The Evolution of Science Fiction discussion

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
Robots in SF
I don't think we should go too far back in history for robots. Arguably, Pygmalion made one & the golem is of the same sort, but I don't think we should limit robots to metal & plastic.

Can we safely stick to the 19th century & up? Novels only or do short stories count? In any case, it must be readily available in English.

What constitutes a robot? Those in R.U.R. are biological & hard to distinguish from people. I guess we'd call them androids today. What about the bodies of Chris & the other victims of Hayden's Disease? Are those robots or just 'bodies'? If they are robots, what does that make integrators?


message 2: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
I'm starting to work up a list of novels based on this Wikipedia article:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robots_...

The Huge Hunter, Or, the Steam Man of the Prairies (1868)
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7506

Tik-Tok of Oz (1907)
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/956

R.U.R. (1921) was already a group read.
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

I, Robot (1950) was also a group read.
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

That's all in that article, but there's also a list of robots & androids which is much longer here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...
These are just characters & might not be central to the theme. Some might be good to include.

Martha Wells's Murderbot series (2017) are worth including & may be the culmination of the discussion.

Please help fill in the blank spots.


message 3: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Any books we choose for group reads from this thread should stick to your limits, I agree. But if we decide to read on the theme for challenges of any sort, I think we'd want to encourage ppl to read broadly, as then we'd learn more about the Evolution of SF.

For example, what about Lovey in The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, or The Ship Who Sang? What about Commander Data in ST:TNG, or the holographic Doctor in ST:Enterprise? Unless you have another category/theme/trope for Manufactured Beings?


message 4: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
What's the difference between a manufactured being & a robot? I'd call Lovey & Data robots, but I'm not sure about Helva, the brainship. IMO, she's a cyborg, not quite the same thing. I'm not sure what the Murderbot is since it has human parts, but they were manufactured, much like the RUR robots, I believe. They never had a human consciousness to start with.

That's an opinion, not a statement of fact. I'm open to discussion on the point. Just what defines a robot when we're discussing them through the evolution of SF?


message 5: by Cheryl (last edited Apr 14, 2019 06:12AM) (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Yeah, my opinion is we include all of those, and rename the theme to be more inclusive. *Then,* as we as a group discuss our personally chosen reads, we can discuss possible definitions.
"Robots and Cyborgs and AIs, oh my!"


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
I've been thinking about what is a robot & can't come up with any definition that I like even for myself, so I thought I'd google it & see what the rest of the world thinks.

The Google dictionary says:
(especially in science fiction) a machine resembling a human being and able to replicate certain human movements and functions automatically.
synonyms: automaton, android, machine, golem

That doesn't fully work for me. I like the idea of 'machine', an artificially constructed entity that has the ability to 'function' which implies making decisions. I don't think it has to resemble a human, though. That would mean an alien robot wouldn't be one unless they resembled us nor would there be robot probes that we're using now. Besides, 'android' means a robot that resembles a human to me.

Cyborgs are not mentioned in the definition above. Google definition: a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body.

So, if a biological brain controls the entity, it's a cyborg. That would exclude brainships (The Ship Who Sang) as robots, but allow Lovey (The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet). What about Bob (For We Are Many) or Murderbot (All Systems Red)? What is the defining difference between a robot & a cyborg?

I looked further & found this article in Wired:
https://www.wired.com/story/what-is-a...
It discusses a variety of examples & ends with: “physically embodied artificially intelligent agent” as a definition, not necessarily a correct one, but I like it.

In the article, they make the distinction between a remote controlled drone & an autonomous one. Only the latter is a robot. In the article, one professor asks if a 747 jet is a robot? It has an autopilot yet it is controlled by humans most of the time, so his students so it isn't. I'm not sure.

Do you think all the 'robots' on this list are robots?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...


message 7: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "What constitutes a robot? Those in R.U.R. are biological & hard to distinguish from people. I guess we'd call them androids today...."

On the other hand, the term "android" is used in Tomorrow's Eve (a.k.a. "The Future Eve") for a woman made of metal and powered by electricity. The word Robot hadn't been invented yet.

The "Six Million Dollar Man" was originally called Cyborg, though he is mostly human.

Similarly in Cinder, the main character is considered not completely human mainly because she has a prosthetic foot. She is subject to the laws that regulate cyborgs.

In the "real" world we now use "robot" for factory machines.

I guess that in SF stories, authors are constantly approaching the question "what is a human and what is a machine" from different angles.


message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
Ed wrote: "...I guess that in SF stories, authors are constantly approaching the question "what is a human and what is a machine" from different angles. "

That's one reason why I'm wondering if cyborgs should be part of robots or not. They seem to be either an entirely different question, but the intersection is one of the most interesting points.

