"Jokes of the proper kind, properly told, can do more to enlighten questions of politics, philosophy, and literature than any number of dull arguments." -Isaac Asimov
Today I'm sharing about a short story found in Issac Asimov's I, ROBOT (Spectra, Adult). Disclaimer: I've read only that one story in the book. The short story I'm referring to is EVIDENCE, a tale about political mudslinging before a mayoral election. (Here I am, discussing political mudslinging during a presidential election year...) In the story, a lawyer named Stephen Byerley is running for mayor. A political rival accuses Stephen, who has never been seen eating or drinking, of being a robot. And robots, by law, cannot run for political office. When Stephen demonstrates that he can eat an apple, a robopsychologist wonders if he is simply a robot with a built-in stomach.
To further prove that Stephen is human, there must be evidence of him harming another human because robots, by their own law, cannot harm humans. When Stephen is giving a campaign speech out in public, a man challenges him to hit him. So Stephen strikes him and proves he is human. After Stephen is elected mayor, the robopsychologist visits him. She tells him that his political rival believed Robot Stephen took his intelligence from The Real Stephen, once severely injured in car accident. Stephen reminds her that he harmed a human, something robots cannot do. The robopsychologist reminds him about the law's loophole, which is that a robot can hit another robot masquerading as a human. Maybe the heckler Stephen hit was his plant. Then she leaves.
The short story doesn't reveal whether Stephen is indeed a robot or a human. If he is indeed a human, his promise to protect the rights of humans accused of being a robot makes him seem noble. But if he is a robot serving in a public office meant for a human, that very claim could mean that he is using deceit to serve the interests of robots. So I don't know what to make of this protagonist.
Have you read EVIDENCE? How would you react if you found out that an elected public official you either like or don't like is actually a robot?