Edge of Existence
The genre of science fiction is often misinterpreted as just a look into our near future. Science fiction is much more than just a glimpse on what we can expect in the coming of years. Instead, it’s a reflection on our past and present and how it can lead to horrors of the future. Rosi Braidotti illustrates this concept in Metamorphoses (2005). She claims that science fiction is a “vehicle for the reflection on our own limits, on the cultural, ideological and technical closure of our times” (Braidotti 184). The nature of our curiosity is the driving force that propels society forward in our technological advances. There are several technological developments that mankind has been fascinated with, one of which is the idea of artificial intelligence. In Isaac Asimov’s, I, Robot (1969), our infatuation with artificial intelligence is brought to life, as he enlightens the readers with several short stories of interactions between the characters and robots along with their conflicts, mishaps, discoveries and malfunctions in society. Asimov uses the familiar hierarchy of humans as the dominant species and illustrates the consequences of our technological advancements by putting us in unfamiliar territory as subservient beings to robots. In the chapter “Reason,” Asimov effectively combines philosophical questions of existence, religion and the conflicts of reasoning to demonstrate and question the effects of mankind’s over-reliance on technology. In this paper, I will analyze the interactions between Cutie, the first reasoning robot its kind and his operators, Gregory Powell and Michael Donovan, and how it exemplifies how our growing dependence and pursuit of technological advancement can backfire on mankind. Asimov shakes the foundations of anthropocentrism with Cutie, who developed his own philosophy and religion to surround the meaning of his own existence. The purpose of Cutie was to run the space station without any form of human supervision. Due to the complexity of his duties at the station, Cutie is programmed to reason and think logically. As soon as Donovan and Powell assemble Cutie, he starts off with curious questions regarding the essence of his existence as well as his surroundings. Powell explains to him the dynamics of space, the stars, and the origin of their own existence, Earth. Through his highly intelligent positronic brain, Cutie fails to comprehend what Powell is telling him as he starts to question what he is told to believe, ““Do you expect me,” said Cutie slowly, “to believe any such complicated, implausible hypothesis as you have just outlined? What do you take me for?”” (Asimov 35). Cutie applies his own sense of reasoning through his surroundings and computes that robots are far more superior then humans. He develops a superiority complex and criticizes his human operators of their natural weak physical attributes, “I, on the other hand, am a finished product. I absorb electrical energy directly and utilize it with an almost one hundred percent efficiency. I am composed of strong metal, am continuously conscious, and can stand extremes of environment easily” (Asimov 37). Asimov meritoriously chips away the idea of anthropocentrism by establishing Cutie with cognitive reasoning and a superiority complex. He challenges mankind’s anthropocentric views by utilizing Cutie’s defiance and rejection of Donovan and Powell’s elucidations of his own existence. Asimov equips Cutie with the ability to reason in this chapter to challenge and raise questions of his own existence to impugn the notion that humans are the most significant entity of the universe. Through this chain of reasoning, Cutie is able to formulate the conclusion that there is absolutely no way that he was constructed by Powell and Donovan as, “no being can create another being superior to itself” (Asimov 37). Cutie eventually concludes that everything is a creation of the energy source on the space...
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