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Parasha: I Robot: November 18th reading


And Asimov is kind enough to add a quick blurb that addresses one of my concerns last time... apparently the journalist is "embellishing" the stories to make them more real. :p Well then.

Another First Law story, and does anyone else think that modifying the First Law is a strikingly bad idea, and the start down a slippery slope?

Also I'm troubled frankly by the casual idea of just destroying so many, well, *people* with above-human intelligence and obvious self-awareness, abstract thinking, etc., and the only objection is to cost. *shudder*

The story's also showing its age a bit, since these days most sci-fi seems to be along the lines of trying to give at least reasonable-on-first-blush theories on why/how stuff works, but here we just get the names of different concepts, and it's left at that. And then there's the lovely dated concepts of women who don't even know what all the nasty obscene words *mean*. ;) (As opposed to me, who would probably be explaining some of them to some of the guys...)

As for the story itself, it's interesting enough, playing around with the First Law. I'll admit my first thought was "well just put a human in a situation where he'd seem to be harmed by inaction, and see which one doesn't react, duh!" But I didn't think about the fact that a robot trying to hide would fake it. Oops! So they way they get around it at least is intriguing.

I just wish I found Susan Calvin more sympathetic as a character after her Harpy Meltdown last story. Ah well!


The schedule again, linky!

Comments

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stormfeather
Nov. 18th, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
I meant to add: I find it a bit suspect that a whole bunch of scientists can brainstorm desperately about ways to try to keep robots from going into Gamma Rays to "save" humans who weren't really in danger, and yet another robot can quickly manage to do just that, except when the human in question is in even more pressing, immediate peril.

If anything, I'd suspect that the scientists in question didn't think too hard, and were just eager to get to play with something "forbidden" when they had a decent reason to do so. Although given the inconsistency with some of the other instances of the Laws (such as Speedy, who can't even think through and realize that the Selenium he was supposed to get was vital to the humans' survival, or the robots who were perfectly OK with taking Powell and Donnovan out onto the dangerous surface of the planet), I'm figuring it was just a matter of story convenience. :p

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stormfeather
Nov. 19th, 2009 01:11 am (UTC)
I wanted to punch the roboticists in the face every time they called a robot "boy." The similarity to actual racist behavior in operation at the time the story was written did not endear me to them.

That, and the fact that the robots refer to humans as "masters"... *twitch*
khedron
Nov. 19th, 2009 03:54 am (UTC)
That one was pretty good. Tricksy, and actually about the interplay of the Three Laws, unlike some of the stories.

I also wish that Susan Calvin were less of a, well, harpy, as you said it. Although I totally agree with her disgust for Bogert, after that last story, she's not a completely sympathetic character.

Also I'm troubled frankly by the casual idea of just destroying so many, well, *people* with above-human intelligence and obvious self-awareness, abstract thinking, etc., and the only objection is to cost. *shudder*

I'm afraid my thought was, "What, only $30,000 apiece! How is this even a question, if this organization is getting 80% of all science funding?" With each story, the robots become more and more sentient, I agree. But, the pragmatic thing in story-terms, I think, was to get rid of the Nestors lest public outcry if this came out caused a global reaction to all robots. That's what I thought was implied, at least.

Cute writing this time: "In his stained white smock, he was half rebellious and wholly uncertain."
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