I, Robot - Issac Asimov.
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22-06-2013, 05:12 AM
I, Robot - Issac Asimov.
I have recently downloaded a shed load of audio books to listen to on my MP3 player whilst I am work and I, Robot was the first I have finished.

I enjoyed watching the film of the same name but (like always) the book was a lot better.

The book (for those who haven't read it) is in an interview format that basically splits into short stories. I found it fascinating how it was written/published in 1950 and how Issac had tried to guess that around this time (2008 onwards) that we would have robots and be using them to colonize space. Of course he only knew of technology from his time so he uses his knowledge to try and guess how the technology would be like in our modern times.

In the book all robots are ingrained with three laws in their posotronic brains.

1: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2:A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3:A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

All of the stories are brilliant however one of my favorite's was when two men are on a mining outpost and they build a robot (nicknamed speedy) which seems to be the most advanced. They try to tell it of its existence, how it came about and its purpose. Speedy then goes off to use logic to assimilate this information.

Speedy does not believe them. Speedy deduces that the most important thing on the mining plant is the power generator and it calls it "god". Through its own powerful and logical deductions it decides that it is a prophet of god and that the two men who built it were of lesser "evolutionary" importance to him, as they need sleep, they have soft bodies that can die easily and are weak when compared to speedy and the other lesser functioning robots. So speedy takes over the plant and imprisons the two men. It does not do them harm as it feels pity for them and that their existence is just a part of "gods plan". For days they try to convince it otherwise and get very frustrated as they think their trump card would be to assemble another robot in front of it.... to prove they are its creator. Needless to say this doesn't work as speedy again, through his powerful and logical (but limited in knowledge) deductions agrees that they are wise to build a robot, however it never saw them create the parts needed, and that the parts were sent there by god.

The similarites between speedy's deductions and faith and our human deductions and faith were very cleverly done.

In the end though the two men deduce that really, there is nothing wrong with letting speedy believe that he is a "prophet" of the power generator/god as he is still actually performing his duties that he was originally designed for (to run the plant in replacement of human beings) and they discuss building other robots and sending them to the "prophet" to be indocrinated/trained with his philosphical/religious outlook before sending these other robots to power plants dotted around the universe.

All of the stories explore our human nature and our possible moralistic views of robots, in their quest to replicate human behaviour, the characters in turn are reminded of their own.

Probably one, if not THE best Sci-Fi book I have come across Smile

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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22-06-2013, 06:17 AM
RE: I, Robot - Issac Asimov.
I enjoyed pretty much every Asimov robot story I found during my teenage years, as well as his Foundation series. It was right up my alley. My understanding is that he used to publish in magazines or newspapers and "I, Robot" was something of a compendium of previously published works.

The movie was different as movies must be, and certainly the short story format wasn't a good fit to the 90 minute action film Wink The film also didn't restrict itself entirely to "I, Robot" itself - some of the concepts towards the end of computers taking over exactly because of the laws of robotics can be found in Foundation and Earth and related titles. I don't want to give too much away, but very late in the relationship between robots and humanity a "zeroth" law was introduced that could override the first law.

I had no idea Asimov was a leading atheist of his time until very recently. His wikipedia page is worth a bit of a read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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22-06-2013, 07:34 AM
RE: I, Robot - Issac Asimov.
I agree wholeheartedly with almost every word you said. BUT.

(22-06-2013 05:12 AM)bemore Wrote:  Probably one, if not THE best Sci-Fi book I have come across Smile

I'm really happy for you, and I'ma let you finish, but Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light is def the greatest sci-fi novel ever written.
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22-06-2013, 07:59 AM
RE: I, Robot - Issac Asimov.
Excellent book. I believe it just compiles all the robot shorts he did for Astounding Science Fixtion IIRC.

I really liked the later ones where they build the starship and have no freaking idea how the hell it works...and when they hand the world off to the machines to manage (could be a whole novel right there). Way, way ahead of his time.

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22-06-2013, 09:24 AM
RE: I, Robot - Issac Asimov.
(22-06-2013 06:17 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  I enjoyed pretty much every Asimov robot story I found during my teenage years, as well as his Foundation series. It was right up my alley. My understanding is that he used to publish in magazines or newspapers and "I, Robot" was something of a compendium of previously published works.

The movie was different as movies must be, and certainly the short story format wasn't a good fit to the 90 minute action film Wink The film also didn't restrict itself entirely to "I, Robot" itself - some of the concepts towards the end of computers taking over exactly because of the laws of robotics can be found in Foundation and Earth and related titles. I don't want to give too much away, but very late in the relationship between robots and humanity a "zeroth" law was introduced that could override the first law.

