The Fire of Robot’s Love

It is impossible to tell when humans began telling this story. It lives for thousands of years. Maybe, a storyteller was first telling it to a flock of kids surrounding him in a cave. Lights and shadows of the campfire were dancing on pictures of people and beasts on walls of the cave making illusion that painted figures were alive. Since then hundreds of versions of this story evolved in dozens of languages. Historical and cultural context changed. The didactic message of the written versions of this story remained very straightforward: a vicious stranger may turn out to be a good guy. Yet there is a turbulence of chaotic changes of probability of events and credibility of knowledge about them that makes that message work. By tweaking characters and adding logic to the plot Disney and other modern interpreters take away the turbulence. They strip the fairy tale from its ancient magic to align the story with response learning patterns in our brains. We bring the real ancient magic back to turn on the brain’s exploration mode. We used the Portuguese version from the end of 18th century and only tweaked the context a bit. Things which were magic then now look like the internet of things…

Once upon a time a university professor lived who had three daughters. He loved them all, but there was one whom he loved more than the others. As he was going to a big hi-tech show one day he inquired what daughters would like him to bring them. One said she would like to have the newest smartphone, the other one asked for a smartwatch that nobody yet had, but the one he loved most did not ask for anything.

“Oh! my child, do you not want anything?” The professor asked, in surprise.

“No, I want nothing; I only wish that my dear father may feel happy.”

“You must ask for something, it matters not what it is, I shall bring it to you,” replied the father.

“I wish my father to bring me the fire of robot’s love.” She said in order that the father should not continue to importune her.

The professor travelled to the show, bought all the things that his two daughters had asked him, and searched everywhere for the piece of robot’s love, but could not find it, for the robot’s love was not for sale. He therefore drove home in great distress of mind, because he had no present for the daughter he loved most and wished most to please. In the evening the car navigation system went off and the professor lost his way. He happened to see a light shining on the road, and, as it was already night, he drove on and on until he reached the light. The light came from a small cafe at a car charging station in which a human attendant was sitting. The professor went in and inquired of him, “Can you tell me what mansion is over there, and do you think they would give me accommodation there?” The attendant replied, in great astonishment, “Oh! sir, but in that mansion no one resides, something is seen there which terrifies people from living in it.”

“Whatever it is, it will not eat me up. As there is no one living in it, I shall go and sleep there tonight.” He went up to the building, found it all lit up very splendidly, and, on entering into the mansion, he found a table ready laid. As he approached the table, he heard a voice which said, “Eat and lie down on the bed which you see there, and in the morning rise and take with you what you will find on that table, which is what your daughter asked you for; but at the end of three days you must bring her here.” The professor was very pleased to be able to take home what his daughter had asked him for, but at the same time was distressed at what the voice had required him to do. He threw himself on the bed, and on the following morning he arose, went straight to the table, and found upon it a nice box made of polished steel with a small window at the top. The burning fire of robot’s love could be seen inside through the window. He took the box up and went home.

The moment he arrived his daughters surrounded him saying, “Father, what have you brought us? let us see what it is.” The father gave them what he had brought them. The third daughter, the one he loved most, did not ask him for anything, but simply asked if he enjoyed the show. The father answered her, “My daughter, I come back both happy and sad! Here you have what you asked me for.” The father gave her the box with the burning fire of robot’s love shining from the window. “Oh! father, I asked you for this because it was a thing which did not exist. But why do you come back sad?” “Because I must take you at the end of three days to the mansion where this was given to me.” He recounted all that had occurred to him in the house, and what the voice had told him to do. When the daughter heard all she replied, “Do not distress yourself, father, for I shall go, and whatever God wills, will happen.”

At the end of three days the father took her to the enchanted mansion. It was all illuminated and in a blaze of light; the table was laid, and two beds had been prepared. As they entered they heard a voice saying, “Eat and remain with your daughter three days that she may not feel frightened.” The man remained the three days in the palace, and at the end went away leaving the daughter alone.

