Tuesday, April 17, 2012
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
In a future earth, human beings have managed to create that amazing and incredible being: a robot. And not just a clunky metal device that can put toys together or tell you which way to drive. These robots are capable of far more subtle judgments, able to handle far more complex problems, able really, to solve all of the earth's problems. Except, frankly, the robots have to share the planet with the humans who made them and as advanced as the technology is, we humans are still imperfect.
And this is the story of these imperfect humans and the beings they've created. In a series of vignettes we meet several different kinds of robots and those who have needed to interact with them. Most especially, we become familiar with a psychologist whose job it is to understand WHY these robots do what they do and how we can fix them to make them do what we WANT.
And I think that this is really at the crux of this book. What happens when we make something that is smarter than us? It is a truly primal and innately fearful concept - that there are beings on this planet that can outsmart us at our own game. And if that robot happens to have actual, real emotions, and he can interact with humans on the same terms, what makes him NOT human? Is it flesh and blood that sets us apart or is there something more to it? From a robot nanny to space-mining robots and a robot that might just be able to figure out the problem of space travel, it is all that humans can do to assert their WILL against these robots that they made and yet still have them be powerful enough to do what we want.
Not only is it very readable with a fast moving plot, there are so many questions that this book leaves you with. I especially liked our psychologist who dissects things for us and lays everything on the line in a no-nonsense fashion. I am not surprised that this book is a classic.