Why would an artificial intelligent (A.I.) machine want a cat? Actually that’s the wrong question. A better question would be, why wouldn’t an artificial person who’s like a person in every way want a cat? Tests designed to determine if someone/something is human or not are called Turing tests. (You know those annoying things web pages ask us to do–compute math or select the correct picture–to see if you’re a robot or not.) Wouldn’t a suitable Turing test check to see if you have interest in pets?
By definition, an artificial person should be the same as a regular person except manufactured in a non-biological way. An A.I. should be able to pass a Turing test. Today we accept that our artificial constructs which we call A.I., really don’t have much intelligence and know that they cannot pass the Turing test. In the movie Blade Runner the humans are finding it harder and harder to differentiate robots from humans, and finally Harrison Ford’s character whose job is to conduct Turing tests realizes that he’s unable to tell if the woman he’s in love with is a robot (artificial person) or not. Later he learns that she has no mother or father, but no behavioral test could reveal this because she was programmed with the memories of a detailed childhood.
Back to cats. In my novelette Bit Storm, software engineer Diff’s A.I. demands that Diff get a pet. Diff resists because he wants Jack, the A.I. machine, to finish their work first, but eventually Jack guilts Diff into doing it. (Diff’s going to a Halloween party while Jack stays at the office, so fair’s fair and Diff decides to get Jack the pet.) Unfortunately for the both of them the pet is more than meets the eye and Diff’s Halloween party turns into a nightmare.
Not only is Bit Storm available as a stand alone novelette, for a little more it’s also part of a digest from the fine folks at Daily Science Fiction, along side stories from: Edoardo Albert, Barbara A. Barnett, Jacquelyn Bartel, Nicky Drayden, Tim Pratt, Jenn Reese, Heather Shaw, Greg van Eekhout, Karina Fabian, Elena Gleason, Michelle Ann King, Terra LeMay, Shelly Li, Melissa Mead, James Van Pelt, Victoria Podmajersky, Christian Roberts, Victoria Sonata, Eric James Stone, and Lavie Tidhar.