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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
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2014 Reads > DADOES: Philip Dick's Robots versus Asimov's

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This is I guess a forum thread for those who have read DADOES and Asimov's Robot Dreams or I, Robot. (I haven't read the Foundation Series).

Both DADOES and the Robot series had commercial robots which were sort of "servants" and both of them dealt with it differently. DADOES had robots whose driving design was based on imitating humanity whereas in Asimov's series the robots were made very distinct from humanity and had a lot of empathy override markers in place.

Any thoughts on the differences? Similarities?


message 2: by Steve (last edited Nov 06, 2014 01:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Steve | 9 comments I know in Asimov's Robots series, they were created differently because society wanted it that way (this plays out in Bicentennial Man, a precursor to the Robots series).
In PKD's DADOES, it seems the androids were created as much like humans as possible to assimilate them into the harsh mining culture. It's been a long time since I actually read the story, but I seem to remember this being a theme in both the book and Blade Runner.

Also, Asimov has the Three Laws of Robotics that were strictly enforced, while there wasn't any such robotic moral limitations in DADOES.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Ah! I don't think I got to the "mining culture" part in the book. It hasn't been explained why the robots were made the way they were other than, "the people wanted them that way". Which is interesting how Asimov's humans wanted androids that were un-like humans. (Aesthetically and in personality) and DADOES they wanted robots aesthetically similar to humans.


Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments In both universes, robots are kept as slaves, even when they achieve human-level intelligence. Asimov's universe is more disturbing because slavery is hardwired into the robots' brains, denying them any autonomy at all. Dick's universe at least gives the robots the option of rebelling against their masters, but the punishment is summary execution, so the slavery is almost as absolute.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, the concept of the list is a way of "dehumanizing your enemy" in executions. Objectifying or dehumanizing the people you want executed so that the executers feel no qualms about it is an ancient tactic. Even with "human aspects to them", the robots in DADOES are deliberately dehumanized, "it" versus "he/she".

Excellent point about Asimov's "hardwired slavery". Even more interesting are the stories where the robots realize they're slaves and don't want to be and how the humans still don't feel moral repugnance in keeping them as such. In stories where the robots do break free from the 3 laws, or dream, they are also executed.


message 6: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4149 comments I never thought of Asimov's robots as slaves. Asimov seemed to be interested in how to make a robot that was helpful and couldn't hurt humans. And in some cases they are in charge and even delusional. Recall the story with the robots running the power beam. They thought the humans were defective robots and confined them for their own good. And since they were good at managing the beam, they were left alone to do their job as they saw fit.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

John wrote: "I never thought of Asimov's robots as slaves. Asimov seemed to be interested in how to make a robot that was helpful and couldn't hurt humans. And in some cases they are in charge and even delusion..."

But recall all the stories where the robots became self aware of their position and how these robots were all executed. It definitely wasn't a, "They were doing a job and if they didn't want to do it anymore they could just quit."


Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 888 comments I haven't read I, Robot or Robot Dreams, but I have read The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun. The latter takes place on the planet of Solaria, where there are only 20,000 humans, but 200 million robots. A character theorizes that Solaria is much like ancient Sparta, only the robot slaves can't possibly rebel, so the humans can devote themselves to art and scholarship instead of the military skills necessary to suppress a slave revolt. He then predicts eventually every planet will become Solaria.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Joe Informatico wrote: "I haven't read I, Robot or Robot Dreams, but I have read The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun. The latter takes place on the planet of Solaria, where there are only 20,000..."

Gosh Isaac Asimov was prolific.


message 10: by Eric (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 635 comments What's interesting in thinking about Asimov's robots is that they were built with human paranoia in mind. There is a story in that collection about someone running for mayor or governor or something and his opponent accuses him of being a robot. Then engage in a series of tests to prove he is not. I've read it twice, but I can't remember if it's left vague at the end or if you know he was/wasn't one. But that's a key thing - we are afraid of the unknown, but SUPER afraid of the unknown we can't detect. It's a reason why people react irrationally to contagion. You can't see if someone is infected. You can see if someone is white, black, or Asian or with some religions you can tell because they must wear some kind of glyph or not shave or something.

On another topic from this thread with the DADOES androids being capable of rebellion while Asimov's are 3 laws compliant. I remember reading some articles in the past couple years about how 3 laws compliant robots would be near impossible to build - if you remember from the stories, Asimov's point is actually that the 3 laws do not protect as much as we think they do. Each story is based on a paradox that a robot is able to exploit while remaining compliant. It's about chaos theory - similar in nature to Malcom's monologues in Jurassic Park (which were minimized into a few one-liners in the movie)


message 11: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4149 comments ^ Yep, I remember the politician story. He ate an apple to prove he could eat. Then he slapped a heckler to prove he wasn't subject to the three laws. Until the narrator figured it out at the end: the heckler was another robot. It's left up in the air as to whether or not the narrator was right, though.


Joanna Chaplin | 1175 comments Eric wrote: "But that's a key thing - we are afraid of the unknown, but SUPER afraid of the unknown we can't detect. "

I've been thinking a lot lately about human xenophobia with some of the books S&L has been reading lately, like Dawn and how the author tried to express racism in Alif the Unseen. But also, oddly enough, xenophilia. Some humans develop fetishes for the other, which gets wrapped up into racism. It's like we are scared of the other because we can't predict it and it might be dangerous, but the other might produce opportunities, so we desire the other. And those two drives interacting together result in some pretty screwed-up irrational behavior from one human being to another.


message 13: by Sean (last edited Nov 07, 2014 06:44PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Eric wrote: "What's interesting in thinking about Asimov's robots is that they were built with human paranoia in mind."

At the time Asimov started the Robot series, the only stories featuring robots were patterned on Capek's R.U.R., the book that both coined the word "robot" and invented the idea of the robot uprising. Asimov wanted to make robots friendly and helpful, and he came up with the Three Laws to preclude the possibility of revolt. Unfortunately it never occurred to him that the robots in R.U.R. destroyed humanity because we were using them as slaves, and his solution only made it worse.

(Interesting side note bout R.U.R. -- the robots in that are biological constructs, just like the replicants/androids and the skinjobs from BSG. The idea that robots are mechanical came later, probably from Lang's Metropolis.)


message 14: by Eric (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 635 comments Sean wrote: "Eric wrote: "What's interesting in thinking about Asimov's robots is that they were built with human paranoia in mind."

At the time Asimov started the Robot series, the only stories featuring robo..."


True. RUR and everything that follows shows how each generation takes old stories, dusts them off, and then updates them for current tech. After all, the backstory to The Matrix appears to be a mix of RUR and Asimov. Also, I think, having fought so hard to become the Apex Predator, we're afraid of losing that title. Recently heard that when Stephen Hawking was asked what he feared most - "AI"


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