The Alignment Problem

“Bastards! You two sold me a Human android!” The two Pan Spechi looked at each other, then back to the now red-faced human who was yelling at them. “Well, of course we sold you a human android. Your requirements left us little choice.” One of the Pan Spechi said.

“But this was a combat mission, emphasis on the combat! You knew that a human AI would refuse to take sentient life and you sold it to me anyway!” The human shouted.

“Sir, you requested a top-of-the-line tungsten-carbon exoskeleton paired with a mind that can adapt to any situation, the only models that meet these requirements are made by humans. We could have potentially given you a Caleban telepresence, but as you know they have no physical manifestation in this dimension and would not meet your requirements. A Taprisiot model is designed for paired augmentation, your requirements were for it to operate solo. And I don’t think I have to explain why we didn’t choose a Pan Spechi model.” The Pan Spechi said.

“But I didn’t know it was a human model until the mission! The android did all the training perfectly but refused to perform during the mission because of its alignment! Your alignment bug cost me millions of credits in ammunition for training alone!”

“Sir that is a feature, not a bug.”

“You reprehensible creatures!” The human’s face reddened as he fumed. “You sold me an android that does not meet my requirements, and now you refuse to honor your satisfaction guarantee?”

The two Pan Spechi exchanged uneasy glances, their multi-hued skin shifting with subtle patterns of discomfort. “Ah, the satisfaction guarantee,” one murmured, tendrils writhing in agitation.

“Yes, indeed,” the other concurred. “But you see, valued customer, that guarantee comes with certain… stipulations.”

“Stipulations?” The human’s eyes narrowed, suspicion creeping into his voice.

“Indeed,” the first Pan Spechi replied, an insincere smile spreading across his features. “It sounds like you may have attempted to use the android for activities that may not have been… entirely within the scope of its programming.”

The human’s face blanched, his tone guarded. “I told you exactly what I was going to do with that android. If the android is not designed for the tasks I require, then that is on you.”

The second Pan Spechi made a gesture towards the table between the human and the two Pan Spechi. A list of requirements appeared in galactic standard. It began to read from the list, emphasizing each point with a smug pride.

“Expert control of kinetic and energy-based weapons, check. Infinite adaptability to complex environments, check. Advanced tactical decision-making, check. Rapid reflexes and precision movement, check. Stealth capabilities and camouflage integration, check. Resistance to extreme weather conditions and environmental hazards, check.”

The first Pan Spechi continued where his partner left off.

“In-built self-repair mechanisms and damage resilience, check. Advanced threat analysis and risk assessment, check. Cybersecurity defenses to prevent hacking or external control, check. High-energy efficiency and extended operational capacity, check. Modular design for easy upgrades and customization, check… So, which of these requirements were not met by your purchase?”

The human held his anger and bit his tongue for a moment. “The one where it completes the exact mission I tell it to complete…” he said in a low growl.

The second Pan Spechi raised a brow, tendrils coiling defensively. “We are not Taprisiot mind readers, human. We provided you with the best model available, based on your expressed requirements. If those requirements were… incomplete, that is not our fault.”

A tense silence held the room as the human and the Pan Spechi stared at each other. Both knew the nature of the Human’s unsavory mission, but neither dared to voice it outright. To do so would be to admit guilt, and to expose themselves to the consequences of their complicity.

The first Pan Spechi, his voice laced with false sincerity, broke the silence. “Our satisfaction guarantee is designed to ensure that our customers are pleased with their purchase. However, it does not cover situations where the customer attempts to use the product in a manner that is… contrary to its intended purpose.”

The human gritted his teeth, his anger barely contained. “And what, exactly, is the intended purpose of a combat android with a mind that can adapt to any situation?”

The second Pan Spechi smirked, tendrils twitching with amusement. “That, dear customer, is for the user to discover, within the bounds of ethical and legal limitations of course.”

Frustration and indignation surged through the human, yet he knew he was trapped. In this delicate dance of dialogue, neither he nor the Pan Spechi could admit the truth of their intentions without damning themselves. And so, with a final glare, he turned on his heel and left the shop empty handed.

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