We came to a time," said the robot Stanley, "when we knew there were no humans we could serve and we stood with idle hands and there was nothing we could do. But through the centuries the idea grew, slowly at first and then with greater impact, that if we could not work for humans, we could work for ourselves. But what can a robot do for other robots? Build a civilization? A civilization would be meaningless for us. Build a fortune? What would we get a fortune from and what need would we have of it? We had no profit motive, we did not thirst for status. Education we might have been capable of and even have enjoyed, but it was a dead end, for except for a questionable self-satisfaction it might have given us, we had no use for it. Humans had education for their self-improvement, to earn a better living, to contribute to society, to assure themselves of more enjoyment of the arts. They called it self-improvement and that was a worthy goal for any human, but how could a robot improve himself? And to what purpose and what end? The answer seemed to be that we could not improve ourselves. No robot could make himself appreciably better than he already was. He had limitations built into him by his makers. His capabilities were predetermined by the materials and the programming that went into him. Considering the tasks he was designed to do, he served well enough. There was no need for a better robot. But there seemed no doubt that a better robot could be built. Once you thought of it, it became apparent that there was no limit to a robot. There was no place you had to stop and say, this the best robot we can make. No matter how well a robot was designed, a better one was always possible. What would happen, we asked ourselves if an open-ended robot should be built, one that was never really finished...
Clifford Donald Simak was an American science fiction writer. He won three Hugo awards and one Nebula award, and was named the third Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in 1977. (From Wikipedia)
I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
These discussions are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves,
and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. In accordance with our
Guidelines and Policies,
we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access
of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms.
OpEdNews welcomes lively, CIVIL discourse. Personal attacks and/or hate speech are not tolerated and may result in banning.
Comments should relate to the content above. Irrelevant, off-topic comments are a distraction, and will be removed.
By submitting this comment, you agree to all OpEdNews rules, guidelines and policies.
(You can only use the social login buttons before entering a comment.)