Glitch is a short story of about 5000 words by Hugh Howey. It might be considered a story on the way to, and just short of AI (artificial intelligence).
Max is a robot built specifically to fight other robots. He (and one might ask, why “he” and not “she”) is the product of a young design team that began doing this type of building while still high school colleagues. Professor Hinson took note of the successful team, decided to lead them, and parlayed their relationship into a successful military contract with DARPA, an obscure government agency. At least they want to be obscure.
Sam, Peter, and Greenie make up the three-person team that takes Max to the fights, powers him up, and repairs him after the fights. There are always damaged parts and always modifications to be made. Some of the modifications are at the suggestions of Max. The robot is designed to learn from each match, to learn from its mistakes. It is almost as if the team is there to serve Max rather than Max is there to follow directions of the team.
And that is where the trouble begins. There is a glitch. Max doesn’t want to fight anymore. Greenie and Pete have been working to find out why. They can’t. They must now rely on Sam, Pete’s ex-wife, to run diagnostics and find out what is wrong. Sam, very good with robots but bad with coffeemakers, can’t find a reason any more than Pete and Greenie can. But she can come up with a one-word theory.
This is an entertaining short story. Read to find out what sentience is and who (or what) has the last word.