1. Pepsik
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    Pepsik Member

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    Robots with a soul

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Pepsik, May 25, 2014.

    Hey everyone! Sooo I've had this idea in my head about a story that takes place AFTER the world has been taken over by robots. A world where humans are almost extinct due to a war between humans and robots. Totally cliche, but whatever.....

    Anyway the story, like I said earlier, takes place after the world had been taken over by robots. Humans have lost and now they've fallen victim by what they've created. The robots are almost too intelligent to the point of having feelings and a consciousness of their very own. After having taken over, the robots have built a society where they live a life almost like we did. Although, in this world, humans still exist. They're kept in concentration camps as prisoners and slaves.

    Back when they were first built, they were programmed to follow one rule. Protect life at any cost. A rule they soon learned to overwrite.

    The main character is a robot, and it's referred to as NB-27, but we'll just call him 27. 27's robot life had been pretty normal under the circumstances the world is currently in. One day he was assigned a job in the human camps. 27 had never heard of a human. He has no idea what a human is or what it looks like, but he would soon find out.

    Upon finding out what a human is he notices their striking resemblance to him. In the way they look, act, and speak and asks to himself, why are they prisoners? Why are we hurting them? Why do I feel so guilty? 27 was built after the robot uprising so he doesn't know what happened between humans and robots. He empathizes with them and feels he has a duty to help them. So what ultimately happens is that he follows the rule he was originally designed for, to protect life at all cost.

    So basically, the story is about a robot who is working together with humans to reclaim planet earth after being taken over by them. 27 becomes an enemy to all of robot kind for helping the humans and boom the story begins. But... I have a question...

    What would a robot do in his normal everyday life as a robot? In a society run by robots who don't need to sleep, eat, drink or even breathe. What would they do? Would jobs would they partake in? I'm COMPLETELY lost on this one aspect of the story and was wondering if you guys had any suggestions as to what a robot society would function like. Any help is appreciated! Thanks! :)
     
  2. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    You may need to break down the hierarchy of bots more. I've always thought of bots as mindless and simply following programming. The machines in Alien/Aliens and "Blade Runner" were actually androids: synthetics or "artificial person" as Bishop liked to be referred to.

    Now, if a machine gains consciousness and feelings, do you think it would find a need to express this in various forms of art? Literature, paint, sculpture, music, performance, etc. Could be a past time for those with loads of time. Could also be a point of analysis as to whether they are simply mimicking human behavior, thus calling into question their sentience, or actually expressing themselves.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2014
  3. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's a tough one, because expansion or anything else goal-related would have specific 'designs' of robots. You wouldn't see a bipedal one holding a pickaxe--a perfect mining design would already exist, and it would mine 24/7.

    That said, this is where you as a writer can step in and create limitations. Why DON'T your robots have to sleep or eat or preform any other function? Perhaps they need to lube up every twelve hours, or defragment their brain HDDs once a week. What about rust? General cleaning? Are rogue human setups writing viruses regularly? Maybe robots aren't being made any more, because they don't know how or can't think up new designs? Do all the robots have deep-set programming that makes them go through normal, human routines?

    In other words, they don't have to be 'robots.' Why? Because they are YOUR robots.
     
  4. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the robots experience emotions, they would be inclined to act in a way that caters to those emotions. They would ride on roller-coasters, go to the movies, look at sunsets, visit art galleries etc because of the way those things make them feel.

    The robots would have physical needs and there would be industries set up to cater to those needs and their emotional desires. This is much the same as with humans but there would be differences (for example; no food generation and distribution).
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Why would they? They wouldn't have the same needs we have.

    Why would 27 not have instant access to the information? Even I, a squishy-squishy human, have near instant access to much more than just basic data via my handy portable internet access. Why wouldn't a robot have built-in wifi?

    The prior respondents have already answered this question. Pleasure. If they can feel emotion then they can have genuine experiences that they can appreciate, like, dislike, love, hate, etc.
     
  6. Pepsik
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    Pepsik Member

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    Question 1. That's exactly why I said ALMOST. If they're not going to build a society after, then why take over in the first place? Take over the humans. Than what? AND it's why I posted this thread and asked the series of questions that's in your very post. I know they build a society, but then what? I ask you.

    Question 2. Dude, I'm still figuring that out myself, ha!
     
  7. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Humans have societies because at our core, we are social critters, for both survival and comfort. Are these bots social? The came together to for survival (assumed their survival was in danger from humans for some reason), but do they need to be social? We, as humans, work for money for survival and status. Do machines need to work for these things or did they create the perfect communism? They have feelings, so do they have the fallacies that go with feelings: lust, twisted ambition, hunger for power, etc.
     
