Thinking as a Hobby

Get Email Updates
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

3477450 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

Anthropocentrism in SF
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (6)

I'm currently listening to The Butlerian Jihad on audiobook. It's a prequel set in the Dune universe, and I picked it out because it details a war between humans and AI, and because it's free (I checked it out from my local library).

But I probably won't be listening to it much longer. The book suffers from flat characters and lame plotting (early in the book there's a battle between the AI forces and the humans, and a small band of cymeks, robots with human brains, infiltrate the human defenses, land on the planet with the main shield generator, and try to disable it to let the rest of the forces through...hmm, where have I seen that before?).

But worse that that, the book has a fatal flaw, one of my all-time pet peeves regarding non-human characters. Early on we're introduced to Erasmus, a humanoid AI who is, of course, fascinated with human thought and behavior. Because, of course, even in a universe populated with dozens of other aliens or artificial intelligences, we'd still be the most goddamn interesting specimens around, right? They'd all be just fascinated by us, wouldn't they?

Well, Erasmus has a faceplate that he can morph, and he tries real hard to emulate human emotion. He constantly uses his sensors to "taste" human food and wine, surrounds himself with human art, and on and on. He just really wants to walk and talk and be like a human. What non-human race wouldn't?

Is it possible that an AI could be more intelligent than your average human, perhaps much more so? And with a much vaster array of sensory input (we've got five, but an AI could also have organs that detect and process infrared, microwave, sonar, ultraviolet), and a more complex mind, is it possible that they could be capable of not only experiencing the range of emotions we do, but a range of new emotions we can't even conceptualize?

Wouldn't it then be extremely unlikely that such an entity would be obsessed with humans?

Granted, we have scientists and hobbyists who devote large portions of their time and attention to a particular species of animal.

But the behavior of Erasmus seems akin to a human trying to emulate and understand the behavior of a dog:

"Fascinating creatures, these canines. I have been able to emulate their gait, their bark, the way they lick their balls...but still they seem so unpredictable, so uniquely dog. Perhaps one day, if I eat enough doggy biscuits and sleep enough outside in a tiny house, I will finally understand what it means to be a mutt."

Read/Post Comments (6)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.