?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Page | Next Page

Parasha: I Robot: November 11th reading


Well, this is a... different one.

We're back to Powell and Donnovan, who still don't really feel like all that deep, realized characters to me honestly, and Cutie/QT, the evangelical robot.

It's hard to tell sometimes if this is supposed to be introspective about robots, or a slam on religious zealotry. Oh well, why not both, I guess? :p

Actually, while this story raises some questions and ponderings about faith, different perspectives, yadda, at the same time it pretty much cements (to me) a lot of the more normal questions from this book about robots and whether they're "people," their intelligence, and so on. Because I find it pretty much impossible to imagine a non-sentient, non-sapient being coming up with a freaking cult, of all things, and echoing Descartes in his own personal musings.

Also: 3 billion people on Earth? Really? Really really? Wow, guess a bunch of them are living off-world already. :p That boggles me though, and makes me wonder just how much the population of Earth has grown since this publishing, that 3 billion would actually sound like a reasonable projection at all at that point. (Actually stopping to look it up, according to Pete it was 1.6 billion in 1900, and still only 2.5 billion by 1950. Yowza, how things change.)

Also, sounds like the three Laws of Robotics aren't all that dominant after all! Oh, Asimov tries to give some hand-wavy explanation at the end of why the Second Law isn't being violated, but I don't buy it. If they're supposed to obey humans (so long as the First Law isn't violated), they're supposed to obey humans, period. Not give some convoluted reasons as to why they can't, really, honest guv.

And honestly, I'm glad they feel happy and fine putting the Earth's well-being in the hands of delusional robots, because *shudder*


A reminder link of the book schedule.

Comments

( 12 Notes — Write a Footnote )
scifantasy
Nov. 11th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
If they're supposed to obey humans (so long as the First Law isn't violated), they're supposed to obey humans, period. Not give some convoluted reasons as to why they can't, really, honest guv.

I agree. Which suggests to me that they're looking for loopholes. Which we see again and again.
cerebresque
Nov. 11th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
That's canon, actually. At some point we get an explanation that positronic brains without the First Law are unstable in a no-solution-to-equations == kill EVERYONE way, 'cause the robots know they're superior to man and don't like taking orders from monkeys. It's explicitly stated that without the First Law, the first time you tried giving a robot an order, you'd end up dead.

The whole "they're slaves, they know they're slaves, and they just resent the hell out of it behind their kept-in-check-by-the-Laws-ness" thing is creepy as hell once you pick up on it.
scifantasy
Nov. 11th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
The whole "they're slaves, they know they're slaves, and they just resent the hell out of it behind their kept-in-check-by-the-Laws-ness" thing is creepy as hell once you pick up on it.

Yeah. My favorite there is "Robot Dreams" (not part of I, Robot, part of "The Rest..."), where a robot is having dreams of, pretty explicitly, being the robotic Moses.
(Deleted comment)
stormfeather
Nov. 11th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
I know I know, but my characterization-loving-self has to comment on it, even if I know I shouldn't expect it. :p
(Deleted comment)
khedron
Nov. 12th, 2009 12:40 am (UTC)
Also, harking back to the discussion of "Runaround," the QT robot in this story *definitely* has the power of abstract thought, in spades.

Yep, that question got settled right quick, didn't it?

I'm not sure he's _good_ at reasoning, even given his base assumptions -- humans keep showing up from outside, and the Master never actually says or does anything. But I guess that will just be his own metaphysical crisis later on. As long as he keeps the beam going...
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
khedron
Nov. 12th, 2009 12:51 am (UTC)
Things which annoyed me:

Donavan.
The phrase "Sizzling Saturn". (This may be redundant with saying Donovan annoys me.)

Things which amused me:

Descartes.
The robot's unfortunate nickname.
His ability to whisper, his voice "metallic with emotion".


Because I find it pretty much impossible to imagine a non-sentient, non-sapient being coming up with a freaking cult, of all things, and echoing Descartes in his own personal musings.

I agree with you. Of course, I'm a computer programmer, and perhaps look forward to anthropomorphizing robots. I would've said that in Robby's request for a particular story, some of the time but not all of the time, shows there's something going on in his noggin.

I think the take in the book so far is that intelligence is a matter of quantity of connections in the positronic brain / neural network, and not kind of connections. They said that QT was the first model intelligent enough to be introspective ... oh, wait. That was just Powell saying that as part of his attempt to convince QT-1 that there was a world outside. They really just say this is a "new model". Huh. OK, maybe not.
(Deleted comment)
stormfeather
Nov. 12th, 2009 03:12 am (UTC)
I think the bit about him clearly not believing in humans on Earth is one of the most worrying, since who's to say that after a bit more thought, he'll decide that keeping the beam steady isn't the Master's will after all, and there's no reason to bother?

Not to mention that I also can't see the First Law holding at all, when QT obviously thinks that the two humans at the end are going to their deaths, and does nothing to try to stop them/protect them.

( 12 Notes — Write a Footnote )