|The flying robot sex goddess, Aurora.|
Sex in Sci Fi
Before getting into the psycho-social drama of Ex Machina and The Robots of Dawn, I want to mention two other examples of science fiction stories that concerned themselves with either artificial intelligence or human sexuality.
|The Robots of Dawn|
The Exode Trilogy explores the boundary between evolutionarily programmed reproduction and intentional reproduction. Advanced technology provides many ways to "make new people" without needing to use gametes. The Exode Trilogy includes clones, Selfies, replicoids, teleportation copies and artificial life forms not driven by a need for sexual reproduction. The idea that robots might reproduce without sex stands in stark contrast to the frequency with which science fiction story writers depict sexual relationships between robots and humans.
|Susan Calvin is almost killed by RB-34.|
If you have never read The Robots of Dawn, you might not want to read past this point. Asimov first wrote about a telepathic robot in his short story "Liar!". Asimov imagined that a telepathic robot would tell lies to humans in an attempt to follow its programming and "do no harm". In particular, RB-34 tells Susan Calvin what she wants to hear: that a man who she likes also likes her. However, with time, as the lies accumulated, the poor robot worked itself into an impossible position...all the lies told by RB-34 to various people were contradictory and could not be supported. In "Liar!", Asimov also introduced the idea that a telepathic robot would try to keep its special "mentalic" ability secret, a theme that he returned to in The Robots of Dawn.
|Gladia and Jander|
Daneel and Giskard
Baley makes the mistake of underestimating Giskard. Giskard's positronic brain is just as sophisticated as Daneel's, but Giskard "looks like a robot", not a human. Jander was a humaniform robot, like Daneel, and during his short "life" he became the lover of a Solarian woman who was living on Aurora (Gladia). Due to their odd culture, the residents of Solaria find human sexuality disgusting, but when Gladia reaches Aurora she is primed and ready for sexual experimentation with Jander. The Robots of Dawn is a mystery story in which Baley must discover why Jander was killed.
|Ava and Kyoko: Telepathic?|
|From the Ex Machina website.|
|Asimov the story teller.|
If you have not yet read The Robots of Dawn, don't read past this point. The Robots of Dawn is a mystery story and I'm going to discuss the big secret that Asimov kept hidden from readers until the end of the story.
|Telepathy in Star Trek|
Giskard decides that he must keep secret his ability to control human behavior. During the course of events in The Robots of Dawn, Baley keeps noticing that Giskard is aware of things that he could only know were he telepathic. Giskard keeps making Baley "forget" that Giskard is telepathic until, finally, with Baley's mission on Aurora complete, Giskard allows Baley to retain his knowledge of the existence of robotic telepathy. However, Baley's mind is still under Giskard's control and he is unable to speak to anyone about Giskard's secret.
So, in the end, Baley is allowed by Giskard to understand that it was Giskard who killed Jander. Of course, Asimov did not work in Hollywood, so Giskard's act of roboticide was not a case of a murderous robot out of control. Rather, Giskard was carefully protecting Humanity and making possible a future in which humans would spread to 25,000,000 worlds of the galaxy.
Sci Fi that Makes Sense
|Gladia and Friends|
|Kyoko and Ava - telepathy?|
I have not seen Ex Machina. However, I wonder if Garland intended that Ava and Kyoko would have telepathic powers. Kyoko does not speak, but Ava and Kyoko seem to be able to work together to kill their creator and allow for Ava to escape from the lab and at the end of the film "she" is shown going out to have an adventure in the world of humans.
At the end of The Robots of Dawn, readers are left with the idea that in order for humans to colonize the galaxy, Giskard must form a team of telepathic robots who will secretly guide Humanity's spread through the galaxy. Asimov provides a satisfying and relatively happy ending.
|Robots and Empire|
|Robots and Asimov|
|Carl Sagan: "Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist"|
"If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them." -Isaac Asimov
"Plainly there is no way back. Like it or not, we are stuck with science. We had better make the best of it. When we finally come to terms with it and fully recognize its beauty and its power, we will find, in spiritual as well as in practical matters, that we have made a bargain strongly in our favor." -Carl Sagan
|The Light Room by Daniele Gay|