Thoughts on Asimov

As a writer, amateur as I might be, I have many people that I cite as my inspirations and “muses”, who have helped me in my decision to make this a labor of love.  Most notable of these are such names as Hunter Thompson, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Leo Tolstoy, Issac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.  Trust me, there are many others out there that have inspired me, but those ones stand out the most.

The reason I started this post this way is because of a thought process I have been on lately.  Something that may be a concern at some point in the not-too-distant future and that is the thought of artificial intelligence.

As we progress with our understanding of technology and it’s interface with humans and biological systems, there arises a chance that at some time a man made creation may become “self-aware”.  Not just aware of ones self, but aware that it does not NEED it’s human counterpart for continuous operation.

When you consider that we are working towards devices that will allow the interface between man and machine on a nervous and eventually a nanotechnological level, it is not hard to consider the converse.  A time when we begin using biological components for mechanical devices, one of those, one day, being a human analog… i.e. a Robot.

These thoughts are nothing new, as I am sure you are all aware.  The king of this kind of thought process was, by and far, Issac Asimov.  He was the one that created what I consider the modern understanding of robotics and the “Three Laws of Robotics”, which will probably be the cornerstone of robotic programming when that time comes  He also authored the series commonly known as the “Robot series”, which was also, unfortunately, butchered into a movie staring Will Smith.

The question does arise, though.  When the time does come that we create a race of mechanical beings that become “aware”, how are we to treat them?  I suspect that it will not be too much unlike another period in time when slavery was acceptable.  Not just black slaves, but there were slaves of many colors throughout the world.  It was considered justified for many reasons.  In some cases it was thought that those enslaved were less that human, in others it was as a form of punishment, like a prison sentence.  In the case that I am describing, I think it will be more along the line of we humans, in our own arrogance, will think:  This is something that is the creation of MAN.  We brought you into existence, we are your lords.  Yes… I know.  That sounds a little over the top… but you get my point and I challenge anyone to tell me I am wrong.

Now, there are probably those of you saying that a “Robot Race” could not exist, they have no way to reproduce.  You would be partly right, but there could be a way.  John von Neumann came up with a theory of self replicating machines that could be used to mine and explore.  Why, then, could that not be taken one step further and a “race” of recently aware robots be able to use those same principles to reproduce and combine the best attributes from their combined programming into the new machine?

The resulting creation would, in some sense, be the offspring of the two, or more, machines.  But would contain the combining of certain attributes of each, resulting in an unique creation based on information from the two hosts.  Not entirely unlike biological reproduction.

One last thought.  As such a race grows and matures, would they see us as their creators?  Would we, for some period of time, assume the role of Gods or Deities to them?  It seems that there would be a chance of this, we would, after all, be the source of their creation.  There would be prototypes that lead to their advancement; a robot “Adam” and “Eve”, so to say.

I wonder how we will handle such a time.  If we will do the right thing and let such an evolution take place, step back and let it follow it’s own course.  Or will our arrogance get in the way, causing us to abuse the trust that might be placed in us by robots, or “Synthetic Life Forms” as they achieve awareness.

Either way, it will be an interesting time.

Thank you for reading.

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