Tuesday, September 11, 2007

i have ROBOTS!

As a matter of course, I now have in my house, a pair of floor-cleaning robots. Lisa deigned that we needed them and I obliged - ever striving to keep my child-bride happy.
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical, but the day soon arrived (or rather I arrived home) when it was time for me to see them in action. SWMBO took the vacuum version (it's name escapes me at this writing,) placed it on the floor and pushed the 'Clean' button.
A series of musical notes akin to a Space Quest sound effect issued forth and the little machine began it's autonomous duties. It started spiraling out from the center of the floor until it hit a piece of furniture, at which time it changed direction and propagated until it hit a wall, changed direction again, etcetera.
It continued busily in this random fashion for about an hour until the floor was actually quite clean, then parked itself on it's charging dock. As I watched this random, tireless (batteries don't count - perhaps emotionless is a better term?) cleaning, it made me think of Asimov's 'I, Robot,' and it had a profound affect on me. Watching the Roomba cleaning, it was suddenly so clear. The Roomba would never stop, it would never leave him... it would always be there. And it would never hurt him, never shout at him or get drunk and hit him, or say it couldn't spend time with him because it was too busy. And it would die to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice...
Er, well... anyway. It did actually make me think that maybe a world like Asimov's would exist one day with robots doing our dirty-work in more and more situations, while their artificial intelligence increases to a point of society needing robot laws. Smart man that Isaac.

P.S. If you've only ever seen the Will Smith movie which shares the name with Asimov's masterwork, read this.

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