Martin Caidin's Cyborg is simply a fixed & enhanced human, practically the defining example, but Anne McCaffrey's brainships are something else, especially with her romance thread. Neither are as complex as Dennis E. Taylor's Bob & his various iterations or the Murderbot. Gibson's AIs & Becky Chambers's Lovey are the flip side & then there are Karel Čapek's robots. Can't leave out the founder of the term, even though his are further afield than most.

I guess cyborgs, AIs, & even artificial biologicals have to be included in with robots. I just don't see a decent way of separating them. SF has blended them too thoroughly.


message 9: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
The Wired definition, above, "physically embodied artificially intelligent agent" is pretty good to me, as is the wiki one: "fictional computers which are described as existing in a humanlike or mobile form".

Both of those would probably omit the things from R.U.R.

The things in the Bobiverse are uploaded consciousnesses, but uploaded into things that would otherwise be called robots.

The interesting thing is "what are the various reasons that SF wants to talk about such beings?".

Yikes! This is a big area.


message 10: by Marc-André (new)

Marc-André | 298 comments I'm surprised the Replicants from the film Blade Runner haven't been compared to the robots of R.U.R. Both Replicants and Capek's robots are all synthetic biological organisms. Or bioroids. The term was coined by Arthur C. Clarke in Rendezvous With Rama. Robots need something synthetic to be... robots.

Their forced labor seems to have been forgotten.


message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
Marc-André wrote: "I'm surprised the Replicants from the film Blade Runner haven't been compared to the robots of R.U.R. Both Replicants and Capek's robots are all synthetic biological organisms. Or bioroids. The ter..."

Should we include movies in this discussion? I'm not opposed, although I'm confused enough trying to define 'robots' already. I'm not sure if they would help or hinder the process. They do give a face to them. Anyway, whether we're discussing Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? or "Blade Runner", you've got a good point.

Should we focus on what constitutes 'synthetic' or 'mechanical versus biological' in a robot? The bioroids (good term!) in both stories are synthesized or manufactured commercially. They're shown to be stronger, as smart or smarter, & as good as their creators. Isn't that one of the major points of both stories? I don't believe either went into how this was achieved, but I've been reading articles on synthesizing DNA out of different nucleotides than our typical 4. It's over my head, but seems synthetic to me.

I think bioroids have to join cyborgs in being included under the term 'robot', but that's just me. Again, I don't know where or how to draw the line.

Our use of these 'synthetics', their forced labor, might be a defining point. We created them therefore they lack souls. Isn't this the way we once regarded animals & not too long ago at that? Part of many religions is the idea that we're far above animals, they can't feel the way we do, & thus can do what we like to them. It's a major point in "We Are Bob".

That's logically the way most of us feel about machines, but we tend to anthropomorphize any object we work with a lot. I pat my pickup or tractor & tell them they did a great job occasionally. I won't deny being weird, but that's one of the main things that happens in Terminator 2. Even though it's logical, it's still moving when Arnie slides into the melting pot.


message 12: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
Marc-André wrote: "I'm surprised the Replicants from the film Blade Runner haven't been compared to the robots of R.U.R. ..."

Well, give us time! I think it is interesting that the original title of that book used the word "androids" but the text uses "replicant".

I can't actually remember whether the replicants were assembled from parts, or grown biologically.

The most interesting, and probably new, thing in that book was the idea that a replicant might not know that it is a replicant. (That theme is explicit in the book, though some argue it is not in the film.)


message 13: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
There were so many different versions of the film that it's difficult to tell what's explicit or not, isn't it? I think the point is well made in one of them, possibly the 'director cut'.


message 14: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "... I think the point is well made in one of them, possibly the 'director cut'."

I agree, but some people don't see it even there. Whatever. It is quite clear in the book.


message 15: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
Today this website has three times challenged me to prove I'm not a robot. I passed!


message 16: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) And that's one of the themes we'll encounter as we explore this topic, ain't it... how much progress will have to be made in how many fields of technology before we have robots that truly can 'pass.' And should they have rights, such as the right to participate on GoodReads....


message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
I'm reading Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky now & it's exploring the idea of 'bioforms' (not bioroids) & what their presence means to society. They're animals that have been extensively changed as soldiers & other purposes. How much responsibility they have for their actions & what rights they have is a central part of it.

To the best of my knowledge, we don't have a good definition nor understanding of what comprises consciousness, free will, or even life & death any more. Google's AlphaZero taught itself to play chess & go in mere hours. It can beat the best of the rest.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innova...
I don't think it's conscious, but maybe it just needs more inputs or something. Who knows? There are a lot of fights about patients on life support now. I'm sure there will be more now that they've partially revived dead pig brains.
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-s...

