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Parasha: I Robot: November 6th reading

Oops, I just realized that it was time for the first Parasha section, and I'd forgotten about it. So for now I'm just putting this place up for discussion, I'll have to edit in any summaries/comments I have later. Also feeling kinda "meh," so I'll probably be resting for a bit. But I at least wanted to get this up, for people to start discussing it.


The introduction sets up Susan Calvin's importance in the story, and sets her up as emotionless, almost a robot herself, making a nice contrast to the robots who, as with much sci-fi of the time, are being portrayed as possibly another form of human themselves.

And of course "Robbie," a short story that introduces a Robot used as a nursemaid. It's a bit on the treacly side in some ways, but still nice. Although really, I have to wonder what Mrs. Weston's problem really is. Is it just what "the neighbors" say, or what? I mean she gives a lot of reasons, but it's hard to pick out what might actually be troubling her, and what is just an excuse.

This also pretty effectively sets us up to start considering the whole question of what makes a person a person. It's just a bit.. odder to read it now, since the events happening there would now be in our past, and of course things like thinking robots and commercial jet-cars aren't here yet. (It's also awkward in the introduction to see the reporter making notes manually via a machine, instead of just recording the interview.)

And in some ways, I think our society dilutes the impact a bit, since we've become too used to seeing robots as, well, things that don't actually think or have emotions, thus aren't real people in pretty much *any* sense. It might happen eventually, but I think the longer it goes on that we have machines without the thoughts, the harder it is for us to think of them as possibly something more.

Anyhow, if I have any further comments that I think of I'll add them in comments later. Sorry if this is a bit short or not very detailed, feeling better already but still not peachy keen, so I'm slacking a bit. :p


Nov. 7th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC)
The technological predictions are definitely the thing that grabbed my attention the most reading this. Most of the sci fi I've read has either been set in the far future or in the very near future, I don't think I've read many books that were set in my lifetime as seen from 60 years ago. The idea that we'd make robots who could comprehend human speech and even show emotions (or at least mimic them in appropriate situations) before we'd be able to reproduce speech was the one that amused me the most.

Focusing on the actual story (which I have never read before), when I was reading it I assumed that he actually did have emotions, maybe because I was entering with the mindset that this was a book about robots becoming sentient. But silmaril's post makes me question that assumption. It would definitely make more sense from a modern standpoint if he were just programmed to act like that.