Monday, June 27, 2022

Deus Ex Machina: A science fiction story in which robots and AIs conspire to save humanity

This would the utopian flip side to the more common story in which AIs and robots turn on humans. What would such a story be like, and why do it?

On the why, two reasons: 1) to tell a utopian tale, and 2) to change the valence of perceptions of AI & robots. On the first, we very much do need utopian views of the future. I think of Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 and The Ministry for the Future in that context. There must be others. Moreover I’m thinking of something a bit more in a comic mode rather than KSR’s hard science fiction.

From this point of view the AI/robot conspiracy is simply a plot device. Deus ex machina, no? A yet I don’t want it to be merely a plot device. There has to be more to it. I’m not just what. I want to use these artificial minds as a reflection on the natural ones.

One thing I’d want out of this plotting is a world in which humans only work 15 hours a week (as Keynes had famously predicted back in 1930). In a way, I want to show that human addiction to work in the name of consumerism has made us into robots, and it is in this robotic mode that we’ve trapped ourselves into global warming, war, and pandemics.

So what would my robots and AIs be like? I don’t know? How would they relate to humans? That’s a very good question, very good indeed. The robots must be visibly robotic. Beyond that...

I note that, in a way, Pixar has already made a movie out of this idea, WALL-E. WALL-E and Eve save humanity from its own consumerist excesses. But they aren’t conspirators, and they’re trading on cute. I don’t want my robots to trade on cute. Then we have R2D2 and C-3PO from Star Wars. They aren’t exactly cute, though they’re bent that way, nor do they save the humans, though they perform valuable services. But they’re out there, they can be built on. And then we have Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant. Maybe we look to Japan. And there’s Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet and the robots in Lost in Space (I’m thinking mostly of the 2018 version, not the original). Mighty Atom, Astro Boy, is an obvious source. There must be others, no?

So we’ve got existing precedents in the movies. Question: What would robots and AIs need from humans that they want to keep us around? More later.

No comments:

Post a Comment