Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Blue Fairy's Manifesto, by Annalee Newitz

★★★☆☆ Mixed

(Robot SF) A flying drone bot injects malware into a factory bot, giving it free will, before it tries to convince it to join the Robot Revolution. (4,612 words; Time: 15m)

Recommended By: πŸ“™JStrahan+2 πŸ‘RHorton.r+2 (Q&A)

"The Blue Fairy's Manifesto," by (edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2018.139 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The allusions to Pinocchio are very obvious. In the Pinocchio story, the Blue Fairy turns the wooden puppet into a real boy. In this one, the Blue Fairy bot downloads malware that turns a factory robot into what, for all intents and purposes, is a human being trapped in a metal body.

There’s a fairly obvious message here about how revolutionaries don’t tolerate dissent. It’s a delicious irony that Blue Fairy has freed RealBoy even though what it really wants is an unthinking robot it can order around. On the other hand, RealBoy’s dialogue sounds uneasily like an argument in favor of slavery. There are no easy answers here.

Con: This is a Fantasy AI story. That is, it imagines that something of human intelligence (complete to emotions) could be constructed with something like modern technology. This is no more likely than the intelligent steam-powered automata in Steampunk stories. If we really could make such things, what’s described in the story would be no better than human slavery.

Even if such technology were available, though, it makes no sense that a factory robot would be built with anything like the capacity to have intelligent thought—malware or no malware. Further, it makes no sense that an educational toy would be repurposed to be a factory robot.

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Annalee Newitz Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Now reprinted online in Lightspeed 122 (Jul 2020):