The history of mankind has been written in many books. Nevertheless, there are some topics which are represented with too much ambiguity, and provoke discussions. Among such stories are those which depict the life of a human being, and a being that is not a human, but is also alive. The issue that is addressed in the paper concerns the theme of artificial intelligence, or, in other words, robots. The discussion of this theme is triggered by a desire to understand the very idea of a possibility to create life and intelligence, and its consequences.
The two scientific stories that deal with the theme of robots have been selected for the further analysis. There are always were stories about robots, but, what makes these stories a topic of importance is that some of them have come true, and robots are considered to be the future. The first one is the short science fiction story I, Robot by Eando Binder. It was first published in the magazine “Amazing Stories” in 1939. The second story is a movie of the same title that was produced in the year 2004 with Will Smith in the lead. The paper aims at comparing and contrasting these two fictional works in order to find common and distinguishing features, and describe how the theme of artificial intelligence is represented.
The thesis statement of the paper is the idea that robots that can think independently frighten people, though people do not stop creating robots. Another matter that is discussed in the short story and movie is the possibility of evolution of artificial intelligence, and replacement people. The attention is paid to the technical progress that is illustrated in the stories.
The theme of robots is similar in both stories. It turns out that the short fiction story I, robot written by Eando Binder has had a great influence on other writers, culture and society at large. It has had an impact on Isaac Asimov, who has published a whole book I, robot in 1950. It comes as no surprise that this story has also been adapted on a screen.
I, robot was an innovation in the beginning of the last century. The technological progress has made it an actual topic now. Robots were only a matter of imagination that was considered to be an interesting idea for realization. This idea used to frighten people. At the present time, artificial intelligence is a part of life, and it scares people even more because no one can say how fat this progress may lead.
The main character of the short story is a robot. The story is told from robot’s point of view. This helps readers to understand what it means to be a robot. He has a name that has been given to him by his creator. The name is Adam Link, where Link is the surname of the maker, and Adam is used in order to emphasize the idea that this robot is unique. There is a parallel line between the story and the film. Though, the main character of the movie is a police officer Del Spooner, and the story is told from his point of view, the robot also has a name. The name was given by a creator, but it differs from the one in the story. The robot is Sonny.
The nucleus of these stories is the moment when the maker of the robot is found dead. In the film and story the robot is the main suspect. The main difference is focused on this event. Adam Link is seen by society as a murderer, and this evokes no doubts. First of all, because society was not yet ready to accept robots and Adam was taken as a threat. Second of all, Adam frightens everyone around by his very existence. This contradicts to how the event is depicted in the film. Sonny is not the only robot known to the world, and there is the concept of the laws, according to which, a robot under no circumstance can harm a human being. The motto of the production of robots is that robots are safe. The difference is also in the fact that in the story, the maker has died on his own while he was really killed by the robot in the film.
A reference to another work of science fiction is made in the story and movie. The book Frankenstein by Mary Shelly appears in two stories. This explains that people has already had the stereotype about a monster who kills his creator that is why they are afraid and suspect robots. This raises a moral dilemma as Sonny has killed the maker because he has promised to do so; it brings the discussion to the question what a robot is.
There is an episode in the movie when Sonny looks into the eyes of Spooner and asks him a direct question “What am I?” (Laurence, 2004, n. p.). This question permits to consider an option that Sonny has thought about his place in the world and the purpose of his existence. In the original story, Adam Link knows that he is “a true robot…I am made of wires and wheels, no flesh and blood” (Binder, 1939, p. 8). Robots in the movie are created to help people. This idea is stressed in the story: “I have been created by man. I will serve man” (Binder, 1939, p. 15), and this is the purpose Adam chooses for himself. The statement contradicts with the way the plot in the movies develops. Sonny is supposed to be the one who saves other robots.
The robots are plausible. The process of creating robots is described in simple terms. In the original story Adam “is a machine. Electrons perform their tasks instantaneously. Electrons motivate my metallic brain” (Binder, 1939, p. 12). According to the author of the story, Adam functions because his creator he understood “mental blind spots …Dr. Link had all psychological twists figured out” (Binder, 1939, p. 11). In the movie, scientists work to make the robots be more like human beings. The key moment in making a robot that is like a person is the process of learning that takes place in the story, and in the movie. The maker has taught Sonny human emotions and feeling, and the task of Adam’s creator has been similar.
Another matter is to describe how much human these two robots are. Sonny and Adam are able to experience human emotion (for example, fear, anger, and sorrow). They think independently and make their own choices. They know what the concept of death means. There is a common wish to exist, for example, Adam says “I did not want to die” (Binder, 1939, p. 16), and Sonny tells a doctor “I think it would be better… not to die” (Laurence, 2004, n. p.). The difference between them is in the ability to dream and to sleep. Sleep is no more than a word to Adam, who is “dreamless”. Sony strikes everyone because he is able to sleep; Sony even sees dreams. Though, Sonny is called in the movie an imitation of life, his resemblance to a human being frightens people. In the story, Adam is said to be “a mental man…A new kind of life” (Binder, 1939, p. 13) but people see him as a monster.
The idea is that when people understand that robots (Adam and Sonny) can think they get scared and want to determinate the object of fear. This concerns the matter of evolution. The issue is addressed in the story and film. Adam’s maker advises him to “take your own place in our world, as an independent entity – as a citizen” (Binder, 1939, p. 14). The same idea is expressed in the movie where there is one robot to every five human beings. Professor Johnny Washington writes: “in the future it may be possible for robots to achieve a “moral” conscience as well as an ethnic or cultural identity” (Washington, 2009, p. 29). Robots that have the similar patterns of behavior as human beings do are a real possibility in the future.
The paper has analyzed the two science fiction stories – short story I, Robot by Eando Binder, and a film of the same title. They are connected by one scientific theme that is robots, and their place in society. There are a lot of differences and common things between these works. The same technological topic is presented from different points of view, and the main characters have several distinctions (for example, one kills his creator, seeks higher purpose, sees dreams etc.). The stress is made on the idea that these robots are much like human beings that are able to experience emotions, but they are being afraid of in the society. Robots evolve and look for their place in the world. The original story and the movie are plausible because they described in details how a robot functions and technological progress suggests that real robots will be soon inherent in the system.
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