Monday, April 11, 2016

I:Isaac Asimov & EVIDENCE

"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?

22 comments:

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

I have not read Evidence, but it sounds like a very interesting premise. I can't see how a robot could do worse than some of the humans in public office :)
Tasha
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like an interesting idea for a story. It would be interesting to find out a politician is a robot, especially in this weird election season.

Bob Scotney said...

New to me too, but then so is Asimov. I must widen my reading list.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It could go either way.
Ironic he would be elected even after hitting someone though.

Pat Hatt said...

Sounds like a great idea for a story. Robots couldn't do any worse as a politician.

Random Musings said...

This sounds like a really good read, and I like the idea of the open ending so you can decide for yourself. Honestly, I don't think a robot could do any worse that the current politicians
Debbie

Samantha Dunaway Bryant said...

I haven't read this one. But I think I will now. Thanks for the recommendation.


@mirymom1 from
Balancing Act

Stephanie Faris said...

I wonder if robots wouldn't do a better job than some of the people we have in office today!

The Silver Fox said...

There are some people whom I could learn were robots and it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Sarah Zama said...

This is the second post about "I, Robot" that I've read today. Speaks of the quolity of the book, doesn't it?

I read "I, Robot" so many years ago I remember very little. I just know I really loved Asimov's world and his invention, I read a few of his Robot and also his Foundation books. Really enjoyed them :-)

@JazzFeathers
The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

Jeffrey Scott said...

Wow, that's a great story. Sounds like it could be a Outer Limits episode. Which is one of my favourite classic sci.fi. series.

Donna McDine said...

I have not read Evidence. Seems quite interesting. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Jen Chandler said...

Oh wow. I have not read EVIDENCE but it sounds fantastic! And a bit mind bending. My favorite kind of tale. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting :D

Cheers!
Jen
Jen Chandler was Here

MZ said...

I haven't read Evidence but it does sound interesting. Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.
@mzbull from
Witt Bits
MZ Bull

MZ said...

I haven't read Evidence but it does sound interesting. Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.
@mzbull from
Witt Bits
MZ Bull

Sandra Cox said...

What a fascinating tale.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I haven't read it, but from your description it sounds like it's not so much about robots and humans, but about the difficulty of proving a negative. For every test he passed, they just set up alternate explanations and new hurdles. Real-life people also get caught in such no-win situations!

Liz A. said...

I've never read Evidence, but that's a good conundrum. That's like the one about a liar and non liar and which is which.

Liz A. from
Laws of Gravity

Stephen Tremp said...

Been a long time since I've read Asimov. I need to go to the library and get one of his books.

Pam Margolis said...

What @JazzFeathers said. Two posts about I, Robot? Must be time to dig it out of the dustbin and read!

Ella said...

I haven't read this one-but it does sound intriguing! Thanks for sharing! I am making a list :D

Elizabeth said...

I have not read any of Isaac Asimov's stories. I did watch I, Robot and the robot laws are very thought-provoking.

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