the antennae?" She's at least decent at compensating for her awkwardness at times.
That Rover seems pleased to be given more -attention- might be an anthromorphication. | It doesn't matter, ma'am! | it squeaks. That Pym seemed to have programmed it to have roughly the personality of a faithful dog with manners... well, it -was- interesting to see what the AI would extrapolate from there.
"I, uh, didn't have sensors on the skin. Just the grapplers, and only so they could register and measure pressure," Pym clarifies. "So it really doesn't matter where you pet him. Why he wants to be petted...." There was a slight sigh. "It's still in beta, clearly."
D'aaaaaaaaw. Hee. Rain smiles and seems happy to oblige! The squeaking is adorable. It probably doesn't help that Rain has an odd sense of what's cute. Still, she seems happy to put him. She nods. "I see. Maybe it's possible he's learned to understand or feel sensation? Or associate petting with attention..." She considers. "He's still pretty cool." She smiles to Pym. "And I guess an AI can really surprise you."
"I suppose, but the question would be, why would he want attention?" Pym notes. Never mind that he keeps calling Rover a he, the robot AI was always a tricky thing to study.
Hmmm. "Did you program him to be happier or associate positive feelings or something with attention or doing something good? Or did you pay more attention when he did something you liked?" Rain peers over. "A lot of virtual pets have little happiness meters that go up when you pet them. You can use it to teach them stuff and keep them happy. It's hard to have a personality without some sort of emotion. But maybe I'm wrong. Probably.
"I honestly never gave it much thought. I programmed it to respond to -me- when I needed something," Henry considers. "If you're trained in electrical engineering, it would do you some good to go over the sections on robotics. It might disappoint you, however, that I haven't been working with the Asimovian Three Laws. I'm not sure it's feasible in a non-positronic fashion, and the technology to operate with positronics isn't available. Perhaps Stark..."
Hmm. Rain considers that. She smiles a little. "I see. And that's okay. Maybe the AI is developing in a new way," She considers. "I'll dig up some books and see what's out there. The school I went to tended to keep robotics for the CS and programming people," She admits. "Unless I just wanted to make the parts and partner up with someone. I tried, but my partner got addicted to an MMO and dropped out so ..." That was apparently a bust. Sigh. "Well. Oh. I saw him once! He was at Dazzler's concert. I poked Killer Moth with a stick there."
"Ah. Really..." Now Dr. Pym arches an eyebrow. "Well, we'll see." He regards Rover with a smile. "You can work with him, then. Maybe understanding his behavior might give us a greater insight onto how the human mind works..."
"Yeah... we'll see." Rain smiles to Pym and Rover. "They do use models. Whether we do things out of fear of punishment and wanting a reward or how we move past that..." Altruism, for one. "It couldn't hurt to take notes, anyway." She nods. "Sometimes it's like looking into a funhouse mirror. The things that stand out help you understand the noraml. Sorta. I'm not good with analogies." ... better keep HER away from writing the papers.
"Ahhh, yes." Dr. Pym nods slowly. "I do have a task for you, however, if you'd like to do it now. Would you mind, ah... running down to the pet shop and picking up some zebra danios?"
Rain smiles. "Sure thing. I can do that. How many would you like? And just regulars? Not long finned or golden?" Rain seems happy to go to the pet shop. They have pets there!
"Several," Pym motions. "Enough to establish a breeding colony, and then we'll see after that." There's a pause. "Oh, and some food for them. Rover, will you please get the money for her?"
| Ok, Dr. Pym! | Rover squeaks, as it flitters out of the laboratory, but not after bumping against Rain.
Rain looks thoughtful and nods. "Okay. They like frozen and live foods. A lot of dry foods seem good, too..." She'll take note of any preference. And aww, squeaks. And a bump. One last pat and she'll wait for the money. Then it's off for feesh and foods!