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Parasha: I Robot: November 20th reading

A three-fer, with Calvin, AND Donnovan and Powell. Didn't you miss them?

This story's a bit oddly dated again. First off, wow, $100,000-$200,000? That's an awfully low "big payoff"! Especially for something that could destroy one of their biggest assets.

Speaking of which... thinking machine? Wow, it's just REALLY odd to be reading sci-fi from the days before computers.

Awww, how cute! We're still getting references to the fact that a robot would basically "melt down" 10 times before being able to break the first law, despite evidence to the contrary. (Which granted Donnovan and Powell don't have, and was from a slightly altered first-law model, but still... my confidence in their statements is not exactly staggering at this point.)

And it feels odd and frankly creep to me that they're still obviously treating robots and, well, computers as "just machines" when they have enough personalities to not only form their own cult, but to start becoming practical jokers as well.

And I am sooo glad not to have been on that spaceship with the two men. Not only because I don't like beans, but because... can you imagine the atmosphere? EEWWW.

The warp scene was... just... weird. o_O

As for the story itself, it's a little bit different... there's *sort of* a problem to solve, but in this case it's more a matter of just following along for the ride, rather than trying to figure out the solution to some dilemma. At least, that's how it felt for me.

Link to schedule


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Nov. 20th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
Regarding Donovan and Powell--what I think is most amusing is the way that the USR high-ups say "who were those two test engineers we used in every disaster back when? Go find them!"

Their reputation for running into, and fixing, weird shit with robots has spread.
Nov. 20th, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
Yes, the $100000 number made me giggle.

I loved the little childish personality the Brain had--the milk and beans is a side effect of that, as is the so-weird hallucination scenes, if I read the ending right---but what amused me more, on a meta-sense, is that Asimov just glosses over how an artificial thinking entity can so casually take refuge in humor. When you think of how hard humor is to quantify...
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Nov. 21st, 2009 07:11 am (UTC)
This one's a little bit like abstract art. I kind of like it, but I don't understand it.

This one doesn't have a mystery, at least not a mystery we have access to solving. There are too many unknowns. However, it provides flavor & depth to the world -- mostly in the treatment of robots, as you all have said, but also competition between corporations, how space travel (used to) work, and a surreal glimpse into hell. (Calvin makes it pretty clear that the Brain had to do with the trip to Hell, but ... well, that's really very strange. What are the limits of what the robots can do?)

Still wondering what "unbelievable gray eyebrows" are.
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