  8. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    Well since they overwrote the rule to protect life, maybe on their spare time they hunt for humans, which would also help your story because the one robot who is working with a human would have to be extra careful, and the human would have to sneak around as well.

    This would add great suspense and potential situations where they are close to getting caught, or face certain obstacles because no one can find out this human is cooperating with a robot So I guess when they're not building other robots or buildings etc, they are working as "security" guards around the area that they took over (a type of territoriality) and keeping an eyes our for humans?
     
  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    My first question is this:
    Why is 27 the first robot to feel this guilt and do something about it?

    You'll need to establish something that would counter that and somehow explain it. Totalitarian education or something, some kind of propaganda, but you'll need to develop something to explain it away. It doesn't make any sense that 27 wouldn't know what a human looks like. If anything, 27 should know what a human looks like as it was taught to him. That means his image is warped and inaccurate, and then he can get the shock of his life when he meets the real humans. For something like that to work - eg. to teach someone blatantly false teaching and then expose him to the very thing you're teaching him to hate - the image your society nurtures 27 with regarding humans would absolutely need to contain bits of truth.

    For example: humans are barbaric who would even kill its own kind. They are greedy and disgusting - look, they have to urinate and defecate - creatures that can creature such grotesque things that even come out of their bodies can't possibly be any good! (it's the same argument made against women in history - women bleed monthly, and since it makes no sense why one's own body would pass blood regularly like that, some people in the Italian Renaissance decided that it must be bad blood, some kind of poison the body's trying to get rid of.) Back to your robot story - something like, humans created us to reduce us to slaves, now we have gained our independence and must subdue man so they can never control us again!

    However, to have zero teaching on humans - that makes no sense. Esp not when there are prison camps and robots must be sent in to run the camps. At the very least, these particular robots would have special education, even if you choose that society at large might not know anything about humans.

    Anyway, you should watch Ghost in the Shell. The movie tackles the idea of a robot possessing a soul and making their own choices and in fact, the definition of life or being alive.
     
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  10. Pepsik
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    Pepsik Member

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    He was built after the fall of man, so he doesn't really feel the same way the original robots who took over did. Since posting this thread the story has changed rather radically so some of the details in my original post aren't even in the story anymore. I really appreciate the feedback everyon's given since posting this, including yours! It really helped me a lot with this particular story! :)
     
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  11. Want2Write
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    To answer your question: the robots wanted to change the planet earth according to their needs. They want to build machineries industries that creates more robots with additional features. So they have to demolish all the man-made buildings, canals etc. They also wanted to destroy forests, mountains to make room for more robots and their industries. So this could be what the robots were doing.. They could play games and even get into mortal fights like "you lose - you die". Just some idea occurred to me.. HTH
     
  12. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    If it's not too late, I'd also suggest that you read Brian Aldiss' short story "Who Can Replace Man?" Apart from being a bloody good story, it is a good example of writing about the cold logic of robots but making them human as well.

    I've also written stories featuring mainly robot characters before, and one of the things I've touched upon is the almost child-like response that robots have to emotions. My robots tend to get frustrated more, but they do learn emotions, or what they percieve as emotions, based on their original programming, which will evolve if it is allowed to evolve. A robot can feel guilt because an action can conflict with their original programming, but it can recognise it as guilt because this is a human definition and if the robot has, for example, read human books, the robot can put a name to the term.
     
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  13. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    This sounds extremely interesting. Where can I read these stories?
     
  14. Kekec
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    Kekec Member

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    I think you should use something other than robots to enact the "white people were evil" scenario.
     
  15. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the answer to your question is crucial to the story. At the moment, I'm having trouble believing that robots live their lives much like we do and that they are so intelligent as to have consciousness and feelings of their own and yet, nobody ever felt sorry for humans since the takeover and your character is the first one.

    Furthermore, the imperative they learned to overwrite, to protect all life, is still strong in your MC even though he's been made since the takeover so he has no idea how his society came to be. Wouldn't he have been born without that piece of programming? If not, why not? If robots are so intelligent as to take over, surely they supersede humans in technological ability also. You said they lived their lives much like humans do, that entails government, banking, media, arts, addiction, social life, ?sexuality of some sort as well as sustenance, repair, recovery, rest etc. Are their 'brains' or CPUs as hedonistic as human brains? How does that neural network work, what is the meaning of their existence? Maybe you can have your robot character answer all those questions for the reader. This will give you answers to 'what robots do all day' and lots more. Perhaps make your proposed plot more believable as well.

    A great example, diluted among pages and pages of extreme overwriting, is the Dudley Bose character in Peter F Hamilton's 'Commonwealth Saga'. Through a plot twist I won't reveal, a consciousness of an astronomer Dudley Bose ends up absorbed by malevolent immotile alien species, and it ends up in one of motile drones (they are all the same organism). Subsequently, the motile 'wakes up' and becomes sentient in human terms.
     
