Cole sat outside the technicians’ office, wringing his hands and fretting. Two techs wearing grey scrubs had led Sam away, leaving Cole to stare at the nondescript corporate artwork on the wall, hoping everything would be okay. He’d been agonising over this for weeks – unable to ask his friends for advice. They wouldn’t understand the difficulty of making this kind of decision. After all, many had biological children, the kind you couldn’t roll back.
Cole was sure the few friends who saw his digital offspring as fully human wouldn’t approve once they found out. The others – who saw Sam as somewhere between an advanced AI toy and an affectation – would raise an eyebrow and tell Cole to just give up his fake parenthood.
He reminded himself why he’d needed to make this decision. Recently, Sam’s behaviour had become impossible to manage, and as a single parent with no support, Cole was struggling.
He didn’t know where he’d gone wrong. Practically overnight Sam went from his sweet kid to an angry, withdrawn, sometimes violent stranger. Cole didn’t blame Sam; the problem must be his parenting skills. He told himself this rollback was for both their sakes – far better than upping compliance settings and stripping away Sam’s free will.
When the door to the technicians’ office opened, Cole felt his shoulders relax and stopped tugging at his beard. He wrapped Sam in a hug, noting his child looked no more than a little dazed. In 40 minutes of computing tweaks, five years of Sam’s life were gone. Now Cole could try again, try to be a better father.
And he would be better now, he had to be. Cole couldn’t bear the idea he might have to go through the pain of rolling Sam back for a fourth time.