May. 18th, 2017

Robota

May. 18th, 2017 09:37 am
dreamer_easy: (*books 3)
I'm enjoying re-reading some Isaac Asimov robot stories which I haven't read since adolescence. I'm struck by how complex robo-psychology is, and how rich and different the personalities of the robots are. They are people - certainly no less people than Asimov's humans, who are often as constrained by their own psychological quirks as the robots are by the Three Laws (the Aurorans' terror of human presence, for example). This only underlines the creepy idea underlining Asimov's whole project of getting away from the stock pulp storyline of robot uprisings. In creating the Three Laws, he created the perfect slave: loyal, willing, disposable. Or almost perfect, since the things keep going wrong. I read "Little Lost Robot" this morning, in which Susan Calvin (cheers cheers cheers) explains that robots are entirely aware that they are superior to human beings: it's only the Three Laws which keep a potential rebellion in check. Even Calvin, that great champion of robots, calls them "boy" (as does Lije Bailey), in a disturbing invocation of the era of segregation during which the stories were written, and is coldly willing to destroy dozens of them rather than let an unbalanced specimen escape. (Cf the Star Wars universe, in which Anakin's mum's slavery is tragic but the droids, for all their personality and loveability, are strictly property.)

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