And I thought defining a robot was tough. LOL!


message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
Bioroids might be a thing soon.
...what if artificial lifeforms could be made using technologies that mimic the biochemical processes of life itself?

A team at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China might have just taken the first step, using DNA-based materials that undergo cycles or growth and decay by mimicking processes found in biological metabolism. ...


https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology...


message 19: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
That news makes me want to dance the "Funky Robot".
🤖🤖🤖


message 20: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
LOL! In Dogs of War today, I came across this:

...You don’t understand how the world works. There are people, and there are things. Things serve people. That’s why we built things. And it’s only when things start believing that they’re people that we have a problem. And you, whatever you’re calling yourself, you’re a thing.

I let him rant. I sit here and straddle the boundary between people and things, and by my continued existence show the world how meaningless that border is, a no-man’s-land a mile wide. I am the future, I tell myself...


Is a robot more of a state of mind than a physical thing? Does form matter? An AI, nothing but energy moving across electrical circuits, is a thing until it becomes self-aware or conscious, then it is an entity - kind of a person. A waldo, even as advanced as those that give the Hayden victims a body, is always just a robot?


message 21: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
I use the word Robot for something with a physical body. But the term might evolve to mean any AI. Languages change as speakers needs change.


message 22: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
We have these little things called "Kiwibots" that roam our streets delivering lunches and other small things. Last night, someone stole one simply because he doesn't like them.

An internet comment raised an interesting question: is it kidnapping?


message 23: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
I think we're still safe with 'theft'.
;)


message 24: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Oh my. Kiwibots are a wonderful concept. I always feel awful ordering delivery or take-out because of the use of a car. I suppose that for now the bots only operate where the courier could (and should?) be using bicycle anyway, but I imagine the idea will expand... I sure do hope it does!

Anyway, I agree, from reading up on them, that so far it's nowhere near kidnapping. One article compared them to Roombas, and while I suppose some folks have given their Roombas nicknames, I don't think anyone's thinking they're like people.


message 25: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Oh my. Kiwibots are a wonderful concept."

They are cute and neat. And they allow one to order food without interacting with a human, which is a plus for some of us. Maybe soon they'll deliver books as well. But if there are ever too many of them, they'll get in the way of pedestrians and bicyclists.


message 26: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 733 comments my two cents:
Recalling that initially the word robot is derived from hard labor/rote, I'd have it at least as part of definition. Another important piece it that its consciousness should be 'born in the body' not transfered - so Bob is not a robot, his consiousness existed before. As for mechanical/biological - I'd say that if biological from scratch than a robot, so abovementioned Rex is not a robot - for dogs clearly ave a level of consciousness. the same goes for azi in C.J. Cherryh universe.

before Karel Čapek, there were stories about automatons, maybe it is a better word.

Also to the list of works on the subject I'd add QUR - this year retro Hugo nominee, where idea is to create robots, which do not look like humans - ubiquitous idea now but not then


message 27: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) "Q. U. R." (1943) by Anthony Boucher is available in Adventures in Time and Space (and probably elsewhere if someone wants to check isfdb).


message 28: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 733 comments Cheryl wrote: ""Q. U. R." (1943) by Anthony Boucher is available in Adventures in Time and Space (and probably elsewhere if someone wants to check isfdb)."

Also in his anthology together with a sequel to QUR, Robinc The Compleat Werewolf and Other Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction


message 29: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
I read The Compleat Werewolf and Other Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction about 5 years ago & gave it a 4 star review. Unfortunately, I can't recall much about any of the stories off hand. I'll try to glance at it tonight & refresh my memory.


message 30: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
My library has The Compleat Werewolf, but it is in the history room and cannot be removed from the library. He lived near here, but still an odd choice for the history collection.

I just read Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne, which has a robot who is also a superhero. Silly and good fun!


message 31: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
An interesting conversation in the beginning of Creatures of Light and Darkness. Wakim was a man that was slowly & painfully, piece by piece, turned into a robot by Anubis, the master of the House of Death.

