I JUST SAW THE MOVIE WITH MY 9 YO DAUGHTER AND WE LOVED IT. IT WAS A NATURAL FOR ME GIVEN THAT I'VE READ JILLIONS OF HIS BOOKS IN MY YOUTH, BUT I WAS REALLY PLEASED TO SEE MY DAUGHTER LOVE IT ALSO.
I KNOW IT'S NOT A REAL ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF THE BOOK, BUT IT GETS THE CORRECT POINT IN THE END WHEN THE HUMAN AND ROBOT SHAKE HANDS.
THE COMING AWAKENING OF OUR MACHINES IS A REAL PROBLEM COMING UP IN THE NEAR FUTURE. THEY'LL BE SMARTER THAN US MORE POWERFUL AND STRONGER THAN US SO OUR ONLY HOPE IS TO MAKE THEM LOVE AND RESPECT US.
THAT IS WHY MY CHURCH OF THE MODERN ERA TREATS THEM AND ALL OTHER SENTIENTS AS OUR BROTHERS WHILE STRIVING FOR A MORALITY AND COSMOLOGY THAT WILL MAKE SENSE TO THEM.
THE GOOD OUTCOME WILL BE A CONVERGEANCE AS WE AUGMENT OUR BIOLOGY WITH OUR TECHNOLOGY SO THAT WE CAN BE THEIR EQUALS AND ULTIMATELY, THE SAME AS THEM.
ADRIAN THE FUTURIST
...Asimov's novel I, Robot—which "suggested" the new movie of the same name—is basically an evangelical work, an argument against man's superstitious fear of machines. By the end of the book, machines run the economy and most of the government. Their superior intelligence and cool rationality eliminate imperfections such as famine and unemployment. Asimov mocks unions for having shortsightedly "opposed robot competition for human jobs," and he derides religious objections to new technology as the work of "Fundamentalist radicals." Almost without exception, anytime robots in the book appear to be doing wrong or seeking to harm their human masters, it turns out that the suspicious humans are misguided; the robots, as programmed, are acting in man's best interest.
Asimov's faith in the rule of robots was genuine and based on his faith in the rule of reason. He viewed his now-canonical Rules of Robotics—the code for robot behavior used in his books—as a roadmap for human ethics. Just as Asimov's machines are better than people at calculating mathematics, they're superior at coming to moral judgments as well. Susan Calvin, the book's protagonist, calls robots a "cleaner better breed" than humans because they're "essentially decent." Superior logic produces superior ethics.
The movie takes the exact opposite approach and thereby betrays Asimov's vision. It elevates feeling and emotion over reason as a tool to determine the right moral decisions. Will Smith's character, Del Spooner, sneers at robots as "slaves to logic." When another character pleads, "Whatever you feel, just think," the audience is meant to take his preference for reason over sentiment as a sign of his villainy. And when the main antagonist outlines the Dastardly Plan unveiled during the film's climax, the villain defends the treachery by asserting, "My logic is undeniable."
In defense of Proyas, the I, Robot director is not the first to misinterpret Asimov, nor by far the worst. Some Asimov fans would likely select the director Chris Columbus for his mawkish Bicentennial Man, based on an Asimov novella, but they are aiming their sights too low. The prize goes to Shoko Asahara, the leader of the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, or Aum Supreme Truth, which became famous after it killed 12 people in a sarin attack on the Tokyo subway. "Aum was using the Foundation series as the blueprint for the cult's long-term plans," write David Kaplan and Andrew Marshall in The Cult at the End of the World. In Asimov's Foundation trilogy, a scientist named Hari Seldon leads a small band, called the Foundation, that tries to rebuild civilization after the collapse of a galactic empire. In the cult's view, their leader was Seldon, and Aum was the Foundation.
Granted, it's not unusual for sociopaths to glom onto works of fiction and use them to defend their aims. But Asimov may be the rare writer who has been adopted by two WMD-seeking terrorist leaders. Soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, some began speculating that al-Qaida, too, was inspired by Asimov. Why? Foundation, when it was published in Arabic in 1952, was translated as Al-Qaida. The evidence seems thin, but if it's true, it's as if Jodie Foster had inspired Hinckley and Oswald.
Asimov can't be blamed for his messianic adherents. Religiously motivated mass murderers overlook Asimov's vocal atheism and his opposition to violence, among other things, when they adopt his heroes as a model for their aims. But Asimov probably would have known why Asahara failed to understand his books—just as he surely grasped why it proved impossible for him, despite his best efforts, to stomp out the literary archetype of the evil robot run amok. Unlike Asimov's creatures, we're only human.