Notes on Lange vs. Asimov, the Singularity

Sue Lange’s We, Robots responds both to Asimov’s fictions and to this idea of the Singularity. As you read, take some notes about where you see her fiction responding to either Asimov or the Singularity.

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Task 7: The Impact of Integrating Robots into Our Lives
If we contrast Asimov’s robot fiction to that of his successors (such as Sue Lange’s We,
Robots from which we are about to read), then we should notice one big difference:
writers start to imagine non-human sources of humanity. Let me explain.
While it is true that Asimov creates human-like robot characters (think of Robbie, for
instance, who is child-like and quite sympathetic), he is primarily interested in how
inventing robots will change humanity. But ultimately he sees human beings as the
source of “humanity” and robots as the source of “cold calculation.” In certain way,
he sees “humanity” and “cold calculation” as two poles on either end of a
continuum. Susan Calvin, for instance, is closer to “cold calculation” and Robbie is
closer to “humanity” in the sense of his seeming emotions and level of care for his
Robot fiction after Asimov becomes more invested in reflecting on the collapsing of
these two poles–something suggested by Asimov’s fiction, but ultimately
unexplored in his preference for stories about super-computers running the world in
a way beyond human understanding. Development of theories of the coming
“Singularity” have impacted this shift.
In its most basic sense “the Singularity” refers to the idea that rapid advances in
technology will drastically change humanity or end the human era forever. Some
imagine a near future in which consciousness will be uploaded onto computers and
create an immortal, digital life beyond that circumscribed by the human body.
Others have thought more about the kinds of supercomputers that Asimov dreamed
of in the later stories in I, Robot.
Here’s a pretty good website summarizing the many folks who have written about the
Sue Lange’s We, Robots responds both to Asimov’s fictions and to this idea of the
Singularity. As you read, take some notes about where you see her fiction
responding to either Asimov or the Singularity.
Post your notes through the assignment link posted below the story.

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