I, Robot, first published in 1950, is a collection of short science fiction stories by author Isaac Asimov. It is perhaps most famous for the three essential laws embedded deep in every robot’s positronic brain.
At first glance, these ethical precepts seem simple enough; they are really not much different from the Golden Rule. But a team of robot psychologists, engaged in what we would today call quality control, soon discover certain glitches that become quite sinister.
Asimov, like philosophers before him, naturally assumed that there could be no true morality without emotion. This battle between the qualitative and the quantitative, between human consciousness and abstract calculation, isn’t easily resolved, but one thing does seem certain: nobody likes an angry robot.
This year’s art theme will focus on the many forms of artificial intelligence that permeate our lives; from the humble algorithm and its subroutines that sift us, sort us and surveil us, to automated forms of labor that supplant us. Are we entering a Golden Age that frees us all from mindless labor? Everything, it seems, depends on HMI, the Human-Machine Interface. In a world increasingly controlled by smart machines, who will be master and who will be the slave?