Mar. 21st, 2010

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The Robots of Dawn (Robots 3) The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another case of murder for Detective Elijah Baley and his robot partner R. Daneel Olivaw to investigate, but what makes this case unusual is that the victim is an advanced robot who has been placed into a state of irreversible mental lock. The only person with sufficient skill in robotics to have done such a thing is the robot's designer Dr Fastolfe who happens to be Earth's only ally in a political schism between Earth and the Spacer worlds. Is this a plot to discredit the progressive faction or is something more complex afoot?

As with the previous books in the trilogy, this novel is concerned more with human relationships and motivations than the technology of the robots. The robot brains with their positronic desires form an analogue for understanding the workings of the human mind.

The concept of psychohistory - mathematically modeling the behaviour of large populations in order to predict the future - is introduced here too, touching on the concepts of determinism and free will. Are humans as predestined in their actions as the robots? What are the implications for relations between humans and robots, as more worlds are explored and colonised?

Fascinating concepts that are explored with Asimov's trademark insight. The longest of the robot novels, the most complex, and also the most satisfying in its conclusions. Excellent.

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In the absence of anything from Lovefilm to watch, we plumped for The X-Files movie which has been sat on the hard drive of the Topfield for ages. For some reason I didn't get around to seeing this when it first came out, even though I was a huge fan of the X-Files at the time.

Unfortunately the whole thing was a bit of a confused mess that fell apart under the complexities of half a dozen different conspiracy theories, none of which made any sense. To pick just one example, if they (whoever 'they' were, which was never really explained) wanted to stop anybody from finding out about the bodies infected with the black oil/killer bee virus/alien embryos (or whatever it was) why didn't they just squirrel them away somewhere rather than issuing a bomb threat (which had the effect of summoning half the FBI) and blowing up a huge building, which didn't even have the effect of destroying the incriminating evidence? I think the X-Files was at its best confined to 45 minutes of hokum, once a week. Disappointing.

Today was mostly OU work, finishing off block 3, part one of T175 followed by a bit of M150. I'm comfortably on target for both courses and the end is in sight, so I need to start thinking about what I want to do next. I'll probably arrange to see a course advisor at the regional office to discuss my options, as it's all a bit confusing with the named degree paths changing at some point in the next couple of years.

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