They spent years working, the programmers, and as they did they grew closer to one another than they ever thought they would. But however hard they tried they couldn’t quite develop the system of their dreams. They knew that artificial sentience, artificial life, was within humanity’s grasp, but however close they came it always seemed one step further away.
He lapsed into despair, on occasion. She did what she could to keep his spirits up. And, he realized as they worked side by side, month after month, he was growing over time to love her for that.
And she, not that he knew this, was growing to feel the same.
One night, in a bleak mood after one more failed test run, he commented that he was considering packing it in, giving up once and for all, that the project they’d undertaken was simply too much, too complex for them to accomplish. He told her they were wasting their time attempting such a major stride when they could simply settle down somewhere in the private sector, make themselves very wealthy indeed and allow artificial sentience to happen upon humanity as it would, in the fullness of time.
And, much though she hated to admit it, she found herself agreeing. Progress had been slow to nil, and she too had developed her doubts, much though she loved both the work and the man she was working with. But love, even true love, is not enough to justify a fundamentally failed endeavor and, embracing him, she agreed that yes, their quest to create artificial life was finally over.
“After all,” she added with a blush as she pulled back from the embrace, “we could always just create life the old fashioned way, if we wanted it that much…”
Seventeen years later, after the bodies had been buried, at the trial, they couldn’t help but regret the decision.
It turns out they were even worse parents than they were programmers…