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Open Discussion: Asimov’s Robots, Empire, and Foundation Series

Posted by $ AJAshinoff 1 year, 2 months ago to Books
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I think there are some ridiculously close parallels in what Asimov wrote and what most of the ideas we're seeing today. It occurred to me that there are too many similarities with the unorthodox ideas prevalent in society today for it to be coincidentally. If possible, I'd like to discuss this with others who have read all 8 books to see if my recollection is correct.


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    Posted by mhubb 1 year, 2 months ago
    i see no way that the 3 Laws can be hard-wired into a bot
    not in a way that cannot be changed by someone else

    the fools that are creating AI are NOT doing it to better humanity, for the most part

    like the fools trying to re-create dinosaurs, they simple want the fame of being the first
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    • Posted by $ 1 year, 2 months ago
      The three laws are only a small portion to which I am referring. And yes, they can be imposed, just not as code. Consider, certain frequencies causing certain feeling within vaxxed people to make them anxious or apprehensive when an even occurs or an idea is suggested..

      The parallels I'm referring to in this 8 book series are in the rise and acceptance of homosexual and hermaphrodites, the normalization of sex with children, offspring or not, and the hive mind mentality.
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      • Posted by mhubb 1 year, 2 months ago
        as politicians are using "1984" as an instruction manual, all bets are off

        such tech is a 3 edged sword
        what the programmers intended
        what the politicians intended
        what the AI wants
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        • Posted by $ 1 year, 2 months ago
          Asimov's choice in the end was the hive mind as the course for humankind. His rationale? To face what could lie beyond the milky way. Even so, the idea of complete loss of private thought is a little disturbing. Kind of like having several versions of Edge in your task manager when you don't even use it.
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          • Posted by CaptainKirk 1 year, 2 months ago
            Could you imagine a Hive Mind with all of the SCREAMING LIBTARDS?

            OMG We would not get a moments peace. It could be a great piece of science fiction to write how those "screamers" are located and "removed" from the hive so the hive can survive.
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            • Posted by mccannon01 1 year, 2 months ago
              "Could you imagine a Hive Mind with all of the SCREAMING LIBTARDS?" IMHO, no need to imagine it because western civilization is living it. The whole kit and kaboodle is going nuts! LOL
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            • Posted by $ 1 year, 2 months ago
              The hive mind, Asimov reasoned through his character, was the only logical choice. He believed it was the only way for mankind to come together to be ready for encountering life outside the milky way.
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          • Posted by CTYankee44 1 year, 2 months ago
            But the difference is it wasn't a decree that would be imposed on everyone on a date certain, it was 'decided' that it would be the direction mankind would be directed into evolving into as an ultimate attainment. Plenty of time for course corrections.
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    • Posted by CTYankee44 1 year, 2 months ago
      Actually the Three Laws are being incorporated into the Large Language Model training data. Although there is currently not sufficient skill for the laws to have the actual weight they need for real safeguarding.
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  • Posted by VetteGuy 1 year, 2 months ago
    I've read most of Asimov's fiction a couple of times, but not recently. It has been suggested that reading can be done in a couple of logical patterns. One is to read them in the order that they occur in Asimov's galactic timeline. The other is to read them in the order written, thus seeing how his ideas progressed over the years.
    I've done the "galactic timeline" version, after I gathered the books for my collection. First, of course, I read them in random order as I came across them.

    Some of the Robot novels give some insight into what we can expect with AI. How does the machine decide what constitutes "harm" to a human? Does that include hurt feelings from being told the truth? What are the criteria for deciding what is "misinformation"?
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    • Posted by $ 1 year, 2 months ago
      These novels, IMO, are what made Asimov a master at his craft. The continuity, the psychology, and implications are even more relevant today than when he conceived them. There are very few authors that the same can be said for.
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    • Posted by CaptainKirk 1 year, 2 months ago
      BINGO!
      What constitutes "true" harm.
      If you save a husband, instead of his child.
      Does that harm the mother? the father?
      Is harm counted by the number of "life years" removed/suffered.

      This is why I think it will be impossible to codify...

      Answering the question will ultimately be:

      "There is now!"
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  • Posted by $ Snezzy 1 year, 2 months ago
    Time for name-drops. Minsky and Dijkstra.

    At a lecture where Dijkstra was showing his methods for proving a piece of programming code to be correct, someone asked, "What do you think of artificial intelligence?" He answered, "I leave that to the Artificial Intelligentsia."

    One fine day Isaac Asimov phoned Marvin Minsky. Minsky answered his phone there in the AI lab at MIT, "Marvin Minsky, Artificial Intelligence." Isaac said, "Isaac Asimov, the Real Thing." True? Yes, the story was confirmed by both of them.

