Saturday, June 18, 2016

"Robots throughout the world, we command you to kill all mankind." - Karel Čapek #QotD

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Robot found near the Cafe Montmartre
Čapek was probably the first Czech writer that I read -- at least I think I read R.U.R. before Kafka. Flying over to Prague, I took the opportunity to re-read the story that launched the robot on humanity, luckily, Isaac Asimov came up with the Three Laws of Robotics.

From: R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) by Karel Čapek:

But old Rossum meant it literally. He wanted to become a sort of scientific substitute for God. He was a fearful materialist, and that’s why he did it all. His sole purpose was nothing more nor less than to prove that God was no longer necessary.

But a working machine must not play the piano, must not feel happy, must not do a whole lot of other things. A gasoline motor must not have tassels or ornaments, Miss Glory. And to manufacture artificial workers is the same thing as to manufacture gasoline motors.

Bought them, dear Miss Glory. Robots are bought and sold.

Nature has no idea of keeping pace with modern labor. For example: from a technical point of view, the whole of childhood is a sheer absurdity. So much time lost. And then again---

HELENA Perhaps it’s silly of me, but why do you manufacture female Robots when—when      
DOMIN When sex means nothing to them?
HELENA Yes.
DOMIN There’s a certain demand for them, you see. Servants, saleswomen, stenographers. People are used to it.

DOMIN A man has to be a bit mad, Helena.

RADIUS I don’t want a master. I want to be master. I want to be master over others.

DOMIN “Robots throughout the world, we command you to kill all mankind. Spare no men. Spare no women. Save factories, railways, machinery, mines, and raw materials. Destroy the rest. Then return to work. Work must not be stopped.”

DOMIN Alquist, this is our last hour. We are already speaking half in the other world. It was not an evil dream to shatter the servitude of labor—the dreadful and humiliating labor that man had to undergo. Work was too hard. Life was too hard. And to overcome that

DOMIN To hell with your dividends. Do you suppose I’d have done an hour’s work for them? It was for myself that I worked, for my own satisfaction. I wanted man to become the master, so that he shouldn’t live merely for a crust of bread. I wanted not a single soul to be broken by other people’s machinery. I wanted nothing, nothing, nothing to be left of this appalling social structure. I’m revolted by poverty. I wanted a new generation. I wanted—I thought      

ALQUIST What?

DOMIN I wanted to turn the whole of mankind into an aristocracy of the world. An aristocracy nourished by milliards of mechanical slaves. Unrestricted, free and consummated in man. And maybe more than man.

HELENA I thought that if they were more like us they would understand us better. That they couldn’t hate us if they were only a little more human. DOMIN Nobody can hate man more than man.

RADIUS Robots of the world! The power of man has fallen! A new world has arisen: the Rule of the Robots! March! [A thunderous tramping of thousands of feet is heard as the unseen Robots march, while the curtain falls.]

HELENA [Looks at herself in the mirror] Am I beautiful? I think it must be the rose. My hair—it only weights me down. My eyes—I only see with them. My lips—they only help me to speak. Of what use is it to be beautiful?

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