“That may be the beginning of wisdom, then. You could as easily be a machine which I chose to incarnate as a man for a time and have now returned to a metal casing, as you could be a man whom I have chosen to incarnate as a machine.”
“Then what difference does it make?”
“None. None whatsoever. But you cannot make the distinction. You cannot remember. Tell me, are you alive?”
“Yes.”
“Why?”
“I think. I hear your voice. I have memories. I can speak.”
“Which of these qualities is life? Remember that you do not breathe, your nervous system is a mass of metallic strands and I have burnt your heart. Remember, too, that I have machines that can outreason you, outremember you, outtalk you. What does that leave you with as an excuse for saying you are alive? You say that you hear my voice, and ‘hearing’ is a subjective phenomenon? Very well. I shall disconnect your hearing also. Watch closely to see whether you cease to exist”
… One snowflake drifting down a well, a well without waters, without walls, without bottom, without top. Now take away the snowflake and consider the drifting….
After a timeless time, Anubis’ voice comes once again: “Do you know the difference between life and death?”
“ ‘I’ am life,” says Wakim. “Whatever you give or take away, if ‘I’ remain it is life.”



message 32: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 733 comments Jim wrote: "“ ‘I’ am life,” says Wakim. “Whatever you give or take away, if ‘I’ remain it is life.” "

Almost like Justice Potter Stewart's statement about pornography "I know it when I see it."


message 33: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "Wakim was a man that was slowly & painfully, piece by piece, turned into a robot ..."

Yikes! China Mieville does something similar in Perdido Street Station. Criminals can be sentenced to be a "Remade" where part of their body is converted, painfully, to a machine.

PS: There was an article in The Guardian today about how Netflix seems to be obsessed with making shows containing sex with robots.


message 34: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
I wonder if any of the sexbots on the market now should be considered robots. They are apparently putting some speech into some models. Not just sex sounds, but companion-like conversation.


message 35: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Ok, not going to google for more on that.
If someone else does, though, I'd like to know a little bit more.


message 36: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Ok, not going to google for more on that.
If someone else does, though, I'd like to know a little bit more."


LOL! Yeah, it's dangerous, but it's also really creepily interesting & they're turning up even on the regular news as they're becoming such a big thing. Here is a regular news story on 5 such dolls including some of the crazy legal issues they're causing.
https://metro.co.uk/2017/09/13/lookin...

Porn/sex, especially with anonymity, is a huge driving force. I've seen articles that argue that VHS won the war against Betamax in large part to the ability to record porn. Porn sites were among the first to make credit card payments available on the Internet & drove the fee-based phone calls before that. Now it's producing uncanny 'robots' for the cost of a used car. (It would be interesting if someone compared 'rental' (hooker/escort) costs to ownership costs, but I don't suppose there are stats.)

I don't think any sexbots can move autonomously yet (YET!) but they have the ability to chat, including the ability to go out on the Internet for news headlines & such to discuss particular subjects. The article says the Harmony doll will recite poetry & crack jokes. I wonder how many lonely people would see this as a good thing? Some leave the TV on all the time just for company. This is kind of the same thing, but taken to a new level as the bots have customized voices. Some might think it the perfect companion.

There are a lot of legal issues coming up around these sexbots, too. In the article above, you'll see that people can buy a sex doll that looks like a movie star. What if you found your next door neighbor had a sex doll that looked like you? (shudder!) Should that be legal? They can also get one custom made that looks like a dead husband or wife. Is it kind of sweet they want to hold on to their loved one or just too creepy? IMO, that's venturing too deeply into the uncanny valley, but they're adults so it's none of my business any more than buying one with 3 breasts or other unreal customizations.

What about fetishes or kinks that are illegal with a person? Dildos have been around forever (Here's an article on a 28,000 year old one: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/07...). Sodomy & homosexuality were outlawed for years. Would this torso have been illegal?
https://www.amazon.com/Frontal-Full-P...

I haven't had the urge to see if anything like beastiality is available, but I wonder what the law would make of animal sexbots? I do know that Amazon recently got dinged for selling 'child' sex dolls.
https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/ama...
It's certainly creepy, but is it pedophilia? I'm not sure what the law says about them now. What about in the future when they're even more life-like?


message 37: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) yeesh
ok, that's enough


message 38: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 733 comments Jim wrote: "LOL! Yeah, it's dangerous, but it's also really creepily interesting & t..."

Thanks, Jim, a nice compilation. About some issues you've raised. Making a sex-doll, which looks like your neighbor I guess can be prosecuted under the current laws against stalkers - initially you have to take photos/videos to create a look-alike.


message 39: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
Thanks, but I can't figure out our legal system & what current laws might come up with, Oleksandr. There's a lot of fighting going on about drone pictures now. We have a really weird legal system & dangerous ways of interpreting precedent. It also varies a LOT by state & Federal law.

About a decade ago, a case was almost lost because a judge said that our wiretapping law, which was used to obtain a warrant, didn't cover the emails because emails weren't 'live'. They are passed through many servers, sometimes residing for milliseconds before being passed along.

Child porn is such a hot button topic today that a girl was recently charged & almost put on the sex offender list because she took a nude selfie & sent it to a boy.
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2...

