The Image of the Intelligent Machine in Science Fiction
Fiction picked up man’s dependency on machines at an early stage: the work of both H.G. Wells and E.M. Forster, for example, indicates that the presence of the intelligent machine was felt long before the emergence of the modern computer. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein had earlier explored a central dilemma of the industrial revolution, namely how, in exploiting the possibilities offered by science and technology, man is to be responsible to both his creator, or to basic ethical principles, and to the use and implications of what he has created. Frankenstein, the chapter argues, embodies the spirit of the industrial revolution and reflects on the ethical issues involved in developing an artificial and intelligent being. The chapter traces other instances of the intelligent machine in fiction, from Daedalus’ sculptured nymphs which came to life, to Asimov’s modern robot, Qutie, which claimed, convincingly enough, to be superior to its human creators. Science fiction, however, has still to explore adequately the issues and dilemmas which haunt Al-research, such as the question of whether a computer can be constructed to become aware of itself or to meet an acceptable test for human intelligence. Science fiction, in other words, has yet to discover myths and symbols appropriate to recent developments in AI research.
KeywordsIndustrial Revolution Intelligent Machine Science Fiction Steam Drive Acceptable Test
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