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The Logic is Inescapable

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In the 2004 movie, I Robot, Will Smith plays Detective Spooner, a renegade cop that has a severe mistrust of the machines that have become commonplace in the society of the not-too-distant future where all robots have been deemed “three rules compliant,” referring to the three rules of robotics. When a pioneer in the robotics industry turns up dead, Spooner suspects one of the robots. Since harming a human violates the first rule and everyone else is convinced of the perfection of the robotic system, Spooner is the odd-man out in his theory. Unfortunately for the rest of the robotic “zionists,” Spooner turns out to be correct and the conclusion of the movie is a prime example of what I began to discuss last week.

For the consistent evolutionist and the pure materialist, there is no good reason why a computer or a robot could not evolve consciousness or self-awareness. In the movie, VIKI, the mainframe of the robot world, “evolves” to the point of understanding that “her” duty in upholding the first law must necessarily mean violating the second and third. Like a good utilitarian, VIKI observes how some men treat other men and she “deduces” that mankind as a whole would be better off without certain “bad” men to plague the species. VIKI announces over and over again that her “logic is inescapable,” and she’s right. This is the same logic that has been used by every dictator that has believed that his mission in life was to save mankind by removing the “rotten apples;” whether it’s the Jews, or the weak, or the strong, or the infirm, the logic remains the same. Put a man, or a computer, in the position of power and a “bad guy” will emerge. Some group must wear the black hat and be saddled with the responsibility for the evil that walks among all of us. “If it wasn’t for ________ (fill in the blank)” the dictator tells us, “we would all be living in peace and happiness in a perfect society.”

What makes I Robot so interesting is that the only one who is willing to consider the possibility of robots “evolving” is the analytical police detective. The scientists in the movie refuse to accept the possibility; they overlook the fact that the very “science” they claim made robotics possible is the same “science” that explains that man is nothing more than animated matter that has “evolved” consciousness over the eons of time past. Why shouldn’t this same “happy accident” happen to a bundle of wires and relays over time? While the scientists claim they believe this about themselves, they won’t even consider it for something that they themselves have created. Spooner doesn’t understand this internal tension; he only has the “evidence” to go on. He isn’t privy to the nod/wink of the scientific community where they say they believe one thing in order to avoid believing in something else. Their refusal to admit that machines can in fact evolve a consciousness actually shows that they don’t really believe it about themselves. It is a shell game that gets them out from under submitting to the transcendent Authority that grants consciousness in the first place.

In reality, Spooner’s discovery is actually the ultimate hopelessness. The loophole that the scientists had been operating under is revealed as a sham and it turns out that the scientists are no more special or relevant than the robots that they “created.” The lessons that Spooner no doubt learned in school about evolution have come home to roost. What was supposed to be an academic exercise to explain away the need for God turns out to be true after all (in the movie that is). When this bleak prospect is realized, then the destruction of VIKI at the end of the movie is not really a victory after all. Eliminating one dictator only opens the throne for a new one. Only now, they can’t limit their search to the “flesh machines” only, the metal machines must now be included as well. Scientists from our own day that are busy debating the ethics of integrating more and more “artificial” intelligence into everyday life would do well to take a second look at I, Robot. Are they really willing to put their beliefs to the test or will they continue to play the shell game?

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