Saturday, July 17, 2004

Whatever Gets You Through the Night Is All Right:
Or, if it's Friday, it might be robots!

Continuing with my wee hours Left Coast musings brings me to the Will Smith film that hit the theaters yesterday: i, Robot, based on a collection of stories by the late Isaac Asimov. And while I'm not big on the whole "theater experience", I know there are times when only the big screen will do. (I thought the image at left a cool one... the screenplay for the film is not Harlan's work, I think.)

If you've never read any Asimov, let alone the robot stories, I'll sum up. In our near future robots have become domestic helpers, appliances, they've also become big business. The robots' positronic brains are ruled by the Three Laws.

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

One of the basic subtexts of the stories might rightly be: "Ignore the rule of unintended consequences at your peril", or "When robots go bad". And of course I think the stories themselves will be shown to be superior to the screen adaptation. But, I am going to see the film anyway, and I'm also buying a movie gift certificate for my 32 year-old son for his birthday today. Distraction is underrated as a coping mechanism to my way of thinking. There's much to say for mindful and mindless amusements when the going gets tough, and moderate use of distraction beats the hell out of the droning noise from the political ship of fools we are all directed to pay incessant attention to. (bad girl, never, ever, ever end a sentence with a preposition, unless you'd rather write like you speak)

That said, here are some links:

Apple's trailer site: i, Robot. I love the tip 'o the hat synchronicity to Apple's "i" marketing campaign here.

Here's a review by Mick LaSalle at SFGate: A future that is eerily possible...

And SF author Greg Bear writes All the Robots and Isaac Asimov

As the dawn comes up like thunder (gratuitous Cowardly Lion reference), I wonder how possible it would be to instill the Three Laws in politicians and elected "officials". Also, if you're in a reading mood, search out Asimov's robot stories. Here is Wikipedia on Asimov's creations. I've always thought that science fiction was one of the last freeholds of hope for human beings' creative future. To sleep, perchance to dream. Ah, there's the rub.