Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Androids have rights too, you know.

Since I seem to have strayed into artificial intelligence over the last couple of posts, it seems fitting to comment on this item, conveniently posted yesterday.

The author, David Levy, believes that 'within about fifty years there will be almost no limit to the intellectual and creative powers of robots, nor to the sophistication of their electronics and their electromechanical design.' Fifty years is a long time in technology, so he may well be right. But there are more theories presented in this interview which, although pretty far out for actual scientific prediction, make good sf fodder. For instance:
ChessBase: Are you really so sure of your predictions about love, marriage, sex and reproduction with robots? Isn’t this all rather science fiction?
Levy: No, it isn’t science fiction.
Reproduction - why not? Self-replicating nanobots have been an accepted sf device for a while, after all. When you think, as Levy appears to have done, about human-robot relationships, however, I start to shudder. He does, however, make a valid point about same-sex marriages; who'd have thought that would happen, even fifty years ago?

Most interestingly, Levy also speculates on robot rights (which I think led to the world of the Matrix), robot ethics, and even robot religion...

I'm sure some of this has been covered in sf - Asimov's robot stories spring to mind, as does Star Trek's Data; robot religion specifically in The Quest for Saint Aquin (Anthony Boucher), and 'Silicon Heaven' as featured in Red Dwarf:
"...and the iron shall lay down with the lamp..."
This is obviously an idea I'd love to explore from a Christian perspective. Unfortunately I'm not in a position to fork out for a copy of Levy's book, but just reading the interview has left me full of my own series of robot stories...

1 comment:

Elliot said...

Gene Wolfe's 'Last Day' is another good story along the 'robot religion' lines. (It's in his Storeys From the Old Hotel collection.) And he has 'male' and 'female' robots reproducing almost sexually in The Book of the Long Sun.