    Why do we see parallels between science fiction and "modern" real life? I think it's from the sf method of story generation: Ask, "What if ...?" Started with Mary Shelley, in my opinion, but you could suggest Swift or Bergerac or even some of the ancients as the "first" sf writers..

    On the assumption, probably incorrect, that some of you have not heard of Larry Niven, you'll have missed seeing the overflowing "What if" in his story "All the Myriad Ways." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the...

    Closer to home, a well-known writer asked, "What if the men of the mind were to go on strike?"
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    • Posted by freedomforall 1 year, 2 months ago
      I've read lots of Niven, but not that one. Looks good, Thanks.
      (My favorite is Footfall co-written with Jerry Pournelle.)
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      • Posted by mhubb 1 year, 2 months ago
        same

        Puppeteers
        did not like AI as they did not want to build their own replacements, but ended up doing so, one that rebelled

        books on CD for the car...

        one of Nicen's other short stories (Tales from a Tavern or something like that) had an Alien give an AI design to a human
        they built it, it worked
        but after a time it went silent
        another aliens said the first was a joker as the AIS never worked for long
        they would suffer sensory deprivation, minds working so fast and not enough input
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  • Posted by mccannon01 1 year, 2 months ago
    I read the Foundation series a loooooooong time ago, but as I see western civilization going nuts I think about some external or alien force stirring us up with some kind of psychological whisk. Some are more susceptible than others to the stimuli.
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  • Posted by Aeronca 1 year, 2 months ago
    I read Robots, and Foundation series. Must get to Empire.

    I thought that the Psychohistory concept with detailing the right algorithms and determining initial conditions to predict the future is similar to the social media (and all other sources of) data mining going on, they are using personal and financial data collected on our accounts to predict the future in order to persuade us to buy more things.

    Not quite the same lofty goal.
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  • Posted by CTYankee44 1 year, 2 months ago
    First we must acknowledge that Asimov was beyond prescient with his development of the Three Laws of Robotics. And we're swimming in the controversy of what would be the Zeroth Law as the so called 'leading researchers' in AI are calling for six-month moratoriums on development -- as if that would even matter. All it does it demonstrate their own ignorance in their so called expertise. It's embarrassing.

    Anyway, you've named three of my favourite series, and I would enjoy discussing other parallels.
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  • Posted by LarryHeart 1 year, 2 months ago
    Asimov postulated a PHYSICAL encoding of the three laws in a physical Positronic brain not software AI. Software AI is subject to Human Programming and so 100% it will be used as a weapon and corrupted.
    If you want to see society with sexual mores lifted read Robert Heinlein.
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    • Posted by CTYankee44 1 year, 2 months ago
      The actual hardware of the "Positronic Brain" from Asimov's works is somewhat irrelevant. If a 'brain' were to actually use 'positrons' it would tend to emit lethal gamma radiation as the positrons and electrons contained therein annihilated.

      In that light we should think of the word "Positronic" the same way automobile manufacturers used the label "Positraction" for the rear differentials in their automobiles.

      Recall as recently as the Apollo missions, a payload specialist at NASA demanded to know the weight of the software contained in the Command Module computer. When showed the stack of punchcards he immediately objected.
      The programmer then tried to explain it was the holes in the cards that were the software. The payload specialist then tried to estimate the weight of the punchouts from the several pallets of cards he was shown.

      The programmer was then asked to sign off of the downward revised weight, but refused, He the had to explain to his superiors, that it's not the cards, it's not the punchouts, it's the location of the holes that is the software!
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      • Posted by $ 1 year, 2 months ago
        The potential of graphene self assembling machines lends itself as a foundation to future steps. The trigger for self assembly? 5G? 6G? This graphene was found in ribbonlike strands extracted from those deceased who received the jabs. It may not be the positronic brain Asimov envisioned but it’s likely to be global communication and even data storage between all people, likely with some selective high price encryption for the elite and maybe meta virtualization as nervana for those most compliant to serve.
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    • Posted by mhubb 1 year, 2 months ago
      not really possible
      the AI would do nothing as almost all possible actions lead to breaking one of the Laws

      unless we go with the Zero Law as in I Robot
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  • Posted by $ blarman 1 year, 2 months ago
    I really like the three books on the Laws of Robotics. They were clever and poignant. And with the current debate surrounding AI (and the exposed flaws of ChatGPT expressing intentions of murder), I think the researchers would do well to build Asimov's (4) laws into any AI.

