Thursday, January 30, 2020


The Laws of Arizna
By Thomas G Schmidt

Jordan Kelly sat quietly, anxiously awaiting some explanation of why he was being charged with a "crime against the state".

"No need to be so nervous Mr, Kelly. This is just a preliminary hearing."

Arizna VII, the latest and most advanced legal robot on Earth, looked directly at the 42 year old man. The robot's voice software was very advanced and the android-like body made the robot seem almost human. Kelly was close to believing that he could plead his case to the machine but deep down inside, he knew that was probably impossible. This was a 7th generation "Insight" class robot which saw issues in a very "black and white" manner. No shades of grey.

"Please explain why you cut the electricity to the 3rd floor of Horizon Hospital on July 23, 2152."

"Why do you need that? You have already decided that I am guilty." Kelly had not planned to be confrontational but the Insight robot class was notorious for determining a man's fate even before any legal proceedings were held.

Arizna VII turned to Kelly, a perplexed look on the robot's face. "We need your explanation of the event for the legal records."

Kelly was tempted to tell the robot to just "shove it" but he knew that his actions might negatively impact his family. The Insight class robot held all the cards so he had to play by its rules.

Jordan Kelly sighed and then proceeded to explain that his actions were taken to save an 8 year old boy from accidental electrocution. He had to act fast and, in doing so, he was unaware that cutting off the electricity would lead to the death of 8 people relying on electrical ventilators on the same hospital floor.

"So you acted without thought?"

"No. I acted as quickly as I could save the life of a young boy."

"At the expense of 8 others."

"I didn't know about them!" Kelly was becoming agitated.

"That is not a defense under the law. You have sole responsibility for your actions."

Kelly shifted nervously in his seat. The Insight class of legal robots had been programmed using advanced Boolean analysis methods. A large series of binary response algorithms examined each situation. Yes/No or True/False decisions were made by the robots to be used in complex equations to remove all ambiguity from each decision. And decisions were final. No appeals.

The advanced robots had been the brain child of Weston Bennett, a brilliant robotics designer. Bennett created the Insights to eliminate indecision and conflict within a legal system which was rapidly tearing apart the fabric of society. But the very same robots created as part of Insight ended up ultimately turned on their creator when they judged him by these same new, non-yielding laws. Bennett ended up regretting his work while sitting inside a jail cell after being found guilty in a car accident caused a medical condition he had developed. "You are responsible for your actions" had been the verdict rendered by Arizna VII, the very same robot presiding over Jordan Kelly today.

Arizna VII jotted down some notes and then looked up at Kelly. "Have you any other defense to offer?"

Kelly raised his arms in frustration, not knowing what to say in response. "Only that I am sorry. I am truly sorry for what happened to those other people."

Arizna VII looked down at the legal papers and made some final notes. "Being sorry will not bring those people back to life, Mr. Kelly."

Kelly gave no response. After a few awkward moments, the robot looked back up and signaled to the Centurion III class guard to take Kelly back to his cell.

"Your trial will take place next Monday at 10 AM. Until then, you are remanded to custody in the Lincoln Federal Penitentiary. Good day, Mr. Kelly."

Jordan Kelly walked slowly toward the court room door and then stopped. Turning around, Kelly blurted out a single comment.

"This isn't fair."

Arizna VII responded almost immediately. "This court is not commissioned to be fair Mr. Kelly. We are solely required to be just."

And with that, the Centurion III guards escorted Jordan Kelly back to his cell.

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Tom Schmidt is a Chemical Engineer working in medical diagnostics in upstate New York. He has had a variety of short stories published in the past on websites such as,, and

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