AIs and Mankind Part Two: Robots & Romance

~or~

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should…

Tethered Worlds_android_Alex_Negrea_painting

“Before the war, before humankind matured to where they are today, we dallied with the artificial creations of our own hands… As you can imagine, it did not end well.” A lesson that didn’t have to be learned the hard way, and yet was, made an indelible change in humanity’s culture in the Tethered Worlds universe. Whether specifically stated, or unspoken through the media, undue emotional investment in artificial creations is curtailed.

But first, as postulated in PART ONE, what about war? Machines make powerful aides in wartime. But societal mores keep war machines and combat bots at arms length. Tools sans personality to be used without emotional investment. Handy, but just a means to an end. Most look at a humanoid combat bot as one today might observe a tank.

"You can't let machines fight your wars without you! Do you see what happens?"

“You can’t replace my character with a machine! Don’t you see what will happen?”

AIs, on the other hand, simulate emotion for better interactions with humans. But their bodiless form (usually a ring or bracelet), their core design architecture, and everyday utilitarian use, almost always relegate them to the role of “friend” at most. We say at most, because half of those who use personal AIs don’t even choose personality types. So the greatest challenge to humans, when it comes to emotional investment in creations, remains androids.

In the Tethered Worlds universe, these robots designed to look like humans are still produced in small numbers. Because of the uncanny valley effect, androids must duplicate human form precisely. Those that fall just short cause revulsion, and that has only become more pronounced since the societal lessons were adopted. So marketable androids must maintain a host of expensive cosmetic features.

One of many AIs, robots, and androids Capt. Kirk somehow talked into destroying themselves.

One of many AIs, robots, and androids Capt. Kirk somehow talked into destroying themselves.

They are tolerated by some, and looked upon with disdain by others. Because of their cost, and lack of necessity, they are rare. The rich, the powerful, those high in bloated government may have one as an aide. But any kind of romantic involvement is shunned. It is only openly displayed on strange Chryson Genos, a planet alluded to in Blue Star Setting.

In Tethered Worlds, society has sometimes foolishly, sometimes wisely, focused on the perfection of humankind. Androids only shine an uncomfortable light on the issue. With robots of all types available for any conceivable job, the niche for androids is narrow, and their potential for trouble-making wide.

space_invaders_signature

Tethered Worlds is a lot cheaper than an android, and has less potential to cause trouble. In fact, it will transport you onto an adventure. One which you will come out better for having trod it.

* Android painting by Alex Negrea

The AIs and Mankind Series:

AIs and Mankind part 1: Combat and the Future

AIs and Mankind part 2: Robots and Romance

AIs and Mankind Part One: Combat and the Future

~or~

The machines are not taking over… right?

Ultimate Computer Star Trek_M5_750

Behold the M5 Computer from Star Trek the original series. It was designed to remotely operate a starship in combat, thus sparing humans from such a dangerous endeavor. What could possibly go wrong? Of course, in the decades since this episode first aired we have seen depicted repeatedly the dangers of machines going amok. Because “evil” machines make such good villains, such plots have outweighed their more benign counterparts.

At a former workplace, the common joking refrain was how the machines were taking over, much like “Skynet” from the Terminator franchise. In the universe of Tethered Worlds mankind is too spread among the stars to be endangered by even a planetary computer gone bad. Additionally, it is implied in Unwelcome Star that humanity has progressed through various eras of human/machine interactions, and now the relationship is settled and mature.

"Why do I have teeth?"

“Why do I have teeth?”

But apparently it did not come without difficult learning experiences. It is said that before the great war that separated humanity into two prominent political regions, mankind went through a disastrous flirtation with androids. That could be the subject of another post by itself. Suffice to say it is quite possible other kinds of incidents also occurred which firmly solidified the boundaries of computer roles in society.

Two centuries after the war, the time of the novels, most of humanity enforces accepted norms for all thinking machines. Combat bots have limited capacity, and are almost always fielded with humans. Greater danger lies in the more powerful thinkers, AIs.  But whole AI lines are unceremoniously pulled from the market if they show a tendency toward unlawful behavior. Profit and self interest keeps large AI creators from endangering their business and/or facing criminal penalty. Society has little tolerance for killing machines, and AIs corrupted to such ends is looked upon even more unfavorably than if done by human hands.

"There's no need for Concern captain. The M5 computer is perfect. It's based on my brain pattern, after all."

“There’s no need for Concern captain. The M5 computer is perfect. It’s based on my brain pattern, after all.”

However any tool (or AI) can be misused, and even with interaction protocols matured, what about war? It’s hard and brutal. Machines “think,” or at least calculate, faster than people. And robots are tougher. We will touch on this and other notions in part II of the post series.

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Tethered Worlds was not written by machines, nor is it for machines. It is the author’s hope that many humans will go on its adventure, and through the highs and lows come out the other side better for the experience.

The AIs and Mankind Series:

AIs and Mankind part 1: Combat and the Future

AIs and Mankind part 2: Robots and Romance