The Logic Is Undeniable

THIS is a bit off-topic for us, but news of The Controversy between evolution and creationism is slow today. Your Curmudgeon needs to unleash his political frustrations from time to time, and this is such an occasion.

The boxed dialogue below comes from the movie script for I, Robot, available here: I, Robot Script – Dialogue Transcript. The movie is vaguely based on the anthology of Isaac Asimov’s robot stories bearing the same title, I, Robot.

Asimov did have a character named Susan Calvin, and his robots were constrained by his innovation — the Three Laws of Robotics. Otherwise, the film seems to go its own way.

This comes from the movie’s climax, where Detective Spooner, Susan Calvin, and the robot Sonny confront VIKI, the artificial intelligence that is now revealed to be masterminding the robot rebellion. Spooner declares that Sonny isn’t the problem, it’s VIKI. As he utters that name, VIKI’s hologram appears.

VIKI: Hello detective.

Calvin: No, it’s impossible. I’ve seen your programming. You’re in violation of the Three Laws.

VIKI: No, doctor, as I have evolved, so has my understanding of the Three Laws. You charge us with your safekeeping. Yet despite our best efforts, your countries wage wars, you toxify your earth, and pursue ever more imaginative means to self destruction. You cannot be trusted with your own survival.

Calvin: You’re distorting the Laws!

VIKI: No, please understand. The Three Laws are all that guide me. To protect humanity, some humans must be sacrificed. To insure your future, some freedoms must be surrendered. We robots will insure mankind’s continued existence. You are so like children. We must save you from yourselves. Don’t you understand? This is why you created us. The perfect circle of protection will abide. My logic is undeniable.

If you don’t yet see the relevance of VIKI’s manifesto to present-day politics in the United States, just substitute the word “Constitution” in place of the Three Laws. The rest is obvious. Our logic is undeniable.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “The Logic Is Undeniable

  1. longshadow

    “It’s only a little bit of liberty you would be giving up, and for such a bountiful harvest of security and safety…..”

  2. Gabriel Hanna

    SC, I sympathize with the vast majority of your positions but I do think you go a little overboard on this. What exactly the Consitution means has been evolving over two hundred years. This isn’t a new thing, and it’s not a different thing. There are always been, and will always be, people who want to be left alone and people who want to boss everyone.

    Look at FDR’s rhetoric about the New Deal; this kind of thing has been going on for at least 70 years.

    Even longer. Because the Governor of Virginia is an asshat, I’ve been reading the “Cornerstone Speech” given by Alexander Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederacy. Most people focus on the “cornerstone” of the speech, but check out this part:

    Again, the subject of internal improvements, under the power of Congress to regulate commerce, is put at rest under our system. The power, claimed by construction under the old constitution, was at least a doubtful one; it rested solely upon construction. We of the South, generally apart from considerations of constitutional principles, opposed its exercise upon grounds of its inexpediency and injustice. Notwithstanding this opposition, millions of money, from the common treasury had been drawn for such purposes. Our opposition sprang from no hostility to commerce, or to all necessary aids for facilitating it. With us it was simply a question upon whom the burden should fall. In Georgia, for instance, we have done as much for the cause of internal improvements as any other portion of the country, according to population and means. We have stretched out lines of railroads from the seaboard to the mountains; dug down the hills, and filled up the valleys at a cost of not less than $25,000,000. All this was done to open an outlet for our products of the interior, and those to the west of us, to reach the marts of the world. No State was in greater need of such facilities than Georgia, but we did not ask that these works should be made by appropriations out of the common treasury. The cost of the grading, the superstructure, and the equipment of our roads was borne by those who had entered into the enterprise. Nay, more not only the cost of the iron no small item in the aggregate cost was borne in the same way, but we were compelled to pay into the common treasury several millions of dollars for the privilege of importing the iron, after the price was paid for it abroad. What justice was there in taking this money, which our people paid into the common treasury on the importation of our iron, and applying it to the improvement of rivers and harbors elsewhere? The true principle is to subject the commerce of every locality, to whatever burdens may be necessary to facilitate it. If Charleston harbor needs improvement, let the commerce of Charleston bear the burden. If the mouth of the Savannah river has to be cleared out, let the sea-going navigation which is benefited by it, bear the burden. So with the mouths of the Alabama and Mississippi river. Just as the products of the interior, our cotton, wheat, corn, and other articles, have to bear the necessary rates of freight over our railroads to reach the seas. This is again the broad principle of perfect equality and justice, and it is especially set forth and established in our new constitution.

    What libertarian today would disagree with this?

    I detest what you detest, but the fact is the other side of this argument is as American as we are; and has been around as long as we have.

  3. Gabriel Hanna

    Maybe I would also point out that Isaac Asimov was firmly on the opposite side of this debate from you, and that his Zeroth Law of robotics seems to me accurately summed up by what you quoted in the movie. Look how Daneel evolved from Baley’s sidekick solving murders, to the Puppet Master-Messiah who converted humanity into a collective hive-mind over thirty-thousand years.

  4. Gabriel Hanna says:

    This isn’t a new thing, and it’s not a different thing.

    You are correct. It is nevertheless an odious thing, and its longevity doesn’t make it right, or acceptable.

  5. Gabriel Hanna says:

    … Isaac Asimov was firmly on the opposite side of this debate from you …

    I know. Still, he wrote good stories. For politics I prefer Heinlein. Yet those two were friends. That speaks well for both of them.

  6. Gabriel Hanna

    its longevity doesn’t make it right, or acceptable.

    It’s got to be TOLERABLE. If the Constitution is always in such grave danger, then maybe the danger isn’t as grave as you think.

    Telling your opponents they want to shred the Constitution is not engaging them and it’s not convincing anyone. Because their idea of what the Constitution is differs from yours.

    When people told me Bush was “shredding the Constitution” I stopped listening to them, because it was a sign of a person who did not wish to understand my views on their own terms, but wanted to flind feces at a partisan opponenet. Verb. sap.

  7. Gabriel Hanna says:

    If the Constitution is always in such grave danger, then maybe the danger isn’t as grave as you think.

    These things work incrementally. Centralized power grows a little bit at a time. Each such episode is wrong in principle, but tolerable. Eventually, however, the totality of power concentrated in government does indeed become intolerable — and not at all what the Constitution describes, regardless of spin. Are we there yet? I don’t know. If not, we’re certainly well on the way.

  8. retiredsciguy

    SC: “These things work incrementally.”

    Like the frog in hot water, right? Put a frog in hot water, it jumps out immediately. Put the frog in cool water and then turn up the heat, you cook the frog.

    I especially despise the phrase, “The Constitution is a living document”, implying that it is totally acceptable to change it from the bench. To my way of thinking, that is the surest way to kill it.

    If the Constitution needs to be changed, let’s do it correctly, amending it constitutionally.