The voice spoke to her every day but she couldn’t see who is speaking. After a few days the girl heard a bird singing.

“Do you hear that bird singing?” The voice said to her.

“Yes, I hear it,” the girl replied, “Does it bring any news?”

“It is your eldest sister who is going to be married, would you like to be present?” the voice asked.

“Yes, I should like to go very much,-will you let me go?” The girl said in great delight.

“I will allow you, but you will not return!” The voice rejoined.

“Yes, I shall come back,” the girl said.

The voice gave her then a smart ring so that she should not forget her promise, saying, “Now mind that at the end of three days a white car will come after you; it will give three beeps: the first is for you to dress, and get ready, the second is for you to say goodbye to your family, and the third is for you to get into the car. If at the third beep you are not in the car, it will go away and leave you there.” The girl went home. A great feast had been prepared and the sister got married. At the end of three days the white car came to give the three beeps.

At the first beep the girl began to get ready, at the second beep she said goodbye to her family. The voice had given the girl a wallet with ethers to share with her father and her sisters. Hence they did not wish her to return to the enchanted mansion, because she became very rich. But the girl remembered what she had promised, and at the third beep she got into the car and departed.

After some time the bird again began to sing very contentedly.

“Do you hear the bird singing?” The voice asked.

“Yes I hear it,” replied the girl, “Does it bring any news?”

“It is that another of your sisters is about to marry; and do you wish to go?”

“Yes, I wish to go; and would you allow me to go?”

“I will let you go, but you will not return!” The voice replied.

“Yes, I shall return,” the girl said.

“Remember that if at the end of three days you do not come back you shall remain there, and you will become the most miserable girl in the world!” The voice then said.

The girl started off. A great feast was given and the sister got married. At the end of three days the white car came. It gave the first beep, and the girl dressed herself to go; it gave the second beep, and the girl took leave of her family; it gave the third beep, and the girl got into the car and returned to the mansion.

After some time the bird again sang in the garden, but this time in very melancholy tones.

“Do you hear the bird singing?” The voice said to the girl.

“Yes, I hear it, is there any news?” The girl replied.

“Yes, there are; your father is dying, and does not wish to die without taking leave of you.”

“And will you allow me to go and see him?” The girl asked, indeed much distressed.

“Yes, I will let you go; but I know you will not return this time.”

“Oh yes, I shall come back,” replied the girl.

“No, you will not return — you will not! for your sisters will not let you come. You and they will be the most unhappy girls in this world if’ you do not come back at the end of three days.” The voice then said to her.

The girl went home. The father was very ill, yet he could not die until he saw her, and he had hardly taken leave of his daughter when he died. The girl became so sad that she couldn’t sleep. On the third day she asked her sisters to give her a sleeping pill so that she could have some rest. The sisters gave the girl a sleeping pill as she had requested them, and left her to sleep. The girl had begged them most particularly to awaken her before the white car should arrive. The sisters did not awaken her, and they took off the smart ring she wore. At the end of three days the car came — it beeped three times, and went away and the girl remained at home. As the sisters had taken away the ring, she forgot everything of the past and lived very happily with her sisters.

A few days after the car left, fortune began to leave her and her sisters, until one day the two said to her, “Sister, do you remember the white car?” The girl then recollected everything and began to cry, saying, “Oh, what misfortune is mine, oh! You have made me very miserable! What has become of my ring?” The sisters gave her the ring, and the girl left in great sorrow.

She reached the enchanted mansion and found everything about it looking very dull, very dark. The mansion was shut up. She went in and ran straight to the table atop of which she left the box with the fire of robot’s love. She heard a weak whisper, “Go away, you tyrant, for you have broken my spell! Now you will be the most miserable girl in the world, you and your sisters. Now I die.” The fire of robot’s love inside the box went off. The girl returned to her sisters in great distress, weeping very bitterly, and she remained in the house without eating or drinking, and after a few days she also died. The sisters became poorer by degrees until they lost everything, for them having been the cause of all this trouble.