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Thread: Reflections on Robots
September 17th, 2012, 11:37 AM #1
Reflections on Robots
As I start a new novel project that involves robots, I'm just curious about how the rest of you feel about the concept of the robot: Concept born of the Industrial Revolution; evolution ranging the gamut from simple mechanical toys, to sophisticated simulacrums, to human-looking substitutes; techno-social analogue to indentured servitude; psychological measure of consciousness and sentience; physiological symbol of mortality, evolution and of life itself.
Any opinions as to the handling of robots in literature... what you'd like to have seen, or wish you hadn't... areas that you feel were largely missed... etc?
September 17th, 2012, 02:10 PM #2
If you are looking.for reference material, the Outer Limits series from the 1990s is excellent for robots, AI, and artificial life.
I am looking for a book called, Do Robots Dream Electric Dreams, which the movie, Blade Runner is based.
Also Steven Speilberg's AI is good too.
September 17th, 2012, 02:32 PM #3
I'm specifically not looking for reference material, actually. I'm more curious about how SF fans and readers think of robots as they have developed over the decades, and where they see robots as part of the SF mythos today.
September 17th, 2012, 02:42 PM #4
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- Jul 2012
The perception of what robots are like have changed quite significantly over the last 80 years... but let's be honest, Leonardo Da Vinci actually produced a mechanical 'toy' lion for the King of France where if you wrapped the rope round the controls in different ways it would steer different courses. (Gads, I sometimes think my brain's overfilled with useless facts.)
I've tried writing science fiction from the viewpoint of the AI (O.K. some of us are eccentric as well) and got some very positive feedback from readers and critics (yes it was published in a magazine). But you have to be very careful to remember the limitations as well as what an AI can do that a human can't. So the simper you make the AI at the start of the story, the more likely you'll be able to carry the reader with you... and that's the only tip you'll be gettign from me for now...
September 17th, 2012, 10:07 PM #5
Really, I'm not looking for "tips." I know what I'm going to write. I'm just wondering what readers these days think of robots... that's all.
I've actually written a robot story myself, a few years back. My story was told from two viewpoints, one of the main narrator, and the other of the robot relating its story to the narrator. In that story, I was exploring the ideas of sentience and rights/freedoms for the robot, and the story worked rather well. (Could probably use some proofing today...)
This new story will be very different, more of a study of identity and relationships.
September 17th, 2012, 10:56 PM #6
Your story makes me recall a book I read decades ago called, The Runaway Robot.
September 18th, 2012, 12:56 AM #7
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- Jul 2012
September 21st, 2012, 09:06 AM #8
I may touch on the concepts of freedom-versus-property in my novel, but I don't intend for that to be a major theme in the story. I want the concept of identity to be key, both in the perceptions of the robot and of those around him. I'm also hoping to lower the physiological and psychological barrier between human and robot a bit more, though there will still be a barrier.
A great deal of the concepts and impressions regarding robots have been directly impacted by their outward appearance, whether it be from steel and rivets or advanced biomaterial... IOW, how "human" the robot appears has often been more important than how human the robot acts. That "skin-deep" impression has dictated whether robots were seen as mere machines, or as another "race" of humans, and has dictated how they were subsequently treated.
Though the treatment of robots has generally been directly impacted by their human-like appearance, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced us to robot construction drones that, once their sentience was discovered, earned the right to be considered independent beings, not mere drones to be ordered about (they were released from their "bondage"). They quickly demonstrated that they could be as brave and selfless as any human, duly impressing and humbling the humans around them.
Contrast this with Star Trek's Data, a character whom few people considered "property" even from his introduction; the android was always treated as another member of the crew, albeit a bit socially-challenged, but still essentially human. He was even attended to as often by the ship's physician as the ship's engineer.
But if Data had been made of angular pieces of metal and plastic knobs, I doubt we would have seen the kind of interactions we routinely saw between Data and the crew... nor would we have seen the angst displayed by Data in wanting to be more human.
Last edited by Steven L Jordan; September 21st, 2012 at 09:32 AM.
September 17th, 2012, 11:03 PM #9
September 21st, 2012, 12:54 PM #10
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- Jun 2010
My view is that in order for a robot to have a dramatic part in a story it must have an intelligence and emotions similar to a human. Now, with the complexity of a human brain, any device able to think equally would be indistinguishable from a human personality and thus, would be a being on its own. This means that the robot part of it is relatively unimportant as the intelligent part of it would be interchangable with a human... or a human personality download... or an artificial personality etc.
The novel that led me to this line of thought is Wrights "The Golden Age" where independant personalities moved freely between constructs, organic bodies, though spaces or energy matrixes.
So... simply... if you have a robot creative enough to write about... your just writing about another person.
September 21st, 2012, 01:32 PM #11
But if they are physically or mentally very different, robots become something other than another person... a sort of alien, perhaps--which, in literature, have been treated as another person, once removed from humanity--or as an anthropomorphic toaster... which has been the inherent conflict concerning robots since they were originally conceived, and what makes them so much more potentially interesting than writing about a person.
September 21st, 2012, 01:37 PM #12
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- Jun 2010
to clarify my point... if you can make an intelligent robot then you will be evolved enough that the form will not matter as people will probably have the ability to shift into any form to fit the need. A robot body will be nothing special.
And... as far as alien or different... if humanity can create an intelligent machine they would be able to augment and mold their own personality so strange ways of thinking will be the norm.. .thus making a robot housed personality nothing special.
September 21st, 2012, 02:45 PM #13
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- Oct 2011
I recall a short story from an anthology called 'Space Stations' or something similar. A space station inhabited by families suffers an accident. A 10 year old girl is stuck in a module that's leaking air. The computer that runs the door requires a release of some capabilite, either processing power or electricity or something, in order to seal off the area. People in control room don't know there's a girl still alive in the module and keep sending instructions to the door to seal itself to prevent loss of atmosphere. The door computer keeps refusing the order and demanding some other option. Out of curiousity, one of the techs authorizes the door to do what it wants. Girl is saved by the door, but in the process the door computer starved itself of power, thus losing it's program. The techs, amazed to find the girl alive, pry open the door computer to try to find out why it acted so far outside it's programing. All they could recover was the last line 'little girls are not redunant'.
I found it powerfully moving. And it was about a door. Not necessarily a anthropomorphic robot, so I would disagree that 'skin deep' is the requirement.
September 21st, 2012, 03:41 PM #14
Do we want the AI to be human or do the AIs want to be human? What if they go more crazy the more we try to make them human?
Is the writer trying to create a story that sells or to create what he likes or to imagine what he thinks may happen in the future or some combination of those three?
If the AI is software then how powerful does the hardware have to be? Can the software move or copy itself to any sufficiently powerful hardware? If it sends out copies and they can all communicate at light speed will the copies be any different? Will it just become one giant hive entity.
Why would it be hostile? What if it is totally indifferent to us? Is the Frankenstein AI just paranoia on our part or just what unimaginative authors think will sell? And maybe it does sell but has nothing to do with what may actually happen.
I don't know of anything better than Hogan's The Two Faces of Tomorrow and the only thing as good is The Adolescence of P-1.
In fact it is really annoying for this robot to say thank you for logging in. We know it can't really care. LOL
Last edited by psikeyhackr; September 22nd, 2012 at 12:53 PM.
September 30th, 2012, 09:31 PM #15
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- Sep 2012
Information sharing and communication is very important because without proper information, advancement and improvement is not possible.Thanks for sharing information.