RDP Saturday: Robot


Asimov’s Children

When I was a child in the sixties people used to say that in the 21st Century we would all have robot servants and we would eat little pills instead of food.

Thankfully the second part has not come to pass and we still have access to fresh tasty food. I don’t like swallowing tablets so I’d probably be anorexic by now if I had to eat a dish of pills at every meal.

Robots  really have become part of our lives though  and in some ways it seems that the science fiction writers got it right.

When I think of robots I can’t help but think of Isaac Asimov and his robot stories. David introduced me to his favourite SF writer when we first met and particularly to Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics”

  • robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

In his later years Asimov played around with his laws a bit introducing a “Zeroth Law”. I also see there are many articles discussing whether these laws are possible or even ethical. I am not going there in this post. I am simply mentioning them.

The thrust of his idea was that humans were afraid of robots and the laws were there to make them feel safe. He actually wrote a lot about different ways that robots might develop because of this in his stories and some of it seems not far off the mark. U.S. Robots, the fictional robot manufacturer in the books turns to making small gadgets rather than humanoid robots because they are less intimidating.

As well as industrial robots which have been around for a long time we now have robots that help us around the home but don’t resemble us. Roomba for example. Nobody is scared of a little vacuum cleaner. You can put your cat on it and make a YouTube video.  Outside there are pool cleaners and lawnmowers saving us tiresome chores. On the Ovation of the Seas we saw a robot bar. These are an adaption of the industrial robots that are used in manufacturing but they are cute.

Robot Bartenders on Ovation of the Seas

Scientists are still working to create lifelike robots or androids but we are  a long way from having a robot butler to take care of our every need. My guess is that it won’t happen in my lifetime although we may well see them in jobs in hospitality perhaps information booths but even this would be a bit of a gimmick as we’ve become used to dealing with automated, voice only services now. Would an AI receptionist be more popular or would we all become Luddites  and want to destroy them as they took more jobs away or out of sheer frustration that they didn’t work properly?

Television and the movies have given us some positive role models for robots and androids. Robbie of course and the robot that was the best part of “Lost in Space”, terrible show, fun robot. R2D2 and C3Po are much loved if rather human in their behaviour and of course Star Trek Next Generation’s  Data is probably the ideal of how we would like to interact with artificial intelligence. At least I hope so.

My favourite Asimov robot story was The Bicentennial Man and in it I think he was saying that we wouldn’t accept robots that were better than us but perhaps we should be more worried that they might be programmed to be just like  the worst of us.

Replica of the “Lost in Space ” robot at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

 

 

 

Author: Taswegian1957

Born in England in 1957 my family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. David passed away in 2015 and I'm here on my own now but I have Cindy the dog and Polly the cat to keep me company. I currently co-write two Wordpress blogswith my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and a "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania.

4 thoughts on “RDP Saturday: Robot”

    1. You can see it. Even at the supermarket where automated tellers have reduced the number of workers. They say that we could be retrained to do other jobs but what jobs? So many are being automated or phased out altogether.

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  1. The Lost in Space robot “Robot” as he was called was a B-9 robot. In one episode he got jealous of Robbie but was proved to be right in his assessment as Robbie was quite a bad robot as I seem to remember. I would love a B-9 robot to go in my collection of robots but they cost a bomb. Toy robots were always great fun and I have several here at home. My favourite ones are the ones made by Horikawa especially the gear robot. I think robots taking people’s jobs sucks big time and I have read several articles about it recently. I see more unemployed and homeless people as a result. Today I read it makes good business sense to have only one pilot to fly a plane. It’s not good business sense to crash one and that is what will happen.

    Liked by 1 person

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