I had no idea Asimov was a leading atheist of his time until very recently. His wikipedia page is worth a bit of a read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov

Wow, Its interesting to see that he was an atheist and is a cool insight to know when thinking about the book. I have the foundation series in my collection and was going to listen to "Do androids dream of electric sheep" next but I think I will skip it in favor of foundation Smile

(22-06-2013 07:34 AM)cjlr Wrote:  I agree wholeheartedly with almost every word you said. BUT.

(22-06-2013 05:12 AM)bemore Wrote:  Probably one, if not THE best Sci-Fi book I have come across Smile

I'm really happy for you, and I'ma let you finish, but Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light is def the greatest sci-fi novel ever written.

I will defo check out Lord of Light and see if I can add it to my collection, thanks Smile

(22-06-2013 07:59 AM)ridethespiral Wrote:  Excellent book. I believe it just compiles all the robot shorts he did for Astounding Science Fixtion IIRC.

I really liked the later ones where they build the starship and have no freaking idea how the hell it works...and when they hand the world off to the machines to manage (could be a whole novel right there). Way, way ahead of his time.

I agree he was well ahead of his time and I also like the stories you mention. Especially where when the ship goes into "hyperdrive" and the two occupants cease to exist and experience what they thing of as "death". Your right about the story of them handing the worlds management to the machines being its own novel.... the way the machines can manage the data and know that humans are not following their recommendations, to then factor this into their later analysis means that their is almost no escape from our benevolent creations Smile

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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22-06-2013, 09:38 AM (This post was last modified: 22-06-2013 09:43 AM by ridethespiral.)
RE: I, Robot - Issac Asimov.
What's this Lord of Light about? Is there a sci-fi recommendations thread? Maybe I should start one. I have about 20 to recommend, and I need something to read after 'The Selfish Gene.'

...I actually have to go back and restart Foundation, I never quite finished it...went back and read Prelude to Foundation meaning to then finish Foundation but got distracted by some other authors for a bit.

Ps. I remember watching the 2012 election coverage and thinking that Nate Silver is basically Hari Seldon light.

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22-06-2013, 09:42 AM
RE: I, Robot - Issac Asimov.
(22-06-2013 09:38 AM)ridethespiral Wrote:  What's this Lord of Light about? Is there a sci-fi recommendations thread? Maybe I should start one. I have about 20 to recommend, and I need something to read after 'The Selfish Gene.'

...I actually have to go back and restart Foundation, I never quite finished it...went back and read Prelude to Foundation meaning to then finish Foundation but got distracted by some other authors for a bit.

I cannot see a Sci-Fi thread, I think you should make one and I would be interested in reading of yours (and others) recommendations Thumbsup

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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22-06-2013, 09:56 AM
RE: I, Robot - Issac Asimov.
(22-06-2013 07:34 AM)cjlr Wrote:  I agree wholeheartedly with almost every word you said. BUT.

(22-06-2013 05:12 AM)bemore Wrote:  Probably one, if not THE best Sci-Fi book I have come across Smile

I'm really happy for you, and I'ma let you finish, but Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light is def the greatest sci-fi novel ever written.

No, that would be John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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22-06-2013, 10:34 AM
RE: I, Robot - Issac Asimov.
(22-06-2013 09:24 AM)bemore Wrote:  I will defo check out Lord of Light and see if I can add it to my collection, thanks Smile

(22-06-2013 09:38 AM)ridethespiral Wrote:  What's this Lord of Light about?

Roger Zelazny Wrote:His followers called him Mahasamatman, and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the maha- and -atman, and just called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god. But then, he never claimed not to be a god. Circumstances being what they were, neither admission would be of any use.
Well, it's about religion, and morality, and progress, and authority, and humanity, and... well, everything. Like all great fiction.

Okay, so it's actually about a distant world where the original colony ship crew have set themselves up as (more or less Hindu) gods over the common population.

(22-06-2013 09:56 AM)Chas Wrote:  No, that would be John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar.

Well, you're close Tongue. Stand on Zanzibar is the second greatest sci-fi novel of all time. Have you read Lord of Light, then?
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23-06-2013, 09:07 AM
RE: I, Robot - Issac Asimov.
(22-06-2013 09:42 AM)bemore Wrote:  
(22-06-2013 09:38 AM)ridethespiral Wrote:  What's this Lord of Light about? Is there a sci-fi recommendations thread? Maybe I should start one. I have about 20 to recommend, and I need something to read after 'The Selfish Gene.'

...I actually have to go back and restart Foundation, I never quite finished it...went back and read Prelude to Foundation meaning to then finish Foundation but got distracted by some other authors for a bit.

I cannot see a Sci-Fi thread, I think you should make one and I would be interested in reading of yours (and others) recommendations Thumbsup

A Sci-Fi thread would be great, but none of that swords & sorcery dreck. Angry

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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