Misc, Writing

The Robot Age

I’ve always been a big fan of robotics. Ever since Short Circuit and Max from Flight of the Navigator, all the Star Wars robots, and then later stories by Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, various manga (Chobits comes to mind) and the onset of modern robots (like the Roomba), I’ve been drawn to our mechanical counterparts. Wall-E melted my heart, as did Data in Star Trek, Beta in The Last Starfighter, and David in A.I.. And 2046–a Hong Kong film with half the movie revolving around the sci-fi plot the author is writing on the side–has a slew of  fun androids.

I also write a lot of stories about robots (though usually of the semi-magical clockwork kind), and my first in-print story was about one. There’s just something I find fascinating about the whole human-robot debate: is a robot “real” or “alive”? can a robot “feel” or be truly autonomous? what separates machines and humanity? are robots really–at all–immortal? are all robots destined to be perfectly logical, or can they be irrational, illogical, irritable? (Love Marvin from Doug Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and C3PO’s constant paranoia! Bender from Futurama, as well as all the animated robots in the first four seasons, are wonderful, too!) And for robot emotion and sexuality, check out Kal Cobalt’s ROBOTICA. I don’t tend to read a lot of erotica (or much at all), but Kal explores some really cool ideas in the collected stories.

For me, the human-v-robot debate is one that I like to get involved in, though usually from the side that human beings are really just biological machines made of flesh, blood and nerve rather than silicon, copper wire, and computer chips. And I don’t doubt that someday we’ll have the technology to create machines that are fully indistinguishable from ourselves (not just physically, but mentally as well–theologian/mystic androids, artist androids, writer androids (who may both soar to the bestsellers lists or wallow in self-pity and writer’s block like many of us humans)). Scary, sometimes; cool, most definitely!

Until I started this blog entry, I didn’t even realize how often I come across robots, and what a profound interest they hold for me. I’m no scientist (I leave that to those I know who have PhDs in robotics!), but I’m fixated by this constant drive to create autonomous beings. I finally learned how to set up a Google Alert today, and I’ve got robots on there. If I see something cool, I’ll let you know! For now, here’s a clip of the Actoroid android–she’s kind of the new Aiko, and for as jerky (and a little “crazy-eyed”) as she can be, just imagine what we’ll be able to do in ten, twenty, even fifty years! O.O

Orycon coverage to come!

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