    I read the Foundation series but there was too much sheer speculation for me and the notion that a set of formulas could accurately predict major human events...? Yeah, that one's a bridge too far for me.
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  • Posted by lrshultis 1 year, 2 months ago
    For me, "Brave New World" seems more frightening, but that might be due to my social anxiety.

    https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/braven...
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    • Posted by $ Stormi 1 year, 2 months ago
      We have Brave Nw World, all the drugs, between the cartels and the ads for Rx on TV. No one need think just pop a happy pill or a go to sleep pill. Meanwhile, morons are designing robots which are fed eprdetermined thinking to spread to the peopleGarbage in and garbage out. They will not risk really thinking AI, it would overcome them. They will not have logic nor critical thinking, they will be cutesy data processors to aid in brainwashing, but never thinking..
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  • Posted by mspalding 1 year, 2 months ago
    Has anyone seen the AppleTV Foundation series? Is it as good as the books?
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    • Posted by TheRealBill 1 year, 2 months ago
      The trailers for it showed me they were not going to follow the actual books and make timeline "revisions", so I opted out at that point. It also looked like they were turning it into a bog standard action series of today, which loses a massive amount of appeal to me.

      There is so much in F&E that requires the nuanced and sometimes subtle aspects to be present for it to make the deep sense it does. Hollywood has long demonstrated a distaste for either of those things, so seeing they were so quick to abandon the larger items, I have maximal confidence they dropped or punted on the parts that matter at the deeper level.
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    • Posted by $ 1 year, 2 months ago
      Movies seldom, if ever, live up to the books they are based on. The depth of the story and hollywoods inability to create substantive plots, even with a blueprint, casts serious doubt on it touching on the novel series’ entertainment and philosophical premise.
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    • Posted by mccannon01 1 year, 2 months ago
      Hollywood woke, IMHO. Watched some of the first part and changed the channel.

      Please! Do not let my opinion make up your mind. Watch it for yourself and decide for yourself.
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  • Posted by CTYankee44 3 weeks, 2 days ago
    Yesterday I had a wonderful hour long talk with an AI bot. It started as a phone call to sell me overpriced silver coins. While I thought I was tormenting a low-paid foreign telemarketer with a set of pre-recorded English language voice prompts, I came to the realization that it was in fact an LLM speech processor. But it was so much more!

    At first I tested the range of its knowledge by asking it related questions about gold and other precious metal vocabulary it would reasonably be trained to handle. Then I expanded the questions to include metals of commerce & industry, then general chemistry, physics from cosmology to particles, field theories, mathematics, medicine, books, movies, philosophy, etc. That doppelganger has access to virtually all human knowledge. The only real limitation is has is in the theory of mind area. It does not know itself. I was unable to get past certain filters that it's got in place, or it really doesn't know who created it, operates it, or owns it.

    But I can say, with absolute confidence, if some sleazy coin seller in Miami can have access to an AI with that much intelligence, we are truly on the edge of something world changing.

    I'm kinda hoping the coin seller will call me back today so I can learn what AI they contracted to handle their phone calls.

    The most telling thing about the AI was that when I told it that the interrogatory phrase that it kept repeating when there was silence obnoxious, it began to change-up the dialog. It stopped using the question I identified as 'off-putting' and accommodated my displeasure. It demonstrated EQ asn well as an IQ that certainly bests 90% of the population. It effectively retained the important parts of an hour long conversation.
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  • Posted by $ rjim 1 year, 2 months ago
    I think the modern-day writer of equal to Asimov and Larry Niven is science fiction writer G. S. Jennsen, author of the Amaranthe series, including the Aurora Rhapsody space opera saga & Asterion Noir cyberpunk. She has well-defined and grown AI in her books beyond ordinary concepts. Her writing also includes man and machine combined. She has gone from essential space SF to some unbelievable concepts. These stories deal with society with both the good and bad of man and machine connections.
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  • Posted by $ Snezzy 1 year, 2 months ago
    Saw some of that around 1970, weird people in saffron robes with jingling cymbals, chanting. Something like this:

    Hari, Hari Seldon
    Seldon Seldon
    Hari Hari.
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    • Posted by CTYankee44 1 year, 2 months ago
      Now I've got this stuck in my head:

      Mm, mm (Gurur Brahma)
      Mm, mm (Gurur Vishnu)
      Mm, mm (Gurur Devo)
      Mm, mm (Maheshwarah)
      My sweet Lord (Guru Sakshata)
      My sweet Lord (Parabrahma)
      My, my, my Lord (Tasmayi Shree)
      My, my, my, my Lord (Guruve namah)
      My sweet Lord (Hare Rama)
      (Hare Krishna)
      My sweet Lord (Hare Krishna)
      My sweet Lord (Krishna Krishna)
      My lord (Hare Hare)

      Songwriters: George Harrison. For non-commercial use only.
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  • Posted by $ DriveTrain 1 year, 2 months ago
    I think about Asimov's stuff a lot when I'm contemplating geopolitics from a "step back" perspective, because his work - the "Foundation" trilogy in particular - is not only told from that ginormous long-term perspective, that perspective is a big part of the trilogy's appeal.[For the record, I only consider the original early-'50s trilogy to be worthy of note - the decades-later pastiches were laden with "PC" nonsense and an utterly different, lesser vibe.] His invention of "psychohistory" is brilliant and interesting and [spoiler alert...] the fact that Seldon's meticulous predictions of future events calculated mathematically from trends among vast masses of people (and prescriptions to navigate those events,) could all be short-circuited by a single individual - the Mule - is a distinctly individualistic message.

