Robots. Androids. Artificial Intelligence. Scientists predict that the “singularity” — the moment when mankind designs the first greater-than-human intelligence — is nearly within our grasp. Believe it or not, truly sentient machines may be a reality within as little as 20 years.
Will these “post-human” intelligences be our friends? Our servants? Our rivals? What will we learn from them? What will they learn from us? Will we allow them to lead their own lives? Will they have basic human rights? Will we?
Science and society will be forced to address these questions sooner than you think. But science fiction is addressing these questions today. In THE ROBOT CHRONICLES, thirteen of today’s top sci-fi writers explore the approaching collision of humanity and technology.
Review 4 of 5 Stars
I’ve been on a bit of a short story kick. I’ve always enjoyed reading them as well as writing them and The Robot Chronicles hit the spot for me. I enjoyed many of the stories in this anthology. Many were simply brilliant, while some were of a little lesser interest to me. I always have a hard time rating a book of stories by various authors because it seems like it isn’t quite fair to rate the fantastic stories in the same breath as those that are more ho-hum. I have given this collection four out of five stars and am going to highlight some of the stories that I found to be the most interesting.
PePr, Inc. (Ann Christy)
I found this story to be particularly interesting with a nice twist to keep things entertaining. This story is based in a time when many humans have been paired with androids romantically. They look like people, they act like people, but do not have the same rights as humans and are sometimes mistreated or abused by their owners without recourse. I found this a particularly interesting story as it seems to be a trait of humankind to try to control and make lesser those things that we do not understand. Since the beginning of recorded history, and I would assume beforehand, humans have enslaved one another for various reasons in an attempt to dominate this world and the others who inhabit it. Robots and products from various AI research are already considered to be goods, sometimes protected by patents against infringement, but aside from fictional robotic laws we have not really begun to consider that these created intelligences may deserve to be treated fairly and in the end may not be property at all. I’ll leave the rest to you if you pick up the collection, but I found this story thought-provoking and really enjoyed it.
Humanity (Samuel Peralta)
Once again I was caught by this story that delves into what it means to be alive. I hope that when AI advances that someone feeds them some stories such as this to show we do think about what may become of our creations and are not only unsure of how they will react to us and if they will be capable of emotion, but also how we will ‘feel’ about them. This story showed the personal struggle of one man battling with his conscience over the legal meaning of life in this story. I can only hope that when the time comes for this struggle to be truly considered that it ends so well.
System Failure (Deirdre Gould)
This was a fantastic way to end the book. I enjoyed this story so much. Bezel is a great character and I very much enjoyed seeing the world through the robot’s eyes. The storytelling was vivid and rich. Karen starts participating in the story a little further along. In the beginning she is more a subject for Bezel to tend to, but she turns out to be the perfect counterpoint to the very industrious Bezel. Anyone who hopes for the best from AI will probably enjoy this story.
There are plenty of other good stories in this collection, but the few above really caught my eye and/or warmed my heart. I hope you enjoy this collection speculating about what the future may hold for humans and robots as much as I did.