Sad Robot


‘After the tone this call will be charged at a premium rate. Enter the 16-figure serial number of your ZG series 6. I’m sorry we did not recognize your serial number. If you do not own a ZG series 6 and wish to have more information on any of the ZG models please contact a registered dealer. A complete list of dealerships can be found on our website. To register a newly purchased ZG series 6 please press 1, to register a change of user press 2, to report a faulty or broken ZG series 6 please press 3, for audio initiation and quick set up instructions please press 4, for responses to frequently asked questions please press 5, to make a complaint or any other comment on the functionality of a machine please press 6, to return to the previous menu please press the star key on your phone… I’m sorry we did not recognize your selection. To hear the options again please press the hash key, to return to the previous menu please press star… please wait your call is being transferred to an operator. In order to ensure customer satisfaction your call will be electronically monitored. The estimated time for your call to be answered is less than 3 minutes.’

‘Technical service, Taylor speaking. How can I help?’

‘Hello, yes, you may be able to give me some advice. I bought a ZG machine around four weeks ago and although it works correctly I have concerns about the machine’s well being.’

‘Is it a series 6 madam?’

‘Yes and, well it’s hard to explain, but…’

‘Can I just take the serial number?’

‘I’m afraid I don’t know where to find the serial number.’

‘It’s a 16 figure numerical code on the identity plate of the ZG series 6. For older models that’s on the back of the neck and for more recent models it’s on the inside of the left wrist.’

‘Well I’ve only had it for four weeks but there’s nothing written on either of the wrists.’

‘Could you just check on the back of the neck please madam?’

‘But I’ve only had the machine for four weeks and it was brand new. It’s the most recent model.’

‘That depends on the dealer who supplied it madam. It could well be old stock.’

‘I don’t see how that could be…’

‘Could you just check the neck for me madam.’

‘Oh here it is: 2984 3855 5357 0916.’

‘Very good. It’s a model 450WB and you are Mrs R Leppit is that correct?’


‘And can you just confirm your post code for me please?’

‘LM3 4TT.’

‘That’s good Mrs Leppit, so what can I do for you today?’

‘Well I bought the machine around four weeks ago and it seems to be functioning correctly.’


‘Well, when I say functioning correctly I mean that it seems to be sensitive to all external impetus, I mean physical impetus.’


‘What I’m worried about is the machine’s responses.’

‘Can I just check what you’re using the machine for, Mrs Leppit?’

‘Well, part of the reason for buying the machine was that by its nature it is discrete.’

‘I understand, but in order to be able to help I need to be able to assess what the difficulty is Mrs Leppit.’

‘Well I was told it had authentic physical and emotional responses to stimulation.’

‘Are you using it for emulating acts that could be deemed either sexual or violent?’

‘Well I use it for all kinds of things. Housework and sometimes just to keep me company. You have to understand that it’s in no way hateful, my behaviour, or the machine’s. I genuinely like it. It’s just a question of sexual preference and I was very careful to ensure it is set up as a consenting adult.’

‘Very good Mrs Leppit, ZG Personal Machines has a strict non-judgement policy. But in order to be able to assess if the machine is functioning correctly I need to be able to understand the problem and for this I need to know the context of the machine’s use.’

‘It’s just that I have unusual tastes.’

‘Most people use the machines for sex and violence at least some of the time Mrs Leppit.’



‘Ok. Well, I have been using it for sexual intimacy, but also humiliation with physical consequences.’

‘Very good. And can I just check whether or not you have set up the “STOP” function?’

‘No, I skipped the “STOP” setup.’

‘Ok, so what seems to be the problem?’

‘Well, the machine is displaying symptoms of neurosis.’

‘Have you tried lowering the sensitivity?’

‘It’s on its lowest setting.’

‘Can I just check that you skipped the “STOP” setup deliberately?’


‘So what are the symptoms you’ve been noticing?’

‘Depression, pessimism, flinching, low self-esteem, that kind of thing.’
‘You’re talking about the machine, right?’

‘Yes, of course.’

‘Sorry, so what’s the problem?’

> ‘What do you mean what’s the problem? It’s desperately unhappy!’

‘Ahhh, I understand. No the machine isn’t unhappy. It’s mimicking unhappiness. That what it’s programmed to do.’

‘But I set it up to be consenting.’

‘These are authentic reactions Mrs Leppit, sampled from hundreds of people in real-life situations. The ZG series 6 is designed to show responses proportionally to the sensory and emotional impetus it receives.’

‘But why is it programmed it to be unhappy?’

‘It’s not unhappy Mrs Leppit. It’s a machine it is in no way sentient. Its responses are emulated samples of human behaviour but any emotion or feeling is purely illusory. The ZG series 6 has sensors but no brain to process the physical pain or emotional upset.’

‘But… I’m sorry, what’s your name again?’

‘Taylor, Mrs Leppit.’

‘The thing is Taylor, that the machine makes noises indicating pain.’

‘The series 6 has a screaming function but the volume is fully controllable and it also has a headphones socket.’

‘And I have caught it crying when it should have been on standby. When I did a system check it told me it was unhappy. I’m worried about it.’

