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Robot stories.
October 5, 2011 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for stories (long or short) with self-aware robots or digital intelligences that are neither merciless killers of humanity/their makers nor effective slaves (created and forced to perform labor, either through laws or through programming). Ideally neither of those things would figure into their history, either. It'd be best if the constructed-people were the protagonists or main focus of the story, but this is not required.
posted by curious nu to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Start with The Caves of Steel and do your best to follow R. Daneel Olivaw around the galaxy.
posted by carsonb at 5:25 PM on October 5, 2011


The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Heinlein. One of the four main characters is an AI.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:26 PM on October 5, 2011


A whole bunch of Rudy Rucker's sci fi work is loaded with this.
posted by Aquaman at 5:31 PM on October 5, 2011


Dreaming Metal by Melissa Scott. It's a sequel to Dreamships. The second book in the sequence fits your criteria better than the first.
posted by expialidocious at 5:31 PM on October 5, 2011


Perhaps The Lifecycle of Software Objects? The question of robots performing labor arises, but more in the scope of whether or not they have the free will to choose to do so, voluntarily.

Also, it's a beautiful story.
posted by lekvar at 5:34 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the Mass Effect video games the Geth are usually enemies of the humans, and I think they were once (thousands of years before) slave robot types, but they're presented as just another race, neither necessarily good nor evil.
posted by cmoj at 5:41 PM on October 5, 2011


Iain M. Banks's Culture series features, well, a dominant culture where biological and artificial sentience coesist and neither is subordinate. Well, I'm still not clear who *really* runs things, but in the stories I've read, the protagonist is a human with drones playing major roles.
posted by Metasyntactic at 5:42 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The WWW series -- Wake/Watch/Wonder -- probably fits this.
posted by jeather at 5:43 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seconding Metasyntactic, and in particular Excession, which focuses largely on the Minds who are/run the Culture's starships.
posted by Chairboy at 5:48 PM on October 5, 2011


Philip K. Dick. We Can Build You
posted by fellion at 5:59 PM on October 5, 2011


cstross's Saturn's Children, in which humanity is extinct, and AI robots have formed their own complex feudal society.

Ignore the cover art, it's an excellent book.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:19 PM on October 5, 2011


I was also thinking of Saturn's Children, but those robots were created by humans to be slave labor, effectively, and after humans died off they legislated themselves into a more-or-less permanent feudal system which is little better than slavery, which it seems the OP doesn't want. It is a great read, though.
posted by Quietgal at 6:24 PM on October 5, 2011


Maybe River of Gods by Ian McDonald might fit the bill. There are AIs which were created to do work, but they're not slaves any more than us regular working stiffs are.
posted by Quietgal at 6:28 PM on October 5, 2011


Ken MacLeod's _The Night Sessions_ has a free AI robot as one of the main characters.

There are also some nice enough free AI robots in his Fall Revolution books, and a lot of enslaved ones, and some dangerous free ones. If we believe Ellen, anyway.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:46 PM on October 5, 2011


i first thought of a PKD one too

The Electric Ant
posted by abirdinthehand at 6:59 PM on October 5, 2011


William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy.

No AI protagonists, but quite a few great characters.
posted by St. Sorryass at 7:19 PM on October 5, 2011


Metaplanetary - By Tony Daniel.
The Golden Age Triology - John C. Wright
Questionable Content online comix featuring AI's.
posted by black8 at 8:23 PM on October 5, 2011


There is, of course, Lt. Commander Data in "Star Trek, the Next Generation".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:25 PM on October 5, 2011


Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge has a lot of fascinating stuff going on in it, one part of which is Mr. Rabbit, who is an AI (or so it seems pretty certainly, though it's never stated) and gets involved in some big, exciting events.
posted by wdenton at 8:56 PM on October 5, 2011


Marge Piercy's He, She and It.
posted by looli at 11:53 PM on October 5, 2011


Several of Greg Egan's stories are about exactly this. Diaspora (great book) is the best example.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 12:46 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the Mass Effect video games the Geth are usually enemies of the humans, and I think they were once (thousands of years before) slave robot types, but they're presented as just another race, neither necessarily good nor evil.

Well, the Geth don't really fit the Asker's criteria because they were originally created as slave labour/robot soldiers and once they became self-aware they rebelled against their (non-human) masters, and (during Mass Effect 1) they are one of the prime antagonists, and are regularly attacking human colonies.

In Mass Effect 2 [SPOILERS] they are revealed to have been controlled by non-Geth bad guys during the events of Mass Effect 1 and are subsequently friendly.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:10 AM on October 6, 2011


The Cyberiad
posted by DarkForest at 5:25 AM on October 6, 2011


Some MeFite wrote a short story in which a young CS student is experimenting with AI and semi-inadvertently brings Kermit the Frog to real (robotic) sentient life. It's absolutely charming. Anybody got a link?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:35 AM on October 6, 2011


I'll bet you would enjoy The Mind's I.
posted by heatvision at 11:19 AM on October 6, 2011


Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is a peaceful slice-of-life story about a robot who runs a coffee shop in postapocalyptic Japan.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:20 PM on October 6, 2011


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