(A review by Sidharth VardhanOf I, Robot by Isaac AsimovFirst written on November 26, 2015) “PSYCHOHISTORY–…Gaal Dornick, using nonmathematical concepts, has defined psychohistory to be that branch of mathematics which deals with the reactions of human conglomerates to fixed social and economic stimuli..” Isaac Asimov (Foundation) Psychohistory is interesting but not as interesting as robo-psychology (which is subject of ‘I, The Robot’). One of the reasons I love reading Asimov is that he is one of the few science fiction writers who does not make scientists look like fools. Most science fiction I’ve read or seen is about scientists releasing some kind of problem on the world – zombies created by T-virus, monsters created using parts of dead bodies, artificial intelligence gone mad and looking to destroy the world, time machines taking people to 10000 B. C. and so on. You could expect them to know better. ” such folly smacks of genius. A lesser mind would be incapable of it.” Now Asimov is different. Here, scientists are rather cool people often solving problems even before they arise. That is what made psychohistory so interesting – it gave them the ability to foresee future problems. “Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives.
(A review of ‘Machines Like Me’A novel by Ian McEwanReview first written on May 20, 2019) “there are tears in the nature of things.” Virgil Turing Test Alan Turing, one of biggest names in field of artificial intelligence world, devised a test known as Turing test. To pass the test, the machine will have to fool a human (who won’t know whether he or she is talking to human or machine) into believing that he or she is talking to a human being. This mechanical art of talking or acting like humans is only a simulation, the machine might act like humans but it is still not motivated by the same forces. This genius was accused of “gross indecency” because of his homosexuality and committed suicide at around 42 years of age. In the book, a few events of his last days are changed and he survives to bring forth an alternative history in which first Androids hit the market in the 1970s which is when the events of the book happen. A good part of the book goes to developing the alternative history – of robotics, politics and social. The plot itself is rather simple. In ‘Do androids dream
(A review by Sidharth VardhanOf I, Robot by Isaac AsimovFirst written on November 26, 2015) “If one and a half chickens lay one and a half eggs in one and a half days, how many eggs will none chickens lays in nine days?” Isaac Asimov (I, Robot) This is incredible, the best of all science fiction I have read yet. As Fredrick Pohl put it: “A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam.” Fredrick Pohl Asimov not only does that – and he goes one step further, he proposes a solution for the metaphorical traffic jam – in this case ethical issues related to AI, in form of his popular ‘three laws of robotics’ : 1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2) A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. The laws, as you can see, have nothing to do with the mechanics but rather their
(A review by Sidharth Vardhan’Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’by Philip K. Dick First written on July 15, 2017) Have you ever wondered how we are living in a world where people are becoming more and more mechanical while machines are being turned into more and more human-like? I mean look at it, on one hand, we have people to whom, mobiles have become as important for lungs. They can’t imagine their lives without them – they set alarms on mobiles to determine when to wake up, they carry the thing in their pockets (in their hands at times when it is one of those large smart-phones and their pockets are too small). Not only that, the phones create a virtual reality for them – with music and videos and so on. I read a comic book once about these aliens who had become cyborg over time – they got so many things to carry around, that they decided it is just convenient to build the thing in their body. I am not sure how many of us will mind such an in-built mobile, you know it frees your hands for sex and stuff. On the other hand, we have