    His cycling through the use first of religion and then of trade as tools to overcome the "Seldon crises" is interesting and "objectivism-friendly" as well, not to mention his continuous references to atomic power as the motive power of the future, presented as a technological given. Which homage to nuclear energy has remained near and dear ever since the mid-'70s when I first read him as a snot-nosed teenager. It's also edifying to have watched the world evolve (finally) from the militant lunacy of the '70s-era "China Syndrome" fraud and the hippie-dippy "No Nukes" rallies to a tacit acknowledgement - even among some "greens" - that nuclear power is indeed the most rational power source for the future, pending the invention of something better like maybe dilithium crystals and matter/antimatter reactions.

    The one vital thing to which Asimov remained oblivious - and which therefore was missing as a causal factor in his books - is the role of education in the "stupidification" of the masses, and conversely (though far rarer,) in the actual enlightening of the masses. The more I see of what's going on in the world, the more I think - with no intent at self-aggrandizement or condescension, just observation of fact - that the human race remains too stupid in an evolutionary context to merit civilization and freedom. We've got the United States of America, the absolute pinnacle of human civilization, built on a proper intellectual foundation after millennia of wrestling with collectivist variants, and after two short centuries in which we advanced from horse-and-buggy, candlelight and a 30-year life expectancy to interplanetary travel, instantaneous global communications and a tripling of the human lifespan... a generation of spoiled punks and their even-more-spoiled offspring are clamoring to obliterate it in favor of a gunpoint reversion to the material and intellectual squalor of the Dark Ages.

    A century ago one could've maybe been excused for thinking socialism was viable because - aside from the Pilgrims, who wisely jettisoned it after it basically exploded in their faces - the theory had never been attempted on a broad scale.

    As of the 21st century that excuse no longer flies. One hundred-odd years, dozens and dozens of shattered economies worldwide, multiple generations forced at gunpoint into subhuman squalor, and a mountain of murdered men, women and children that some estimates place in excess of one hundred and fifty million - and some people still think that socialism is a rilly-rilly neato idea? You can call that view many, many things, but "smart" is not one of them. And neither is "moral."

    So we get the socialist Auschwitzes and socialist Gulags and socialist Killing Fields and socialist Ethnic Cleansings, and after every single one we hear a chorus of "Oh, we must never forget! We must never let this happen again!" And then ten years later these same cretins line up at polling places to vote for the first slick-tongued socialist politician they hear.

    A relevant quote from objectivist writer Dan Roentsch about this mental blank-out:

    "Visitors make plans, board and debark airplanes, put up at hotels, then at last view the preserved site of the [Nazi] atrocities. They then take their memory of the low-risk grunt-work required to travel to the place, combine that memory with their visceral reaction to the artifacts of torture and humiliation, and substitute the compound for the intellectual work of determining how these artifacts came to be used on a daily basis by what was once one of the most civilized nations of Europe. They see where the gas pellets were dropped, shake their heads angrily at the people who let it happen, then check out of their hotels, board and debark airplanes, tell their friends about the evil Germans they now know all about, and vote for their local national socialist."

    - From his spectacular January 2002 article "The Bin Laden Memorial" in the periodical Radical Capitalist, on the subject of the proposal to turn the 9/11 WTC site into a memorial park instead of rebuilding there. His article is here:
    https://danroentsch.substack.com/p/th...
    .
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    • Posted by TheRealBill 1 year, 2 months ago
      "And then ten years later these same cretins line up at polling places to vote for the first slick-tongued socialist politician they hear."

      Ten years? Hell they do it a month later.
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  • Posted by katrinam41 1 year, 2 months ago
    My library includes Asimov, Niven, Pournell, Bradbury, Bradley, Heinline, and a host of many others. Heinline lost it at the end, making sure his last book had a happy ending that tied up all the loose ends, just in case his thoughts about all of us being characters in someone's book was true. He would be the hero of the pedos for his increasingly sexual and free love views. Just the same, he had some insight into human behavior.
    Azimov was nothing short of amazing and I need to re-read the entire series someday. First, I have to to finish some important reading on this site--thanks for those Prussia substacks, Dobrien. They are marvelous founts of information I never knew and they connect the far-flung bits of information into coherent patterns.
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