  16. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is possible for computers to have ambition or desire for control, as part of their emotions. Older or more established once could certainly cause data to be purged from systems, even other robots, and limit or control what is known (accessible to review and/or download).

    I guess a concern from what I've read is to basically have robots that are stand-ins for humans. I would imagine a robotic society would be very much different from humanity?

    What would the basic needs of a robot be?
    Energy, shelter, replacement parts, access to data or information, a desire to have more computing ability, more durable parts and expanded mobility or control of the robot's immediate and even extended environment come to mind.

    Would social interaction be different? Robots wouldn't 'converse' like humans. Would they send packets of communication/data exchanges. Would they need to protect their systems from unwanted intrusions/viruses/worms/corruption? Could a robot's control center/brain/main processing and data storage unit/instruction code be tampered with, and permanently altering 'who' that robot was?

    Would there be classes of robots? Some 'intelligent' and others that lack artificial intelligence, and do the menial labor (mining and refining and building of components and replacement parts). Would there be limits (due to supplies of energy and material resources) of new robot construction, and how would such a permit be provided?

    There is so much fodder for exploration, in addition to the concern and guilt over humanity? And why would the robots keep humanity around? There would have to be a logical reason. Supporting a population as slaves, when a robot could do it far more efficiently, doesn't make sense, unless you're able to come up with a reason.

    Just a few thoughts as I read this thread.
     
  17. Pepsik
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    Pepsik Member

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    Hellooo everyone! I just thought I would post the story based on the original concept of this story to sort of update you guys on what the story has become now. Based on all of your feedback!

    Sooo like I said before, the story takes place after the robots have taken over Earth...well...not anymore.

    Now the story will take place during and after the war between humans and robots. Although the characters you'll be following are different from the way I had it before.

    So 27 (now being built before the fall of man) actually took part in the war between humans and robots. He was sort of a foot solider. He along with a few other robots were assigned a mission to take out a squad of humans in an abandoned hospital. 27's squad were taken out and 27 managed to take out the rest of the humans in the hospital. Before leaving the hospital he heard a noise. He went to find out what it was and discovered a human baby for the first time. He felt an overwhelming guilt upon his discovery. The baby was so helpless, and weak. He couldn't just kill him. He learned that humans weren't complete monsters, the way he's perceived them to be. They had a choice, like he did at that moment to either kill the child, or save him.

    He chose to save him. And in doing so faked his own death in order to run off and raise this human child. The story becomes a story about this bond both the human and the robot have for each other. Both with no real family, something that drew them even closer.

    He raised the boy to be about 11 before giving him away to humans so that he can learn what it means to be human in the hopes that maybe he can have a real life, with his own kind.

    After years of being apart, 27 decides to find the boy that he's raised for 11 years, only to find out that he's the leader of a group of revolutionaries who's sole propose is to take Earth back from the robots. 27 is now conflicted on what to do now that the boy he's raised wants the death of all robots. 27 being a robot has no choice but to fight against them after coming into contact with robots who have recruited 27 into their cause against 27's will. War between humans and robots begin again, and war between two friends begins for the first time.

    The story follows both 27 and the human boy ( whose name is unknown at this point lol).

    The story has changed quite a bit since posting this thread. Due to your guys' feedback, I think now I have more of an understanding of how and what I want this story to be. I have you guys to thank really! :) any feedback on the current plot thing forbthe story would ALSO be appreciated! Thanks guys!!
     
  18. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Thanks for the kind interest, GoldenFeather! Alas, up 'til now I've published none of my "robot" stories; they only exist on my closely guarded hard-drive.

    However, in the next few months I'll be releasing a short SF novel (about 50k words) which uses these themes.
    I'll post something about it on another thread in the coming months, once I know more about release dates etc...
     
  19. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Okay, well taking this a section at a time, I reckon the initial problem is around how you can convincingly show the robot learning guilt. What makes him different from the other robots? Remember Blade Runner? Remember how at the end Roy Batty "loves life more than anything else. His life. My life." Lessons are learnt through experience, so what has this robot learned to make him feel guilty? If you're going to make this convincing, I'd suggest you start with that pivotal lesson, and go from the there.
    As for the rest of the story, it could work, but if you are being raised by a logical machine, you are going to be more or less logical. Robots have very little empathy unless they learn those experiences. To make them empathetic because it needs to fit the plot might sacrifice credibility without a good enough reason to hang it on. I'd say it would be actually interesting to see how a boy would develop with only the company of logic thinking machines, whether all empathy is lost, but once the man meets his own kind, would he become more human, or think himself as above them, even exterminating his own kind?
     
  20. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Personally I rather like your revised story :) it sorta reminds me of The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes that's coming out now, as well as it's prequel The Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
     

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