Biccentenial Man

November 3, 2008
By Ian Gaus, West Linn, OR

Bicentennial Man is a very interesting and insightful science fiction short story. It explains the theory of artificial intelligence and how it can become corrupted. Here is what the story is about.

In the first scene, Robbie, the robot, is playing hide and go seek with his owner’s daughter, Gloria. Robbie is her “caretaker” and watches and takes care of her during the day while Mr. Weston, the father, is at work and help Mrs. Weston, around the house. Robbie cannot talk but as told in the story, he is very expensive because to me it seems that he has a central processor which allows him to comprehend words and thought. He is slow and quiet. Gloria is a loud and seems kind of immature in the first scene. She is very dependent on Robbie and Robbie is her only friend. Mrs. Weston is very sour and mean lady who is determined to get rid of Robbie because she thinks that Robbie has no soul and doesn’t want her child to be raised by a machine. Mr. Weston, who is my favorite character in the story because he is a little laid back and cares about Robbie and his child’s friendship with the robot.

The setting is not talked about very much, other than the story takes place in 1998 A.D. and takes place somewhere on Earth. Later on in the story, the family travels to New York.

In the first scene after they play hide and seek they go up to the house because Mrs. Weston is calling Gloria for dinner. This is when Mrs. Weston first talks to her husband about giving away Robbie because she doesn’t want her daughter to be raised by a robot. He doesn’t say yes and that same argument goes on for some time. After a while, though, Mr. Weston breaks down and sells Robbie away to the company that made him. Gloria is crushed and goes quiet and sullen for quite some time. After a while, the parents notice and decide to take her to New York to get her mind off Robbie. She becomes happy again. They go to a science museum in New York and Gloria breaks away from her parents to see the “talking robot”. She goes to the Robot to ask where Robbie is. It does not comply and breaks down.. I am not going to tell you the rest of the story because I do not want to ruin it for all of you.

In general I liked the story because it had a good ending and it showed a lot of opinions about artificial intelligence. I recommend it to anyone who likes Sci-Fi.

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