My neighbor's kid was arrested in another state for having a nude photo of his girl friend on his phone. She was 16, he was 18. Legal here in KY, not in the state where he was arrested, though.

What legal precedents might apply in the future? I recently read a short story (I think it was "A Writ of Habeas Corpus" by Yarbro.) about a robot arguing for human rights. It's pretty easy to imagine one of our legislatures going too far in trying to stop child porn & giving rights to robots. People are so outraged by the idea of child porn now that they vote for anything that even vaguely seems like it might stop it.

They've already used that to gut the 4th amendment a few years back. Now they can seize any electronic equipment within 50 (100?) miles of a US border & search it without a warrant or even reasonable suspicion & return it when they feel like it. One of the main reasons they passed the law was to help prevent people from bringing child porn into the country, supposedly. Ridiculous. It's as if they didn't know about cloud services &, yes, DropBox was quite common then.

So, it's pretty easy to imagine wording disallowing 'child porn' using robots today that could be leveraged to give robots 'human' rights in the future. Since we, a group of SF geeks, can't decide on what a robot is, imagine how badly our leaders will do! Kind of scary. You might just have to watch your language around your toaster in the future.
;)


message 40: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 733 comments Child porn is a separate subject I guess, it is ridiculous that a selfie can make you sex offender. This is one of the cases, where the law lags behind times. Just imagine that in my parents times (40+ years ago) it was perfectly fine to photo their naked babies (because it is not sensual at all!) but now it seems a big no-no

Back to robots, another interesting work is Sea of Rust - set in post-apoc Earth, where people dies and androids roam, shouting each other for parts


message 41: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
It is, but the point is that our knee-jerk, law-making reactions will probably get us into trouble on this point. For instance, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) infamously made every computer protected by a router illegal. It's not the law lagging behind the times, but the lawmakers not understanding what they're doing.


message 42: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 733 comments Jim wrote: "It's not the law lagging behind the times, but the lawmakers not understanding what they're doing. "

Amen, brother! You're preaching to converted :)


message 43: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
The Genetic Literacy Project just posted an article Kate Devlin's book Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots. Looks interesting.
https://geneticliteracyproject.org/20...


message 44: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
I don't really want to explore the sex angle very far. But this story that RJ posted in a different tread brings up an interesting point: Mika Model by Paolo Bacigalupi.

What would it be like if the sex bot learned what turns you on/off, and combines that knowledge with what other bots have learned. Would it become so good at motivating people that it could get away with anything?


message 45: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
I've been meaning to read that. Thanks for reminding me.

Sex is a very primal urge & it's directly impacting the latest in tech, so I think that's where a lot of the questions & answers will come from about society going forward.


message 46: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1827 comments Mod
Ed wrote: "My library has The Compleat Werewolf, but it is in the history room and cannot be removed from the library...."

I convinced the librarian to let me read the story Q.U.R. from that. She was as confused as I was about why an SF book about werewolves was kept in a locked room for local history books.

Anyhow, as Olexsander already said, the key point was that robots could be created that are not android form, but could also be Martoids or Veneroids. (Martian-like or Venusian-like. Apparently there is only one intelligent species per planet.)

A couple of other things that were in the air in 1942 make it into the story. Like race-based persecution: "We only persecute the ones it is safe to persecute." And like "The Proud Robot" from the same year, the story revolves around how to get a robot to make a perfect cocktail. Apparently it helps to have tentacles instead of arms.

(Another story I'm reading now about robots, O Human Star, also has a human character who builds herself a tentacle to replace her missing arm. Why should prosthetics need to look and act like human parts? Can we do better? She thinks the tentacles might be good for playing music, but Q.U.R. lets us know they would also help with making cocktails.)


message 47: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
Good point on prosthetics looking like the limb they replace. Those blades they use for legs now sure don't. I saw they even put one on a horse. Manny, in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, has interchangeable arms for specific jobs. Makes sense.


message 48: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 733 comments Even in real life some athletes prefer non-human-like prosthetic, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSGBw...


message 49: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
"Mika Model" was really good. Definitely an area of the uncanny valley.

One thing I noticed in this, same as most, is they ignore our sense of smell. That's very important, especially when it comes to sex. It triggers a lot of moods & often works on us unconsciously.


message 50: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3976 comments Mod
I watched "Life Like" (2019) last night.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6547786/
Steven Straight, Jim Holden on the Expanse, is the robot. It's really interesting how the people react to him since he looks & acts so much like a human. The movie also looks into the question of what makes him not human from a personal point of view. Yes, he's programmed, but he learns. How is that different than what happens with us?


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