Book A Month: I, Robot
After my almost 3 month escapade into the Rockefeller life and empire I took another turn and went for a sci-fi classic, I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. Although I remember when the movie adaptation came out in 2004, I haven’t watched it yet. Now that I’ve read the book, I’m looking forward to how this unique story will convert to a movie.
With this being my first sci-fi book since middle school, I forgot how fun they are to read and in turn, how much of a page-turner they can be. Short of retelling the whole book, I, Robot is based around the evolution of robots from, essentially, children companions to all-knowing and integral machines that humanity depends on. During this evolution there are deep rooted questions and challenges that need to be addressed. Asimov poses and explains these in a very 1950s way that also adds depth to the story without using every adjective in the book. I bring up the year since this book is more fiction than science in that communication devices and sources of energy are very ambiguous in their definition. Plus, part of the story takes place in 2015 with technology that I don’t see being around until after 2040. Nonetheless, the progression of technology and the goals they seek to accomplish are realistic and inspiring.
It’s difficult to write much more about the book without going into detail. That is largely due to its length but the implications behind it and the interpretations I take away and apply to our 2016 reality is what makes this book a classic. As we are able to squeeze more computational power out of smaller and smaller devices, questions such as how we ensure good-natured robots and AI are extremely important. Luckily there are organizations and leaders out their like Sam Altman and Elon Musk who have created OpenAI, a non-profit dedicated to creating artificial intelligence that is beneficial to humanity. It’s an exciting time for technology but as seen in I, Robot, things can take a turn for the worse if we are not in control.
I will end with saying the ending is worth getting to and has more layers than I thought it did at first.
Next up on the chopping block is The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. I’ll probably come back to Asimov since he has about 470 stories but when I read the back of The Invisible Man, I had to get it.