Re: Totalitarian Assumptions in I, Robot

From: Thomas Buckner (tcbevolver@yahoo.com)
Date: Thu Feb 17 2005 - 20:04:16 MST


--- Matt Arnold <matt.mattarn@gmail.com> wrote:
snip
> The money
> quote is probably this: "You live in a country
> where it is illegal to
> express certain mathematics in software, where
> state apparatchiks
> regulate all innovation, where inconvenient
> science is criminalized,
> where whole avenues of experimentation and
> research are shut down in
> the service of a half-baked superstition about
> the moral qualities of
> your three laws, and _you_ call _my_ home
> corrupt?" But as far as I
> can tell, some characters decided to be
> totalitarian dictators, and
> other characters in their society allowed them
> to be, for reasons
> which I can only dimly connect to the three
> laws or to Asimov's book,
> probably because it's been years since I read
> it. (The movie, which
> was a script called Hard Wired until they
> slapped the I, Robot name on
> it for no good reason, doesn't count.) Why
> don't the Eurasian robots,
> who are not "3 Laws Safe," run amok and take
> over the world? Why are
> they Friendly AI? The story does not say. In
> asking that question, am
> I making one of the totalitarian assumptions of
> I, Robot?
>
> A few months ago I bought it the e-book from
> Fictionwise.com, but
> Digital Rights Management screwed me out of my
> property because my
> credit card had expired, so I can't read it. I
> don't know if I'd call
> that totalitarian though.

DRM does reflect a situation where
 "it is illegal to
> express certain mathematics in software, where
> state apparatchiks
> regulate all innovation, where inconvenient
> science is criminalized,
> where whole avenues of experimentation and
> research are shut down".

I recall a Russian software programmer being
arrested at an American convention because his
program violated copyright law here by allowing
copying. Professors who point out security flaws
in DVD codecs can be punished. Monsanto sues
farmers for keeping seeds (standard farming
practice for the last ten thousand years, for
god's sake!)
And so on. We have a real 'intellectual property'
war going; I scarequote the phrase because, as
Richard Stallman says:
"If you talk about the whole subject with the
word "property" you're prejudging the most basic
question in the whole area which is, "how do we
treat this thing or that thing or the other
thing?" The most basic question would include
alternatives such as making it somebody's
property, and maybe various other alternatives.
But if you call the whole subject "property"
you've prejudged that."

http://www.deoxy.org/aip.htm

But 'totalitarian' simply means 'exerting total
control over the lives of citizens' and there are
many forms of total control one might imagine,
depending on the beliefs and goals of the rulers.

As for how the uncontrolled robots in one part of
the world haven't taken over the rest, 'tis
simple: anything is possible in a poorly written
film.

Tom Buckner

                
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