Monday, 11 July 2011

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (3.5/5)

The back says: They mustn’t harm a human being, they must obey human orders, and they must protect their own existence… but only if doing so doesn’t violate rules one and two. With these Three Laws of Robotics, humanity embarks on perhaps its greatest adventure: the invention of the positronic man.

Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot launches readers on an adventure into a not-so-distant future where man and machine struggle to redefine life, love and consciousness itself. For the scientists who invented the earliest robots weren’t content that their creations should remain programmed helpers, companions, and semisentient worker-machines. And soon the robots themselves, aware of their own intelligence, power, and humanity, aren’t satisfied either. Now human men and women find themselves confronting telepathic robots, robotic politicians, robots gone mad, and vast robotic intelligences that may already secretly control the world in the next great evolutionary struggle for survival. And both man and robot are asking the same question: What is human? And is humanity obsolete?

I say: A few years ago I saw the film adaptation (of sorts) of I, Robot and liked it. Strangely enough, I never seem to learn that films and books are not the same thing, because I was expecting something completely different.

This is a collection of nine (9) short stories about robots and humans/humanity that are presented by robopsychologist Dr Susan Calvin to an unnamed reporter who is writing about robots. All of the stories involve robots that have something wrong with them and depend on humans to fix them, with a heavy dose of morality.

Seriously, I felt like shouting “MESSAGE” somewhere around the end of each one of them.

Thus not saying that it was a bad thing, I just thought that it was a tad too much in some of the stories. Also, I did pick up on a few misogynistic commentaries from the narrator – not sure what that was about.

Either way, Asimov does present a lot of interesting ethical questions/dilemmas that not only apply to the relations between human and robot, but between people in general. I found the discussion that arises from the stories more interesting than the stories themselves, but that’s just me.

Favourite stories: Catch That Rabbit, Liar!, Little Lost Robot and Evidence.

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