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Comments on Arthur B's I, Reader
this “don’t be afraid of central planning” message must surely have raised suspicions back int he Cold War era
it’s harder to get a raging controversy happening out of a process which makes wuzzy, adorable babies happen
Orion: I tend to look at science-fiction as a safe space to float ideas with troubling implications or outright dangerous applications and sort out where the problems are.
Likewise, the way people object to robots on grounds of protecting human jobs is at once an accurate assessment of the motivation of the Luddites and also inevitably ends up resembling people’s concerns about immigration.
Unlike many of the straw Luddites in Asimov’s robot stories, the villain of the piece actually has a semi-sensible reason to dislike robots, making the point that using them to alleviate mental labour could very easily turn into displacing mental labour altogether.Whilst that clearly isn’t true for our poor qualia-less smartphones and desktop PCs,
Nonetheless, by indulging himself to this extent he dooms the flow of the novel to become glacially slow - and not slow in a cool, atmospheric, contemplative way, but rather slow because before Asimov gets to the fun murder mystery story he has to show you all of his homework first.
Clearly we run in very different circles. Out among the environmental / sustainability / simple-life crowd you read people complaining that computers (and especially smart phones) have eroded human mental capacity (memorisation, attention span, patience, willingness to interact with directly with other people, etc.) all the time.
Oh, I've heard people griping about that too, I just consider the opinion to be demonstrably incorrect. :)
Cheriola: I'm sure people grown up before the Renaissance had similar complaints about cheaply printed books and general literacy campaigns and the way they make memorising poems and religious texts unnecessary.
Arthur: Of course, this is all predicated on the assumption that genuine "strong" AI with capabilities superior to human beings is actually physically possible. It could be the case that the laws of physics only allow artificial computers of a certain level of sophistication which is unsufficient to give rise to consciousness the way biological brains do.
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