‘That’s perfectly normal Mrs Leppit. Please don’t worry. By bypassing the “STOP” function you’ve in effect accepted a limitless response from the machine. But it’s purely mechanical. No matter how realistic the machine’s responses may appear, it has been clinically demonstrated that this is nothing more than what we call intelligent response, by name only. There is not real intelligence, the machine is in no way sentient. Imagine a vending machine Mrs Leppit.’


‘You want to buy a product. You put in your money and select the item using the identifying code the item is labelled with and the machine delivers the product. The ZG series 6 functions on a slightly more elaborate version of the same principle. It is programmed to select specific responses to specific situations. Unlike the vending machine there are literally thousands of options of responses it can give, but each one is adapted to the stimulation it receives. It has no more feeling than a vending machine has an opinion of the product you are buying.’

‘But it didn’t behave like this at the beginning. It is getting worse by the day.’

‘Part of the realism of the programming is the evolving responses. The machine is analyzing the types of action you use and anticipating your likes and habits. It’s learning how you want it to respond. This is perfectly normal and the machine isn’t in anyway damaged by it.’

‘What do you mean learning how I want it to respond. I don’t want it to be unhappy. I’ve never given the machine any indication that I want it to be unhappy. I even give it frequent assurances that I love it and I have followed all the maintenance instructions to the letter.’

‘Ok. In which case there may be a problem with conflicting signals. Have you tried apologizing, promising to change and giving the machine time to recover before continuing.’

‘I thought you said I wasn’t damaging it in anyway.’

‘No, you’re not. But it’s programmed to emulate authentic responses sampled from real life. The ZG series 6 is the most realistic human emulator on the market.’

‘So what can I do if I don’t like its reactions?’

‘Well you can change the set up options. You could try changing its gender settings or personality types. Some personalities are more resilient than others. You could do a factory reset and try out a non-consent configuration. Often in non-consent mode the machine reacts with what we term as “more fight” and I don’t know if you’ve explored any of the non-consent options but there are some interesting presets, like the gradually evolving Stockholm syndrome or table turning. It’s a question of taste Mrs Leppit. Another possibility is to buy the child’s mind add on.’

‘That’s disgusting, Taylor. What do you think I am?’

‘ZG Personal Machines operates a strictly non-judgment policy Mrs Leppit and the series 6 is proven to channel abuse, it’s 100% legal and it protects real people from real danger.’

‘So how do I change the configuration?’

‘You start by doing a factory reset and then follow the configuration guide as you did when you first set it up.’

‘But that took hours and then weeks for the machine to learn how to please me.’

‘It’s basically giving you a brand new machine.’

‘Is there no way of keeping what it has learned but changing its personality?’

‘I’m afraid not Mrs Leppit. If it had a different personality it would learn differently.’

‘But I like it the way it is.’

‘Then you maybe you should accept the effect your behaviour is having on the machine.’

‘It’s a machine Taylor, you said so yourself. I’m not responsible for how you programmed it.’

‘I didn’t program it Mrs Leppit.’

‘Well whoever.’

‘You programmed it Mrs Leppit. The machine learns what you teach it.’

‘But it has mental health issues. I can’t just leave it suffering. Can’t you erase certain pieces of damaging data that are causing the difficulty?’

‘Mrs Leppit, there are people on the internet, you can find them in chat rooms and on forums, who offer psychological support for the machines – counselling, if you will. We don’t recommend this type of service because it is simple scientific fact that the machine has no psychology, but we do recognize that many users feel better for having tried. My recommendation is that you change your behaviour with the machine but if you are not prepared to do that then at least consider turning on the “STOP” function on your machine. Being able to refuse certain treatment can have a big impact on the machine’s apparent self-confidence.’

‘I didn’t buy the machine so it could decide on a whim if it felt like doing as instructed.’

‘The machine doesn’t have whims Mrs Leppit.’

‘I’m not happy with this conversation Taylor. I bought the machine in good faith, followed all the instructions and set it up to be fully consenting. I shouldn’t have to go through the machine’s suffering, like an accusation of mistreatment. There was no warning given. I feel I have been miss-sold my product.’

‘Your machine should actually have been provided with a long document explaining the relationship between the machine’s development and the user’s behaviour towards it.’

‘That great big book? The machine is supposed to emulate a human being. You don’t read a manual to interact with people.’

‘It is quite long, yes. But many owners find it useful. There are also a lot of internet sites that speak about the best way to develop a healthy relationship with your machine.’

‘I don’t want a healthy relationship. That’s why I bought a machine. I’m not using it for anything illegal and even the machine knows I’m in the right. It frequently apologises and tells me it is at fault. I don’t feel you’re being very helpful Taylor.’

‘I’m sorry to hear that Mrs Leppit. What would you like me to do?’

‘I’m starting to doubt your company’s customer services pledge. Companies need to be careful. Consumers compare notes and I’m seriously inclined to give you the minimum star rating.’

‘I really am very sorry about that Mrs Leppit.’

‘Stop apologizing, what’s wrong with you? Is there somebody I can speak to with a little more customer care skill who might actually be able to take some responsibility for the situation?’

‘I’ll put you through to my supervisor Mrs Leppit, please hold the line.’

‘Thank  you.’

‘In order to ensure customer satisfaction your call will be electronically monitored. The estimated time for your call to be answered is less than 1 minute.’